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On Romantic Listening or, What We Learn in the Dark

Gabriela Cruz, University of Michigan
In the first hour of mass illumination inaugurated by the use of gaslight (in London in the 1810s, in Paris in the 1820s, and so forth), thieves, aesthetes, and revolutionaries came to regret the loss of darkness. In deep penumbra, something extraordinary happens: we see nothing beyond shadows, and yet, our perceptual acuity is also enhanced; we envision what is not even there – in the deep of night, we dream. Courtesy of gaslight and the darkness left by its absence, nineteenth-century spectators found the means to dream at will and while awake in industrial technique. In the hands of Eugène Delacroix, for instance, painting became an extravagant machinery of illusion, while the diorama, invented by Louis Daguerre in the early 1820s, and the phantasmagoria, a device used for producing eerie shows of ghostly animation in the late 18th-century, drew a large public suddenly enthralled by modern spectacles of appearances. Unsurprisingly, in the new age of spectacle born out of gas illumination, composers turned towards the sensorial promises of darkness and the potentialities of dream states, innovating in their practices of instrumentation and procedures of tonality, and re-imagining song and voice to promote a new understanding of music as a charismatic art of indubitable charm and irresistible power. Tracing these efforts, the present talk, richly illustrated with music by Schubert, Weber, Meyerbeer, Chopin and Wagner, takes the audience along the very romantic journey of listening in and out of darkness.

Liszt’s Double Vision, or The Gothic Liszt

Susan Bernstein, Brown University
Explore Liszt’s Lettres d’un bachelier ès Musique and George Sand’s Lettres d’un voyageur, as a model for Liszt’s early writings, along with some passages from their correspondence. This discussion focuses on images of hearing music, looking at paintings, and reading. What all three relations have in common is a kind of temporary transcendence in which music, painting and meaning themselves become present in their physical manifestation; but this presence is interrupted, deflated, or contrasted with an earthly finitude that persists in the face of art. Through their common descriptions of aesthetic experience, Liszt and Sand form a kind of artistic community in which the self is constituted only in relation to other selves and thus is always split or doubled. Aesthetic transcendence has its counterpart in a kind of ghostly haunting.

Eugène Delacroix and Romantic Musicality

Judy Sund, City University of New York
Startling art-lovers with a series of works showcasing emotional extremes and Oriental excess, Eugène Delacroix emerged the leader of the French Romantic school in the 1820s. His enduring influence, however, stemmed less from his themes than his means – particularly the bold color plays the painter described as “the music of the picture.” Struck, like many Romantics, by music’s ability to evoke moods and feelings independent of tangible referents, Delacroix sought visual equivalents in coloristic and tonal harmonies that his friend Charles Baudelaire deemed “musical” and admirers from Van Gogh to Seurat aspired to emulate.

Susan Bernstein works in German, French and English and American literature of the 18th-20th centuries and has been teaching at Brown University since 1989. She has particular interests in literary theory, literature and the arts, Romanticism, philosophy and poetry. Bernstein received her doctorate from the Johns Hopkins University, her B.A. from Yale, and M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley. She also studied at the Freie Universität Berlin and the Ecole normale supérieure in Paris. She has published articles on Nietzsche, Kant, Heine, Shelley and others; her book Virtuosity of the Nineteenth Century: Performing Music and Language in Heine, Liszt and Baudelaire was published by Stanford University Press in 1998. She is also the author of Housing Problems: Writing and Architecture in Goethe, Walpole, Freud and Heidegger, also published by Stanford in 2008.

Gabriela Cruz joined the University of Michigan faculty in 2012, after having taught at Tufts University, New University of Lisbon (Portugal), and the University of Coimbra (Portugal). Cruz’s new book, Grand Illusion: Phantasmagoria in Nineteenth-Century Opera is forthcoming with Oxford University Press; it examines the transformation of opera into a modern art of spectacle facilitated by the introduction of gas light illumination and the development of novel visual and musical technologies of illusion in opera theaters beginning in the 1820s. Her essays and review essays on Verdi, Wagner, Meyerbeer and French grand opera, romantic aesthetics, opera, and early phonography and Portuguese film have appeared in Cambridge Opera JournalNineteenth-Century MusicOpera QuarterlyCurrent MusicologyJournal of the American Liszt Society, the Revista Portuguesa de Musicologia, and in edited volumes published by Rochester University Press, Peter Lang, and Argus Edition. In addition to her work on opera, Cruz is presently pursuing a project on musical comedy in Portuguese-speaking theatres of the nineteenth century, investigating the intersections of theatre and democratic politics in urban culture. Professor Cruz serves as a Rackham Faculty Ally for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; leads the Writing Workshop for graduate students in musicology, ethnomusicology and music theory; and is co-editor of the journal Music & Politics. She has served on the Council Committee on Honorary and Corresponding Membership and the Stevenson M. Award Committee of the American Musicological Society and collaborates with the Centre for the Study of Aesthetics and Sociology of Music (CESEM) of the New University of Lisbon.

Judy Sund, a native of Southern California, earned her BA at San Diego State University, and her PhD in art history at Columbia University. Her research is primarily devoted to modern painting and sculpture in Europe and the United States. Her more particular interests include visual artists' responses to texts, constructions of the exotic in Euro-American visual culture and intersections of high art and popular culture (in world's fairs, popular entertainment, popular literature, advertising, etc.). She is particularly well known for her work on Van Gogh, having published two books on that artist (True to Temperament: Van Gogh and French Naturalist Literature, 1992, and Van Gogh: Art and Ideas, 2002), in addition to several essays. She also is a long-time student and teacher of Pre-Columbian art and architecture and has written about 20th-Century appropriations of ancient artifacts.