Academic journal article The Byron Journal

'Byron and America': Byron Society of America Panel, MLA Conference, December 2007, Chicago

Academic journal article The Byron Journal

'Byron and America': Byron Society of America Panel, MLA Conference, December 2007, Chicago

Article excerpt

This year's Byron Society of America MLA panel, on 'Byron and America', took place in Chicago. It focused on the poet's impact on American life and culture. The three participants were John Clubbe (Kentucky), T. Austin Graham (California) and Maureen McCue (Glasgow).

Professor Clubbe's talk was entitled 'Byron in American Music: From Schoenberg to Goth', and explored how Byron's music was adapted by very different composers. With a sweep and command of his subject as authoritative as those evident in his book on Byron and Sully, Clubbe traced Byron's influence in American music from the Goth group Cradle of Filth to the thirty-nine operas that have been inspired by Byron's poetry, including three by Donizetti and two by Verdi. Cradle of Filth's frontman, Ville Valo, penned a number entitled 'The Byronic Man', while large-scale works by Berlioz, Schumann, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and others have been inspired by Byron's poems. But the focus of Professor Clubbe's paper was the musical setting for 'Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte' (Opus 41) that Schoenberg composed between 12 March and 12 June 1942, in the midst of World War II. Schoenberg penned this work as an expression of his 'stand against tyranny', which he saw as part of an artistic effort that dated back to 'Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, Schiller's Wilhelm Tell, Beethoven's Eroica and Wellington's victory'. To render Byron's words, Schoenberg used the technique of Sprechgesang, in which singing and speaking are indistinguishable. Clubbe also discussed Raffaelo de Banfield's Lord Byron's Love Letter (1958) and Virgil Thomson's Lord Byron (1972), and the fictional opera described in J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace. The recipient of the Leslie Marchand award in 2007, Clubbe provided MLA with a lecture that served as a fine bookend to his 'Byron, Beethoven, and the Ideals of the French Revolution', which he delivered at DePaul University in October 2007.

T. Austin Graham gave a stimulating paper on Byron and Harriet Beecher Stowe entitled 'Byron, Stowe, and Lady Byron Vindicated'. The paper focused on Stowe's notorious 1869 exposé, 'The True Story of Lady Byron's Life', which was published simultaneously in America's Atlantic Monthly and England's MacMillan's. …

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