The wide range of topics covered by the ten articles in Essays on Gerhard demonstrate the fact that he was a man whose intellectual curiosity lead him to explore many idioms in some depth, an aspect of his work which could have resulted in an oeuvre that is merely an idiosyncratic collection of individual works. Instead, the overlaps and cross-currents between articles generate a perception that there was a constancy in his explorations of these idioms which eventually produced the syntheses of his late works and enabled him to embrace even the seemingly alien aesthetic of John Cage.
The principal focus of the chapters discussing his musical development is on Gerhard’s development as a serialist, and the essays range over his early explorations of irregular series in the Wind Quintet of 1928 (Rachel Mitchell) and the ballet Don Quixote, begun in 1940 (Trevor Walshaw); his theorising in the late 40s and early 50s (Russ) and his application of the series not only to the organisation of pitch but also to temporal structures (Darren Sproston).
The electronic explorations are represented with a detailed analysis by Gregorio García Karman of the setting of the poem by Gerhard’s friend Lorca Lament for the Death of a Bullfighter. Karman’s analysis embraces not only the materials and structure created by the composer and their relationship with the text, but also reflects on the implications of the choice of text and its personal significance for Gerhard.
In discussing the ballets both White, who examines for the first time the relationship between music and scenario in the original Pandora ballet, and Walshaw in his detailed study of Don Quixote, place some emphasis on Gerhard’s emotional commitment to these projects: White comments on Gerhard’s and Jooss’s anti-war stance in Pandora, while Walshaw sees Don Quixote as both an expression of Gerhard’s vision of Cervantes’ hero as the personification of the psyche of Spain in times of strife and an assertion of his identity as a Spaniard, as opposed to the Catalan persona apparent in Pandora.
Gerhard, as is well-known, went into exile in 1939 and the common view in Britain has been that under Franco the works of the exiles were banned. However, the essay by Belén Pérez Castillo reveals that the situation was much more complex and she opens new perspectives for English-speaking readers. Pérez demonstrates that from about 1943 the musical literature began to include observations about exiled composers and it is shown that the causes of Gerhard’s low profile in the these writings are found not so much in the fact of his exile but in his aesthetic move away from nationalism towards association with the avant garde of Central Europe – Schoenberg, Webern, etc., combined with a degree of personal and political antipathy from the leading Francoist writer, Sopeña, although he did become a significant figure for the younger generation from the 1960s onwards.
Gerhard’s life and music are rich in ambiguities (he once wrote to Leo Black ‘I reserve the right to be inconsistent’) and in the coda to the book Duque and Adkins seize the opportunity to provide a commentary on Gerhard’s aesthetic by embracing and exploring the ambiguity inherent in the fact that, as he made clear in his notebooks, Gerhard, the great craftsman, was temperamentally resistant to Cage’s concept of the ‘open work’, but nevertheless was prepared to produce such a piece for Cage’s collection of scores. A second ambiguity is that we do not know whether Gerhard was being serious or ironic – nor, probably, will we ever.
As a Spaniard of Catalan birth, Franco-Swiss parentage and eventual British citizenship, who studied with both the father of Spanish musical nationalism (Pedrell) and the inventor of serialism (Schoenberg), Gerhard assimilated some of the most diverse musical currents of his time. In a career spanning five decades he completed a remarkable odyssey of exploration and self-discovery. All the more striking then that, when this compilation of essays on Gerhard is viewed as a whole, it is possible to discern a coherence in Gerhard’s life-long explorations, from the first efforts with irregular series through the advanced harmonic writing of Pandora to the syntheses of the dazzlingly inventive works of his fertile late period..
Trevor Walshaw and Julian White
New book on Roberto Gerhard published by Franz Steiner Verlag. Zwölftontechnik als neue Form von Tonalität: Zu Roberto Gerhards quixotischem Code. By Gabriela Lendle.
Die besondere, kombinatorische Anwendung der Zwölftonmethode im Exilschaffen des spanisch-englischen Komponisten und Schönbergschülers Roberto Gerhard (1896–1970) war verbunden mit einer lebensphilosophischen Lesart der Don Quixote-Figur. Über jene Lesart gibt Gerhards Ballett Don Quixote Aufschluss, das in den ersten Jahren des Exils entstand. In dessen Konzept spiegelt sich deutlich Gerhards eingehende Kenntnis der Schriften des spanischen Schriftstellers und Philosophen Miguel de Unamuno (1886–1936) und die von Unamuno thematisierte nationale Symbolik der Don Quixote-Figur.
Für diese Arbeit wurden die von Gerhard markierten und zitierten Textabschnitte aus Schriften Unamunos ausgewertet und zur Grundlage für die Untersuchungskategorie des ‘quixotischen Code’, in dessen Zentrum die spezifische Funktionsweise von Don Quixotes Rittertum-Wahn steht. Der Code ermöglicht es, eine gedankliche Struktur in Gerhards Rezeption unamunoscher Schriften zu finden, er macht lebensphilosophische Aspekte in Gerhards musiktheoretischer Tonalitäts- und Zwölftonreflexion sichtbar, und er erhellt das inhaltliche Konzept und die komplexen Verfahren der Reihenhandhabung in Gerhards Ballett.
Electronic Explorations from his Studio + the BBC Radiophonic Workshop 1958-1967, have had very good reviews so far. Here there is a good collection…
“Monty Adkins, Carlos Duque y Gregorio Karman, en su interesantísimo y muy documentado ensayo sobre la música electrónica de Roberto Gerhard, hablan de ésta como un proceso sonoro más humanista que los desarrollados contemporáneamente por los Pierre Schaeffer o Karlheinz Stockhausen, respectivamente en Francia y Alemania, como núcleos axiales de la música electrónica europea de los años cincuenta y sesenta”.
“This could well be one of 2014’s most important sets of historic early electronics. A massive recommendation”.
“An exemplary collection of the seldom-heard works of this Spanish-born composer, and pioneer of concrete/electronic music”.
“El sello Sub Rosa recopila en este disco la faceta más electrónica y exploradora del aclamado compositor español Roberto Gerhard (Valls 1986 – Cambridge 1970) que fué uno de los más notables representantes de la Generación musical del 27 y quien introdujo el dodecafonismo y las teorías de la Segunda Escuela de Viena en España”.
“This collection has some extremely wild, explosion-oriented assemblages – presented in their dust-worn native fidelity no less – very glad this omission in my Early Electronic Music chronology has been justly sorted”.
New book on Roberto Gerhard published by University of Huddersfield. Perspectives on Gerhard: Selected Proceedings of the 2nd and 3rd International Roberto Gerhard Conferences. Edited by Michael Russ and Monty Adkins.
With articles by Diego Alonso, Carlos Duque, Desirée García, Mark Perry, Magda Polo, Josep Maria Mestres Quadreny, Ana Vega and Trevor Walshaw.
Perspectives on Gerhard expands several papers given at the 2nd and 3rd International Roberto Gerhard Conferences in 2012 and 2013. The book focuses on two aspects of Gerhard. Firstly, the pre-1939 period in which he was a student of Schoenberg and then, on returning to Catalonia, began to establish a reputation as a composer. Secondly, and more generally on the composer’s stylistic and aesthetic evolution. This latter focus includes both Gerhard’s approach to serialism both harmonically and melodically as well as the pivotal role the USA was to play in his later life. The book concludes with two personal reminiscences given at the conferences by Ferran Gerhard and Mariona Agustí Badia.
The CD and LP of Gerhard’s electronic works produced as part of an Art and Humanities Research Council project from 2012, released by Sub Rosa label.
This is the first time some of these works have ever been heard.
Monty Adkins was the Team leader for the project. Carlos Duque and Gregorio Karman were Research Fellows.
