Blend of Music and Art in Annual Engel Lecture
of Romanticism” is
how one prominent 19th-century critic, Théophile
Gautier, described the collective artistic force of painter Eugène Delacroix
(1798-1863), composer Hector Berlioz (1803-1869), and poet Victor Hugo
But while the three artists
played the same theater, they did not always sing the same
tune. The musician and the painter nonetheless improvised
on many of the same themes and, as public figures, they encountered
from officialdom some of the same impediments.
La Mort d'Ophélie (The Death of
Ophelia), by Eugène Delacroix, 1853, oil on canvas.
March 8, Peter Bloom, Grace Jarcho Ross 1933 Professor of
Humanities, will uncover some of the areas in which Berlioz
and Delacroix crossed paths, if not swords. Through images
and music he will explore the death of Ophelia—a subject that on more than one occasion was taken
up by both artists—during his talk “Berlioz, Delacroix, & La
Mort d’Ophélie,” in
the 54th annual Katharine Asher Engel Lecture.
The lecture, at 5 p.m. in Seelye
Hall 201, is free and open to the public (). A reception will follow
in Seelye 207.
The Engel Lecture is granted
annually to a Smith faculty member who has made a significant
contribution to his or her field. The lecture was established
in 1958 by the National Council of Jewish Women in honor
of Engel, its one-time president and a 1920 Smith graduate.
Bloom joined the Smith faculty
in 1970, two years before being awarded his doctorate from
the University of Pennsylvania, having earlier completed
his undergraduate studies at Swarthmore College and, as an
oboist, at the Curtis Institute of Music. He has taught courses
on the canonical repertory from the period of Haydn, Mozart,
and Beethoven, through the period of Berlioz and Wagner,
and on to that of Adams and Zwilich. Recently he has given
first-year seminars and senior music-major seminars on writing
and writing about music.
Though he has written on Schumann,
Wagner, and Debussy, his publications have largely concentrated
on Hector Berlioz. He is the author of The
Life of Berlioz (Cambridge University Press) and of numerous articles on
Berlioz’s life and work. He is also editor of two volumes of the
New Berlioz Edition and of seven collections of articles by various writers,
including the Dictionnaire Berlioz, published in Paris by Fayard, and Berlioz:
Scenes from the Life and Work, brought out by the University of Rochester Press.
“My mother was a painter and I grew up with painters and paintings in the house,” Bloom
notes, “but before this look at Delacroix I have not written on music's ‘sister’ art.”
Bloom once directed Smith’s Junior Year Abroad program in Geneva and has five
times directed the Junior Year Abroad program in Paris. As a recent inductee
into the world of Debussy scholarship (preparing a volume of the new complete
edition of the musical works), he initiated the celebration at Smith of the 150th
anniversary of the composer’s birth. This includes the current exhibition at
the Museum of Art on Debussy's Paris (curated by Laura Kalba) as well as various
lectures and concerts that will culminate with the music department’s “Debussy
Days,” to be celebrated March 10 and 11 in Sage Hall.