Claire Brook Award for 2021 bestowed on two publications

The Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York is delighted to bestow the Claire Brook Award on two outstanding publications from 2020:

Werner Telesko, Susana Zapke, Stefan Schmidl, Beethoven visuell: Der Komponist im Spiegel bildlicher Vorstellungswelten [Beethoven, visually: The composer in the mirror of visual worlds of imagination] (Wien: Hollitzer, 2020), 252 p. ISBN 978-3-99012-791-9

Publishing another book on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven requires courage. Werner Telesko, Susana Zapke, and Stefan Schmidl found this courage and produced a remarkable book focusing on the reception of Beethoven in visual culture.

The three thematic complexes concern Beethoven in nature on the one hand, in his concrete material environment on the other hand, and finally in connection with immaterial values ​​and sacred ideas. Within the framework of these three categories, the authors examined many media that have contributed to the formation of a visual and textual “exaggeration” so characteristic of the Beethoven phenomenon. Even if the image documents are the focus of the publication, it should always be clear that these are to be viewed in close historical and contextual relation to the literary and philosophical discourses on Beethoven. 

In his essay, Werner Telesko deals with the broad topic of Beethoven’s connections with the natural environment and, above all, takes up the question according to the different picture types from an art-historical perspective, whereby it becomes clear that the philosophical and literary debates of the respective time influence the picture production and are thus able to explain the metaphors of nature as Beethoven’s central interpretive category. Susana Zapke focuses on locating Beethoven in the interior as a creative space of the genius that can be read allegorically in a variety of ways, which in turn functions as a complement to the outside space and to nature in the sense of the culture-nature discourse of the Enlightenment. The interior becomes a field of interpretation for the psychological physiognomy of the artist and his work, revealing bourgeois-influenced thinking and pictorial traditions of the respective cultural-historical epoch. Finally, Stefan Schmidl deals with the localization of the composer in the immaterial space and points to some little-known projections of Beethoven in the spheres of the unreal, sacred and timeless, whereby virtuality as a means of representing visualizations always pushes the boundaries of hallucination, the dream and the visionary touched again. 

Michael Burden & Jennifer Thorp, eds., With a grace not to be captured: Representing the Georgian theatrical dancer, 1760-1830. Music and Visual Cultures 3 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2020), 198 p. ​ISBN 978-2-503-58346-3.​

Dancers performing on the London stage between 1760 and 1830 relied on visual impact for their success, whether in serious, heroic, or semi-character roles for the larger theaters, or in circus acts for the illegitimate venues. Some of those dancers also saw portraiture as a chance to promote their respectability–or disguise their lack of it–and to recast their image in new and interesting ways. Dancers were widely travelled and had often worked in Europe before coming to London, in an international dimension reflected by both English and European artists–the likes of Gainsborough, Hogarth, Perronneau. Pesne, and Reynolds—who painted their portraits in oils and pastels. Further down the social scale, some of the dancers who performed daring circus acts and agile acrobatics saw their fame burgeon in the likenesses put out by such engravers and print-sellers as Bartolozzi and Sayers. Even those portraits which are no longer extant would have been important to the original sitter, and those portraits which have survived were clearly cherished. The chapters in the volume explore what it meant to the dancer concerned to have a portrait, either grand or modest, how it was exploited as self-advertisement either by the dancer or as a commercial initiative by the artist and the print trade, and how it helped to produce many more images of dancers than might be expected.

The volume includes the following contributions:

Shearer West, Portraiture and the Import of Dancers in Eighteenth-Century London
​James Harriman-Smith, Garrick’s Muse? Eva Maria Veigel and her Husband
Jennifer Thorp, Portraits of Jean-Georges Noverre
Judith Milhous, Dancers Acting in 1781: The Vestris, père et fils, Adelaide Simonet, and Giovanna Baccelli
Joanna Jarvis, Natural Beauty or ‘Paint-Painted’? Giovanna Baccelli by Thomas Gainsborough
Samantha Owens, ‘Grace, Beauty, and Surprising Agility’: Representations of Barbarina Campanini, 1742–48
Keith Cavers, Portraying Heroic Masculinity: James Harvey D’Egville on Stage
Joe Lockwood, Philip Astley and the Amphitheatre
Michael Burden, Tumbling Images: Carlo Antonio Delpini at Work

Read about The Claire Brook Award and Claire Brook 

Read about the award committee.