The careful task of cleaning and restoring was done by Alex Harker at the University of Huddersfield
This article about Roberto Gerhard and Arnold Schoenberg’s correspondence has been published in the JSMI (Journal of the Society of Musicology in Ireland); please click here:
Este artículo sobre la correspondencia entre Roberto Gerhard y Arnold Schönberg ha sido publicado en la revista: JSMI (Journal of the Society of Musicology in Ireland; pinchad aquí:
Paloma in the Second International Conference Roberto Gerhard, in Barcelona, 2010.
Presentation of Pasión, desarraigo y literatura: El compositor Robert Gerhard — Machado Libros
Sanchez de Andrés, Leticia (2013): Pasión, desarraigo y literatura: El compositor Robert Gerhard, Madrid, Machado Libros.
This book offers an updated biography and analysis of Gerhard’s aesthetic and ideological thought. It also discusses the music of Gerhard in which literature is a prime creative stimulus, generating such masterpieces as his cantata The Plague.
This book builds on the outcomes of two recent international conferences and includes contributions by scholars from Spain, the USA and UK. The essays collected here explore themes and trends within Gerhard’s work, using individual or groups of works as case studies. Among the themes presented are the way Gerhard’s work was shaped by his Catalan heritage, his education under Pedrell and Schoenberg, and his very individual reaction to the latter’s teaching and methods, notably Gerhard’s very distinctive approach to serialism.
The influence of these and other cultural and literary figures is an important underlying theme that ties essays together. Exiled from Catalonia from 1939, Gerhard spent the remainder of his life in Cambridge, England, composing a string of often ground-breaking compositions, notably the symphonies and concertos composed in the 1950s and 1960s. A particular focus in this book is Gerhard’s electronic music. He was a pioneer in this genre and the book will contain the first rigorous studies of this music as well as the first accurate catalogue of this electronic output. His ground-breaking output of incidental music for radio and the stage is also given detailed consideration.
The Third International Roberto Gerhard Conference took place in the historic and beautiful setting of the University of Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, on 6th-7th June 2013, coordinated by Dr. Paloma Ortiz de Urbina and Dr. Carlos Duque. There were 18 delegates, made extremely welcome by our hosts. The papers presented covered a wide range of aspects of Gerhard’s music, several covering new ground in Gerhard scholarship. Particularly exciting were discoveries concerning Gerhard’s period of study with Schoenberg and in the field of Gerhard’s music reception.
Extramural activity included a guided tour of the Renaissance city of Alcalá de Henares, the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra and a superb concert, given by the Duo Elena Gragera (singer) and Antón Cardó (Piano) with a well-varied programme which included Schoenberg’s Das Buch der Hängenden Gärten and the first performance in Madrid of a new publication, three songs by Gerhard, discovered and edited by Carlos Duque. The final session was devoted to an open forum, lead by three eminent musicians: José Luis García del Busto (Journalist, writer, musicologist, and Academic of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando ), Tomás Marco (composer, writer, musicologist, and former Director of Spanish National Orchestra) and José Luis Temes (conductor and musicologist).
The smooth running of the conference was facilitated by a group of students from the University, who were a great help in the distribution of information and in translating for monolingual delegates.
Students part of the organising committee Roberto Gerhard Conference 2013: Daniel Migueláñez, Pepa Álvarez, Darío Gómez de Barreda, Eduardo Sierra, Violeta Caballero, Beatriz Ezquerra, Beatriz Martínez, David del Moral, Luis Sánchez, Gloria Santos, Laura Arenas, Luis Martínez, Adrián Sierra, María Pérez y Patricia Ramón
It was determined that we should meet again in Huddersfield in 2015.
El tercer Congreso Internacional Roberto Gerhard tuvo lugar en el imponente Rectorado renacentista de la Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, bajo la coordinación de los doctores Paloma Ortiz de Urbina y Carlos Duque. Durante los días 6 y 7 de Junio de 2013, 14 académicos venidos de Reino Unido, Alemania, Venezuela y España, abordaron las distintas perspectivas en la recepción de la obra de Roberto Gerhard. Las presentaciones abarcaron campos tan amplios e interesantes como recepción de la obra de Gerhard en la crítica inglesa, en la bibliografía española, en el mundo norte-americano, o en la prensa barcelonesa, así como presentaciones sobre análisis musical.
