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Dr. Damjana Bratuz
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A born teacher…one of the few…
Professor Walter Robert , School of Music, Indiana University

… An outstanding pedagogue, musician, and pianist.
János Starker, Distinguished Professor of Cello, School of Music, Indiana University

… An excellent pianist and an inspired performer. Her pedagogical talent is exceptional and is supported both by her musical qualities and her knowledge and experience on the human plane.
György Sebök, Distinguished Professor of Piano, School of Music, Indiana University.


Teaching to our imaginations, not our limitations

by David Stabler

I can't write anything more about my Bach project until I acknowledge the biggest musical influence in my life, my college piano teacher, Dr. Damjana Bratuz. She is the one who introduced me to Bach -- really introduced me to his music. And to the music of everyone else. And to the piano. And to the life of a practicing musician.

We called her Dr. B and she was a fierce, powerful -- and in her way, loving -- presence in our lives, every hour of every day for four years.

We talked about her endlessly. Her hands, so small and supple, that could play the Chopin etudes as if they were sonatinas. Her scholar's mind, which even today, in her 70s, she uses to give lectures all over the place on semiotics, Luciano Berio, Liszt, Glenn Gould and her speciality, Bartok.

And we talked about our lessons with her -- our fear and dread when we didn't feel prepared, our joy when she heard our musical intentions in a piece, our wonderment at her knowledge. We truly felt we were the luckiest students to be working with her. We still do.

Bratuz was the first Italian citizen to earn a Doctor of Music degree [in Piano Literature and Performance], and the first woman to earn that degree from Indiana University, where she studied with, and later assisted, the distinguished pianist Gyorgy Sebok.

In Bartok alone, Bratuz changed our thinking. Last month, she gave a lecture that summarized her lifelong work on the composer:

To say that Hungarian composer Bela Bartok has not been 'heard,' yet, is to acknowledge that he remains one of the most misinterpreted among the giants of the 20th century. Already in his time he was aware of the existence of a 'pseudo-Bartokian' style, since he is known to have jokingly admonished a piano student not to play his music "in such a Bartokian way."

His own piano recordings are inhabited by the vocal flexibility of the Hungarian language, transparency of sound, and a rich variety of unfamiliar timbres; above all by a circularity of movement that is in obvious contrast to the relentless vertical pounding that has become attached to the performance of his piano music, and prevents his musical world from being truly 'heard.'

One obstacle, however, is the fact that the rhythmic patterns of the peasant music that Bartok articulates in such a free, flexible, way, could never be precisely notated. Indeed, Bartok wrote in his 1943 Serbo-Croatian Folk Songs:

"The only really true notations are the sound-tracks on the record itself."

In 1993, Dr. B retired from the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ontario, and many of her students gathered for a party. For the occasion, I wrote the following, which later appeared in the alumni magazine.

1993 - David Stabler: An Die Musik: A Former Student Pays Tribute To Professor Damjana Bratuz

[David Stabler's three-part series Lost in the Music was short-listed for a Pulitzer prize in 2003. "He lives in southeast Portland ... and has three children, two bicycles and a cat."]                    

By David Stabler, The Oregonian    Friday, February 27, 2009

http://blog.oregonlive.com/classicalmusic/2009/02/a_tribute_to_a_teacher.html

Academic Status

Appointed Prof. Emeritus, The University of Western Ontario June 1993

Reappointed Adjunct Research Professor in the Department of Music Performance Studies, Don Wright Faculty of Music, February 2009

(1986)
 

... a gift to impart extraordinary musical insights to an entire generation of young Canadian pianists ...

President's Citation University of Western Ontario, 1993

 

2011 Profile

Special Events:

  • 2012 - August
  • Festa italiana. “On Italian Opera: Home and Abroad.”
    An illustrated Lecture, as a prelude to the evening’s concert performance of Traviata. Labatt Room, at 2:45. London, Ontario, August 26. http://www.coventmarket.com/festa-italiana-august-24th-26th/

  • 2012 - July
  • ŽIVLJENSKI JUBILEJ – Damjana Bratuž. Z glasbo po svetu.” This article (in Slovenian) entitled ”A LIFE’S JUBILEE - Damjana Bratuž. With Music Around the World” appeared in a daily newspaper in Damjana’s home town, Gorizia/Gorica, on July 31 2012. It was written by renowned author, documentary film director, and journalist, Dorica Makuc. It celebrates the accomplishments of the musician, pedagogue, and lecturer, who has remained faithful to the memory of her family’s sufferings and has received in 2011 the honorary citizenship of the city of Urbisaglia.

    In one of the pictures appearing in the article, Damjana is shown with celebrated composer and painter Cecilia Seghizzi, her Theory and Music History teacher of the 1940s who is now 103 years old. Damjana visited her in 2011 at her summer residence in Grad.

  • 2011 - August/ September

    A lengthy interview with musicologist and journalist Tatjana Gregorič taped last August in Gorizia, Italy, was broadcast four times in four different sections: the one devoted to Urbisaglia on Radio Koper, on August 27; another one on Radio Koper on September 9 in the program 'Open for Encounters;' then on Radio Slovenia, on September 10, in the program 'Artists at the microphone;' and on September 26, in the program 'Slovenians around the World.'
    The broadcasts inspired several listenrs to call and congratulate.

  • 2011 - July
    The Honorary Citizenship of Urbisalgia is being awarded to Damjana Bratuz in memory of her father Rudolf, who in 1941-42 was interned in the nearby Campo di Concentramento.
    See Urbisaglia 2011
     
  • 2011 - May
    Snovanja 2011, Emil Komel in njegovi učenci
    At the Cultural Centre Lojze Bratuž in Gorizia, Italy, an evening was devoted on May 13 to the memory of a prominent local musician, organist and composition teacher Emil Komel. The organizer of the event, musicologist Tatjana Gregorič, invited Damjana Bratuž to send from Canada her own reminiscences, which were read at the event by a young colleague. The program, with the participation of eminent musicians including conductor Anton Nanut, and prof. Ivan Florjanc, was recorded by Radio Trieste-A.
    The text is in Slovenian. An English translation is forthcoming
    See Spominski Večer - Emil Komel

Presentations:

Presenter Package Easily Downloadable in PDF Format:

Download/view Brochure - in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) Format
Download/view Brochure Insert - in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) Format

Get Acrobat Reader Get a free copy of the Adobe Acrobat Reader

Press:

Essays:

http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=26105.

I thank Damjana Bratuž for her help with the "Italian Gould," including her thoughts on literal and cultural mistranslations that may account for past biographical confusion.

2013

Paper: “Bartók’s Improvisations for Piano: a Musical Frontier.” ICMS- 12, Music, Semiotics and Intermediality. Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, et Académie Royale de Belgique, Bruxelles. 2 - 6 avril.

Bartók’s Improvisations for Piano: a Musical Frontier

PowerPoint presentation: “On the Translation of Musical Experience: Luciano Berio’s Sequenze.” Emilio Goggio Lectures, Department of Italian Studies, University of Toronto. January 21.

On the Translation of Musical Experience: Luciano Berio’s Sequenze

2012

Halifax, N.S., Paper: “On Some Varieties of Human Oppression.” 14th Biennial Conference, Association of Italian-Canadian Writers, www.aicw.ca Back to the Future: Possibilities Since Pier 21, March 23-25. Panel: Re-visiting the internments of the 1940s: A Multi-disciplinary Perspective (with Jim Zucchero and Antonio Calcagno (King’s University College, UWO). [In preparation]

London, Ontario. The London Opera Guild. The Feminine Side of the Musical Mind. Kaija Saariaho: L’amour de loin/Love from Afar.

Sarriaho autograph
Signed by the composer.

2011

London, Ontario. University of Western Ontario. ARIO (Associazione Ricercatori Italiani dell'Ontario)

Luciano Berio

London, Ontario. Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism, UWO. Parlando with Bartók and Bakhtin

Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism

London, Ontario. King's University College, UWO. Le connessioni invisibili / Invisible Connections Part II

Le connessioni invisibili / Invisible Connections

Bertinoro / University of Bologna. International Bakhtin Conference. Parlando: On the Embodiment of Bartók's Dialogic Forms

University of Bologna

March 3

Invisible Connections: The Harvard Lectures of Bartók (1944) and Calvino (1985) - King's University College - Department of Philosphy and Religion, London Ontario. PowerPoint presentation.

Invisible Connections

2009

November 12-13
International Conference: Representing Gender in the Performative Arts , University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands. (Keynote Speaker) The Feminine Side of the Musical Mind.

Feminine side of the Musical Mind

July 5-10
IMS SYMPOSIUM MUSIC: NOTATION AND SOUND IAML-IMS CONFERENCE The “conferred” and the “inherent” meanings in Béla Bartók's notation.

The “conferred” and the “inherent” meanings in Béla Bartók's notation

June 9-14
7th Symposium on Iconicity in Language and Literature Victoria University in the University of Toronto, Canada On the Persistence of an Iconic Misrepresentation: Two Musical Examples by Béla Bartók On the Persistence of an Iconic Misrepresentation: Two Musical Examples by Béla Bartók

Canada On the Persistence of an Iconic Misrepresentation

April 25
The Toronto Semiotic Circle, Northrop Frye Hall  Victoria University in the University of Toronto The Missing 32": Sotto il segno dell’orso (Under the Sign of the Bear)

The Missing 32

"Thank you so much for your fascinating and engaging talk on Saturday. I know the discussion could have continued for much longer because of the interesting aspects you brought up".
Dr. Anne Urbancic, Semiotics & Communication Theory, University of Toronto

March 20
Voice Fridays, Don Wright Faculty of Music, University of Western Ontario - Singing in Italiano (PDF format)

"This will be a treat! Prof. Bratuz is a delight and has much to teach us about singing in Italian… "
Torin W. Chiles Lecturer, Coordinator of the Voice Division Don Wright Faculty of Music University of Western Ontario

January 16
"12:30 Fridays" - Western, Don Wright Faculty of Music - Von Kuster Hall Sotto il segno dell’orso/Under the Sign of the bear: From Indication to Interpretation, January 16, 2009

Sotto il segno dell’orso/Under the Sign of the bear

2008

November 16
52nd Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society for Traditional Music/ Jointly Meeting with the Helen Creighton Folklore Society. Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia November 14th-16th, 2008

Influence and Affinity

October 24
10th International Congress on Musical Signification, ICMS 10 - BEFORE AND AFTER MUSIC. Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre (Vilnius)

Luciano Berio

2007

  • Toronto

January 25.
Lecture: Luciano Berio: “Quando il suono diventa significato. On Sound Becoming Sense.” University of Toronto, Department of Italian Studies
With the participation of Joseph Petric, concert accordion

Luciano Berio - Lecture

  • Toronto

February 17.
Colloquium Paper:”Bartók’s Blunder: the Missing Frontier.” The Toronto Semiotic Circle. Victoria College, Northrop Frye Hall.

Bartok's Blunder - Colloquium Paper

2006

  • Rome

Rome - Auditorium Ennio Morricone

Ninth International Congress on Musical Signification
19-23 September 2006 – Università di Roma Tor Vergata Facoltà di Letter e Filosofia

"MUSIC, SENSES, BODY” “LA MUSICA, I SENSI, IL CORPO"
On the Shaman’s Trail: Béla Bartók’s Szabadban
(Power Point Presentation)

  • Gorizia/Nova Gorica

Nova Gorica

Slovenian World Congress
1. Conference of Slovenian Musicians from Slovenia and Abroad
Nova Gorica-Gorizia September 13-15 2006

“Béla Bartók and Slovenian Frontiers

Béla Bartók in Slovenske Meje
(Power Point Presentation)

“Slovenian World Congress: On Slovenian Music” ….The Prime Minister Janez Janša will address the audience at the inauguration…. Among the keynote speakers are such eminent lecturers as Lojze Lebi…, Dr. Ivan Florjanc and dr. Damjana Bratuž…
                                                                        KF, Primorske novice, September 13, 2006

            “Slovenian Music, Our Mirror” …. Damjana Bratuž, professor emeritus at a Canadian university and an excellent researcher of the folk element in the music of Bartók, explained in her interesting and lively presentation, with the help of images and archival recordings, how Bartók considered Slovenian folk music as an example of  “total germanization” since he did not know the peripheral exmples from Resia and Bela Krajina which, together with those from Prekmurje have preserved ancient songs and instruments of a completely non-germanic character.”
                                    Danijel Devetak, Andrej Cernic, Novi Glas, September 21, 2006

… Bartók scholar Damjana Bratuž, presented in an interesting way his mistaken notion about the total germanization of Slovenian music….
                                                                        Jana  Cop, Moja Slovenija, Oktober 2006

Damjana appeared on the television program OPUS, conducted by Darja Korez Korencan, who interviewed her for Slovenian Television.

  • June. Bard College, N.Y.

Bard College
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
June 3-4, 2006

“FROM THE WELLSPRING TO THE OCEAN:”
BÉLA BARTÓK’S MUSICOLOGICAL LEGACY IN TODAY’S WORLD

Rethinking Bartók’s Boundaries
(Power Point Presentation)

Profile: Damjana Bratuž is Professor Emeritus at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. She is one of the country’s three musicians (with Zoltán Székely and Árpád Joó) who were awarded the Bartók Centenary Diploma and Memorial Plaque by the Hungarian Republic.
It was at Indiana University, where she obtained a doctorate in Piano Literature and Performance, that Damjana Bratuž began her earliest investigation into the presence and significance of the folk element in Bartók’s music.
In these past seasons she has presented papers in Bartókian musical semiotics at international conferences, most recently at the Lyrica Society in Washington, D.C. (Transgression without Threshold: on the Prologue to Duke Bluebeard’s Castle,) at the Sorbonne in Paris (Gestures of Lament), at Goldsmiths College in London (on Bartók’s Sound-Spectrum), as well as in Leuven (Belgium), Imatra (Finland), Bologna, and at the University of Chicago.
Her larger interdisciplinary projects have been structured and offered in various formats: The Harvard Lectures of Bartók (1943) and Calvino (1985) at the Universities of Ottawa, Toronto, Bologna, and Auckland (New Zealand); Comme de longs échos: Reflections on Bartók, Rilke and Brancusi, at Indiana University, in Budapest, and at the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Bologna. Musical Performance and the Dialogic Imagination was given as a series of ten seminars at the University of Helsinki.

  • From: Ensemble - Winter 2007 (Don Wright Faculty of Music, University of Western Ontario) :

Faculty Updates By Janis Wallace

Damjana Bratuz, professor emerita, was appointed Adjunct Research Professor at the Don Wright Faculty of Music. Last September, she gave a presentation: On the Shaman’s Trail: Béla Bartók’s Out Doors, and chaired a session (in Italian): Performance, Gesture and Interpretation, at Rome’s University of Tor Vergata. Dr. Bratuz was also a keynote speaker at the First International Conference of Slovenian Musicians which took place on the Italian-Slovenian border, where she was born. “Because I left home in 1957, when circumstances were so very different, it was especially poignant to witness the current transformation, to see both the Italian mayor of Gorizia and the Slovenian mayor of Nova Gorica greeting the conference participants. The Prime Minister of Slovenia gave the opening address. The fact that these personalities were also music lovers who spoke knowledgeably on behalf of musical tradition and music education, was to me another source of hope and consolation.”

 

  • From: Ensemble – Fall 2005 (Don Wright Faculty of Music, University of Western Ontario) :

Former teachers are still active in the music world
By Janis Wallace
 


Damjana BratuzProfessor Emerita Dr. Damjana Bratuž gave an illustrated lecture and performance at the University of Calgary. On the Shaman’s Trail , was part of a three-day Bartók Festival, “A World of Contrasts, Commemorating the 60th Anniversary of Bartók’s Death,” sponsored by the Hungarian-Canadian Cultural Association in Calgary. One of the organizers was Kieth Mullback, BMus’72 .

Dr. Bratuž gave a presentation also in Washington, D.C., during the AMS National Conference, at the Lyrica Society for Word-Music Relations session. Her topic was on the spoken Prologue to Bartók’s opera Duke Bluebeard’s Castle. [Transgression without Threshold: on the Missing, or Mistranslated Bard’s Prologue in Béla Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle. ]

In recent seasons, Dr. Bratuž has also presented papers at the Sorbonne, Paris, [Gestures of Lament: the ‘Sostenuto e pesante’ Movement in Bartók’s Piano Sonata] and at the University of Chicago [Bartók’s “only really true notations…[1943]” ].

Photo by Y. S. Brownstone

Her article “Folklore and Transcendence” in memory of Yves Lenoir, the late director of the Bartók Archives at the Royal Library of Belgium, has appeared in the RevueBelge de Musicologie (Vol.LVIII, 2004).

2005

  • Western News December 8, 2005 Vol 41 No.35

In Profile:
Damjana Bratuž is the kind of teacher students will always remember. Page 7

“The questing spirit who changed lives”

Professor Emerita Damjana Bratuž is celebrated as giving music students “a new set of ears with which to hear music.”

By Paul Mayne, Western News

[In their published form all interviews omit most of the contexts in which statements were made. I take the opportunity to provide some parallel notes to Paul Mayne’s text. Please click on each link to read them. Damjana Bratuž]

"I'm not a theorist."
"I'm not a historian."
"I'm not a musicologist."
"I'm a performer." [1]
Performer, perhaps, is a modest description for Western Professor Emerita Damjana Bratuž.
A dozen years into retirement, the multifaceted artist and musician continues to be widely respected in the music-making profession, described as one whose scholarly authority and imagination are equally alive. [2]
For Bratuž, the joy she receives from her music, in particular the work of composer Béla Bartók (of whom she is a worldwide authority) was not always at the forefront of her life.
Born in Italy, near the border of Austria and Slovenia, Bratuž grew up in the shadow of dictatorship, suffering under the reign of Mussolini and the Nazis.

"As a pianist I didn't develop easily or smoothly because of the war," says Bratuž. "I was very gifted but my formative years were during the war. I started at six, but they were horrible times."

She would find her way to America thanks to a Fulbright Award, to attend Indiana University where she hoped to study radio and television. It was here that her true talent was discovered.

"A charming Hungarian professor heard me play and he says 'why do you want to do radio-television, you are a pianist'," says Bratuž. [3]

How true that statement was. She would go on to become the first woman to receive a Doctor of Music in piano literature and performance from Indiana University.

Following her scholarship in America, Bratuž was required to return home, but discovered she had nothing to go back to because her doctorate was not recognized. Knowing a professor from London, Ont., Bratuž soon found herself teaching music at Western in 1967 - Canada's centennial year. [4]

"For me this was a fairy tale," recalls Bratuž. "From my background of dictatorship this was glorious." [5]

Her 25 years spent at Western celebrated not only her love of music, but the interpretation and analysis of that music. At the time, Bratuž says her methods were met with cynicism from some students. [6]

"Some had protested that I made them read," laughs Bratuž. "It was my great dismay and sorrow to see the squandering of young talent. This was something I never forgave. I [advocated hearing, knowing the music before analyzing it]. [7]

"I [wanted them to realise that] they need to[be able to] defend their interpretation, be articulate about the background of the music they are playing. I had students with great pianistic talents that I [declined to keep in my class] because of that." [8]

One graduate of Bratuž who admits he was skeptical was David Stabler (MusB'75). Yet upon reflection, Stabler is thankful for the guidance he received from Bratuž.

"Many of us have had teachers who changed our lives - someone whose wisdom and caring fundamentally altered the way we think, feel and look at the world," says Stabler. "For me, and for many other music students at Western, that teacher was Damjana Bratuž."

Stabler adds from the moment he auditioned for her on a wintry March morning, Bratuž became "the centre of my gravity". His weekly piano lesson with her wasn't just the highlight of his week - it was his week.

"She demanded the highest standards and introduced a new system of learning, with new vocabulary and new meanings," says Stabler, now a music critic for a newspaper in Portland, Oregon. "Actually, what she did was give us a new set of ears with which to hear music."

Bratuž believed that her students should wade into the stream of culture that surrounded and created great works of classical music. Stabler recalls her often taking a carload of students to Toronto in her enormous blue Buick to hear great artists of the day. [9]

"Professor Bratuž didn't teach to our limitations but to our imaginations," says Stabler. "If we didn't grasp a concept, she would say 'in 20 years you'll understand'. I'm just beginning to."

Bratuž continues to enjoy retirement, saying the validation of her work has "seemed to come over the last dozens years."

"These have been the best years, not only in engagements, but encounters in my field," says Bratuž, who spends much of her time speaking and performing internationally. "I think the thing that marked me the most was the war. It tells me not to miss what life brings you."

What it has brought Bratuž is sense of calm and confirmation that her restless and pioneering intellect continues to make her a forerunner as a truly postmodern mind.

Name: Damjana Bratuž
Born: Gorizia, Italy

Education: Doctor of Music in Piano Literature and Performance, with a Minor in Radio & Television, Indiana University (1967) Previous degrees, diplomas, and certificates: St.Louis, Paris, Salzburg, Trieste.

At Western: taught Piano, Piano Literature, History (Bartók), Theory, Vocal Literature, Italian Diction. Introduced an interdisciplinary Course in Musical Semiotics at the Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism (1992). Founded with cellist Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi renowned classes in Style & Interpretation. Created popular courses for non-music majors.

Accomplishments: Awarded research grant by Italian Government (University of Bologna, 1989-90). Received Bartók Centenary Award from Hungarian Government (1981). As performer, lecturer, adjudicator, has appeared across Canada. Gives seminars and recitals in Finland, Italy, New Zealand and the United States.

 

[1] forthcoming

[2]

[3]

[4]

[5]

[6]

[7]

[8]

[9]

[10]

  • October 27, 2005

American Musicological Society Conference, Washington D.C.

Conference Paper: Transgression without Threshold: on the Missing, or Mistranslated Bard’s Prologue in Béla Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle (see Bartókiana - Abstracts). Presented at the Lyrica Society for Word-Music Relations Session.
[http://ces.fas.harvard.edu/people/affiliates/docs/lyrica.pdf]

Profile : Damjana Bratuž is Professor Emeritus at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. She is one of the country’s three musicians (with Zoltán Székely and Árpád Joó) who were awarded the Bartók Centenary Diploma and Memorial Plaque by the Hungarian Republic, for their activité créatrice[qui]a grandement contribué à la connaissance de l’oeuvre de Béla Bartók.

Her research had begun in the 1960s at Indiana University where she obtained her Doctorate in Piano Literature and Performance.

She had been awarded a Fulbright grant as a student from Italy [for a musical series for children she had created at Radio Trieste] and her academic life came full circle in 1990, when as a Canadian professor she received a grant from the Italian Government for research at the Semiotics Department of the University of Bologna.

The multidisciplinary subjects of her conference papers, seminars and recitals, reflect her interest in the semiotics of performance; e.g., “Gestures of Lament “ (ICMS-8, Sorbonne, Paris, 2004); “Symbolic Gestures in the Performance of Clementi’s Didone abbandonata” (University of Toronto, 2004); “Musical Performance and the Dialogic Imagination” (a series of ten seminars, University of Helsinki, 2000); Le connessioni invisibili: The Harvard Lectures of Bartók [1943] and Calvino [1985] (University of Auckland, New Zealand); “Comme de longs échos: Reflections on Bartók, Rilke and Brancusi (Conference in Honour of Thomas Sebeok, Budapest); “On the Embodiment of Form:Polychronic Movement in Flaubert and Debussy” ICMS-6, Aix-en-Provence); “On the Creation of One’s Own Precursors:” Piano Recital of Liszt and Bartók Works (ISI, Imatra, Finland).

Although her university courses involved piano performance and literature, Damjana Bratuž delighted in teaching occasionally also Vocal Literature - and Italian diction. (At Indiana University in the 1960s she had taken the opportunity to study voice.)

  • October 17 – 20, 2005

The Hungarian-Canadian Cultural Association Presents:

A World of Contrasts
Commemorating the 60th Anniversary of Bartók's Death.

University of Calgary.

Bartók

Béla Bartók

1881- 1945

Bartók Celebration Events:

Opening Concert Oct.17
Bartók Piano Competition Oct. 19
Lecture Recital Oct. 20

Lecture Recital, October 20th 2005. Boris Roubakine Recital Hall.

Profile: Damjana Bratuz is, with Zoltán Székely and Árpád Joó, one of the three musicians in Canada who were awarded the Bartók Centenary Diploma and Memorial Plaque by the Hungarian Republic for their activité créatrice [qui] a grandement contribute à la connaissance de l’oeuvre de Béla Bartók.

Hungarian musicologist Bence Szabolsci praised the novelty and he value of her earliest investigations, carried out in the 1960s at Indiana University. It was there that Damjana Bratuz first came across Bartók’s recorded collections of peasant music and began to trace the original idiom behind the composer’s scores.

Since then, throughout her academic career in Canada, her study developed into a vast, imaginative inquire, faithful always to a performer’s task and point of view, that is, to examine, and contribute to, the reception of Bartók’s music. In piano teaching, her approach has represented in György Sebök’s words “a unique pedagogical help in the field, “one in which the analysis of Bartók’s musical material shared the results of her studies in illustrated programmes with a wide range of audiences, from the academic world to the general public, from major international centres to small Canadian communities.

Her academic life came full circle when she received a research grant from the Italian Government for study at the Semiotics Department of the University of Bologna [she had to come to these shores as a student, with and American grant awarded for a musical series for children she had created at Radio Trieste, Italy]. Recent engagements in Italy have included courses, lectures and performances: e.g., in the University of bologna series La Musica nella Storia e nella Cultura, in the seminars “Incontri col Maestro” at the Accademia Pianistica di Imolaa, in the ‘Bartók and Berio’ programs of the Altrisuoni series sponsored by the Gramsci Institute (Marche), and in the “Musica e Spazio” programs created at the Parma Conservatory.

In these past seasons Damjana Bratuz has presented papers in bartókian musical semiotics at international conferences, most recently at the Sorbonne in Paris (Gestures of Lament), at the University of Chicago (on Notation), at Goldsmiths college in London (on the Sound-Spectrum), as well as in Leuven (Belgium), Bologna, Imatra (Finland), and Aix-en-Provence.

Her larger interdisciplinary projects have been structured and offered in various formats: Musical Performance and the Dialogic Imagination as a series of ten seminars at the University of Helsinki; The Harvard Lectures of Bartók (1943) and Calvino (1985) as a seminar a the University of Ottawa, as a paper at the International Colloquium on Calvino at the University of Toronto, and as an illustrated lecture at the University of Auckland in the New Zealand; excerpts from Comme de longs échos, reflections on Bartók, Rilke and Brancusi, have been presented at conferences at Indiana University, in Budapest, and at the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Bologna.

On the Shaman's Trail

Out Doors [Im Freien, Szabadban]
Sippal, Dobbal ... [With Pipes and Drums]
Barcarolla
Musettes
The Night's Music
The Chase

This presentation brings together material Damjana Bratuz has discussed in various programs devoted to the shamanic traces in Bartók’s music, the most recent one being a paper give at the International Musicological Society conference in Leuven, Belgium (2002) under the mysterious title “…a sign, a summons, a wink.”

The title was borrowed from a page by Calvino, a meditation on coincidence on things that “present themselves” and ask for attention and observation. Calvino’s three terms remain the thread linking the observations in The Shaman’s Trail. Pianists are used to the summons of the composer’s indications as their guidance to the score. However, when the performer is ethnically and linguistically removed from the composer’s background, the task becomes one of the observing what one does not know, rather than of applying familiar relationships.

“By coincidence the edition of Szabadban that came first into my hands was the old Universal which gave the pieces’ titles in three languages. Thus the first title, Sippal, dobbal was followed by three dots: “…” that were missing in the English and German translation. A Hungarian child would have known the text referred to; I could only recall having encountered those foreign terms during the preparation of my thesis on Bartók when at Indiana University I examined the collections of hundreds of Hungarian folk tunes (Bratuz, 1967). When later I did retrieve the text I sensed its great mythical import and ‘healing’ shamanic connotations, but only after a few years, by coincidence, I also found confirmation for it (Viski, 1932).”

The shamanic resonance of such Regös (winter solstice) songs were mentioned by Bartók, when he tried to call the world’s attention to these “relics from pagan times!” (Colinde, 1931)

Throughout the five pieces of the Out Doors suite, ancient kinetic and gestural patterns call the attention of a pianist’s hand and ear. The aim of this program is to make them audible.

2004 - List of presentations given as Pianist and as Lecturer

  • Damjana Bratuž – Pianist

…a playing of great wisdom and warmth…
‘A Semiotic Concert’ - Etelä-Saimaa, Imatra, Finland

Photo by Y. S. Brownstone
Brochure
Her playing had authority and insight… ‘Viva Bartók’- Monday Magazine, Victoria, Canada

…an ecstatic and enchanting performance of Liszt, that conveyed the depth and the message of the music. …Inspiring, sovereign playing. Glasilo/The Voice, Toronto, Canada

…The world of Béla Bartók was presented by one of the most profoundly knowledgeable international scholars, with spirit, in a manner that was both informal and masterful … Bartók had sought the artistic means to restore a living and genuine contact with humankind. Probably this is what echoed in Dr.Bratuž’s words when she said in passing that playing was for her “a dialogue with the composer, a dialogue with the instrument, a dialogue with the listener.” ‘Memory and Roots’ – Novi Glas, Gorizia, Italy

- “LISZT AND BARTÓK: FROM FOLK INSTRUMENTS TO ART MUSIC” (Lecture-Recital) (‘THE SECRETS OF INSTRUMENTS” Series, Helsinki University 2000)

- “INVISIBLE GEOMETRY: THE BODY AND MUSICAL PERFORMANCE” (Lecture-Recital)
a wonderful example of the power of the speaking body…Even someone who did not understand English could have followed perfectly what she was saying, through her gestures, her lively voice, and her interaction with the audience. Through the entire performance she offered inspiration and light, transmitting joy.
(Conference on The Language of the Body, Semiotic Winter Institute, Imatra, Finland)
‘Professor- pianist Damjana Bratuž, a living example of the power of the speaking body’ – Etelä-Saimaa 2000

Series of seminars, recitals, master classes:

MUSICA E SPAZIO, Conservatorio A.Boito, Parma, Italy 2000;

ALTRISUONI –L’INVENZIONE DEL NUOVO NELLA MUSICA DEL NOVECENTO: BÉLA BARTÓK E LUCIANO BERIO, Istituto Gramsci Marche/Conservatorio di Pesaro, Italy.

INCONTRI COL MAESTRO, Docente di Seminario, Accademia Pianistica, Imola, Italy.

MUSIC AND LITERATURE (Lecture and Recital), University of Auckland, New Zealand.

  • Damjana Bratuž - Lecturer

Topics on the semiotics of musical performance (conference papers, Power Point presentations, seminars, mini-courses):

- “SYMBOL AND REVERBERATION: PATTERNS OF RE/COGNITION IN THE WORK OF BARTÓK, RILKE AND BRANCUSI” (Budapest, Hungary)

- “ANACRUSIS AS A SIGN OF OTHERNESS: TWO READINGS OF BÉLA BARTÓK’S IMPROVISATIONS (Sigharting, Austria)

“fascinating contributions…I found your remarks, on both occasions, splendid”
Thomas A. Sebeok

La Sala dei Marmi,
Conservatorio G.Rossini, Pesaro, Italy

Brochure-“SYMBOLIC GESTURES IN THE PERFORMANCE OF CLEMENTI’S Didone abbandonata (University of Toronto 2004)

- “ON BARTÓK’S ‘only really true notations’ [1943]” (University of Chicago 2004)

-“ON PROVENANCE AND FILIATION:
FROM COMPARATIVE MUSICOLOGY (BARTÓK) TO Le affinità primitive (ECO) (University of Ottawa 2003)

-“Le connessioni invisibili: A MUSICIAN’S READING OF CALVINO (International Colloquium “Italo Calvino: Lightness and Multiplicity,” University of Toronto 2003)

- “a sign, a summons, a wink”: SHAMANIC TRACES IN BARTÓK’S SZABADBAN “ (Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, Belgium 2002)
“…passionnant!” Yves Lenoir

-“THE urtümliches Klangspektrum IN BARTÓK’S PIANO MUSIC” (Goldsmiths College, London 2001)

-“REPENSER LES FRONTIÈRES DE BARTÓK” (Université de Laval, Québec 2001)

-“LE HARVARD LECTURES DI BARTÓK (1943) E CALVINO (1985)” Interdisciplinary courses on La Musica nella Storia e nella Cultura (University of Bologna 2000)

- “ON THE EMBODIMENT OF FORM: POLICHRONIC MOVEMENT IN FLAUBERT AND DEBUSSY” (Université de Provence, Aix-en-Provence)

“MUSICAL PERFORMANCE AND THE DIALOGIC IMAGINATION” -
a series of twelve seminars
(Helsinki University 2000)

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1999

[From The Glenn Gould Journal, Volume 5/Number 1, Spring 1999 ("Presence of Glenn Gould: The Italian Perspective," by Damjana Bratuz)]

See Glenn Gould Essay in original version

1993

  • An Die Musik: A Former Student Pays Tribute To Professor Damjana Bratuz

Many of us have had teachers who changed our lives- someone whose wisdom and caring fundamentally altered the way we think, feel and look at the world. For me, and for many other music students at Western, that teacher was Damjana Bratuz.

Professor Bratuz, who retired in April from the faculty of music after 25 years, was the reason I attended Western. From the moment I auditioned for her on a wintry March morning, she became the centre of my gravity. My weekly piano lesson with her wasn't just the highlight of the week: it was the week. She demanded the highest standards and introduced a new system of learning, with new vocabulary and new meanings. Actually what she did was give us a new set of ears with which to hear music. A scale wasn't just a scale any more. It was a "Mozart scale" or a "Debussy scale." A trill had infinite expressive potential: a Chopin arpeggio bloomed with its own romantic will.

I'll never forget a lesson just after Christmas of my sophomore year. I had practised through the vacation and was ready to surprise her with several new pieces. I was sure she'd be impressed. Well, if she was, she didn't show it. She began to dissect my Bach fugue, asking me to pick out its separate lines and play each one. I stumbled around and stopped. I'd learned them all in a jumble, all wrong. Then I played some Mozart. I remember my shock when she asked me to stop playing and conduct the music instead. I felt as if she'd just asked me to juggle six oranges and two watermelons. Blood rushed to my face. Sensing my rising frustration, Professor Bratuz leaned over from her position at the second piano and said, almost in triumph, "Use your anger! Anger is good. Use it!"

Like the best teachers, Professor Bratuz's greatest wish was that we become our own pilots. Our charter territory was the classical piano repertory of the past three centuries, which stretched before us as distant and unfamiliar as the far shores of Lake Ontario. From the joyful exuberance of Bach to the ear-bending angst of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Professor Bratuz introduced us to one masterpiece after another.

Professor Bratuz, who was born where the countries of Austria, Italy and Slovenia converge, has never lost her passion for multiculturalism. That's what attracted her to Canada in the first place. Three decades in North America have not diluted her European manner or her colorful accent. Her voice is as musical as Mozart in any of four languages. And she remains a restless, pioneering intellect. In 1958, she won a Fulbright Scholarship to study in the United States and became the first woman and Italian citizen to earn a doctorate degree in music from the University of Indiana in Bloomington. Her life came full circle, she says, when she returned to Italy in 1989, this time as a Canadian citizen and senior professor, to continue her lifelong study in the aesthetics of music at the University of Bologne. Her plans after leaving Western include performing and giving lecture/recitals throughout North America and abroad.

Professor Bratuz believed that her students should not just dabble but wade into the some stream of culture that surrounded and created the great works of classical music. Many of us, fresh from rural Ontario, had never seen an opera or heard a live orchestra when we entered Western. To remedy our deficiencies, Professor Bratuz would bring books on art, philosophy and psychology to lessons. Symbols and the roots of creativity have always fascinated her, Often she would take a carload of students to Toronto in her enormous blue Buick to hear the great artists of the day: Artur Rubinstein, Maurizio Pollini, Rodu Lupu, Alfred Brendel. We would leave London in the morning and spend a couple of hours in the bookstores along Bloor Street. Then we would have supper upstairs at the Cafe de la Paix, where Professor Bratuz would order things in French for us to try. After the concert she would take us backstage to meet the artists.

Slowly, over our four years with Professor B., we began to change. Less satisfied, more curious, more disciplined, we started to shed like old clothes our laziness and ignorance and set out on the road to becoming rnusicians-a road that has no end. She got us to see ourselves as heirs to an enormously rich heritage and to feel the burden of that responsibility. Professor Bratuz's foreign world of pianistic colors and physical gestures was becoming familiar. Although I do not perform today, I use her teachings in my work as a music critic for a newspaper in Portland, Oregon. I try to listen with her ears because she hears better than anyone I know.

Her wish that we be our own pilots has come true for many of her students. Some of us ventured to Europe on our own, to study and soak up the culture. Several former students have grown into respected performers and recording artists. Some are teachers, passing on her principles which she came by through years of thought and practice. Others, like myself, earn our living on the periphery of music, but remain musicians at heart.

As Heather Morrison MusB'75, a former student, said not too long ago: "She made me realize that it isn't possible to separate music from the process of life."

Professor Bratuz didn't teach to our limitations but to our imaginations. She guided us with her eyes firmly on that far share. If we didn't grasp a concept, she would say, "In 20 years you'll understand."

For me, its been 20 years. I'm just beginning to.

 by David Stabler MusB'75
Western Alumni Gazette
Fall 1993, p. 25

 

Site Updated: June 27, 2014

 

E-mail: dbratuz@uwo.ca
  Damjana Bratu TOP

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