Faculty Seminar: Creating Chaos in Haydn’s The Creation


Watch video of Melanie Lowe’s talk that explores the aesthetics of the impossible in Joesph Haydn’s most sublime work. In 1797 Haydn completed what was immediately hailed as his greatest work, The Creation.This enormous piece scored for solo singers, chorus, and orchestra opens with nothing short of a musical impossibility—the sound of infinite nothingness. What follows would seem another nonstarter, especially given the elegance, balance, and symmetry of late eighteenth-century musical style—the Representation of Chaos.

Melanie Lowe is Associate Professor of Musicology and Chair of the Department of Musicology and Ethnomusicology at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music.  A scholar of 18th-century music, Professor Lowe is also widely published on music in American media, classical recording, and “tween” pop culture.

She is the author of Pleasure and Meaning in the Classical Symphony (Indiana University Press, 2007) along with numerous articles on other 18th-century topics. Professor Lowe is the recipient of many teaching awards, among them the Reverend James Lawson Lectureship (Vanderbilt University, 2008), the Madison Sarratt Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (Vanderbilt University, 2001), and the Princeton Graduate Alumni Excellence in Teaching Award (Princeton University, 1993).

Matthew Redd, 615-343-4470