CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Soprano Errante will perform songs from turn-of-the-century Munich
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Soprano Valerie Errante and pianist Robert Wason
will perform "Songs from the Munich School" -- a turn-of-the-century
art-song tradition centered in Munich, Germany -- in two recitals at 8
p.m. Mondays Feb. 3 and Feb. 10, in Clapp Recital Hall on the University
of Iowa campus.
The performance by Errante, a member of the UI School of Music faculty,
and Wason, who teaches at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y.,
will be free and open to the public.
The two programs will feature songs by the best-known representative
of the Munich school, Richard Strauss, as well as works by some lesser-known
composers who wrote songs in Munich just before and after the turn of the
Historians consider the songs of the Munich school to be the products
of the richest period of German literary and musical culture. The popularity
of poetry was so great in 19th-century Germany that, by one report, there
were 20,000 German poets during the century. By the turn of the 20th century,
there was an immense quantity of poetry in the German literary tradition.
Not surprisingly, musicians were prolific in their settings of this
poetry, although most of the music is now long out of print and hard to
find. But at the time, these songs represented a mass entertainment medium,
aimed at a large, well-educated and affluent middle class.
Munich was the setting of an especially vital and thriving musical culture.
A relatively progressive city, it was the home of the art movement known
as "Jugendstil," named for the Munich journal "Jugend"
(Youth). Both the Jugendstil in the visual and literary arts, and the songs
of the Munich school combined the Romantic heritage of the 19th century
with traits of 20th-century modernism.
At the center of this musical activity were Strauss and his close friend,
Ludwig Thuille, a teacher at the Munich Conservatory of Music. "Munich
school" is sometimes used narrowly to refer specifically to Thuille
and his students, but more broadly it refers to a musical style shared
by Strauss, Thuille and others.
Featured on the first recital, Feb. 3, will be songs by Thuille and
his student Walter Courvoisier, along with works by Alexander Ritter and
Rudi Stephan. The program for the Feb. 10 recital will consist entirely
of songs by Strauss and Thuille.
Errante joined the UI music faculty in the fall of 1996. A prize winner
in several international vocal competitions, she has sung professionally
in the United States and Europe. Following her professional debut with
the Michigan Opera Theater and the Dayton Opera Association, she was selected
for the Opera Studio of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. From 1984 to
1990 she was engaged as leading lyric coloratura soprano at the Opera House
of the City of Kiel, Germany, where she sang more than 30 roles.
Errante has also been a soloist in concert and oratorio with the Kiel
Philharmonic, and made guest appearances of opera and concert works in
Krefeld, Freiburg and Munich, Germany; as well as in Italy and Estonia.
She has made recordings with the Bavarian State Radio and appeared in Eurovision
television productions of opera. Since 1991 she has devoted a majority
of her time to teaching, with positions at Essen, Germany, and at the Eastman
School of Music.
Errante holds a bachelor's degree from Ithaca College, a master's from
Northern Michigan University and a doctorate in musical performance and
literature from the Eastman School. Her most recent professional appearances
have been with Opera Theater of Rochester, the Rochester Oratorio Society
and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.
Wason studied music composition and piano at the Hartt School of Music
in Hartford, Conn., and music theory at Yale. His background also includes
considerable experience in jazz and popular music, including performances
with Buck Clayton, Sammy Davis Jr., Bobby Vinton and the Four Tops.
After deciding on an academic career, Wason won a Fulbright Scholarship
to study at the Music Conservatory in Vienna, Austria, where he did research
on the history of Viennese harmonic theory. He has published a book on
that subject and later received Guggenheim and National Endowment for the
Humanities fellowships for research on the 20th-century Viennese composer
The author of many scholarly articles on the history of theory, Wason
has taught at the Hartt School, Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., and
the University of North Texas. Currently a member of the theory faculty
at the Eastman School of Music, he has also taught recently at the University
of Basel in Switzerland, the University of British Columbia and the State
University of New York at Buffalo.
For more information on these concerts, call (319) 335-1677.