Second Meeting Update

This morning I received an email from Professor Alesina and he has to go home to Italy as his father is quite ill so he will not be able to speak to us on November 7th.

Professor Mark DeVoto, Chairman of the Music Department emeritus at Tufts University, has volunteered to take his place. His topic will be composer Igor Stravinsky.

Mark grew up in Cambridge and attended private schools, including the Longy School of Music (piano, organ, solfège), and Harvard College. His father,  Bernard DeVoto, was an all-around professional writer and a specialist in American frontier history and his mother, Avis, was a book reviewer and an expert cook who worked extensively with Julia Child. 

Mark expected to study chemistry, and had gone so far as to win a prize in high school, but in college quickly found that he loved music more.  He had been composing since he was 14.  Mark did graduate training at Princeton University and prepared for an academic career, which he pursued successfully until retiring from teaching at age 60.  Since then he has had time to compose, to analyze music, and to learn more science.

He has published extensively on the music of Alban Berg, which he discovered in graduate school more or less by accident, and on Debussy and Ravel, whose music he first got to know as a child. It was also almost by accident that he came to revise Walter Piston's Harmony, after studying out of the second edition and teaching for ten years from the third edition.  This book has identified him as a music theorist, but he rejects that designation; as theory, Harmony is only very elementary, and he have always been skeptical of theoretical systems in music.  The book is still valuable for its multitude of examples, and for its development of analytical methods, which may help the listener and, sometimes, the young composer.

Mark’s favorite composers are Chopin, Schubert, and Debussy, and, close behind them, Bach, Mozart and Beethoven.  He finds the nineteenth century endlessly interesting.  Among recent composers he especially likes Stravinsky, Varèse, Copland, and Cole Porter.

Mark is a tireless student of history and world affairs.  Public issues that particularly concern him are the environment, conservation of natural resources, freedom of the press, and nuclear proliferation.  In politics he support fiscal conservatism along Republican lines of the 1950s; in all other respects he is an unreconstructed FDR liberal and an admirer of Hubert Humphrey and Adlai Stevenson.

Our meetings take place at the Gran Gusto restaurant at 90 Sherman St. Cambridge and start with a cocktail hour from 6:00 - 7:00 PM with wine available at $9.00 or $10.00 per glass, soda at $3.00 or beer at $6.00.

Dinner is typically served at 7:00 PM and then our featured speaker takes over for 30-40 minutes and is followed by a Q&A session..

There are two choices for dinner: A three course Italian dinner at $36.00 or a pizza and salad dinner at $20.00.

If you plan on attending please email me at [masked] and let me know your dinner selection before Sunday November 6 as we have to notify Gran Gusto in advance.







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  • A former member
    A former member

    Mark DeVoto lead a discussion of Igor Stravinsky whom he met when he was teaching music at Reed College in Oregon in the 1960s. Mark played CD excerpts of several of his Stravinsky's works including:

    * The Nightingale (Le Rossignol), 3-act opera;
    * Histoire du soldat (The Soldier's Tale), for chamber ensemble and three speakers;
    * The Rite of Spring (Le sacre du printemps);
    * Les noces (The Wedding), for soloists, choir, four pianos and percussion; and
    * Octet for Wind Instruments

    Overall, a very informative evening!

    November 8, 2011

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  • A former member
  • A former member

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