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Past Events > 2019

Arrangements and Outrages: Lieder in the Jazz Age

05 April 2019, 11:00 - 06 April 2019, 16:30

This study day, led by Laura Tunbridge, gives a fascinating insight into the presentation, performance and reception of song in 1920s New York, London and Germany.

Song culture in the 1920s was very different from today. There was a much freer approach to performance, with pianists improvising interludes between songs in recitals, and concert programmes that mixed Lieder with opera arias, folksongs, instrumental sonatas, and more. Audiences were more overt in their approval or disapproval of concerts, with singers greeted with protests or ovations accordingly. This study day explores the ways in which composers and performers approached Lieder in London, New York, and Germany: from the experimental to the conservative, the celebrity concert to the dedicated Liederabend. Against the backdrop of the Jazz Age, Lieder performances were being transformed into what we can recognise as our own attitudes.

11.00am Laura Tunbridge (University of Oxford) – welcome and introductory talk ‘Transatlantic connections’

The circulation of musicians between Europe and America was vital in shaping interwar attitudes to Lieder, in terms of both performance and composition. There was some mixing of genres, with singers such as Canadian Eva Gauthier notoriously programming Schubert alongside George Gershwin, while German mezzo Elena Gerhardt advocated dedicated Lieder recitals. A Viennese composer like Alexander von Zemlinsky might pay homage to jazz while the ‘British Musical Renaissance’ looked back to previous centuries. The transatlantic circulation of ideas about how art-song could and should reflect its times opened up debates about national identities and international politics.

11:45am Carson Becke (University of Oxford) Pre-concert talk - 'In the free manner': Strauss as a lied accompanist

12:15pm Lunch break

1pm Concert: 'Strauss in America, 1921: A Touring Recital Programme'

2pm Coffee break (tea and coffee will be available to purchase in the foyer)

2:30pm Alexandra Wilson (Oxford Brookes) ‘Singers in 1920s Britain’

Professor Alexandra Wilson looks at the singers who performed in 1920s Britain, the repertoire that they sang, and the institutions and contexts in which they performed both in London and further afield. She will consider a tension between respected jobbing singers and star singers who attracted critical opprobrium for their crowd-pleasing "celebrity concerts", in which Lieder jostled alongside operatic arias and popular songs.

3pm Nicholas Attfield (University of Birmingham) ‘Pfitzner’s Song Cycles’

This talk examines Hans Pfitzner’s relationship with the Romantic song cycle: in his performances as (improvising) accompanist for Schumann’s famous cycles, his creation of a cycle from a selection of Schumann’s choruses, and his composition of the cycle Alte Weisen (Op. 33, 1923; after Gottfried Keller). There will be live musical examples by Lavinia Dames and Carson Becke.

3:45pm General discussion

PLEASE NOTE: The price of this ticket includes entry to the lunchtime concert (Strauss in America, 1921: A Touring Recital Programme). Please contact the Box Office for any questions.

Artist Portrait

Laura Tunbridge

Laura Tunbridge


Laura Tunbridge is a musicologist whose research has centred on German Romanticism, with a particular interest in vocal and chamber music and its reception through criticism, performance, and composition. She studied at Oxford (B.A.), Nottingham (M.A.) and Princeton (PhD) and taught at the Universities of Reading and Manchester before joining the Faculty of Music at Oxford in 2014, where she is now a Professor and Henfrey Fellow and tutor in music at St Catherine’s College. Laura’s books include Schumann’s Late Style (C... Read Full Biography
Artist Portrait

Professor Alexandra Wilson

Professor Alexandra Wilson


Alexandra Wilson is Professor of Music and Cultural History at Oxford Brookes University and currently holds a Major Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust. Her research interests focus primarily upon 19th- and early 20th-century opera and operatic culture. She is the author of Opera in the Jazz Age: Cultural Politics in 1920s Britain, recently published by Oxford University Press. Her first book was the prize-winning The Puccini Problem: Opera, Nationalism, and Modernity (Cambridge University Press). Committed to sharing the findi... Read Full Biography
Artist Portrait

Carson Becke

Carson Becke


Canadian Pianist Carson Becke ( has performed extensively as a soloist and chamber musician, including performances in Canada, Great Britain, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the Caribbean. He is also the artistic director of Pontiac Enchanté, a concert series in Luskville, Quebec. After moving to the United Kingdom in 2005 to study at the Purcell School, Carson completed his undergraduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he worked with Tatiana Sarkissova. Following studies in London, he... Read Full Biography

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This event is part of a series:

2019 Spring Weekend of Song

Renowned recitalists, emerging talent, auditions for the next generation of star artists, masterclasses and more make up the Oxford Lieder Spring Weekend; a mid-year fix for song lovers. For the evening recitals, we are delighted to welcome Katarina Karnéus and Julius Drake, former Oxford Lieder Young Artist Alessandro Fisher with Sholto Kynoch, and Christopher Maltman ...

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