Sketches and Exercises – History and Theory of Compositional Writing

Call for submissions

The Grieg Research Center at the University of Bergen arranges a two-day seminar 21 – 22 November 2016 at the Bergen Public Library.

Invited speakers:
Jim Samson (Professor Emeritus, Royal Holloway University of London)
Peter Hauge (Senior researcher and editor, The Royal Library, Copenhagen)
Bjørn Morten Christophersen (Lecturer and composer, University of Oslo)
Erlend Hovland (Associated professor, Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo)

Sketch studies belong to the methodological core of historical musicology, analysis, and critical editing concerned with the works of 19th and 20th century composers. The study of sketches promise to give insight into the composer’s workshop: as traces of the creative process, sketches shed light on the genesis of a composition from idea to ‘masterwork’. Further, sketch studies can enrich the understanding of the work as a constellation of intertextual associations, whilst the study of compositional exercises might reveal the hidden learning processes behind the formation of a composer’s style.

The overall aim of this seminar is twofold,

  1. to analyze, assess, and contextualize the compositional writing of composers, which correlates with the rise of the conservatories in Paris, Leipzig, and Berlin during the 19th century
  2. to reflect on the current scope, historicity and epistomology of sketch studies within musicological disciplines.

Related issues to be addressed are

  • conceptions of the compositional process
  • changing practices of compositional writing
  • the relationship of music aesthetics, music theory, and compositional practice
  • craftsmanship, creativity, and the concept of the genius
  • the function and value of compositional exercises
  • the influence of teachers, schools, and institutions
  • the relationship of writing and style
  • writing as embodied act
  • the contingencies of notation, imagination and experience.

The seminar takes place at the Senter for Griegforskning, Bergen Offentlige Bibliotek (see map here).

Paper proposals of no more than 200 words can be submitted by October 03, 2016 to the following e-mail address: Arnulf Mattes,

Number of places is restricted. Please register for the seminar at the seminar web page. Conference fee for participants, including two lunches at ‘Amalies Hage’ and coffee breaks: NOK 500.

The seminar is arranged by the Senter for Griegforskning (Grieg Research Center) at the University of Bergen in cooperation with the International Grieg Society.