Music in Art: International Journal for Music Iconography XLI (2016)


Sounds of War and Victories: Images of Military Musicians on Battlefields and Promenades:
Selected papers presented at the Thirteenth Conference of the Research Center for Music Iconography, commemorating the centennial of World War I, New York, Armistice Day 2014.


Antonio Baldassarre (Hochschule Luzern—Musik), Envisioned History or “His Story”: Warfare, Musical Culture, and Imagination in the Lucerne Chronicle (1511–13) by Diebold Schilling the Younger.

During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, numerous illustrated chronicles were created in the Old Swiss Confederacy. The Lucerne Chronicle (1509–1513) by Diebold Schilling the Younger is today considered to be one of the most outstanding examples of this Swiss tradition of sumptuously illuminated chronicles. As with the other chronicles of this type, its primary function was the presentation of history, documenting the military successes and the rise of the Old Swiss Confederation to a political power in Europe. Moreover, as an explicit product of self-manifestation the chronicles’ content generally reflects the increasing self-esteem of the ruling classes as much as they participated in the fabrication of their identities. The numerous illuminations of battle and feud scenes but also of content referring to crimes and casualties within the Lucerne Chronicle are repeatedly endowed with musical subject matter and thus provide interesting insights into the construction of history, musical culture and mentalities in early sixteenth-century Central Switzerland.

Helen Barlow (The Open University, United Kingdom), From the Band of Musick to the Concert Party, ca. 1780–1918: Musical Entertainment in the British Army.

From the work of professional artists, to soldiers’ sketchbooks, to photographs, a range of different visual media bear witness to music as a feature of military entertainment. From the time the presence of bands became routine in the British army in the late eighteenth century, music was as important to the army in this context as it was in overtly military settings such as on the march or the parade ground. But this was always entertainment with a serious underlying purpose. At one end of the spectrum, music at dinner in the officers’ mess reinforced a sense of social exclusivity and the right to command. Similarly, a regimental band was a very useful tool of soft power in civilian contexts: playing outside the barracks, at balls and in public parks, it made the local presence of a regiment palatable, even glamorous. At the other end of the spectrum, the anarchic music hall acts of divisional concert parties on the Western Front and elsewhere in the theatre of World War I were entirely different from regimental band performance in almost all respects, except that they too were (paradoxically) about the preservation of order: they offered soldiers a way of addressing and accommodating the situation in which they found themselves―one which their diaries and memoirs frequently describe in terms of madness and lunacy.

Trevor Herbert (The Open University, United Kingdom), Trumpets, Drums and the Sources for Their Symbolic Authority in Britain.

Trumpeters, drummers and to an extent pipers have been distinct in the military, and must be regarded as a separate species from those that make up what were known in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as bands of music. They had key operational functions in armies and navies, but they were also symbolic. They were marked out and categorized for their essential duties, and their status was unchallenged even by more senior soldiers. In Britain, trumpeters and drummers were the only categories of musician that could legally be the recipient of official funding. Their duties required bravery, but also high levels of discipline and remarkable feats of memory and precision. Images of them were repeatedly called up in representations of victory and defeat; less frequent are representations of their roles in the administration of military discipline. The position these players held in peace and in fields of conflict is more complex than the images suggest. By necessity, the players stood apart from other soldiers, mentoring and often controlling them.

Wm. Keith Heimann (Brookdale Community College & Boston University), “This is War!”: Musical Images Used as Propaganda in The Etude Music Magazine.

For 75 tumultuous years, The Etude Music Magazine (1883– 1957) was the premier monthly publication specifically marketed to private music teachers in the United States. Each issue featured comprehensive articles regarding music pedagogy and included extensive quantities of corresponding musical selections. In addition to its musical components, The Etude promoted a highly conservative editorial policy that extended far into non-musical subjects. It frequently addressed issues such as progressive politics and often rebuked liberal shifts in American culture.
In the early 1900s, monthly mass media publications began to beckon readers with lush artwork. The Etude published increasingly lavish art on its monthly covers and later in its interior pages. Many illustrations were strictly musical in subject matter, such as romanticized renderings of composers or idealized vignettes of domestic bliss. On occasion, art was used to provide satiric commentary on music that was deemed inferior, such as jazz and swing. However, when calamitous events ravaged the globe, particularly the Great Depression and the two world wars, some of the illustrations published in The Etude rose to the level of political propaganda. The elements of conventional music iconography were transformed into images of mighty defensive weapons with which a vulnerable society, believing itself to be under increasing danger from nefarious forces, could repel all attacks. Musical art, thus transformed into conservative political commentary, served as hegemonic activism.

Joseph S. Kaminski (New York), The Yam Festival Celebrated by the Asante People in Kumase in 1817.

