A century (and a bit) of Pierrot Ensembles: perspectives on Barcelona, London and São Paulo

Conference paper


Dromey, C. 2017. A century (and a bit) of Pierrot Ensembles: perspectives on Barcelona, London and São Paulo. Musical Modernism and the Commedia dell'arte. City, University of London, United Kingdom Jun 2017
TypeConference paper
TitleA century (and a bit) of Pierrot Ensembles: perspectives on Barcelona, London and São Paulo
AuthorsDromey, C.
Abstract

Over the last 105 years, the mixed chamber ensemble of Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire has become, in all its protean forms, a principal line-up for modern music. This paper offers a panoramic view of the musical, intercultural and historical contexts that underlie the Pierrot ensemble’s enduring appeal. In particular, it falls into three main parts to scrutinise how the medium has been adopted by musicians and composers in different parts of the world. Scholars have tended to focus on either Berlin, the site of Pierrot’s premiere, or on Anglo-American efforts to sustain and reinterpret the medium, especially in the late twentieth century. Instead, we begin in Barcelona to examine the Pierrot ensemble as a Spanish phenomenon, from its 1925 premiere, which also marked the premiere of Anton Webern’s Pierrot quintet arrangement of Schoenberg’s First Chamber Symphony (1906/22–23), to Mercedes Zavala’s Senegal-inspired La apoteosis nocturna de Andoar (2001). Such histories are inevitably interwoven, so the paper next probes the legacy of the Pierrot Players (1967–70, later The Fires of London), one of the most galvanising ensembles in post-war British music. A comparison of this group’s wide-ranging achievements with those of Grupo Novo Horizonte de São Paulo (1988–99), Brazil’s leading ensemble of the late twentieth century, can cast new light on how musical media and genres evolve. The paper therefore concludes by scrutinising how Grupo Novo Horizonte, founded by the Briton Graham Griffiths, took then outgrew the Pierrot ensemble as its cornerstone, forging a localised spectacle with a richly internationalist heritage.

Research GroupMusic group
LanguageEnglish
ConferenceMusical Modernism and the Commedia dell'arte
Publication dates
Print06 Jun 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited15 Jun 2017
Accepted06 Jun 2017
Output statusIn press
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