Reviews

Reviews for Schnittke Studies (ed. Gavin Dixon; Routledge 2016)

Review by Peter J. Schmelz in Music&Letters Vol. 98 No. 4, November 2017, 697-699.

“Most readers, including serious scholars, will best be served by the resource Ivana Medić has compiled that appears as the book’s appendix: a preliminary catalogue of Schnittke’s works in the Juilliard Manuscript Collection. […] Medić herself is to be applauded for this catalogue and for her ongoing investigations of its riches, as exemplified in this collection by her appropriately contingent reading of religious imagery in Schnittke’s ‘St. Florian’ Symphony No. 2 (1979).”

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Review by Aleksandra Drozzina in Music Theory Online Vol, 24 No. 4, December 2018.

“In the first essay of the book, “‘Crucifixus etiam pro nobis’: Representations of the cross in Alfred Schnittke’s Symphony No. 2, ‘St. Florian,’” Ivana Medić addresses the problematic status of the symphony as a genre in the late twentieth-century Soviet Union. She compellingly connects a significant event in Schnittke’s life—his baptism in his late 40s—with musical representations of the crucifix in the Second Symphony (1979). Medić writes, “Having been trained within the Soviet system, where the symphony was understood as an ‘atheist Mass,’ Schnittke gave himself an impossible task to merge this ‘substitute for the Mass’ with the very thing that it was meant to substitute” (5). Medić credits Russian theorist Tiba Dziun (Dziun 2004) for the initial discovery of the cross’s representation in this symphony. Medić’s own analysis focuses on the abundant appearances throughout the work’s six movements of the Kreuzakkord (i.e., the chord of the cross, as labelled by Schnittke in the sketches), various symmetries, crossings of horizontal and vertical musical currents, and tonal relationships centered around Schnittke’s “divine” key of C major. As Medić notes, there are also interesting compositional congruences with the 1970s works of Schnittke’s contemporaries. For instance, the image of the cross plays a central role in several of Sofia Gubaidulina’s works, including In Croce (1979) (7). Arvo Pärt’s “circular trope,” the main theme of his Symphony no. 3 (1971), is another likely influence (8).” 

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Review by Ian Power in Tempo Vol. 71 No. 281, July 2017, 114-115.

“These chapters – in addition to Ivana Medić’s excellently laid out catalogue of Schnittke’s sketches held in the Juilliard Manuscript Collection – are themselves enough to make the volume essential for someone who will be concerned with Schnittke for anything beyond the short term.”

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Review by Ivan Moody in Musicological Annual No. 53/1, 2017, 254-256.

“The first contains an absorbing study by Ivana Medić of the representation of the Cross in Schnittke’s Symphony no. 2, “St Florian,” a study hugely enhanced by the newly accessible sketches at the Juilliard School. Medić’s “Revised Catalogue of Alfred Schnittke’s Sketches in the Juilliard Manuscript Collection” is also usefully included in the book as an appendix. The way in which the underlying symbolism of the Cross is expressed in compositional technique will hardly be a surprise for anyone who has looked closely at Schnittke’s relationship with religious music and symbolism, but this kind of detailed study is not only needed, but also quite revelatory.”

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Review by Arnold McMillin in The Slavonic and East European Review No. 95/3, July 2017, 544-546.

“Ivana Medić in ‘“Crucifixus etiam pro nobis”: Representations of the Cross in Alfred Schnittke’s Symphony No. 2, “St. Florian”’ demonstrates by use of material from sketches and drafts of this work Schnittke’s continuation of the practice of J. S. Bach in musical representations of the cross.”
“A welcome addition to this thought-provoking and very well illustrated volume is the Appendix, which consists of a revised catalogue of Alfred Schnittke’s sketches held in the Juilliard Manuscript Collection with, in addition to formal detail, clarifying comments for future researchers by Ivana Medić (the compiler).”

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Review by Yulia Panteleeva in Muzikal’naya Akademiya Vol. 2, 2019, 766 (in Russian)

“Первая представляет собой статью Иваны Медич (Ivana Medić) «“Crucifixus Etiam Pro Nobis”: репрезентация креста во Второй симфонии А. Шнитке “St. Florian”» («“Crucifixus Etiam Pro Nobis”: Representations of the Cross in Alfred Schnittke’s Symphony No. 2 “St. Florian”»). Здесь автор обобщает свой опыт изучения 114 эскизов симфонии, которые хранятся в архивных фондах Библиотеки Джульярда (Juilliard Manuscript Collection) в Нью-Йорке. Данные наброски, половина которых написана по-русски, а половина по-немецки или на том и другом языках, интересны как ценный материал для наблюдения над творческим процессом композитора. Например, первоначально Шнитке планировал сделать произведение в восьми частях, а затем уменьшил их количество до шести.

