Meet the Executive Board: Deputy-Director Dr. Beth Snyder

In this blog series we are sharing some of the recent research outputs, projects and activities of our executive board members. This week, we are introducing our Deputy-Director Dr. Beth Snyder. Beth is a Research Associate at the Royal College of Music and has previously worked as an Associate Lecturer at the University of Surrey. You can read more about Beth’s work and publications here, but here’s a short introduction to what she’s working on at the moment:

“I am currently serving as Research Associate on an AHRC-funded team project, ‘Music, Migration and Mobility,’ that investigates the geographical and social mobilities of musicians who migrated to Britain from Europe during the 1930s and 1940s. In exploring the varieties of musical creativity engaged in by these individuals, we seek to contribute to both a transformation of the migrant/native dichotomy as well as to a complication of nationalist narratives of music historiography. Work on the project is paused during the pandemic, but Principle Investigator, Norbert Meyn, and I are excited to be meeting (via Zoom) with our focus group comprised of lovely and talented student musicians at the Royal College of Music. The students have been exploring overlooked repertoire by migrant composers, including Egon Wellesz, Mátyás Seiber and Hans Gál. Although planned performances by the students—in venues such as the British Museum and Austrian Cultural Forum—have been postponed for now, we hope to find future opportunities for the performance of this beautiful and challenging repertoire.”

Rudolf Wagner-Régeny

“I am revising an article that contends with the genesis and complicated reception history of Rudolf Wagner-Régeny’s (sadly overlooked) 1959 Prometheus opera. Wagner-Régeny was, at the time, the most renowned composer of opera living in the German Democratic Republic. Yet his Prometheus became something of a political football—premiering in the West German city of Kassel (it’s composition having been partially funded by a grant from the FRG), but promoted by an East German government that saw in its premiere an opportunity to champion socialist culture in the West. Wagner-Régeny had other ideas.”

“I’m also working on another article that explores the non-hedonic theory of artistic value developed in German philosopher Ernst Bloch’s eccentric philosophy of music. Bloch founds his theory in part on Marx’s comments regarding the intimate relationship between artistic practices and social and economic structures, comments that suggest a non-hedonic explanation of the value of creative praxis—one that privileges art’s ethical import. Bloch’s own provocative theory of music’s significance to social progress, which radically expands on Marx’s non-hedonic theory, is unusual in its emphasis on music’s central role in the realisation of human potential. As such it can speak to any and all musicians and scholars attempting to rethink the relationship between music and society.”

“I’ve also been reading Emily Wilson’s insanely good translation of Homer’s The Odyssey, which has gotten me thinking about literary and (auto)biographical portrayals of travel and mobility, and how 20th- and 21st-century travelogues and novels can both resonate with Homer’s poem and transform our notions of what it means to be mobile. And I’ve been re-reading Naomi Waltham-Smith’s challenging and rewarding Music and Belonging Between Revolution and Restoration, which I reviewed earlier this year for Eighteenth-Century Music. Waltham-Smith constructs an ingenious dialogue between postmodern philosophy and the Viennese classicism of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, in order to demonstrate how procedures of inclusion and exclusion might be disrupted through listening to this music. It is such a momentous project, and I’m not fully convinced that she can draw the connections she needs between the repertoire and her remarkably ambitious political project. But I am so intrigued by her deft and insightful attempts to do so that I keep returning to the book again and again.”

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