The historical change and present state of music: value(s), ideals and the sounding reality

The 23rd Annual Symposium for Finnish Music Researchers
Sibelius Academy, Uniarts Helsinki (Töölönkatu 28), 27–29 March, 2019

Photo: Kari Hakli 1970. Helsinki City Museum.

The symposium invites researchers, artists and doctoral students to come and reflect on music as an art form, an activity and a commodity. The event’s approach is historical, social and cultural: the goal is to produce information and increase understanding on the history of music and its societal and social context as well as on the relationship of music to the surrounding ideologies and other aspects of culture.


Throughout its history and regardless of genres, music has had values and ideals that have manifested themselves in the sounding world. Music has been used to serve purposes outside the world of music, and it has been utilised to promote ideological and political aims. Music has also provided the opportunity to take a step back in concert halls and to quiet down with religious dedication, as if the whole outside world is shut out. Then again, nature has been one of the most common themes of music throughout the ages. Already for thousands of years, the relationship of music to our surroundings, landscapes and other creatures has defined and reflected our perceptions of reality and our selfperception of us humans as cultural and social beings.


In modern times, music has had an increasingly concrete economic value, which is connected to the mediatisation of music. Publishing business that began in the late 18th century was the earliest example of commercialisation of music, and at the other end of the time spectrum, the revenue logic of today’s music world can be seen in online streaming of music, for example, which has become the business of international exchange-listed companies.

Call for papers



Programme subject to change

Wednesday March 27th 2019

09.00 Registration

09.45–10.00 Symposium opening: Anne Kauppala & Markus Mantere (T-Auditorium, 5th floor)

10.00–11.00 Keynote / Nicholas Till (T-Auditorium, 5th floor)

11.00–11.15 Break

11.15–12.45 Parallel sessions 1a–1d

12.45–14.15 Lunch

14.15–15.45 Parallel sessions 2a–2d

17.00–22.00 Dinner: guided tour to the Suruton kaupunki exhibition, lunc in the 20ies style (Hakasalmi mansion, Mannerheimintie 13 B)


Thursday March 28th 2019

09.00–11.00 Parallel sessions 3a–3d

11.00–11.15 Break

11.15–11.30 Announcing the pro gradu award (Wegelius hall, 4th floor)

11.30–12.30 Keynote / Jessica Gienow-Hecht (Wegelius hall, 4th floor)

12.30–13.45 Lunch

13.45–14.45 Keynote / Daniel Grimley (Wegelius hall, 4th floor)

14.45–15.15 Break

15.15–17.15 Parallel sessions 4a–4d

Friday March 29th 2019

09.30–11.00 Parallel sessions 5a–5c

11.00–11.15 Break

11.15–12.15 Keynote / Dana Gooley (Wegelius hall, 4th floor)

12.15–13.45 Lunch

13.45–15.15 Parallel sessions 6a–6c

15.15–15.30  Break

15.30–16.00 Final discussion and closing of the symposium (Wegelius hall, 4th floor)

Keynote speakers

Dr. Jessica Gienow-Hecht (Freie Universität Berlin)

The Quest for Harmony: Classical Music, Emotion, and the Discourse on Human Rights in the United States since World War II


The keynote is related to an on-going research project funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. The project examines the political impact of classical music in discourses on humanity, human rights and morals by means of soloists, symphony orchestras, their composers, conductors and musicians, e.g. in the USA. The project asks whether and how classical music has functioned as a carrier of emotion and political content, notably human rights, since the 1940s and what role American cultural diplomacy plays in this context.


Biography: Dr. Jessica Gienow-Hecht is Professor of History at Freie Universität Berlin. She has previously taught at the universities of Virginia, Bielefeld, Halle-Wittenberg, Harvard, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Cologne and at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. Her first book, Transmission Impossible: American Journalism as Cultural Diplomacy in Postwar Germany, 1945–1955 (Louisiana State University Press, 1999), was co-awarded the Stuart Bernath Prize and the Myrna Bernath Prize. Her second book, Sound Diplomacy: Music and Emotions in Transatlantic Relations, 1850-1920 (University of Chicago Press, 2009, 2012) has won the Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award.


Dr. Dana Gooley (Brown University, USA)

Democratizing Improvisation: Grétry, Vogler, and the Formation of the Modern Musician

Recent scholarship on improvisation emerging from the CSI school (Critical Studies in Improvisation) has promoted a vision of improvisation as a model of political organization, community action, and cross-cultural cooperation. It asserts that improvisation, by virtue of its openness, flexibility, and demand for careful listening, possesses a rare and valuable democratic ethos that can be mobilized to heal modern problems of inequality, alienation, and social conflict. The cultural and historical framework for these claims, however, is generally limited to post-Coltrane jazz and the European or Afrodiasporic avant-gardes. This talk is intended to broaden the scope of the discussion by focusing on the first European writers to link improvisation with social, ethical, and political reform: André Grétry and Georg Joseph (Abbé) Vogler.


Writings from the later eighteenth century express a desire to spread improvisational skill beyond the sphere of elite professional musicians and make it available to amateur practitioners and women. In the cases of both Grétry and Abbé Vogler, this ambition was a direct response to Enlightenment philosophies that challenged traditional social hierarchies and rose to ascendancy during the years of the French revolution. In his 1802 treatise L’art de preluder Grétry, influenced directly by Rousseau’s philosophy of education, argued that improvisation was a necessary resource for keeping musicians in touch with true, natural inspiration, and argued against learned approaches that stressed harmonic “science.” Vogler’s later pedagogical writings openly supported the French revolutionary cause and pressed for a more flexible, less rule-bound approach to the education of young musicians. The long-term impact of these efforts was to divorce improvisation training from the intricacies of thoroughbass and to make it more purely chordal in approach, thereby making it more accessible to a wider range of participants. In this way the democratic and emancipatory ideals advanced by the French philosophes initiated a distinctively modern idea of improvisation that is now being developed more extensively by the CSI.


