In his final teaching quarter for CCS, Jeremy Haladyna steps back to offer an entirely new course across artistic disciplines. "The Composer Cult" examines famous composers as portrayed in novels, in memoirs, and on television and in film.
What is it about the composer's art that so captivates writers and filmmakers, given how frequently composers serve as subjects? What are the permissible lines that may be crossed by a director when bringing a composer's life to the screen? What dangers exist in judging historical composers by our own contemporary values, and projecting our current worldview onto the work they have left us?
This is the terrain of this new course. Here's what we will examine together:
* British film director Ken Russell's often provocative treatments for TV and
cinema of composers MAHLER, DELIUS and BAX.
* As a cross-check to the filmic portrayals: real-life memoirs by Alma Mahler,
Eric Fenby (who aided the paralyzed Delius); & biographical excerpts on Bax
by Lewis Foreman.
* German novelist Thomas Mann (Nobel prize) and his eyebrow-raising appro-
priation of Arnold SCHOENBERG's musical methodology in his last great
work, "Doctor Faustus."
* The ensuing years-long feud between these 2 great minds: Thomas MANN
and Arnold SCHOENBERG.
* Jessica Duchen's 2016 conjuring of Robert SCHUMANN, the arch-Romantic
composer, in her novel "Ghost Variations." Throughout the novel, its heroine,
real-life violinist Jelly d'Aranyi, receives messages from SCHUMANN from
beyond the grave.
After our examination of these case studies together, each student will write
a final paper investigating another such case in which the life of a composer
transfers (successfully or not) to fiction, dramaturgy, or film. Such examples
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for both CCS composers and CCS Literature majors,
as well as those with an interest in historical treatments on film.
Thomas MANN, trans. John Woods, "Doctor Faustus," Vintage Intl
Jessica DUCHEN, "Ghost Variations," Unbound (You will have to purchase this online.)