Modern Romanticism

Concert #1 -- Piano and Cello
Friday, January 18th, 7:30 PM

Concert #2 -- Piano, Violin and French Horn
Thursday, April 3rd, 7:30 PM

Hungarian Cultural Center, 447 Broadway, 5th Floor
$10 suggested donation

Amp and Pianist Renate Rohlfing present two concerts that connect works by Romantic and modern composers. Her provocation is that contemporary music, as a classical music, should not isolate itself from the canonical masterpieces of the past; rather, traditional classical music and its contemporary progeny should mutually contextualize each other.

But the aesthetic attitude of 20th century music has often seemed to oppose itself almost diametrically to the ideals of the Romantic movement. In what sense, then, can we hear modern music as Romantic, Romantic music as modern?

To answer this question, we should consider how the Romantic movement complicated the relationship between the artist (individual) and their society by questioning the authority and normativity of aristocratic social forms. These classical or logical forms were criticized as arbitrary, restrictive, and perhaps most importantly, static in a way that denied the continual movement, or self-movement, of actual, lived experience.

In their place, Romanticism developed a general conception of form-as-movement that idealized revolution as the means necessary for any self-revelation. Society no longer functioned as an abstract, regulative force on the rational individual; rather, individual and society were superimposed into a teeming mass of ideology, material, and power that offered the dream that the individual as creative historical agent could reclaim him/herself by the recomposition of the cultural world according to his/her fantasies. But, if the rejection of traditional social values inaugurated a new definition of freedom as authenticity, it had the simultaneous but unexpected consequence of de-centering the subject, disestablishing the subject from his/her "proper" identity.

It is this narrative of the emergence of the modern crisis as a logical development of Romanticism that serves as a thematic program for these concerts. We invite the listeners to consider that musical Romanticism seized on the power and possibilities of revolution as a model for formal development, while its modernist counterpart extended this recontextualizing perspective to the point of hyper-expressionism and fragmentation. Revolution appears in modernism not as a struggle between individual and society, but rather between the individual and him/herself.

The first concert takes as its occasion the development of the cello-piano duo from late classicism into the 20th century. In this concert, Beethoven's exuberant late sonata and Schumann's madness-tinged folk fantasies predict the modernist exploration of form and sound in the works by Kagel, Ligeti, and Webern. The second concert centers on Ligeti's monumental Horn Trio, here presented with Brahms' first violin sonata and a new composition by Derek Muro for horn trio.

Each work will be briefly introduced to the public by the performers, and the audience is invited to meet the performers during the reception following each concert.

Concert #1 -- Piano and Cello
Friday, January 18th, 7:30 PM
John Popham (cello)
Renate Rohlfing (piano)

Mauricio Kagel (1931)
Unguis Incarnatus Est (1972)

Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Funf Stucke im Volkston (1849)


Anton Webern (1883-1945)
Drei Kleine Stucke Op. 11 (1914)

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Sonata for piano and cello in D Major Op. 102 No. 2 (1815)

Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
Gyaszgondola (1885)

Program: Concert #2 -- Piano, Violin and French Horn
Thursday, April 3rd, 7:30 PM
Rachel Drehmann (horn)
Renate Rohlfing (piano)
Chris Otto (violin)

Johannes Brahms
Violin Sonata in G major

György Ligeti
Horn Trio

Derek Muro
New Work (TBA)