Experiencing Pain Through Sound: Ustvolskaya (Pt. 2) and Maryanne Amacher

The last episode of Art Music Perspectives delved into performers’ experience of pain and discomfort in playing the music of Galina Ustvolskaya. In this episode, we’ll explore how listeners can experience pain, often at the hands of composers who purposefully create sonically-uncomfortable listening experiences through sound.

My guest this episode is:
Maria Cizmic, author of Performing Pain: Music and Trauma in Eastern Europe

The music heard in this episode is:
Ustvolskaya, Symphony No. 2
Meshuggah: Demiurge
Maryanne Amacher: Chorale

Performing Pain through the Music of Galina Ustvolskaya

Soviet composer Galina Ustvolskaya wrote music that seemed to defy the rules of pain/injury prevention for pianists. Her pieces frequently ask the pianist to play with the edges of the hands, the clenched fist, or the forearms. Additionally, the expressivity of her works is extreme, with dynamics reaching cacophonous levels. Even so, what draws musicians to play her music? How did her music fit into late-Soviet society?

My guests this episode are:
•Maria Cizmic, Professor of Humanities and Cultural Studies at the University of South Florida; author of Performing Pain: Music & Trauma in Eastern Europe
•Tom Curry, Professor of Tuba & Euphonium at UW-Madison
•Iva Ugrcic, Director of LunART Festival (Madison, WI)
•Satoko Hayami, Collaborative Pianist

The music in this episode:
•Bach/Busoni, Chaconne 
•Ustvolskaya, Piano Sonata No. 6
•Ustvolskaya, Composition No. 1 (“Dona nobis pacem”) for tuba, piccolo, piano; featuring Tom Curry, Iva Ugrcic, and Vincent Fuh. Curry’s debut solo album is available from Summit Records: https://www.summitrecords.com/release/alight-tom-curry/