Research Seminar: Dr Mike Lee

Chopin’s Silent Chord and the Nineteenth-Century Instrumental Cycle

"Kevin Korsyn (2003) cites the case of Chopin’s Op. 28 Preludes to identify four critical paradigms that underlie contemporary thinking on the question of cyclic integration with respect to nineteenth-century instrumental cycles: 

I. as autonomous works analyzable as self-contained units;
II. as unattached works that challenge their own autonomy and resist partaking in the opus as an integral whole;
III. as works that cohere into a tightly unified cycle bound by consistent motivic connections ensuring cyclic integration of the whole; 
IV. as works that call its own unity into question, paradoxically self-contained yet open at the same time.

In this talk I propose a fifth critical category that argues for narrative connections across nonadjacent numbers of a cycle, connections that lie outside the binaries of structural unity and fragmentation. I argue such narrative strands could be supported by pitch-structural relations as well as by the contingencies of improvisation and embodiment. 
The talk will focus on one such narrative strand between Chopin’s A-minor and E-minor preludes. Inspired in part by an existing sketch leaf containing the two preludes, I reimagine a constellation of connected sounds, touches, and structures between these works that might have animated Chopin’s creative process. In closing, I will consider how these connections ripple across other preludes of the published set, casting new light on some familiar features of Op. 28. "

As an advocate of pianos that span the eighteenth century to the present, Mike Lee has appeared with the New World Symphony at the invitation of Michael Tilson Thomas and has collaborated with musicians including Joseph Lin (Juilliard String Quartet), the Formosa Quartet, among others that integrate modern and period instruments. Recently he has been invited to perform and guest teach at the Royal Academy of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor. As a scholar, he has published on musical form and performance practice, and has presented on schema, Schenkerian, and Lewinian transformational theories at conferences including the Society for Music Theory, the European Music Analysis Conference, and the Society for Music Analysis. Prior to joining the ANU, Mike Lee served as Visiting Assistant Professor at Indiana University–Bloomington and was previously Lecturer of music theory at Yale University.

Limited number of seats available in this Research Seminar, for the public (seats will be automatically reserved for School of Music students who attend research seminars for coursework). Public RSVP via the EventBrite listing.

Enquiries: Assoc Prof Samantha Bennett, Research Seminar Convener:

Updated:  17 August 2018/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications