Type of Document Dissertation Author Hutchison, Dennis C. URN etd-09012003-012204 Title Performance, Technology, And Politics: Hermann Scherchen's’ Aesthetics Of Modern Music Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Music, School of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Denise Von Glahn Committee Chair Charles E. Brewer Committee Member Jeffrey Kite-Powell Committee Member Jane Piper Clendinning University Representative Keywords
- The Gravesano Electro-Acoustic Institute
- Worker Choruses
Date of Defense 2003-06-02 Availability unrestricted AbstractThis study is an examination of European modernism based on the activities and
writings of Hermann Scherchen (1891-1966). Scherchen is known today as a conductor and champion of modern music, but he was also an orchestra builder, a founder of journals, a radio pioneer, and an electro-acoustics researcher. He directed the premieres of nearly one hundred fifty works, including those by Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, Stravinsky, Křenek, Hindemith, Weill, Varèse, Hartmann, Nono, and Xenakis.
Scherchen was also an important interpreter of Mahler’s symphonies and of Bach’s Kunst der Fuge. He was a proponent of an objective approach to conducting, emphasized the acoustical nature of music, and aimed at illuminating the details of the musical work.
Under difficult economic conditions, Scherchen cultivated the Grotrian-Steinweg Orchestra in the early 1920s and the “Musica Viva” Orchestra in the 1930s. Scherchen founded the music journals Melos and Musica Viva, wrote an important book on
conducting, the Lehrbuch des Dirigierens, and published articles on Schoenberg’s Pierrot
lunaire and Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge. Scherchen did important pioneering work in Radio in Königsberg from 1928 to 1931 and in Zürich from 1945 to 1950. In 1954, he founded an electro-acoustic studio in Gravesano, Switzerland. This institute conducted research in hall acoustics, instrument design, compositional technique, psychoacoustics, sociology, recording and sound transmission, and television and film. The results of their inquiries were published in the journal Gravesaner Blätter. Scherchen’s life intersected directly with the major political events of the last century. He experienced the events of the 1917 Russian Revolution and the German November Revolution of 1918; he led
workers choruses and went into exile when the Nazis seized power in 1933 and, in 1950,
was a victim of the Cold War. Given the breadth of his activities and experiences, Scherchen presents a unique means to understanding the musical culture of his times.
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