When the English writer Thomas Edward Bowdich entered Kumasi, Gold Coast (current-day Ghana) in 1817, he stated, “Upwards of 5000 people, the greater part warriors, met us with awful bursts of martial music, discordant only in its mixture; for horns, drums, rattles, and gong-gongs were all exerted with a zeal bordering on phrenzy.” He was aware of the Ashantee’s (Asante’s) military might and the association of cultural practice with their sacred-military decorum. The Asante of Ghana used their horns and drums to defeat enemies in war and to speak to past warrior kings at venerations. Both mediums for surrogate speech, horns are made from elephant tusks and still performed on today, and drums are extant. Bowdich added, their “sentences are immediately recognized by the soldiers and people, in the distinct flourish of the horns of the various chiefs: the words of some of these sentences are almost expressible by the notes of the horns.”
Later on Bowdich made a drawing of a similar event, “The First Day of the Yam Custom,” that depicts an Asante festival (durbar) wherein the same musicians take part to “barrage” their sounds in creating a sonic power. The drawing was later engraved by Robert Havell Sr. (1769–1832) and included as foldout 73.5 cm wide in Bowdich’s book Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee (1819).
In precolonial times, this power of sound had been used in combat to scare enemies and their evil spirits. Today it is still used at feasts, to bar evil. Pertaining to this, Bowdich wrote, “More than a hundred bands burst at once on our arrival, with the peculiar airs of their several chiefs; the horns flourished their defiances, with the beating of innumerable drums and metal instruments.”

Arabella Teniswood-Harvey (University of Tasmania), Reconsidering the Anzac Legend: Music, National Identity, and the Australian Experience of World War I, as Portrayed in the Australian War Memorial’s Art and Photographic Collection.

According to its website, the Australian War Memorial’s mission “is to assist Australians to remember, interpret and understand the Australian experience of war and its enduring impact on Australian society.” Its total collection includes over 30,000 artworks and more than 800,000 photographs, along with military heraldry, film and sound recordings, and printed programs. The Memorial’s collection of imagery relating to the performance of music by―and for―military personnel during World War One includes artworks by Official War Artists attached to Australian forces such as Frank Percy Crozier and Will Dyson, as well as European artists including Jean-Emile Laboureur and George Grosz; recruitment posters; magazine illustrations and caricatures; and documentary photographs. Subjects include performances by organized military ensembles, musicians in prisoner of war camps, musical entertainment for soldiers in hospital wards and music-making by soldiers at leisure.
This paper examines firstly the meaning of music within the Australian experience of World War One, as portrayed in this imagery, and secondly how this material portrays and perpetuates ideas about the spirit of Anzac (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). As Peter Stanley explained on the Australian War Memorial website in 2002: “Anzac came to signify the qualities which Australians have seen their forces exhibit in war. These attributes cluster around several ideas: endurance, courage, ingenuity, good humor, and, of course, mateship. These qualities collectively constitute what is described as the Anzac spirit.” In recent years scholars and critics have questioned the Anzac legend.

Melissa M. Zapata-Rodríguez (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Minstrelsy: Iconography of Resistance During the American Civil War.

Blackface minstrelsy in the U.S. relied tremendously on the publishing industry; therefore it depended greatly on the visual medium of sheet music and its propaganda. From the early development of minstrelsy, its rise and peak years, passing through racial integration, war and the introduction of black minstrels, it is possible to study the development and influences in blackface minstrelsy through analysis of propaganda and sheet music covers. But it was during the Civil War that minstrel iconography fueled even more the racial disparity that enabled white society in the North to fall into conflicting ideas about African Americans. Northern white society in the United States was comprised of abolitionists (radical and conservative), moderates and racists. These discerning views played an important part in music production during the Civil War, especially on the minstrel stage. Both racial animosity towards African Americans and abolitionists efforts in the North would mark the confusing, and somewhat contradictory sentiment that white northerners would maintain during the American Civil War.


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Antanas Andrijauskas (Lietuvos kultūros tyrimų institutas, Vilnius), Visual Arts and Music in Traditional Chinese Art System.

