A Richard Murphy Colloquium by Prof. Sylvia Kahan: ‘‘Music's Modern Muse: The Fabulous Life of Winnaretta Singer-Polignac.”
Sylvia Kahan is professor of music at the Graduate Center and College of Staten Island, CUNY, where she is a member of both the piano and musicology faculties. As a pianist, she has performed as concerto soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician in all of New York’s major halls and in concerts venues throughout North America and Europe. Her recitals have been broadcast on WQXR, WNYC, and National Public Radio.
She has participated in the Tanglewood, Aspen, Waterloo, Delta, and Nancy (France) summer festivals. She has collaborated with the English Chamber Orchestra, sopranos Dame Felicity Lott, Roberta Peters and Shirley Verrett, and members of the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony.
As a musicologist, Kahan specializes in late 19th-century and 20th-century French music and culture. She has written on women’s roles as music patrons in Paris and New York, Proust and music, 19th-century music criticism, Nadia Boulanger, Claude Debussy, Gabriel Fauré, Edgard Varèse, French mélodie and opera, and the history of octatonicism.
Her two books, Music’s Modern Muse and In Search of New Scales (both published by University of Rochester Press), have received outstanding reviews. Music’s Modern Muse served as the inspiration for a lecture and concert produced by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and for a segment on Winnaretta Singer-Polignac in the Smithsonian Channel's series, Million Dollar American Princesses.
Kahan served two terms as president of the American Musicological Society-New York Chapter.
About the Colloquium
The Richard Murphy Musicology Colloquium was begun in 1992 by Professor Claudia Macdonald to foster an exchange of ideas on music between colleagues in both the conservatory and college. The series was expanded in 1997 to include outside speakers, and named in honor of Richard Murphy, who taught music history at Oberlin from 1946 to 1978, and was much revered and beloved by his students. He died in 1993.