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Classical Music Project Autumn Lecture Series Begins October 23

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Classical Music Project Autumn Lecture Series

The Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State Classical Music Project continues its mission of engaging students, faculty and the community with an autumn Interdisciplinary Lecture Series, featuring Penn State faculty and invited experts, beginning Wednesday, Oct. 23, at the University Park campus.


The Classical Music Project, now in its third season and supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, provides opportunities to engage people with classical music artists and programs. Visit to learn more about the project and its array of concerts and engagement activities.


Each of the four lectures—free and open to the public—lasts approximately 75 minutes and takes place at the Palmer Museum of Art’s Palmer Lipcon Auditorium. The list of fall lectures with descriptions follows.


Music and Diplomacy in the Age of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven

Mark Ferraguto, assistant professor of musicology at Penn State

3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23


By 1803, Vienna hosted almost 50 embassies, which were major hubs of musical activity. From the hosting of entertainments, to the patronage of musicians to the promotion of native or adopted music, foreign ambassadors displayed “soft power” while helping to shape the music of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and their contemporaries. This talk illustrates how the music of the Classical style served as valuable cultural capital for diplomats and nations alike.


Stravinsky and the End of Musical Time: Messiaen’s Analysis of The Rite of Spring and Its Impact on 20th-Century Music

Vincent Benitez, associate professor of music theory at Penn State

2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5


Through The Rite of Spring (1913), Stravinsky ushered in the end of musical time, as we know it. Struck by the originality of its rhythmic practices, Messiaen analyzed The Rite of Spring in 1930. Messiaen became an important disseminator of Stravinsky’s rhythmic ideas through his work as a composer and a teacher. This lecture examines Messiaen’s historic analysis of The Rite of Spring and shows how his interpretations of Stravinsky’s music furthered the Russian composer’s legacy through their impact on composers who reached maturity after 1945.


Schubert’s Freedom of Song, if not Speech

Kristina Muxfeldt, associate professor of musicology at Indiana University

3:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11


This talk considers songs of Schubert against the backdrop of the Napoleonic wars and the censorship imposed after the Congress of Vienna. Even as the restoration government sought to destroy those “phantoms of the mind”—constitutions, citizenry and nationhood—that the French Revolution and the wars of liberation wakened, oppositional nationalists worked to keep alive such visions in songs and collections of poetry. The lecture explores how an unconventional telling of a familiar Greek myth could become a vehicle of political expression.


The Spectacular Orchestra

Emily Dolan, associate professor of musicology at the University of Pennsylvania

3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11


The late-18th century witnessed the birth of modern orchestration—the art of assigning melodies and harmonies to the instruments in an orchestra. The orchestra’s ability to combine explosions of sound with subtle, delicate and colorful nuance delighted many listeners who heard in the orchestra a new kind of musical power. But some critics bemoaned what they thought amounted to sonic abuse. Delving into the music of Gluck, Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, this talk explores what orchestration is and what it meant to composers and listeners in the early Romantic period. 


For more details about the lectures and links to the speakers’ biographies, go to


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