16 de diciembre de 2011

Musical signification in Mahler


Today was definitely a happy day for the studies of musical signification and semiotics, in the Catalan, Spanish and Iberian world. The director and professor of musical analysis Joan Grimalt has defended his PhD. Dissertation: Gustav Mahler's Wunderhorn songs Orchestal: a Topical Analisys and a Semiotic Square at the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona.

The dissertation summarizes a long-standing traditions of criticism and interpretation of Mahler's music which includes both Adorno and Constantin Floros. This is systematized by means of instruments of musical semiotics and narratology while the author provides new interpretations and clarifications on the compositional-narrative habitus of the composer.

I was lucky to be part of the jury. The work was directed by Professor Raymond Monelle (d. 2010) and Josep Maria Gregori. It's a shame that Raymond was not with us this evening (although I'm sure he scold me again for my cognitive interpretation of musical topics!). Their advice is visible especially in the final organization of the content. The work is not only well documented, but also is critical and provides deep insights about basic aspects of human nature. What else could tell us the music? Grimalt did a great effort to return the music to the beleaguered field of humanities. In our university environment, it is not common to find a dissertation of this orientation neither of this quality.

As usual, there are several things to improve. There are theoretical issues that must be defined more precisely. But the coherence of the work lies not in the theoretical tools, but in the vast musical experience of the author. This is one of those rare cases where the heavy theoretical discourses kindly submit themselves to the demands of the practical musician and collaborates with him in his musical exegesis.

I hope that the knowledge and experience contained in this dissertation will soon become a publication available to all our community.

Today was a happy day.
Bellaterra, December 16, 2011.


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