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Music and Sound Studies Colloquium: Mark Ferraguto, "Mozart and/as A.I.", Lenore Coral Memorial Lecture

Thursday, April 11, 2024 at 4:30pm

Lincoln Hall, 124
Dept of Music, 101 Lincoln Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-4101, USA

Mark Ferraguto, Associate Professor of Musicology at the Pennsylvania State University, specializes in the music, culture, and politics of 18th- and early 19th-century Europe. He is the author of Beethoven 1806 (Oxford University Press, 2019), a musical microhistory that has been described as “one of the boldest contextual studies [of Beethoven] to date” (Oxford Bibliographies Online). Other recent publications include the first modern edition of Franz Weiss’s “Razumovsky” Quartets (A-R Editions, 2023), an article on experimentalism in Sweelinck’s echo fantasias (Early Music, 2022), and chapters in edited collections on Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony and Mozart’s The Magic Flute (Cambridge University Press; 2020, 2023). With violinist Nicole Cherry, he is currently completing the first modern edition of George Bridgetower’s chamber music for A-R Editions. An organist and harpsichordist, he studied musicology and early keyboards at Cornell University, the College of the Holy Cross, and the Conservatoire de Strasbourg.


The rise of ChatGPT and other generative pre-trained language models has rekindled a Mozartian discourse about the boundary between authentic human creativity and the machine-like amalgamation of ideas. This discourse has long influenced the reception of The Magic Flute, a piece that has been viewed as both “a work of genius” and a “synthesis of material drawn from a variety of sources” (King 1955). But the dizzying number of Flute’s alleged references to other works not only conjures up the idea of Mozart as machine, it also points to ongoing tensions in the study of 18th-century music. On the one hand, despite countless examinations of influence, we still arguably lack a general conception of how 18th-century composers understood imitation, modeling, and allusion. On the other hand, as the fields of schema and partimento studies have made ever clearer, seemingly individual quirks often collapse into generalized aspects of 18th-century style. Given that the galant style was predicated on “a particular repertory of stock musical phrases employed in conventional sequences” (Gjerdingen 2007, 6), how do we successfully disentangle the bespoke utterance from the cliché, the intentional reference from the family resemblance, the genuine from the artificial?



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Lecture, Music


Department of Music


cascal, music



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