Большой интерес вызывают сохранившиеся вербальные заметки композитора, например, его размышления о том, каким образом можно было бы музыкальными средствами изобразить крест. «Проблема: как передать двухмерность креста в звучании? — адресует самому себе вопросы Шнитке. — Пересечение горизонтального и вертикального? Что такое “горизонтальное” звучание? Что такое вертикальное звучание? Интервальный крест: пересечение двух равных интервалов, впрочем, это одно измерение. Может быть, пространственный крест? Размещение оркестра в форме креста?» [10, 11].

Медич очень подробно рассказывает о своей работе с архивными документами из названной коллекции рукописей. Исправив множество неточностей в атрибуции композиторских набросков, музыковед в результате составила их полный каталог, который дан в приложении к книге.”

Reviews for From Polystylism to Meta-Pluralism: Essays on Late Soviet Symphonic Music (Institute of Musicology SASA, 2017)

Review by Ivan Moody in Muzikologija/Musicology 23, II/2017, 322-324.

(Full text in open access)

This book grew out of Ivana Medić’s continuing investigation into music by Alfred Schnittke and his contemporaries following her defence of her doctoral thesis, on Schnittke’s symphonies, at the University of Manchester. As such, it represents an up-to-date and original approach to a body of music with which she is deeply familiar  but constantly questioning. Indeed, one of the most significant aspects of the book, and of Ivana Medić’s work in general, is her willingness to think through conclusions anew and recontexualize: thus her coining of the term “meta-pluralism” to describe the Soviet tendency often equated (but inexactly, as Medić shows) with the Western phenomenon of postmodernism.” […]

In her postlude, Medić brings us back to Schnittke, neatly situating the other composers whom she discusses around him. It is interesting to speculate how such a thing might be done in reverse – could one imagine such a history being centred on Silvestrov, Pärt, Gubaidulina or Kancheli (and only after having written those names do I note that only one of them is Russian, and then only in a sense…)? Perhaps. But Schnittke provides a central point around which to construct a new narrative of many things that happened in late Soviet music (because what it discussed here greatly tran-scends the symphonic canon), and thus enlightens the reader in unexpected and fasci-nating ways. This book is nothing less than a landmark.”

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Review by Srđan Teparić in The Annual of Matica Srpska for Scenic Arts and Music No 58, 2018, 190-192 (in Serbian)

(Full text in open access)

The development path of late Soviet symphonic music from polystylism to meta-pluralism shown in the book by Dr Ivana Medić points to independent stylistic progress which took place in a certain geographical area and in specific historical circumstances, unfolding in three phases which occasionally overlapped and yet retained their own specifics. The author’s immeasurable contribution to global musicology it is reflected in marking and highlighting particular features of each phase. A special quality of this book lies in the fact that all conclusions are derived from the analysis of the most representative late Soviet symphonic works. With this significant achievement, Dr Ivana Medić confirmed herself as a scholar whose publications are an indispensable part of any research dedicated to Soviet music after World War II.”

Reviews for JOSIP SLAVENSKI (1896-1955). On the Occassion of the 120th Anniversary of the Composer’s Birth (ed. Ivana Medić; Institute of Musicology SASA, 2017)

Review by Sanja Grujić-Vlajnić in Muzikologija/Musicology No 25, II/2018, 227-232.

(Full text in open access)

“The publication Josip Slavenski (1896–1955) – Povodom 120. godišnjice kompozitorovog rođenja, edited by Ivana Medić and published by the Institute of Musicology SASA represents an important contribution not only for Slavenski scholars, but for Serbian and European musicology overall.” (…)

“The general scope of the publication gravitates around three main themes: the life and work of the composer, analytical studies of Slavenski’s compositions and discourses regarding Slavenski’s music style and reception throughout the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first centuries.” (…)

“Regarding Slavenski’s treatment of piano and the structures of his piano scores, Ivana Medić in “Problemi interpretacije klavirskog stvaralastva Josipa Slavenskog” [Problems in Performing Josip Slavenski’s Piano Works] offers a view in opposition to Beard’s “anti-pianism.” Discussed from the standpoint of a musicologist-performer, she offers a more acceptable term – “robustni pijanizam” [robust/vigorous pianism] (150), a term that equally describes Slavenski’s relation with the piano as an instrument of interpretation of the score and the source of greater musical sonority. In that sense, Ivana Medić’s paper offers a valuable source for interpreters of Slavenski’s piano music.”

