(reprinted with permission)

"Eclat, Encounter, Expropriation -- The Clash of Cultures and
Civilizations in Music and Opera in the Imperial Age"

Brno, Czech Republic, 24-26 SEPTEMBER 2007


The Institute of Musicology at the Masaryk University Brno (Czech
Republic) will host its annual musicological colloquium once more in 2007.
This year it will concentrate on music as a product of the "clash of

To characterize advances in society, science and the arts in terms of
clashes, encounters and antagonisms is a surprisingly popular activity -
one may think of C. P. Snow's "two cultures" and also Samuel Huntington's
"Clash of Civilizations". Yet its impact on the study of music and music
history has not yet been investigated systematically. Accordingly, it is
hoped that the 2007 Brno colloquium will draw on an original idea of
Tobias Robert Klein (Berlin), which also forms the basis of a larger
research project currently under way, and will discuss the "clash of
cultures" in music, principally focusing as outlined below on opera, but
also drawing on other periods and repertories for comparative purposes.

Opera is particularly relevant for the study of musical representations of
cultural encounters, and especially imperial 18th- and 19th-century opera,
which inexorably becomes an "affair publique". Staged against the
background of a Europe undergoing rapid change, a variety of its plots
re-enact cultural and religious clashes, as well as the expropriation of
colonial dominions and "marvellous possessions" (S. Greenblatt). The
analysis of such "postcolonial" aspects of opera, occasionally still held
in contempt in some musicological circles, is usually limited to acerbic
deconstructions of the "hegemonic" agendas of the libretti (as for
instance in Edward Said's notorious exegesis of Verdi). But exegesis does
not need to be tone-deaf, and better analyses of this repertory, both
critical and musical, might be possible.

At the same time, opera has been subject to yet another and equally
interesting "clash of cultures". If one views music history in terms of a
series of dichotomized "clashes", then it is clear that composers,
critics, aestheticians, historians and audiences have been at war over the
linguistic, musical, generic and national features of opera for far more
than a century. A fresh and detailed look on some of those controversies
(which gradually shift from an Italian-vs.-French one in the 18th to an
Italian-vs.-German paradigm of musical hegemony in the 19th century,
besides the various national ones) could prove to be fruitful, for music
historians after all need not only to dissect the history of the
mentalities underlying these discourses and debates, but also to
understand the larger historiographical mechanisms behind their latter-day

The organizers of this year's musicological colloquium in Brno therefore
invite papers discussing the representation of cultural encounters on the
operatic stage, and the clashes of "cultures" and composers within the
genre, of which the notorious Gluck-Piccinni controversy is perhaps the
best known. It is hoped that the main focus will be on the fortunes of
Italian opera seria in the 18th century outside Italy, viewing and
reinterpreting from the standpoint outlined above such traditional topics
as the institutions supporting opera (court and city), Italian operatic
companies in central Europe, the significance of pasticcio operas,
libretti and librettists, adaptation and transformation of style,
transmission of repertory through scores and performers, and major
composers and their reputations. For the sake of a comparative
perspective, however, papers dealing with musical representations of
cultural encounters in a more general sense, especially those concerned
with other aspects of opera and intercultural exchange in the 19th
century) will also be very welcome.

All prospective participants should submit a 300-word abstract by 31 May
2007, together with a brief curriculum vitae, and their postal and e-mail

Presentations of papers should not exceed 20 minutes. Papers will be
accepted in English and German. There are no interpreting facilities
available in the conference rooms. The papers will be published in due
course in a volume of conference proceedings.

Active participants will be offered accommodation in an international
hotel free of charge.

Further information will be progressively available on the web page of the
Institute of Musicology of the Masaryk University Brno:
http://www.musicologica.cz under the heading Kolokvium. There is a
special e-mail address for colloquium business:

Paper abstracts, and requests for information, should be addressed to:

Institute of Musicology
Masaryk University Brno
Arne Novaka 1
CZ 602 00 Brno
Czech Republic
Phone and fax: +420 5 4112 1434
E-mail: colloq@phil.muni.cz

In the name of the Board of the Colloquium

PhDr. Mikulás Bek, Ph.D.
PhDr. Petr Macek, Ph.D.
Prof. Dr. Geoffrey Chew