Richard Murphy Musicology Colloquium Series: Susan McClary

Date, time, location

Thursday, April 6, 2023
4:30 pm EDT

Bibbins Hall

77 W. College St.
Oberlin, OH 44074

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Free Admission

Internationally-acclaimed musicologist Susan McClary will present a lecture entitled, “Kaija Saariaho, Mater” in Bibbins Hall, room 237.

In this talk, Prof. McClary will discuss how Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952) has produced dozens of works hailed as among the most powerful of our time. Unlike many female composers, Saariaho often draws explicitly on her experiences as a woman and, more particularly, as a mother. In her stage works she has focused variously on the traumas of pregnancy resulting from rape, death in childbirth, abortion, and the consequences of carrying an unwanted fetus to term, as well as the complex bond between parents and children: issues particularly urgent in our post-Roe world. With the sheer beauty of her sound world, Saariaho sutures the listener into dense contrapuntal webs that simulate the conflicted subjectivities of her maternal characters. 

Prof. McClary is the Fynette H. Kulas Professor of Music and Head of Musicology at Case Western Reserve University. She has also held professorships at the University of Minnesota, McGill University, UCLA, and the University of Oslo, and received a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship in 1995. She is the author of the of the seminal feminist musicological work, Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality (1991), as well as a half-dozen other monographs on subjects ranging from seventeenth-century music to a contextual analysis of opera director Peter Sellars’ work; Prof. McClary has also edited several collections of essays. 

About the Colloquium

The Richard Murphy Musicology Colloquium was begun in 1992 by Professor Claudia Macdonald to foster an exchange of ideas on music between colleagues in both conservatory and college. The series was expanded in 1997 to include outside speakers as well, and named in honor of Richard Murphy, who taught music history at Oberlin from 1946 to 1978, and was much revered and beloved by his students. He died in 1993.