Reviews for Theory and Practice of the Gesamtkunstwerk in the 20th and 21st Centuries – The Opera Cycle LICHT / LIGHT by Karlheinz Stockhausen (Institute of Musicology SASA, 2019)

Review by Monika Novaković in INSAM Journal No 5/II, “Music, Art and Technology in the Time of Global Crisis”, 2020, 139-142.

(Full text in open access)

“Medić takes an innovative approach to the complex and challenging subject of the book, constructing an intricate theoretical apparatus that allows her to approach Gesamtkunstwerk and observe it to a great extent in various lights. Notably, the theoretical apparatus consists of interpretations of Gesamtkunstwerk using the key of romanticism and modernism, as well as the theory of avant-garde in art and, particularly, that of music avant-garde. The apparatus is also built on the knowledge from various disciplines such as literature studies, history of theatre, theatre studies and other discourses that greatly influenced the evolution of the total artwork and helped the author underline the multifacetedness of the said concept. […]

Medić’s comprehensive, thought-provoking monograph gives clear answers to numerous questions that arise when one is encountered with Gesamtkunstwerk and, particularly, with the multilayeredness of Stockhausen’s complex work. This monograph provides an excellent starting point for any researcher who is determined to grasp the idea of Gesamtkunstwerk fully and any researchers who are interested in viewing Stockhausen’s works in a different light.”

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Review by Melita Milin in Muzikologija/Musicology No 29, II/2020, 139-142. (in Serbian)

(full text in open access)

With her monograph on the opera cycle LICHT by Karlheinz Stockhausen, observed in the context of the theory and practice of Gesamtkunstverk, Ivana Medić presented herself as a very competent researcher of a complex and certainly important issue of artistic creation and aesthetics after Richard Wagner. In order to view the selected work as accurately and comprehensively as possible, it was necessary to add a large number of interesting and even bizarre data on the textual background and aspects of stage performance to musical analyzes, so that this monograph contains, in addition to serious musicological discussions, some unavoidable colorful descriptions. which complement the general picture. It is valuable that the book includes fragments of conversations that the author had with Stockhausen, which provided an insight into the composer’s personal relationship to his work. The book opens many questions, giving answers to them, but at the same time leaving them open for further studies, which it will undoubtedly encourage. The book is written in a language accessible to a wider academic circle of readers, it is clear, logically structured and with precise explanations of the statements. Th appendices at the end of the book include photographs from the author’s personal collection, an extensive summary in English, a register of names, and two precious conversations that Medić led with Karlheinz Stockhausen and musicologist Richard Toop.”

Reviews for Orthodoxy, Music, Politics and Art in Russia and Eastern Europe (eds. Ivan Moody and Ivana Medić; Centre for Russian Music, Goldsmiths, and Institute of Musicology SASA, 2020)

Review by Richard Louis Gillies in The Slavonic and East European Review No 2, Vol. 99, April 2021, 351-352.

“This volume, edited by Ivan Moody and Ivana Medić, presents a collection of thirteen papers by an international roster of scholars that begin to scrutinize the highly complex relationship between Orthodoxy, culture and politics in Eastern Europe and Russia.