Biography: Dana Gooley is a musicologist and Professor of Music at Brown University. He has published widely on European music in the 19th century, with an emphasis on performers, performance culture, reception, and politics. His two monographs are The Virtuoso Liszt (Cambridge, 2004) and Fantasies of Improvisation: Free Playing in Nineteenth-Century Music (Oxford, 2018), and he has co-edited two essay collections, Franz Liszt and His World (Princeton, 2006) and Franz Liszt: Musicien Européen (Vrin, 2012). Articles on music criticism, virtuosity, musical mediation, improvisation, cosmopolitanism, and jazz have appeared in 19th Century Music, Musical Quarterly, Journal of Musicology, Journal of the American Musicological Society, Musiktheorie, Keyboard Perspectives, and Performance Research. Since 2009 he has served on the Editorial Board of 19th Century Music. He is currently writing a book on the tropes and conventions of visual presentation in 20th century concert life.


Dr. Daniel Grimley (University of Oxford, UK)

Hearing Landscape Critically: Musical Prospects and Reflections


There are few more pervasive assumptions in the popular imagination than the interconnection between music and landscape. Images of landscape with stirring musical accompaniments occur with remarkable frequency in the media, and music evidently possesses an intense capacity to evoke images of nature and place. But music has been uncannily absent from landscape studies, just as landscape largely seems to have been of little more than peripheral interest in much music scholarship. This paper surveys some recent contributions and challenges to the field, drawing on both cultural geography and musicology, and offers a preliminary sketch for future lines of potential enquiry.


Biography: Daniel Grimley is Associate Head of Humanities at the University of Oxford, with responsibility for research, and a tutorial fellow at Merton College. His most recent book is titled Delius and the Sound of Place, and was published by Cambridge University Press in November 2018.


Dr. Nicholas Till (University of Sussex, UK)

”The lyrical engineering of the modern world": Opera, Myth and Modernity 


Opera was born in Florence around 1600, with Rinuccini's and Peri's opera "Euridice", the earliest surviving opera, being presented at the celebrations for the marriage of Maria de' Medici to King Henri IV of France in that year. For my current research project I'm asking the questions: why opera? why there? why then?


In Act 3 of Striggio’s and Monteverdi’s "Orfeo" (1607), Orpheus seizes Charon’s boat and ferries himself across the river Styx into the underworld. As he navigates the river a chorus extols Orpheus’s heroism, comparing it to the feats of Jason and Daedalus, the first navigator and the first scientist of classical mythology. This reference to navigation and science in an opera conventionally associated with renaissance Neoplatonism or courtly pastoral suggests that Orfeo is much more closely embedded within the culture of early modernity than has previously been recognised. I have established some substantial connections between the producers and patrons of early opera and distinctive aspects of early-modernity such as the scientific revolution, colonial exploration, capitalist trade and commerce, etc. But what world view underpins these connections?  Why should those who supported Galileo also have supported the new art form (and also have been the patrons of Caravaggio)? What were the social circumstances that necessitated a new art form to fulfill what the Spanish historian José Antonio Maraval described as "The lyrical engineering of the modern world" (José Antonio Maravall, "Culture of the Baroque").

In this presentation I will lay out some of the methodological challenges of establishing a historical-materialist reading of the origins of opera.


Biography: Nicholas Till is a historian, theorist and practitioner of opera and music theatre. He is the author of Mozart and the Enlightenment (1992) and editor of The Cambridge Companion to Opera Studies (2012) and Beckett and Musicality (2014), and articles and book chapters on contemporary opera and related arts. He is currently Professor of Opera and Music Theatre at the University of Sussex, where he is Director of the Centre for Research in Opera ad Music Theatre. 

Registration and accommodation

Registration to the symposium has opened on February 18 and will close on March 8. Registration to the symposium and enrolment to the Symposium dinner (for a fee) takes place on the electronic platform Lyyti

Visitors coming from outside Helsinki we have accommodation offers from four hotels.
The offers are valid accommodations between March 26th and 29th.
Reservation code: SYMPOSIUM2019 (Except for the Omena hotel, which has its own codes)



Mannerheimintie 46, 00260 Helsinki
Prices (breakfast and VAT included):
* Double room 119e/room/night
* Single room 99e/room/night

Bookings directly via the hotel or tel +358 9 47371
Bookings to be made by March 12th 2019 at the latest.



Eteläinen Rautatienkatu 4
00100 Helsinki
Prices (breakfast and VAT included):
* Double room 149e/room/night
* Single room 129e/room/night

Bookings to be made by February 26th at the latest.



Vuorikatu 19
00100 Helsinki

Prices (breakfast and VAT included):
* Double room 115e/room/night
* Single room 105e/room/night

Bookings via the hotel's salse services at, or to the reception at, tel. +358 9 173 441.
Bookings to be made by March 12th 2019 at the latest.


Lönnrotinkatu 13
00120 Helsinki

Yrjönkatu 30
00120 Helsinki

OBS! The Omena Hotel has its own discount codes:
ENNAKKO7 bookings made at least 7 days before the accommodation / -5% discount
ENNAKKO14 bookings made at least 14 days before the accommodation / -10% discount
ENNAKKO30 bookings made at least 30 days before the accommodation / -15% discount

Symposium venue

The Symposium is organized in the Uniarts Sibelius Academy's venue at Töölönkatu 28 in Helsinki. You can reach the site by walking from the railway or the bus station or you can take tram 4 or 10 to the Hesperianpuisto tram stop.




Symposium secretary Minna Karppanen

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