Knapp, Raymond 1952–
Knapp, Raymond 1952–
Born November 6, 1952. Education: Harvard University, B.A. (cum laude); Radford University, M.A.; Duke University, Ph.D.
Academic and musicologist. University of California, Los Angeles, professor of musicology, 1989—, chair of the musicology department, 2006—. Santa Monica Symphony, Santa Monica, CA, violinist.
Brahms and the Challenge of the Symphony, Pendragon Press (Stuyvesant, NY), 1997.
Symphonic Metamorphoses: Subjectivity and Alienation in Mahler's Re-cycled Songs, Wesleyan University Press (Middletown, CT), 2003.
The American Musical and the Formation of National Identity, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2005.
The American Musical and the Performance of Personal Identity, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2006.
(Editor, with Steven Baur and Jacqueline Warwick) Musicological Identities: Essays in Honor of Susan McClary, Ashgate (Burlington, VT), 2008.
Raymond Knapp is an academic and musicologist born on November 6, 1952. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in music, graduating cum laude, from Harvard University. He later earned a master of arts degree in music composition from Radford University. Knapp completed his formal studies at Duke University, earning a Ph.D. in musicology. Knapp joined the University of California, Los Angeles, musicology department in 1989 where he serves as head of the department and as a professor of musicology. Additionally, he plays second violin with the Santa Monica Symphony and writes music. The University of California, Los Angeles, Musicology Department Web site notes that "both in his courses and in his publications, Knapp has led the way in providing internet-based supporting resources." He has made streaming audio examples available online.
Knapp's research interests include scholarship on a number of classical composers and topics, including Richard Wagner, Johannes Brahms, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Gustav Mahler, Francesco Landini, Antonín Dvorák, Franz Joseph Haydn, Béla Bartók, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, musical allusion, nationalism, music and identity, absolute music, American musicals, and film scores. Knapp published his first book, Brahms and the Challenge of the Symphony, in 1997.
Knapp subsequently published Symphonic Metamorphoses: Subjectivity and Alienation in Mahler's Recycled Songs in 2003. The book focuses primarily on the early symphonies of Gustav Mahler, a composer born in what is now the Czech Republic, who garnered fame from his songs, symphonies, and conducting. Knapp expands upon previous scholarship in the area by looking specifically into how Mahler used previously composed songs and incorporated them into those early symphonies. He investigates both the original meaning of the song in its entirety and the significance of the specific section Mahler chose to harmonically develop after putting it into a symphony. Each of the first four symphonies is allotted one chapter in reverse order, allowing Knapp to show how Mahler used the song "Das Himmlische Leben" in the finale of the Fourth Symphony after attempting but ultimately rejecting its use in the three previous symphonies. Knapp also compares Mahler's process of selecting songs for use in his symphonies to the Kuleshov Effect of the silent film era: Mahler's songs and independent images in silent films showed their new meanings as pieces of a larger work.
Eftychia Papanikolaou, writing in Notes, remarked that "the fact that Knapp imbues it with an additional interpretative layer that ties it with the faculty of memory is only a testimony to the author's own subjective self and reveals a psychological affinity with Mahler: both Knapp's narrative and Mahler's early symphonies embody a subjectivity that leads to an ultimate state of catharsis." Papanikolaou also wrote that "Knapp deftly navigates between traditional interpretations involving the use of preexisting songs in Mahler's early symphonies and astutely nuanced exegeses of extra-musical explorations. With a keen eye for solid musical analysis and informed socio-cultural readings, the author explores topics of alienation, subjectivity, childhood, absolute music, and religion."
In 2005 Knapp published The American Musical and the Formation of National Identity. The book won the George Jean Nathan Award for dramatic criticism from Cornell University in 2005. The award committee, writing on the Cornell University Web site, pointed out after making their decision that the author "makes his narrative vivid and his examples clear." The committee added that the book is "forward-looking in form of publication as well as content."
The book examines nineteen American musicals and their importance to American society at the time they were first produced or composed. The textbook-style account not only analyzes the musical aspects of these works but also examines the cultural fabric of American life and various musicals' pairing with modern arts of the time as well as jazz and films. The book is organized thematically and touches on issues of ethnicity, race, and gay themes. Knapp includes links to online audio examples to assist the reader. His musical selections include many of the expected, mainstream choices, such as Oklahoma!, Guys and Dolls, and The Music Man, as well as some less-common works, such as Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, Marc Blitzstein's The Cradle Will Rock of 1938, and Stephen Sondheim's Pacific Overtures of 1976.
Ken McCoy, writing in History: Review of New Books, commented that "Knapp avoids musical jargon and succeeds in finding a layman's language for expressing in coherent detail the pertinent musical elements of his subjects." Suggesting that the book is best suited for graduate students, McCoy said that "its depth and focus is nevertheless quite appealing to the serious music theater scholar/practitioner and educated fan." Alisa Clapp-Itnyre, reviewing the book in the Historian, wrote that the book has a "useful appendix of songs," a "lively, accessible prose," and "insightful close readings." Clapp-Itnyre concluded that the book's "close musical analysis, combined with broad cultural comments about the power of the American musical, is highly original and much needed, especially as a teaching textbook." Knapp's subsequent book on the genre, The American Musical and the Performance of Personal Identity, was published in 2006.
In 2008 Knapp coedited Musicological Identities: Essays in Honor of Susan McClary with Steven Baur and Jacqueline Warwick. He also is the author of several essays.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, April 1, 2006, John W. Frick, review of The American Musical and the Formation of National Identity, p. 516.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, January 1, 2004, M. Meckna, review of Symphonic Metamorphoses: Subjectivity and Alienation in Mahler's Re-cycled Songs, p. 916; May 1, 2005, R. Stahura, review of The American Musical and the Formation of National Identity, p. 1598; July 1, 2007, R.D. Johnson, review of The American Musical and the Performance of Personal Identity, p. 1922.
Historian, June 22, 2006, Alisa Clapp-Itnyre, review of The American Musical and the Formation of National Identity, p. 349.
History: Review of New Books, March 22, 2005, Ken McCoy, review of The American Musical and the Formation of National Identity, p. 95.
Journal of American History, December 1, 2005, Andrea Most, review of The American Musical and the Formation of National Identity, p. 1049.
London Review of Books, March 31, 2005, Michael Friedman, review of The American Musical and the Formation of National Identity, p. 25.
Modern Drama, September 22, 2007, Stacy Wolf, review of The American Musical and the Performance of Personal Identity, p. 462.
Music & Letters, August 1, 2004, Mary Callaghan, review of Symphonic Metamorphoses, p. 475.
Notes, September 1, 2004, Eftychia Papanikolaou, review of Symphonic Metamorphoses, p. 126.
Theatre Journal, October 1, 2006, Mary Jo Lodge, review of The American Musical and the Formation of National Identity, p. 514.
Cornell University Web site,http://www.cornell.edu/ (April 12, 2008), author award information.
University of California, Los Angeles, Musicology Department Web site,http://www.musicology.ucla.edu/ (April 12, 2008), author profile.