Class of 1960 Lecture
Prof. Elaine Sisman
“Haydn and the Music of Illumination”

Professor Elaine Sisman of Columbia University will give a lecture titled “Haydn and the Music of Illumination.” This lecture is sponsored by the Class of 1960 Scholars Fund and is both free and open to the public.

Professor Sisman has provided the following description of her lecture: “The image of the sun, an eighteenth-century commonplace of worldly power, mythology, planetary motion, and philosophical enlightenment, was memorably evoked by Haydn in works across his career, from the early “times of day” symphonies to the late oratorios The Creation and The Seasons. These well-known works have, remarkably, never been considered from this perspective. This talk draws connections between sun-related musical motifs and illuminations of human beings in the landscape to develop a poetics of solar time. Offering the keys to Haydn’s more broadly communicative and enlightening gestures in a wider array of genres, his solar music points the way to a true music of illumination.”

Elaine Sisman is the Anne Parsons Bender Professor of Music at Columbia University, where she has taught since 1982, serving six years as department chair (1999-2005). She has just completed a term as President of the American Musicological Society. The author of Haydn and the Classical Variation, Mozart: The ‘Jupiter’ Symphony, and editor of Haydn and His World, she specializes in music of the 18th and 19th centuries, and has written on such topics as memory and invention in late Beethoven, ideas of pathétique and fantasia around 1800, Haydn’s theater symphonies, the sublime in Mozart’s music, and Brahms’s slow movements. Her most recent publications, after the monograph-length article on “variations” in New Grove 2, concern biography (Haydn and his multiple audiences), chronology (Mozart’s “Haydn” quartets), history (marriage in Don Giovanni), Enlightenment aesthetics (Haydn’s Creation), and the opus concept (“Six of One”), and she is completing studies of Haydn’s Metastasio opera L’isola disabitata and of music and melancholy. Her most recent work concerns Haydn’s “poetics of solar time.”

Sisman studied piano at the Juilliard pre-college division and with Malcolm Bilson at Cornell, received her doctorate in music history at Princeton, and has taught at the University of Michigan and Harvard University. She has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies, and has received the Alfred Einstein Award of the American Musicological Society for best article by a younger scholar. She serves on the board of directors of the Joseph Haydn-Institut in Cologne, the Akademie für Mozartforschung in Salzburg, and the Haydn Society of North America, and as associate editor of The Musical Quarterly. Columbia has honored her with its Great Teacher Award and award for Distinguished Service to the Core Curriculum.

The Class of 1960 Scholars Fund, established at their 25th Reunion, brings eminent researchers from other colleges and universities to campus to give colloquia.