In the traditional Chinese art system, we find a fundamental conceptual distinction between practical work akin to crafts and the more refined, spiritual, and creative activities such as music, calligraphy, poetry and landscape painting. The concept of music in the traditional Chinese art system is very broad and closely connected with the oldest cosmogonist theories. On the other hand, the character, which is the ideographic sign constituting the basis of Chinese writing system, exhibits specific polysemantism, situativity and contextuality. It is precisely the Chinese character that is presented as the deepest systematic organisational archetype for Chinese culture, its art and aesthetic tradition. The character forms a certain civilizational core, which unifies many other segments of this multi-layered artistic cultural tradition, firstly calligraphy, painting, and poetry. Thus, the visuality, directly associated with Chinese character writing system is situated within the deepest substance of Chinese culture and determines the specific features of main historical development of aesthetic and artistic culture. The particularity of Chinese art system and exceptional importance of musical principles (rhythm, pause, flexible lines) becomes more prominent when calligraphy gradually reaches its supremacy in the art hierarchy from the fourth century, and later, during the Song dynasty, when calligraphy is pushed out by rapidly developing landscape painting which possesses exceptional sophistication of aesthetic culture. The gradual rise of these arts and their interchange within the art hierarchy highlights the importance of aesthetic aspects, connected to the concept of harmony within the art system. And finally, the principle of visuality, flowing from the visual nature of Chinese writing system, intertwined with musical principles, unavoidably influences subsequent changes of Chinese traditional art system and defines the originality of Chinese aesthetic artistic phenomena in the wide perspective of comparative analysis.

Stephen A. Bergquist (Boston), A Piece of Musical Napoleoniana.

On 2 June 1800 Napoleon, at that time still General Bonaparte, made a triumphal entry into Milan, driving out the Austrians, who had ruled Lombardy since 1713. Napoleon enjoyed music, and a gala concert in his honor was organized at La Scala for the evening of 4 June. To the extent that the French regime in Milan had any effect on La Scala, it seems to have been beneficial; the number of opera performances increased, and the time of French rule were golden years for ballet and stage design. In March 1801 the contralto Elisabetta Gafforini made the first of many appearances at La Scala. Although she occasionally performed opera seria roles, she had a delightful comic talent that made her perfect for opera buffa. In November 1801 she sang in the premiere of Giuseppe Mosca’s Il Sedicente filosofo, and shortly thereafter an etched portrait of her was published, together with an adulatory sonnet. This production has many fingerprints of French rule in Milan: the verso of the sheet contains a quote from a French author (Voltaire); the sonnet is addressed to “Citizen” Elisabetta Gafforini, a form of address that came into use after the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in 1789; and the publication is dated Anno X, that is, Year Ten of the Republican calendar. In 1815 Rossini wanted to engage Gafforini to play Rosina in the premiere of Il Barbiere di Siviglia, but her asking price was too high, so Rossini turned to Geltrude Righetti-Georgi. Gafforini’s last known performance was at La Fenice in Venice in April 1818. After this the record is silent; it is not even known when or where she died.

Alan Davison (University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales), Collecting Musical Prints in Late Eighteenth-Century England: Taste, Self-Improvement and John Bland’s “Portrait Series”.

The peak in London’s “craze” for music in the early 1790s coincided with an equally passionate and even more enduring enthusiasm for collecting printed portraits. Arguably the peak in this joint phenomenon was the series of portraits published by the entrepreneurial music seller John Bland and his successor Frances Linley. During the 1790s Bland and Linley published a set of nine portrait prints (all but one by the artist Thomas Hardy) of prominent musicians: Joseph Haydn, Johann Peter Salomon, Jan Ladislav Dussek, Ignaz Pleyel, Wilhelm Cramer, Muzio Clementi, William Shield, Edward Miller, and Samuel Arnold. These prints of professional musicians sit nicely and revealingly between an aesthetic object and a consumable good, holding a position that breaks down arbitrary boundaries and fixed approaches to their research. This article uses a material culture approach to examining the influences that acted upon music print collectors of the time, especially guides to self-improvement and print catalogues. Further areas of research are suggested, as the prints have explicit links to social, professional and commercial contexts that highlight their role in the mediation and formation of values around music as an art form and musicians as professionals.

Nancy November (School of Music, The University of Auckland), Picturing Nineteenth-Century String Quartet Listeners.

This article provides further background against which we can interpret the nineteenth-century string quartet iconography that I discussed in my “Theater Piece and Cabinetstück: Nineteenth-Century Visual Ideologies of the String Quartet”, published in this Journal in 2004. That essay examines nineteenth-century depictions of string quartet performance, noting the prominence given to listeners, and the act of listening. The larger question addressed in this essay concerns what visual culture can tell us about listening culture.
In both the semi-public and public concerts of the mid-nineteenth century, scholars have noted, listeners were gradually “reforming”. This was due, in part, to critics’ emphasis on a culture of still, silent, absorbed (“serious”) listening. The emergence of this listening culture was associated first and foremost, but not only, with the performance of string quartets. Influential figures like Iganz Schuppanzigh, Ludwig van Beethoven and various critics, all played their roles in the propagation of the ideology of “serious” listening, especially in early nineteenth-century Vienna.
Although listening practices remained diverse in nineteenth-century musical context, the seeds for “serious” listening had been sown. The ideology of “serious” listening was then strongly endorsed and disseminated in nineteenth-century iconography, especially scenes depicting the playing of string quartets. Nineteenth-century artists, like the prominent critics, composers and performers of the day, then played their role as “reformers” and educators of contemporary listeners. They, too, helped shift contemporaries’ conception of chamber music: from socially engaging practice, to refined, distanced artwork.

Tan Choon-Ying (DigiPen Institute of Technology, Singapore), Envisioning a Romantic Tragedy: Delacroix’s Dramatic Images of Othello.

Delacroix’s unmistakable enthusiasm for Shakespeare is evidenced by his numerous works illustrating scenes from Othello, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth, which clearly reflect Shakespeare’s popularity in nineteenth-century France. Indeed, French writer and arts critic Stendhal proposed, in 1823, that Shakespeare’s tragedies were suitable for adaptation in creating a new Romantic tragedy for contemporary French audiences as an alternative to classical Greek tragedies, because what England experienced at the end of the sixteenth century was not too different from the French socio-political upheavals at the turn of the nineteenth century—an unsettling period characterized by factions, punishments and conspiracies. For, according to Stendahl, moments of complete illusion—that occurred frequently in Shakespeares tragedies—brought about great dramatic pleasure which appealed more to the new generation than the epic pleasure of Classical plays. Delacroix would have encountered several versions of Othello over the years during which he produced numerous images (dated between 1825 and 1858) depicting four key scenes from the tragedy. In particular, Rossini’s Otello, the Paris premiere of which he attended at the Théâtre des Italiens in 1821, as well as Shakespeare’s Othello in London in 1825. Delacroix’s open admiration, not only for Shakespeare, but also for Rossini, has created a strand of scholarly debate as to whether he was portraying Shakespeare’s or Rossini’s version of Othello. While Delacroix’s drawings and paintings clearly refer to scenes from the opera, he used the English spelling of “Othello” and also Shakespeare’s name for Desdemona’s father—Brabantio instead of Elmiro in the opera—hence the source of confusion. It cannot be ignored that the sustained appeal of this tragedy through the centuries lay in the deliberate casting of Othello as a dark-skinned, high-ranking general who was not Muslim but Christian at once challenging audience’s racial, social and religious prejudices towards the Other. In fact, Othello’s Moorish origins very likely piqued Delacroix’s interest in portraying this tragedy, as it gave the artist an opportunity to demonstrate his first-hand knowledge of the oriental world—which had become his favorite theme after he visited Morocco in 1832. Also, Delacroix might have identified with Othello’s paradox of being a hero-victim. The triumphal opening of the opera hailing Otello’s successful military campaign contrasts sharply with his suicide at the end. Stendhal expressed most compellingly that “the development which takes place within the soul of Othello” was what he found appealing about this tragedy. The range of intense emotions ranging with Othello— jealously, vengeance, despair and regret—must have similarly struck a chord with Delacroix’s Romantic sensibilities.

Slawomira Żerańska-Kominek (Instytut Muzykologii, Uniwersytet Warszawski), Musicians in the Ottoman Costume Album from the Collection of Stanisław II August Poniatowski, Poland’s Last King.

Costumes were a focal point of the early European exploration of foreign cultures: determined in many pre-modern societies by the wearer’s ethnic and occupational identity, attire became an ideogrammatic system with which the West represented the Orient. Thus, illustrated albums featuring compilations of costumes evolved into metonyms for the mores of other cultures, as costume came to represent custom. Ottoman costume albums were a genre of book that emerged in the late sixteenth century, which sought to convey the whole gamut of Ottoman society in pictorial form. These manuscripts commonly included images of the sultan and his court, Turkish ladies and Venetian girls, Greek monks alongside Turkish imams, Russian merchants and African eunuchs, musicians and dancers among others. The drawings are relatively simple, but they succinctly abbreviated the kaleidoscope of cultures that co-inhabited Istanbul. The earliest albums were produced for European travelers and were made by Western artists, but from the beginning of the seventeenth-century Ottoman artists began to imitate the iconography of these European images. At the Print Room of the Biblioteka Uniwersytecka w Warszawie is preserved an album that belonged to Stanisław II August Poniatowski (1764–1795), which includes 257 drawings representing the turquerie, made around 1779 by an unknown Greek artist. Among them are eight drawings showing musicians and dancers, an image of a Mavlevi music-and-dance ritual, a concert held at the British Embassy on 22 February 1779, and a scene from an ortaoyunu theater. These images are compared with the related albums at the Kungliga Biblioteket in Stockholm, HS Rål. 8:O and the British Library in London, add. MS 22367-22368.