The outcome of a conference held at Goldsmiths, University of London in March 2013, this publication is dedicated to the memory of Alexander Ivashkin (1948–2014), and contains a number of chapters by his colleagues and former students at Goldsmith’s Centre for Russian Music. The volume is admirable in scope, covering a diverse range of contexts and topics from Achilleas G. Chaldaeakes’s exploration of eighteenth-century ecclesiastical policy in the sacred music of Patriarch Athanasios V (c.1655–60–after 1721) which opens the volume (and includes some beautiful facsimile reproductions of Byzantine manuscripts) to Tara Wilson’s closing chapter on the influence of Russian Orthodoxy on the ‘post-post-modern’ aesthetics of the redoubtable Vladimir Martynov (b.1946). Beside the range of topics covered, a major strength of the volume is the consideration of figures from Russian, Latvian, Serbian and Bulgarian traditions that remain somewhat underappreciated in Western scholarship such as Sergei Vasilenko, Stepan Smolenskii, Nikolai Korndorf, Vladimir and Juri Glagolev, Andrejs Selickis, Stevan Mokranjac, his nephew Vasilije Mokranjac, Ljubica Marić, Vasil Kazandzhiev and Konstantin Iliev, to name just a few, whose activities are contextualized alongside more familiar names including Sergei Prokof´ev, Sergei Eizenshtein, Sofiia Gubaidulina, Galina Ustvol´skaia and Al´fred Shnitke.

Such an approach often allows for a degree of discursive freedom throughout the volume, and many chapters complement one another in a number of illuminating ways: Medić’s survey of Serbian piano repertoire inspired by the Orthodox church works particularly well alongside Predrag Đoković’s overview of Serbian sacred music during the Communist era in this regard, while Moody’s central chapter functions as an effective locus to the volume in its consideration of the ways in which Orthodoxy can be understood to mediate a dialogue between politics, socialism and modernity in the art music of twentieth-century Russia, Bulgaria and Serbia. 

(…) this collection of essays contains a wealth of information and perspectives, and as such provides a threshold through which lies fertile ground for continued research into the tortuous relationship between state and church, and the tensions and contradictions inherent in the intersection between Marxist- Leninist ideology, Soviet identity, nationalist identity and religious belief in the musical cultures of Eastern Europe and Russia.”

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Review by Peter Bouteneff in Journal of the International Society for Orthodox Church Music; Joensuu Vol. 5, Iss. 1,  (2021): 57-58.

(full text in open access)

“With this excellent volume it feels more important to focus on the global comments and leave the more detailed exploration to its readers. (…) It is warmly dedicated to Ivashkin, the scholar and virtuoso cellist, who died after a sudden illness in 2014. Ivashkin’s spirit lives in this book, populated as it is by several of his students including its co-editor, Ivana Medić. 

(…) the volume is immensely rewarding. The essays’ diversity also means that no-one will leave this book without having learned something, without having explored brand new territory, such that their intellectual and aesthetic horizons are substantially expanded. The other challenge more particular to this volume has to do with the subjects it treats. Orthodoxy, Music, Politics, Art, are each prone to the formation of ideologies, and therefore to internecine battles. Bringing them all together could have been a preview to a third World War. The essays here are substantive, and not immune to opinion. But they maintain a spirit of scholarly inquisitiveness and discovery, and their passion is that of engaged involvement rather than the staking and defence of territory.

(…) none of these scholars—most of whom are young, many of whom bring to bear their hands-on experience as musicians—is here to stake a claim or argue an ideology. They are here to share their insight and research, confident in the receptive curiosity of their listeners and readers. Surely this spirit of open inquiry—that has yielded such informative and interesting essays—is an inspiring testimony to Alexander Ivashkin, and his legacy in his students and his spirit.”

Reviews for Rethinking Prokofiev (eds. Rita McAllister and Christina Guillaumier; Oxford University Press, 2020)

Review by Arnold McMillin in The Slavonic and East European Review No 2, Vol. 99, April 2021, 353-354.

“This survey of Prokof’ev’s life and work is not only excellent per se, but also very timely, in that the pioneering study of the early years by David Nice appeared as long ago as 2003. There is a strong team of contributors who have all produced clear and detailed analyses, shedding new light on many aspects of the composer, including comprehensive annotation and, where necessary, cross-referencing. (…)

The contributions are divided into six parts: (…) 2. ‘Prokofiev and His Contemporaries’ — Marina Frolova-Walker discusses the composer in the French context and particularly his concern to match Stravinskii in status, Ivana Medić writes interestingly of the two-way influence between Prokof’ev and Shostakovich, and Nelly Kravetz discusses the relationship between the composer and his friend Levon Atovmian, who, it is suggested, was the main instigator of his return to Russia.

The above conspectus, while giving an idea of the book’s scope, certainly cannot begin to reflect the full richness of this first-class collection of recent research work on the enigmatic figure of Prokof’ev. It deserves a place in all serious libraries and on the shelves of music lovers everywhere.”