Public Lecture: Myth of the Harmony of Spheres in 20th Century Music

YEREVAN, Armenia – On February 28, the College of Humanities & Social Sciences (CHSS) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) hosted Dr. Leopoldo Siano. Throughout his lecture, he explored the myth of the harmony of spheres in the 20th century music.

The speaker discussed one of the most abundant myths of Western culture, namely, the assumption the motion of stars and planets creates. Since Pythagoras and Plato, it has constantly fascinated philosophers and artists. Until the 17th century, theoreticians dealt with the “musica mundana” or “music of the world.” Later, after the Copernican revolution, this idea was seemingly repressed. According to the speaker, the myth survived mostly in poetry. It was revived in the 20th century when the starry sky became once again a great inspiration for numerous composers (like Josef Matthias Hauer, Gustav Holst, Charles Ives, etc.) The main aim of the lecture was to reveal musical archetypes, which composers used in order to evoke the harmony of the spheres in their works.

After studying musicology in Rome and Cremona, Leopoldo Siano has lived in Germany since 2009. In 2012, he earned his Ph.D. at the University of Cologne with a doctoral dissertation on the last and unfinished cycle of Karlheinz Stockhausen “Klang. Die 24 Stunden des Tages,” published in 2013. Since 2012, he has taught at the Musicological Institute of the University of Cologne. He is internationally active as a lecturer and writer on music. He has also published on several contemporary composers, such as Jean-Claude Eloy, Giacinto Scelsi, John Cage, François Bayle, Gerard Pape, Prasqual, Michael Ranta, and Hermann Nitsch. Some of his fields of research include: music and cosmogony, the harmony of the spheres, acousmatic music, sound archetypes, overtone singing, music, and visual arts. In 2015, he founded the Centre for Phonosophy in Kürten with a focus on deep listening and sound ecology.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.