Symposium to Focus On German Composer Hugo Riemann

Release Date: June 3, 1997 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Scholars of music theory from major universities will gather at the University at Buffalo on July 18 and 19 for a symposium on the musical and mathematical theories of influential German musicologist and composer Hugo Riemann (1849-1919), whose work is enjoying a rebirth of international attention.

The symposium, titled "Neo-Riemannian Transformations: Mathematics and Applications," will be held on the UB North (Amherst) Campus .

For information, call 716-645-2765, ext. 1271.

The symposium will consider contemporary applications of recently revived observations of Riemann, whose theory of harmonic dualism treated major and minor chords as mirror images of one another. Riemann was long held in disfavor among English-speaking scholars, but his theories have recently been strengthened and generalized through the application of mathematical group theory.

"These new formulations have provided a fresh perspective on 19th- and 20th-century harmony and counterpoint," said John Clough, Slee Professor of Music at UB, who headed the organizing committee for the event.

"In particular, they offer surprising understanding into the diatonic (white-key) scale, the bedrock of Western music of the past several centuries," he said. "These insights have had ramifications for various world musics and suggest new directions that composers may find attractive."

Participating scholars will come from Harvard University, Cornell University, the University of Chicago, the University of New Mexico, the University of Alberta and the Library of Congress. Martha Hyde and Charles J. Smith, UB professors of music, and UB graduate students David Clampitt, Nora Engebretsen and Erik Oña also will participate.

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