El congreso acabó con una mesa redonda en la que participaron tres ilustres invitados: José Luis García del Busto, escritor, musicólogo y Académico de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Tomás Marco, compositor y musicólogo, y José Luis Temes, director de orquesta y musicólogo. Además, tuvimos la oportunidad de asistir a un extraordinario concierto por parte del duo Elena Gragera y Antón Cardó (mezzo soprano y piano), que interpretaron obras de Arnold Schoenberg y Roberto Gerhard.
Alumnos que participaron en el comité organizador del congreso sobre Roberto Gerhard 2013: Daniel Migueláñez, Pepa Álvarez, Darío Gómez de Barreda, Eduardo Sierra, Violeta Caballero, Beatriz Ezquerra, Beatriz Martínez, David del Moral, Luis Sánchez, Gloria Santos, Laura Arenas, Luis Martínez, Adrián Sierra, María Pérez y Patricia Ramón
El próximo congreso tendrá lugar en la Universidad de Huddersfield en 2015.
Universidad de Alcalá, Salón de Actos, Rectorado de la Universidad de Alcalá,
6th and 7th June 2013
Thursday, 6th June
|09:30||Registration at Patio de Filósofos, Rectorado UAH|
|10:15||Welcome reception by UAH President Fernando Galván|
|10:30||Paloma Ortiz-de-Urbina (Universidad de Alcala) & Michael Russ (University of Huddersfield). Roberto Gerhard and Post-Tonal Theory: A Last Letter to Schoenberg|
|11:00||Diego Alonso: (Universidad de Rioja) Back to tonality?! Gerhard’s compositional strategies during the first stage of his studies with Schoenberg|
|12:00||Julian White (Independent researcher, Wellington, UK): Gerhard’s ‘Music for Pandora’|
|12:30||Mark E. Perry (North Georgia University): Roberto Gerhard in United States|
|13:00||Carlos Duque (University of Huddersfield): The influence of critics in Gerhard´s music|
|13:30||Lunch (Restaurante Rectorado)|
|15:00||Visit to Universidad de Alcalá Rectorado and Paraninfo|
Leticia Sánchez (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) El compositor Robert Gerhard. Música y literatura. Invited guest: Javier Alfaya
|17:30||Carlos Duque, Presentation of documentary: Roberto Gerhard, an explorer in the Avangarde|
|18:00||Moving to Aula de Música|
|19:00||Concert: Elena Gragera and Antón Cardó. Auditorio del Aula de Música.|
Friday, 7th June
|10:00||Jesús Ferrer: (Universidad de Cantabria) “London calling”: una ayuda en el exilio|
|10:30||Sergio Restrepo: (Universidad Complutense) Aproximación analítica a la Symphony 3 (‘Collages’), de Roberto Gerhard|
|11:00||José de Eusebio (Conductor, Alicante): Gerhard´s Violin Concerto|
|12:00||Belén Pérez (Universidad Complutense): Roberto Gerhard en la bibliografía musical de la España franquista (1949-1973)|
|12:30||Germán Gan-Quesada (Universitat Autònoma, Barcelona):Robert Gerhard through the looking-glass of Barcelona press (1945-1975)|
Gregorio G. Karman: (University of Huddersfield) Gerhard, Calígula, and the ONCE Group
|15:00||Trevor Walshaw (University of Huddersfield): Don Roberto = Don Quixote|
|15:30||Ana Vega: (Universidad Autónoma, Madrid) El sentimiento español en la obra de Roberto Gerhard|
|16:30||Free Panel with invited guests and general discussion:
– José Luis García del Busto– Begoña Lolo– Tomás Marco – José Luis Temes
Dr. Carlos Duque, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. M. Adkins, email@example.com
Mr. Trevor Walshaw, firstname.lastname@example.org