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CFP: Antonio Caldara and the Performance of Power

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      Alan Maddox

      Symposium ‘Antonio Caldara (1670-1736) and the performance of power’

      University of Sydney and online, 23-25 September, 2022

      Call for Papers

      Antonio Caldara (1670-1736) was one of the pre-eminent composers of his generation. Born in Venice, he was successively court composer to Duke Ferdinando Carlo of Mantua and Prince Ruspoli in Rome, and finally deputy music director and favourite composer to Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI in Vienna. He was at least as famous, respected and influential in his own time as contemporaries such as J.S. Bach, Handel and Vivaldi, yet he has been neglected in the historiography of the period, in part because his service as a court musician precluded wide dissemination of his works during his lifetime but also because his role as court musician has been read as a marker of conventionality, in contrast with the teleological narratives of innovation and self-actualisation which have dominated much of the discourse about his contemporaries. As a consequence he remains substantially under-researched.

      This symposium aims to explore Caldara’s expertise and creativity and expose his decisive contribution as a composer and rhetorical craftsman within the context of the Baroque court. In particular, his expressive techniques call for further analysis, together with their role in propagating the powerful, affective-rhetorical musical style distinctive to the late Italian-Viennese Baroque, characterized by an all-encompassing regime of corporate authority – what Harry White has aptly called ‘the musical discourse of servitude’. At the same time, there remain significant lacunae in our knowledge of Caldara’s life and career, particularly in relation to his musical formation, his personal and professional connections, and the dissemination of his music – aspects essential to accounting for the specific characteristics of his music and assessing its meaning. The time is now ripe for Caldara’s re-evaluation as a major creative force in late Baroque culture.

      Papers are invited on all aspects of Caldara’s life and music in their political, social and cultural context. Topics may include, but are not limited to

      • Analytical, interpretive and comparative studies of Caldara’s compositions
      • Studies of the cultural, social and political environments and the ideological constraints within which he worked
      • Studies of his life and career
      • Sources for Caldara studies
      • Performance practices relevant to Caldara’s music
      • The transmission and reception of Caldara’s music from his lifetime to the present

      The symposium will be hosted by the University of Sydney, Australia, and conducted in ‘hybrid’ mode. Proposals for both in-person and online presentations are very welcome. Sessions will be scheduled to accommodate a variety of time zones.

      Proposals may take the form of

      • individual 20 minute papers
      • panels (60 minutes, 3 papers)
      • roundtables (60 minutes, 3-5 presenters and/or discussants)
      • lecture demonstrations (30 minutes). For in-person presenters, a harpsichord and chamber organ can be provided. Online lecture-demonstrations should be pre-recorded, with the presenter(s) available for ‘live’ online questions and discussion.

      Proposals should include:

      • Name, institution, short CV
      • Email address
      • Abstract of max. 250 words

      Please send your proposals to alan.maddox -at- sydney.edu.au by 24 June 2022.

      Publication This symposium is one stage of a longer project that is intended to yield an edited volume, provisionally titled “Antonio Caldara and the Performance of Power.” Participants in the symposium will be invited to propose more extended essays, developed from their presentations, for publication. Submission of completed essays is anticipated in mid-2023.


      • 24 June 2022: deadline for submission of proposals
      • 1 July 2022: announcement of acceptance of papers and preliminary schedule15 July 2022: final schedule confirmed
      • 23-25 September 2022: symposium sessions


      For enquiries, please contact Alan Maddox (alan.maddox -at- sydney.edu.au).

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