Sunday, April 28, 2019 9:30 am - 1:15 pm
Aniruddh Patel / Tufts University
Charles Darwin regarded music as an evolutionary mystery. It is universal and ancient in human culture, but serves no obvious biological function. Recent decades have witnessed a rise of empirical research on the biological foundations of music, leading to findings which help illuminate music's evolutionary origins and its significance in human life.
In this lecture, Professor Aniruddh Patel of Tufts University and author of Music, Language, and the Brain will discuss a wide variety of research studies bearing on the evolution and biological power of music. These will include studies of how music is processed by other species, and studies of how active engagement with music enhances brain function in children and adults, including both neurologically normal individuals and those with brain disorders.
Aniruddh Patel is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Tufts University, where he conducts basic research on the cognitive neuroscience of music. Before joining Tufts University he was a Senior Fellow at The Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, a private research institute led by the late Nobel laureate Gerald M. Edelman. Professor Patel has served as president of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition and has published numerous research articles and a scholarly book, “Music, Language and the Brain”, which won an ASCAP Deems Taylor award. In 2009 he received the Music Has Power Award from the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function in New York City, and in 2018 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to write a book on the evolution of music cognition.
Anna Celenza / Georgetown University
What is the American Sound? Does such a thing exist in the realm of concert music? During the 1920s and 30s, composers, music critics, entertainment executives and audiences believed in the idea of an American Sound, and they worked hard to promote their various points of view in the concert hall, via newspaper articles, through advertising and on film. This course explores the origins of two quintessential American masterpieces — George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and Duke Ellington's Symphony in Black — and their relationship to contemporary American culture. As participants will discover over the course of the presentation, Gershwin and Ellington knew one another, and they each looked to the music of the other when composing.
Both Rhapsody in Blue and Symphony in Black were composed in an attempt to capture the essence of the "modern" American experience and blur the lines between classical music, popular music, and jazz. Using film clips, music excerpts, and popular dance steps from the 1920s and 30s, Professor Celenza will introduce participants to the wide range of musical genres and styles that influenced Gershwin and Ellington (from spirituals, blues, and Klezmer music to Tin Pan Alley songs, opera, symphonic forms and Ragtime) and facilitate an open discussion concerning music's current role in defining American culture.
Anna Celenza is the Thomas E. Caestecker Professor of Music at Georgetown University. She is the author of several books, including Jazz Italian Style: From Its Origins in New Orleans to Fascist Italy and Sinatra, and her most recent book, Music that Changed America. In addition to her scholarly work, she has served as a writer/commentator for NPR’s Performance Today and published eight award-winning children’s books, including Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite. She has been featured on nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, including the BBC’s “Music Matters” and C-Span’s “Book TV.”
Louis Masur / Rutgers University
Rock 'n' roll is an American invention that changed the nation and the world. Emerging out of rhythm and blues, jazz, gospel, and country music, the new sound shaped a generation and helped define American culture. In this course, we will focus on Elvis Presley, his Sun session recordings, and appearances on the Ed Sullivan show. We will also look at how Bob Dylan transformed America, first through folk music and then through rock 'n' roll. Finally, we will explore how Bruce Springsteen was hailed on the covers of Time and Newsweek as the savior of rock 'n' roll and how his work offers nothing less than a meditation on the American dream.
By looking at Presley in the 1950s, Dylan in the 1960s, and Springsteen in the 1970s, we can gain a deeper understanding of how rock 'n' roll freed our bodies and our minds, and continues to work on our souls.
Louis Masur is a Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University. He received outstanding teaching awards from Rutgers, Trinity College, and the City College of New York, and won the Clive Prize for Excellence in Teaching from Harvard University. He is the author of many books including “Lincoln’s Last Speech,” which was inspired by a talk he presented at One Day University. His essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and Slate. He is an elected member of the American Antiquarian Society and serves on the Historians’ Council of the Gettysburg Foundation.