Iberian musical crossroads through the ages: Images of music-making in their transcultural exchanges

Fifteenth symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Iconography of the Performing Arts
organized by the Societat Catalana de Musicologia, Institut d’Estudis Catalans

Barcelona, 17–19 October 2018

Iberian peninsula—the home of Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Basque, and Galician peoples—has been a significant economic and political region through the history, which had been both conquered by the powers coming from elsewhere and generating its own forces exploring and conquering other regions and cultures in the world. From the Bronze Age onwards, explorers and traders used the peninsula as the crossroad between the Mediterranean and much of the rest of the world. The Phoenicians came to Iberia in the ninth century BC, and the Greeks followed two centuries later. The Romans conquest of Hispania started during the second Punic War in 206 BC and by the time of Augustus near the entire peninsula was under the control of Rome. During the Middle Ages, Al-Andalus with its Islamic administration was open to an import of Arab knowledge, philosophy, culture, arts and music. Later on, Spain and Portugal were the strongest naval powers in the world and their overseas explorations have radically altered both the old and new worlds: Spain influenced South American and Caribbean cultures, and even the Philippines; the Portuguese travellers, traders and conquerors reached Brazil, sailed along the African coast, and arrived all the way to India, Malacca, and Macao. Through the crown of Aragon, Catalonia experienced cultural exchanges within the western Mediterranean Sea and southern Italy. In addition to the overseas networks, cultural and artistic exchanges were also occurring in Europe through commercial and political ties, and also through marriages between the royal houses. Throughout the history pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago, or visiting the shrines of Montserrat or Fatima were bringing with them songs, dances and instruments from all over Europe.

All these and many other explorations and migrations created a fertile framework for a rich exchange of musical ideas, sounds, forms, rhythms, dances, and instruments. The Barcelona conference of the ICTM Study Group on the Iconography of Performing Arts will examine visual sources documenting transborder and transcultural transmission of musical ideas between the peoples of the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of the world. Papers are invited concerning the following topics:

  • Sounds of the ancient world: The Iberian cultures in an exchange with other Mediterranean traditions
  • Islamic sounds in Al-Andalus
  • Music and dances of Spanish Sephardim
  • Music along the road: Travelers and pilgrimages in Spain and Portugal
  • The Borgia family as a mediator of musical life between Iberia, Rome and the Vatican
  • Music and explorers (Columbus, Vasco da Gama, trade routes to Latin America, Asia, Africa)
  • Portuguese ethnohistoric accounts about music of Brazil, Macao, and Estado da Índia
  • Spanish encounters with music cultures of pre-Colombian America
  • Music in Catholic missions of New Spain and in the Christianization of Goa
  • Exchanges between Catalonia and kingdoms of Naples and Sicily
  • Reception of the Italian opera in Spain and Portugal
  • Zarzuela and other music theater in Latin America
  • Spain as a topos in music exoticism (opera, operetta, ballet, dance); Orientalism in Spanish art
  • Exchanges of musical instruments between Iberian Peninsula and the rest of the world
  • Internal musical exchanges between the peoples of the Iberian peninsula
  • Spanish/Portuguese iconographic models used in Latin American decorative programs
  • Transcultural musical topics in the 20th- and 21st-century art
  • Proposals related to other transcultural music exchanges in the world may be also considered

English is preferred language for the conference presentations.
Abstracts of 250–300 words may be submitted before 2 April 2018 to:

Zdravko Blažeković
Research Center for Music Iconography
City University of New York, The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309


Jordi Ballester
Societat Catalana de Musicologia
Institut d’Estudis Catalans
Carrer del Carme 47
08001 Barcelona

OBERTO 2017: Opéra sans frontières: Musicians and migration in a globalised world

Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, 12 September 2017

This conference will reflect on the transnational nature of the opera profession through presentations, round tables and free-ranging discussions. As with previous OBERTO conferences, we aim to bring together in fruitful debate academics, performers, conductors, directors, agents, opera company managers, journalists and any other stakeholders in the opera industry.

Provisional programme

9.00: Registration

9.45: Welcome

1: Singers and suitcases

10.00: Flora Willson (King’s College London): ‘Celebrity migrations: Nellie Melba, bel canto and the borders of the operatic canon’

10.30: Mirijam Beier (Universität Salzburg): ‘The Pirker correspondence as a source for the mobility of operisti in the eighteenth century’

11.00: Tea / coffee break

2A: Writing about crossing borders

11.30: Charlotte Bentley (University of Cambridge): ‘Translating nineteenth-century New Orleans: the operatic travel writing of Charles Jobey’

12.00: Eric Schneeman (University of the Incarnate World): ‘Transgressing the German “Border”: Giacomo Meyerbeer’s Italian Career and the German Press of the Nineteenth Century’

12.30: Chenyin Tang (University of Southampton): ‘Making opera – making Empire? Western opera in Maritime East Asia (1842-1941)’

2B: Exiles and Emigrés

11.30: Nils Grosch (Universität Salzburg): ‘Alfred Einstein’s View on Music Theatre and Cultural Mobility’

12.00: Malcolm Noble (University of Leicester): ‘Rudolf Bing and the establishment of the Edinburgh Festival in civic, national and international perspective’

12.30: Norbert Meyn (Royal College of Music): ‘Singing a song in a foreign land: challenges and opportunities’

1.00: Lunch break

3: Protectionism

2.15: Gwen D’Amico (City University of New York): ‘The Trading with the Enemy Act: the fate of German singers stranded in New York during World War I’

2.45: Russell Burdekin (independent scholar): ‘Rodwell’s Letter to the Musicians of Great Britain: an attempt to build a bastion for English opera’

3.15: Alexandra Wilson (Oxford Brookes University): ‘Citizens of nowhere? Opera singers and cultural protectionism in 1920s Britain’

3.45: Tea / coffee break

4.15: Panel discussion: (speakers will include singers, a dramaturg and a critic – names to be confirmed shortly.)

5.45: Finish

The conference will take place at Oxford Brookes University, Headington Hill Campus, Headington Hill Hall. For directions and transport links please see here. Participation is free, but please register with barbara.eichner@brookes.ac.uk by 4 September.

Ivan Zajc (1832-1914): Musical Migrations and Cultural Transfers in the ‘Long’ 19th Century in Central Europe and Beyond


Ivan Zajc (1832-1914): Musical Migrations and Cultural Transfers in the ‘Long’ 19th Century in Central Europe and Beyond

PLACE AND DATE: Zagreb, Croatia, October 16-18, 2014, the Palace of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Zrinjski trg 11

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: Richard Taruskin (Berkeley), Stanislav Tuksar (Zagreb), Harry White (Dublin)

ORGANIZERS: Croatian Musicological Society and the Department for History of Croatian Music of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts

The Conference is organized on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the death of Ivan Zajc (1832-1914), the key personality of Croatian music during the last third of the 19th century.

Zajc was trained in his home town of Rijeka and at the Conservatory in Milan (1850-55). He was active as a teacher and conductor in Rijeka (1855-62), as an operetta composer, pedagogue and conductor in Vienna (1862-70), and as the Director of the Croatian National Theatre Opera, and Director and teacher at the Croatian Music Institute School in Zagreb (1870-1908). Zajc left a huge opus of more than 1100 compositions in various areas of art music. He composed church music (19 Masses, c. 50 sacral and secular oratorios and cantatas), solo songs (c. 170 on Croatian, Italian and German texts), c. 300 choral works, c. 80 orchestral pieces, and about 100 chamber and piano works.  Zajc remains most significant for his contributions to the musical stage: 19 operas, 26 operettas and 22 sets of incidental music. 


