Believe it or not

The humanities conference covered the investigation of Composer Myths and Mysteries

By Rébecca Phaneuf-Thibault

Beverly Sing, a Humanities teacher at Dawson, gave a conference last Thursday called, “Establishing beyond a (musical) doubt?” about her musicology background.

She explained how musicologists dissect mysteries surrounding long-dead musical legends.

“We bother with these myths because of the idea that they bring that these great musicians and composers are actually human,” Sing said.

During the conference, Sing exposed three cases that have been debated upon and looked into for hundreds of years. She discussed who the true composer of a famous keyboard work was and whose credit is given to Johann Sebastian Bach. She continued with Beethoven’s immortal beloved and mysterious death, as well as Mozart’s.

Sing looked into each myth. She explained how, with musicology, the systematic scholarly study of music, with scientific, cultural, and historical knowledge it is possible to dig into these myths in order to establish very plausible assumptions.

As an example she talked about Bach’s keyboard piece, which was part of a notebook that Bach offered his second wife, Anna Magdalena Bach. He offered it to her when he came home from a visit to Dresden where he was in contact with Christian Petzold, a German composer and organist.

Knowing that, a German musicologist undertook a close analysis of the work in terms of both the composers’ styles and influences and concluded that it was very likely that Petzold composed the piece or that Bach was widely influenced by him, during his visit.

Sing proved that with knowledge in musicology, these mysteries that turned into myths with the decades can be unraveled. However, she greatly emphasized the importance to think critically when a “new proof” comes out in the media, “Since these famous people draw a lot of attention on their own, as soon as a new hypothesis is brought to light, it tends to be adopted by the public, when it hasn’t necessarily been thoroughly proven.”

Heidy Robert, a third semester Social Science student, said, “It was great, I learned a lot. I was here because of a class, Classical Music, Beverly is my teacher. The conference was really representative of what kind of class she gives.”

Robert’s wasn’t the only student attending the lecture, another group of students were present for G. Nambiar’s Individual and Society class.


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