A one-day symposium, sponsored by the Department of Music of Bar-Ilan University in collaboration with the Tel-Aviv Center for the Performing Arts, was held on June 20th, 1999, at the Tel-Aviv Center for the Performing Arts. The symposium was dedicated to the intellectual and creative interaction between composition and interpretation as exemplified by Hans Zender’s “Composed Interpretation” of Schubert’s Winterreise for a heterogeneous contemporary music ensemble and tenor voice. In the context of the symposium the idea of “wandering” became a metaphor for the composer's creative and mental journey within temporal as well as cultural and emotional “spaces.”  Dr. Gideon Lewensohn organized the symposium, with the assistance of Sarah Zamir. Prof. Hans Zender (Musikhochschule, Frankfurt), was the Guest of Honor.

Gideon Lewensohn opened the symposium with an introductory lecture on “The Composer as a Wandering Commentator on Culture.” Borrowing on ideas of both Barthes and Gadamer, Dr. Lewensohn argued that an interpretation of a work of art becomes inseparable from the original. Thus for example, Ravel’s orchestration of “Pictures at an Exhibition” is part of an interpretative heritage that influences the pianist performing Moussorgsky’s original. Any performance of a musical work is an “interpretation” of sorts, for the presentation of harmonies, rhythms, dynamics, etc., is dictated by such factors as the performer's touch and feelings as well as the acoustical properties of the given instrument and hall. Zender’s arrangement of Schubert features additional layers of interpretation. Using orchestral color (as well as other devices) to sharpen Schubert’s harmonic, rhythmic, and dynamic gestures, Zender places Schubert’s music within a contemporary cultural and intellectual perspective, a perspective of someone who experienced the music of such figures as Brahms, Mahler, and Weil.

Nachman Ingbar (The Jerusalem Film and Television School) continued the morning session with a talk on “Charley Chaplin and Other Wanderers.” Ingbar noted that “The Wanderer” in Chaplin’s case is far removed from its romanticized counterpart in Schubert/Müller. The spiritual, symbolic, and personal “Winter-Journey” gives way to mass-immigration motivated by a materialistic promise of a better life.

Beth Shamgar (Bar-Ilan University) spoke on “Endings and Non-endings in Winterreise.” Dr. Shamgar referred in particular to three endings in Schubert’s cycle: the historical ending of Einsamkeit, the stylistic ending of Der Wegweiser, and the “geographical” ending of Der Leierman.

Andre Hajdu (Bar-Ilan University) opened the afternoon session with a meditative monologue on Müller’s text for Die Schöne Müllerin, suggesting a Freudian interpretation.

Nitza Abravaya (Tel-Aviv University) spoke on “Mahler’s Portrait as a Wanderer.” Avrabaya identified the roots of The Wanderer in Mahler’s family background, and drew a parallel between the concept of wandering and Mahler’s progressive tonality.

Following an Intermezzo -a Chamber Music Matinee moderated by Dr. Yinam Leef of the Rubin Academy of Music, Jerusalem - the afternoon session concluded with a dialogue between Hans Zender and Dr. Yehudit Etzion (Bar-Ilan University). Prof. Zender discussed the composer’s role as interpreter and described the compositional and intellectual processes that engaged him in arranging Schubert’s masterpiece.

The symposium concluded with an Israeli premiere of Zender’s Winterreise with Peter Rundel conducting The Israeli Contemporary Players, joined by tenor-soloist Scot Wier.


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Last modified, August 1999,  Morel Koren
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