Res Musica 11 (2019)

The first one is an essay by Kristel Pappel in honour of Toomas Siitan, which outlines his comprehensive, multifaceted approach to studying the cultural field of the 19th century.

The remainder of the research papers can be categorized according to different periods of music history, where each article reflects a diverse aspect of Siitan’s activities and interests. The compositions and cultural practices of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries have appealed to him both as an artist and expert in early music interpretation – one has only to consider the high artistic level of the annual Haapsalu festivals – as well as a researcher and music historian, whose interests and publications range from explanations of historically informed performances in the 1980s to studies concerning manuscripts of choral books and foreign musicians employed in Estonia. In this issue, Anu Schaper comprehensively crutinises the dating of 26 church music compositions by Johann Valentin Meder, a cantor at the Gymnasium in Tallinn from 1674–1683, demonstrating that even with incomplete historical sources and little data it is possible to determine the composition dates and purposes of a composer’s works through a knowledge of his style and of the cultural and political context in which he worked. In an extensive paper, Katre Kaju describes occasional wedding poems with music from Tartu and Tallinn dating from the beginning of the 17th century, differentiating original poems and works that are based on models. Mart Humal explains the hexachord theory of the French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes (1596–1650), and compares it to those of the 15th and 16th century music theorists John Hothby and Gioseffo Zarlino. Based on Descartes’ theory and its further development by Isaac Newton, in Humal’s study all the possible Descartes hexachords in the 53-division are discussed. Andreas Waczkat, in his article, connects contrapuntal analysis with the meanings of music making, which change over time. Inspired by listening to the viola da gamba ensemble Phantasm performing pieces from the 16th and the 17th centuries at the Haapsalu Early Music Festival, the author discusses the communication between the audience and the performers in different eras. Waczkat finds that even though the festival audience nowadays is aware of “historically informed performances,” it is still impossible to restitute “the condition of listeners in Elizabethan Britain, since postmodern modes of listening to music are entirely different from the premodern consciousness.”

Toomas Siitan’s interest in the 19th century was evident in his 2003 doctoral thesis, in which he gave extensive consideration to issues of Estonian and Livonian protestant congregational hymn singing and choral books as they relate to each other, and to history, culture and politics. The article by Friedhelm Brusniak in this issue of the yearbook also focuses on the 19th century, and the author demonstrates how information and ideas about concerts, music societies and song festivals were disseminated in 19th-century Europe through travel journals, diaries, correspondence and autobiographies. He also emphasizes the importance of the above-named sources for researching topics that have not yet received much attention.

As far as contemporary music is concerned, Toomas Siitan has been most drawn to the spiritual and musical world of Arvo Pärt. He has discussed this topic both in writing and in lectures in Estonia, Germany and Moscow. Siitan has also contacted and collaborated with several other Pärt researchers from various countries, and he has translated, edited and published several of their outstanding works into the Estonian language. Kevin C. Karnes and Christopher J. May, represented both at the 2018 Tartu Day conference and in this issue of Res Musica, contribute to fill in some gaps in previous knowledge with new details in the field of Pärtawareness, and they cast a fresh perspective on tintinnabuli, which – for many of us – is reflected in the pure sounds of a number of high quality recordings. Kevin C. Karnes focuses on the first few public performances of tintinnabuli compositions in the second half of 1970s, highlighting in particular the contemporary music festival that took place in Riga in 1977, which was organized by the student club of the Riga Polytechnic Institute. At this underground concert, Pärt’s 5 pieces exerted an extraordinary impression on Vladimir Martynov, Alexei Lubimov, and on other outstanding musicians of the time. C. J. May’s research paper’s focal point is January 1980, when Arvo Pärt and his family emigrated from the Soviet Union. From that turning point, the author compares the reception of Pärt’s compositions on both sides of the Iron Curtain. At the end of his paper, May raises an intriguing question as to the Estonianness of tintinnabuli music.

For the 11th issue of Res Musica, Toomas Siitan interviewed Richard Taruskin, one of the most influential and prominent musicologists of our time. The interview, which reads more like a conversation between two experts, touches on topics such as the origin of musicology and the branches of contemporary music history, as well as on discussions about music performances, reception, and more.

Anu Kõlar