CSU music professor Dr. Abigail Shupe’s newest publication, War and Death in the Music of George Crumb: A Crisis of Collective Memory, argues that a crisis of collective memory persists among Americans, especially in terms of American war. Dr. Shuppe analyzes this in terms of two pieces by George Crumb, “Winds of Destiny” (2004) and “Black Angels” (1970). These pieces deal with collective memory of the Civil War and the Vietnam War respectively, and attempt to combat Americans’ tendency to forget the trauma these wars caused.
This book studies George Crumb’s works as artifacts of collective memory and cultural trauma. It situates these two pieces in Crumb’s output and unpacks the complex methodologies needed to understand these pieces as contributions and challenges to traditional narratives of the Civil War and the Vietnam War. The Winds of Destiny is shown to be a critical commentary on the legacy of American wars and militarism, both concepts crucial to American identity. The Winds of Destiny also acts as an ironic war memorial as a means of critiquing such concepts. Black Angels has long been associated with the Vietnam War. This book shows how this association began and how it endures through connections to iconic Vietnam War media, including films and books. Together these analyses show the
legacy of trauma in American collective memory, which is in a continuous crisis. Crumb’s musical critiques point to a need to resist conventional narratives and to begin to heal trauma on a collective level. This book will be of interest to students of contemporary American music, American studies, and memory studies. It benefits readers by newly situating Crumb’s music within these three fields of study.
About Abigail Shupe
Dr. Abigail Shupe is an assistant professor of music theory in the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance at Colorado State University. Her primary research focuses on the history of music theory and the history of science in the French Enlightenment, focusing especially on aspects of French Newtonian thought in Jean-Philippe Rameau’s theory of harmony. Her work on Rameau will be published in a forth-coming issue of Theoria and she has presented it at the annual conferences of Society for Music Theory and Music Theory Midwest.
In addition to her historical research, Shupe also analyzes issues of death and mortality in the music of George Crumb. Her work on aspects of death and the natural world in Crumb’s song cycle River of Life appears in the edited volume Singing Death, published by Ashgate in Spring 2017. Shupe has plans to expand this research into a monograph on death and the American landscape in Crumb’s music. She has presented this work at conferences throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Shupe received her PhD in Music Theory from the University of Western Ontario in 2015, and she holds an M.M. in Music Theory and a B.M. in Music Composition from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. She currently serves as Chairperson of the Scholars for Social Responsibility Interest Group in the Society for Music Theory. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking with her husband and their greyhound, BoBo, and she is an active member of the FAST Masters Swim Team in Fort Collins.