Kurt Carlson, a graduate student in music history in Butler’s Jordan College of the Arts, has received a Fulbright award for 2013-2014 to conduct research in Austria, through the University of Vienna, on 18th century composer Paul Wranitzky and the First Viennese School.
Carlson’s work will include searching for Wranitzky’s letters in the many archives in Vienna, as well as the Masonic archives at Schloss Rosenau and some of the Czech holdings in Prague. He also will attempt to produce some new critical editions of Wranitzky’s symphonies, especially those that have yet to been performed.
“I hope that after this research and time spent working on the same project for a dissertation I will have enough new information to write the first definitive monograph on Paul Wranitzky,” said Carlson, who also will be teaching in a secondary school un Vienna during his year there.
Carlson said he became interested in Wranitzky when, pondering a topic for an undergraduate thesis, he decided to trace how certain composers reacted to the cultural and political climate of their given moment in history.
He settled on two scenes: a “reactionary parenthesis” regarding WWII through selections by Shostakovich and Schoenberg, and a journey into the parallel idealist and realistic tendencies of the political fallout after the French Revolution, illuminated by Beethoven’s Third Symphony (1803-1804), and Paul Wranitzky’s Op. 31 Grande Sinfonie Caracteristique pour la Paix avec la Republique Francoise, often referred to as La Paix.
“I chose Wranitzky because in the Viennese 1790s there existed a vacuum of politically pointed or, in the case of La Paix, sympathetic music,” Carlson said. “I found out later that this vacuum most likely exists because in 1794 a bunch of arrests and even executions were carried out against people who sympathized with the French. And yet, here is this symphony of 1796, blatantly sympathetic, written by a man who had modest fame and worked primarily as a conductor at an opera house! I was fascinated.”
Carlson, a native of Woodstock, Ill., earned his undergraduate degree from Monmouth College. His primary advisors at Butler are Professors Sarah Eyerly and James Briscoe. He plans to enroll in a doctoral program when he returns from his year in Vienna.
“We are so proud that Kurt has received this award,” Eyerly said. “This is an honor for our department and for the University. And for Kurt, the Fulbright will likely constitute a career-changing experience. It shows the promise for Kurt to rise to the top of our profession and will enable him to demonstrate this promise in a tangible way to prospective graduate schools upon his return to the U.S.”
Briscoe said Carlson “has honored Butler in many ways, both in the excellence of his music history studies but also in his counseling of undergraduates. I do not think we in music have ever sent a Master of Music student to such a major place in the constellation of student awards. There’s no study prize more prestigious than a Fulbright.”
The Fulbright program, sponsored by the U.S. government, is designed to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” Through the program, nearly 300,000 participants — chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — have been given the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.