During its upcoming season, the Houston Symphony Orchestra will perform many musical compositions inspired by fairy tales, such as Bartók’s The Wooden Prince and Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, Zemlinsky’s The Mermaid, and Stravinsky’s Firebird. As a prelude and accompaniment to the orchestra’s concerts, the Houston Seminar offers four presentations on the power and magic of fairy tales, which will be a golden thread of enchantment running through the symphony’s 2004–2005 season.
September 7: Robert Patten, the Autrey Professor in Humanities at Rice University, will discuss fairy tales in the nineteenth century and will track the origin of the tale as a literary phenomenon and indicate the reasons for its proliferation and influence in Europe.
September 14: Hans Graf, music director of the Houston Symphony, will speak to us on the centrality of fairy tales to the great orchestral music of the later nineteenth century, when, according to Maestro Graf, “a newly psychological view transformed Western thought and art.” Maestro Graf will focus particularly on Bela Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, in which the composer looked deeply into the dark side of the human heart. Graf will illustrate the links among Bartók’s personal life, the intellectual currents of the time, and the Bluebeard tale, using pre-recorded musical examples.
September 21: Jean Goodwin, a published psychoanalyst on the faculty of the Houston-Galveston Psychoanalytic Institute, will discuss the psychological implications of fairy tales, and ways they relate to child abuse and abandonment. One of her subjects will be Snow White.
September 28: J. Pittman McGehee, Jungian analyst, director of the Broad Acres Center, and a priest of the Episcopal church, will present the archetypal images and ideas contained in fairy tales and residing at the unconscious level of the human mind across many cultures. He will focus on the tale of Bluebeard.