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A Concert of Paintings
Leuven, August 2002

CALL FOR PAPERS for the thematic session,
"A Concert of Paintings: Musical Ekphrasis Throughout the Centuries"
to be organized by Siglind Bruhn as part of the
which will take place August 1-7, 2002 in Leuven, Belgium

The term "ekphrasis" is used by literary scholars for, most generously
put, poems responding to works of visual art. (A more precise definition
is James Heffernan's "the verbal representation of visual representation,"
Museum of Words, 1993; see also the writings of Leo Spitzer 1955, Jean
Hagstum 1958, Murray Krieger 1967, 1992, Hans Lund 1992 [1982], Claus
Clüver 1989, 1997, Grant Scott 1991, 1995, Tom Mitchell 1992, 1994, Yacobi
1995, 1998, and others).

Yet not only poets may respond to a work of visual art with a creative act
in their own medium, transposing the style and structure, the message and
metaphors from the visual to the verbal. Composers, too, have explored
this interartistic mode of transfer, claiming that a certain composition
was a specific response to a painting or a sculpture, an etching or an
altar panel, and that they have undertaken to transform the essence of
this art work's features and message into their own medium, the musical
language. Just like poets, composers may respond in many different ways to
a visual representation: they may transpose aspects of both the structure
and the content and/or expand on its meaning, they may supplement, respond
with associations, problematize, or playfully engage some of the
suggestive elements of the image.

These processes suggest questions such as the following: How does the
knowledge of such a "transformation" from one medium into the other
inform, guide, or alter our understanding of the musical work? And
conversely, can such a musical work contribute to a deeper (or new)
understanding of the art work that provided the stimulus?

This thematic sesssion is open to papers addressing particular case
studies, particular aspects of re-presentation, questions of
(cross-disciplinary and intra-disciplinary) methodology, as well as
studies aiming to situate the phenomenon of "musical ekphrasis" within the
aesthetics discourse.


The 17th Congress of the International Musicological Society, to be held
at the Monsignor Sencie Institute of the Catholic University in Leuven,
Belgium, from 1 to 7 August 2002, will present eight symposia on broad
themes. The symposia will replace the single theme and related
round-tables that have characterized recent congresses. The program
committee has sent out a call for proposals for complete sessions,
individual papers, and poster presentations related to the eight themes,
from which the symposia will be composed. (For this call, see  We will be applying for a complete session
within Symposium #6, "Form and Invention." Our joint proposal will have to
be submitted by April 2001; I therefore invite proposals for individual
papers to be read within this thematic session by 1 March, 2001. (Papers
may be presented in any of the languages of the conference, which are
Spanish, Italian, German, French, and English).

Abstracts (of 300-400 words) should reach me by March 1, 2001 (email
please:, along with
- biographical information,
- postal address, e-mail address, and institutional affiliation.

I will gladly answer enquiries at any time. So if you have doubts whether
or not a topic you have in mind may fit, feel free to mail me. As the
organizer of this special session, I will compile abstracts + info and,
together with the general proposal, submit the entire package to the
IMS2002 Programm Committee.

I hope to hear from you. Please pass this on.
Best wishes,

Dr. Siglind Bruhn
Life Research Associate, Music and Modern Literatures
Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan