Browsing by Subject "Armas Launis"

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  • Tyrväinen, Helena (2015)
    Armas Launis’s interest in the North African Orient was manifest in three of his professional domains: travel writer, musicologist and opera composer. During his stays in Algiers over two winters between 1924 and 1927 in particular, Launis became personally acquainted with the countries of the Maghreb (Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco). My article examines how in each of these professional forms of expression, the immediate, local encounters merge with the discursive practices of European learning in Launis’s representations of Northern Africa.

In a travel book from 1927, containing references to Menemech, Yafil and Bachetarzi, eminent figures of the Arabo-Moorish musical tradition, Launis demonstrates his knowledge and expertise on the Algerian music scene. Written for a wide audience, his observations about popular traditions lack any detailed scholarly apparatus, intentionally so. He expresses respect for the ‘civilisatory mission’ pursued by the French in Northern Africa, and notes the remnants of Roman antiquity, but he also shows an interest in both historical and contemporary tensions between local tribes, nationalities, cultures, and religions. These were later interwoven in his operas Jehudith and Theodora, the latter unfinished.

In 1928, during a period of intensive operatic composition, Launis applied for a position as music teacher at the University of Helsinki, albeit in vain. The topic of his presentation lecture, “Features of Arabo-Moorish music”, met with both approval (Ilmari Krohn) and disapproval (Robert Kajanus). The many points of convergence with an existing article “La musique arabe dans le Maghreb” by Jules Rouanet (1922) were not noticed.

Having settled permanently in Nice in 1930, Launis planned the two operas, Theodora and Jehudith. They exhibit the religious universalism already developed in his earlier operas, but now in a new form, where the composer has become intrigued by the conflicts of the region and the political developments of the time. I examine in particular some of the ethnocentric accents found in Jehudith, relating them to a wider tradition of orientalism in the western operatic tradition.

  • Tyrväinen, Helena (2017)
    Conceived in memory of late Professor of Musicology of Estonian Academy of Music Urve Lippus (1950–2015), to honour her contribution to music history research, the article analyses transcultural relations and the role of cultural capitals to the discipline at its early phase in the university context. The focus is on the early French contacts of the founder of the institutional Finnish musicology, University of Helsinki Professor Ilmari Krohn (1867–1960) and his pupils. The analysis of Krohn’s mobility, networking and interaction is based on his correspondence and documentation concerning his early congress journeys to London (1891) and to Paris (1900). Two French correspondents stand out for this early phase of his career as a musicologist: Julien Tiersot in the area of comparative research on traditional music, and Georges Houdard concerning Gregorian chant and neume notation. By World War I Krohn was quite well-read in French-language musicology. But Paris was for him also a stronghold for international networking more generally. Accomplished musicians, Krohn and his musicology students Armas Launis, Leevi Madetoja and Toivo Haapanen even had an artistic bond with French repertoires. My results contradict the claim that early Finnish musicology was an exclusive domain of German influences.
  • Tyrväinen, Helena (2012)
    When he settled in Nice in 1930, Armas Launis (1884–1959) became an outsider both to his native Finland and to his new home country, France. In the late 1930s this Protestant composer was working on two operas to his own libretti, whose events were situated in historical North Africa. A student of Jean Sibelius, Ilmari Krohn (Helsinki), Wilhelm Klatte (Berlin), and Waldemar von Baussnern (Weimar), Launis visited Tunisia and Morocco in 1924–27 and spent two winters in Algiers, where he made the acquaintance of two directors of the Conservatoire’s Arabic department: Edmond Nathan Yafil and Mahieddine Bachetarzi. Why did Launis chose religious subjects for his operas Theodora and Jehudith? How do North-African impulses appear in these works? The answers are based on Launis’s books Opera and Spoken Theatre (1915) and In the Land of the Moors (1927), his lecture, ‘Traits of Arabo-Moorish music’ (1928), and his correspondence with Sister Marie Béatrice, a French missionary.