Colloquium Series: Operatic Fidelities

WhenMay 02, 2014 3:30 PM - 5:30 PM
WhereFulton Hall
Event Websitehttp://music.uchicago.edu/page/music-colloquium-series
Contact InformationMusic Department
DescriptionRichard Leppert (University of Minnesota)

Phonography and Operatic Fidelities (Regimes of Musical Listening, 1904-1929)


This paper is an exploration of the historical transition from public listening to listening in private, linked in modernity to the impact of phonography and the mechanical reproduction of music. Early in the twentieth century, the Victor Talking Machine Company in particular privileged—and aggressively promoted—opera as the prestigious cultural form by which to sell both phonographs and recordings, particularly, if hardly exclusively, in the United States, and with Enrico Caruso as the company’s exclusive singing “spokesperson” for the new apparatus. Concomitantly, the paper addresses the architectural form of the opera house as regards the centrality of seeing (and being seen) to the experience of attending live opera performance, on the one hand, and concerted efforts to transfer the experience of both hearing and seeing live musical/operatic performance to recordings marketed to the domestic sphere, on the other, focusing on the challenge in the history of early phonography to accommodate the absence of the visual when listening to recordings, principally through advertised claims of sound fidelity.

Richard Leppert is Fesler-Lambert Professor of Humanities, and Morse Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Minnesota. His PhD is in Musicology, with Art History as his cognate field. He holds undergraduate degrees in Music, English Literature, and German Literature. His work is concentrated on the relations of music and imagery to social and cultural construction, principally revolving around issues of gender, class and race. Most of his work concerns European high culture from early modernity to the present, though he also has also published on American music and art. He has specific interests in critical theories of the arts and culture from the Frankfurt School to post-modernism, Adorno in particular.
CategoriesConferences/Lectures, Free Food, Lectures, Arts, Diversity, Staff, Graduate Students
Persons with disabilities who need an accommodation in order to participate in this event should contact the event sponsor for assistance.