The first proposed thematic area is the life, oeuvre and importance of Ivan Zajc. We welcome contributions which will analyze and elucidate aspects of Zajc’s individual works and his oeuvre at large, as well as those which will deal with the range and scope of his activities within the 19th-century Croatian national movement. Zajc’s varied career included composing the mythological-historical operatic trilogy (Mislav, Ban Leget, Nikola Šubić Zrinjski) and other important works for musical stage, and serving as the organizer of professional ensembles and as an innovator in teaching methods at the Croatian Music Institute School. Equally welcomed will be contributions dealing with Zajc’s oeuvre and activities within the context of his time as well as the stricter national or broader central-European spaces.

The second proposed thematic area is the phenomenon of musical migrations, as is evident, for instance, in Zajc’s own life itinerary (Rijeka-Milan-Rijeka-Vienna-Zagreb). Musical migrations include temporary or permanent migrations or settling down of musicians (composers, performers, musicologists and music writers, instrument builders, etc.) and the transfer of musical artifacts (music sheets, music books, music instruments, documents, etc.) and ideas on music (by way of schooling, personal encounters, correspondence, stylistic and genre influences, etc.).  Migrations can occur between native places or places of artistic creation and other locations inside and/or outside local, regional and/or national areas. In the case of Zajc, these migrational phenomena are more strictly located in the central-European area, but – for example – the sporadic presence of his compositions in the USA and Japan in the 19th and 20th centuries expands the possibilities for research in this area.  This in turn leads to an understanding and evaluation of the idea of musical migrations beyond Zajc’s immediate geographic and temporal frames and determinants.

The third proposed thematic area concerns cultural transfer in the field of music, as well as in those areas of arts and culture which were traditionally connected with music, such as literature, theatre, visual arts, etc. As both in today’s processes regarding the intensification of cultural  interactions on a global scope, and – with various methods, with different accents and forms of realization – in Zajc’s era during the second half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, musico-cultural transfers encompass the influx and flow of information concerning general and individual art phenomena and facts. This also includes how such ideas are accepted, ignored, or rejected as well as their impact and dominance. In the case of Zajc a real whirlpool of such phenomena was created through the interaction and permeation of Verdian operatic concepts, Viennese operetta paradigms, fashionable flirtations with Orientalisms, ideas and emotions surrounding patriotic and national issues, direct social activities in the areas of music education and training, the building of national institutions such as national opera, the supporting of musical amateurism, etc.

Taking into account that Zajc’s life and the end of the so-called belle époque coincide in their endings in 1914, the temporal frame of the conference subjects was largely determined with the end of the ‘long’ 19th century and the beginning of WWI, but in investigating and presenting the second and the third thematic areas the organizers are encouraging participants submitting free papers to not feel bound by any strictly prescribed temporal, spatial and/or cultural limitations.


Proposals should be submitted per e-mail or by regular post with an abstract in Croatian or English (300-400 words) at:

Croatian Musicological Society, Opatička 18, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia

Website address: www.hmd-music.hr

E-mail address: hmd@hmd-music.hr

The deadline is: November 15, 2013.

The list of accepted participants will be announced by December 31, 2013.

A certain number of participants from Croatia and abroad will be invited ad personam (up to 20). The number of free papers and participants is limited.


Official languages of the conference will be Croatian and English.


Participants with free papers coming from outside of Zagreb are paying for the expenses of accommodation and sojourn by themselves. They also pay the fee of 70 Euro or the equivalent value in local currency (HRK).

The organizers will provide midday meals during the conference for all participants.

It is expected that travel expenses to and from Zagreb will be covered by all participants themselves.


Dr. Vjera Katalinić, Department for History of Croatian Music of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts

Dr. Koraljka Kos, Member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts

Dr. Sanja-Majer-Bobetko, Department for History of Croatian Music of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts

Dr. Nada Bezić, Croatian Music Institute, Zagreb

Dr. Stanislav Tuksar, Department of Musicology, Academy of Music, University of Zagreb, Member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts


The organizers are planning to publish multilingual Proceedings of the conference.


Please send all correspondence and queries to the official address or the website of the Croatian Musicological Society, as indicated above, or directly to the members of the Organizing Committee.