Leon Botstein
Leon Botstein

Leon Botstein

Bard College

The History of Listening

Lecture I: Music Literacy in the 19th Century
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
4:10 p.m. – 6:15 p.m., Toll Room, Alumni House

Lecture II: The Recorded Age
Thursday, March 10, 2011
4:10 p.m. – 6:15 p.m., Toll Room, Alumni House

Seminar and Discussion with commentators
Friday, March 11, 2011
4:10 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., Toll Room, Alumni House
With commentary by Jann Pasler, Michael P. Steinberg, and John Toews

The lectures and the seminar are free and open to the public.

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About Leon Botstein

Dr. Leon Botstein’s musical career bridges the worlds of professional concert performance and scholarship. A violin student of Roman Totenberg, he studied conducting with Harold Farberman and Richard Warnick. He is the music director and principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra, whose home is Carnegie Hall, and the music director and conductor laureate of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the radio orchestra of Israel. An advocate of performing neglected or overlooked works in an effort to expand the repertoire, Dr. Botstein is known for his revivals of rare French and German operas of the late 19th and 20th centuries. A frequent guest conductor in Europe and the United States, he has recorded extensively for Telarc, CRI, and New World Records. His recording of Popov’s Symphony No. 1 and Shostakovich’s Theme and Variations, Op. 3, received a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Orchestral Performance in 2006. A number of his archival programs with the American Symphony Orchestra are available online.

He is the founding artistic director of the Bard Music Festival, which for 21 seasons has explored the musical and cultural worlds of composers through orchestral and chamber concerts, recitals, and symposia. The festival publishes, with Princeton University Press, a series of award-winning books of essays on each year’s subject. The American Symphony Orchestra, under Dr. Botstein, is the orchestra in residence.

As a music historian, Dr. Botstein has made significant contributions to the field. He is the editor of The Musical Quarterly and the writer and editor of many books, articles, and essays, including Judentum und Modernität, later translated into Russian, The Compleat Brahms, and Vienna: Jews and the City of Music, 1870–1938. A German-language book of essays on the music of the 19th and 20th centuries published by Paul Zsolnay Verlag is forthcoming, as is a book from W.W. Norton on the social and cultural history of Vienna from the perspective of its musical life.

The President of Bard College since 1975, Dr. Botstein is an outspoken voice for innovation in education and the author of Jefferson’s Children: Education and the Promise of American Culture. Under his leadership, Bard has expanded its mission to public and international education, including the establishment of a distinguished prison education program, two Bard High School Early Colleges, the first liberal arts college in Russia, and a ground-breaking collaboration with Al Quds University.

A member of the American Philosophical Society, he has received, among other honors, the Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art.

(Photo credit: Steve J. Sherman)

Conversation with History Interview

About the Commentators

Jann Pasler

Professor of Music, Department of Music
University of California, San Diego

Jann Pasler is a distinguished musicologist, pianist, and documentary filmmaker. Her work focuses on contemporary American and French music, modernism and postmodernism, interdisciplinarity, intercultural transfer, and especially French cultural life in the 19th and 20th centuries. Pasler has written extensively on music and its effects on society and culture and produced two documentaries on this subject, Taksu: Music in the Life of Bali (1991) and The Great Ceremony to Straighten the World (1994). Recently she published Composing the Citizen: Music as Public Utility in Third Republic France (2009) and Writing Through Music: Essays on Music, Culture, and Politics (2008), and is currently working on Music, Race, and Colonialism in the French Empire, 1880s-1930s. Pasler’s wide-ranging and perceptive approaches to musical biography and history challenge readers to rethink assumptions about important contemporary issues, including the complexity and dynamism of national identities, material culture, and the economics of power. In 2005 she won the H. Colin Slim award for best article in musicology by a senior scholar for her piece: The Utility of Musical Instruments in the Racial and Colonial Agendas of Late Nineteenth-Century France (Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 2004).

Pasler received her B.A. from Vanderbilt University in 1973, and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1974 and 1981, respectively. She has served as Professor of music at the University of California, San Diego since 1981 where she founded and directed the graduate program, Critical Studies and Experimental Practices (CSEP), from 1991 to 2007. Pasler previously served as a visiting professor at UCLA and Case Western Reserve University. This spring she is Directeur d’études invité at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris.

Michael P. Steinberg

Director, Cogut Center for the Humanities, Barnaby and Mary Critchfield Keeney Professor of History, and Professor of Music
Brown University

Michael P. Steinberg is a renowned scholar of modern European culture, politics, and art. His main research interests include the cultural history of modern Germany and Austria with particular attention to German Jewish intellectual history and the cultural history of music. He has written on these topics for theNew York Times and has lectured at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Bard Music Festival, and the Salzburg Festival. His book, Austria as Theater and Ideology: the Meaning of the Salzburg Festival (Cornell University Press, 2000), German edition, won Austria’s Victor Adler Staatspreis in 2001. Steinberg’s book, Listening to Reason: Culture, Subjectivity, and 19th- Century Music (Princeton University Press, 2004), explores the pivotal role of music in society, self, and culture that forged European modernity. He recently publishedJudaism Musical and Unmusical (University of Chicago Press, 2007).

Steinberg received his B.A from Princeton University in 1978, and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1981 and 1985, respectively. He has been awarded fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Berlin Prize Fellowship from the American Academy, Berlin. Steinberg is the Director of the Cogut Center for Humanities, the Barnaby Conrad and Mary Critchfield Keeney Professor of History, and Professor of Music at Brown University. He is Associate Editor of The Musical Quarterly and The Opera Quarterly, and also serves as a dramaturg on the new joint production of Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung at the Berlin State Opera and the Teatro alla Scala, Milan (2010-2013).

John Toews

Professor, Comparative History of Ideas Program
University of Washington

John Toews is a prominent historian whose work examines the historical consciousness that emerged from early nineteenth-century breaks with tradition and shaped the development of new forms of personal and collective identity. In his most recent book, Becoming Historical: Cultural Reformation and Public Memory in Early Nineteenth-Century Berlin (Cambridge University Press, 2004), Toews examines the stages and conflicts involved in “becoming historical” through the works of prominent Prussian artists and intellectuals who attached their personal visions to the reformist agenda of the Prussian regime that took power in 1840. His most recent writing, “The Road into the Open: From Narrative Closure to the Endless Performance of Subjectivity in Mahler and Freud at the Turn of the Century,” is a contribution to The Oxford Handbook in the New Cultural History of Music, which is to be published in the summer of 2011 by Oxford University Press.

Toews received his B.A. from the University of Manitoba in 1966, and M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1968 and 1973, respectively. He became a member of the History department faculty at the University of Washington in 1979 and held the Alumni Distinguished Professorship of the College of Arts and Sciences from 2006-2007. In addition, he chaired University of Washington’s Comparative History of Ideas Program starting in 1982. Toews’ pioneering efforts at CHID developed a program that is one of the leading interdisciplinary undergraduate majors in the country. In addition to building up the program, Toews’ own scholarly work was recognized with a fellowship prize in 1984 from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation-one of the famed “genius grant.” He currently holds the Giovanni and Amne Costigan Professorship in History at the University of Washington.