Dika Newlin

Last updated
Dika Newlin Dika newlin.jpg
Dika Newlin

Dika Newlin (November 22, 1923 – July 22, 2006) was a composer, pianist, professor, musicologist, and punk rock singer. She received a Ph.D. from Columbia University at the age of 22. She was one of the last living students of Arnold Schoenberg, a Schoenberg scholar and a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond from 1978 to 2004. She performed as an Elvis impersonator and played punk rock while in her seventies in Richmond, Virginia. [1]

Contents

She was featured in the documentary Dika: Murder City .

Early life

Dika Newlin was born in Portland, Oregon. Her name was chosen by her mother and refers to an Amazon in one of Sappho's poems. [2] Her parents were academics and her family moved to East Lansing, Michigan so that her father could teach English at Michigan State University. Neither of her parents were musicians, but her grandmother was a piano teacher and her uncle a composer. Newlin was able to read the dictionary by age 3, and started piano lessons at age 6 with Arthur Farwell. [3] He encouraged her early interest in composing and when she was 8 she wrote a symphonic piece, Cradle Song, that was added to the repertoire of Cincinnati orchestra conductor Vladimir Bakaleinikoff and performed three years later by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. [4] A few years later, in 1941, the work was performed in New York with another prodigy, 11-year-old Lorin Maazel, at the NBC Summer Symphony podium. [5] Bakaleinikoff was impressed by her composition ability and encouraged her to pursue study with Arnold Schoenberg, reportedly telling her parents that "she must go to Schoenberg now. It's exactly the right time....Do it for the sake of American music!" [4]

Education

Newlin entered elementary school at age 5 and finished it at age 8. [2] She graduated from high school when she was 12 and was admitted to the freshman class at Michigan State University, where her parents taught. In her junior year, she enrolled for study at the University of California at Los Angeles, where Schoenberg was currently teaching. [3] She returned to Michigan State in 1939, where at age 16 she graduated with her bachelor's degree in French literature. [4] She then returned to Los Angeles to continue studying with Schoenberg, accompanied by her mother because she was so young. [4] [6]

Newlin kept a diary of her studies with Schoenberg, whom she called "Uncle Arnold." She published the diary in 1980 as Schoenberg Remembered: Diaries and Recollections (1938-76). [7] One entry in the diary relates how Schoenberg criticized her string quartet writing as "too pianistic." After she acknowledged that she knew it wasn't the best, Schoenberg replied: "No, it is not the best, nor even the second best—perhaps the 50th best, yes?" [2]

She finished her master's degree in 1941, and then went to Columbia University to pursue doctoral studies, and received Columbia's first doctorate in musicology in 1945 at age 22. [3] Newlin's doctoral dissertation was published in 1947 as the book Bruckner, Mahler, Schoenberg. A revised and expanded version was issued by W.W. Norton, New York, in 1978. While at Columbia she studied with among others Roger Sessions, Artur Schnabel, and Rudolf Serkin. [6] [8] Her thesis advisor and the university's department head at the time was Paul Henry Lang – as Newlin reports [8] "no fan of Mahler, Bruckner or Schoenberg, but objective enough to support a student's authoring a good dissertation about them".

Academic and musical career

After receiving her doctorate, Newlin taught at Western Maryland College and then at Syracuse University. She returned to work with Schoenberg in the summers of 1949 and 1950, and around this time she decided to write his biography and received a Fulbright grant to research his early years in Vienna. She spent a year in Austria, and also performed in Paris, lectured on American music, and made recordings with violinist Michael Mann. She also performed the piano part of her Piano Trio, op. 2 in Salzburg at the 1952 Festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music. [3]

After returning to the United States, she founded Drew University's music department, where she taught until 1965. [6] She then moved to the University of North Texas, where she taught until 1973 when she went to Montclair State University to direct the Electronic Music Laboratory. [3] In 1976, she resigned to spend two years writing and composing, and then in 1978 joined Virginia Commonwealth University to develop a new doctoral program in music. [3]

Newlin, among the last surviving students of Schoenberg, was "one of the pioneers of Schoenberg research in America," according to Dr. Sabine Feisst, a professor of musicology at Arizona State University. Newlin later wrote a biography of Schoenberg for the Encyclopædia Britannica, in addition to many other articles and translations on musical subjects. [9]

Newlin's compositions include three operas, a piano concerto, a chamber symphony, and numerous chamber, vocal and mixed-media works.

Newlin also translated many of Schoenberg's works from German to English. Newlin herself sang in a costumed performance of Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire , which she had translated into English, in Lubbock, Texas in 1999.

Punk rocker

Starting in the mid-1980s, [10] Newlin unveiled a new persona in the form of a leather-clad punk rocker with bright orange hair. In this guise, she appeared in horror movies by Richmond producer Michael D. Moore. In director Tim Ritter's 1995 film Creep, she played a person wearing a leather motorcycle jacket who puts poison in baby food at a supermarket. [2]

That same year, Moore directed the documentary about Newlin titled Dika: Murder City . The title was taken from a song Newlin had performed in her solo "cabaret" act for a few years before it became a popular performance piece for her band ApoCowLypso, formed in 1985 with fellow area singer/songwriters Brooke Saunders and Manko Eponymous as well as Hunter Duke on drums. [11] With Apocowlypso Newlin performed lead and backing vocals as well as percussion (washboard, tambourine, temple bells) in their peculiar live shows and on the cassette-only EP "Meat the Apocowlypso," the "Electronic Preacher/Richmond Flood" single, and the bootleg "Let It Was" recording. After going through over 20 bass players in their short time together, the members of Apocowlypso went their separate ways in 1988 to pursue other projects. [12]

Newlin was in the GWAR movie Skulhedface in 1994. [13]

Miscellaneous

In 1939 the New York Herald Tribune wrote that Dika Newlin had the highest I.Q. score of any Michigan State University student at that time. [2]

On 13 August 1964 Newlin was in London for the premiere of the full-length Performing Version of Mahler's unfinished 10th Symphony prepared by Deryck Cooke. After the performance, she presented Cooke with the Kilenyi Mahler Medal of the Bruckner Society of America. [14]

Newlin posed for a pinup calendar when she was in her seventies. [2]

Reporters who interviewed her at home noted that a medieval suit of armor was suspended over her mattress on the floor of her bedroom. [2]

During the 1980s and 1990s, Dika Newlin could often be seen in Richmond wheeling her papers and other belongings along the sidewalk of Grace Street in a shopping cart, between her teaching job at VCU and her columnist job at Richmond Newspapers, some 12 blocks away. She would typically be wearing a gaudy dress and gaudier red lipstick and by the end of the walk would be huffing and puffing from the exertion. This comical image she presented in these daily walks caused her to be known locally as "The Bag Lady of Music".[ citation needed ]

Newlin died in Richmond, Virginia from complications of a broken arm she suffered in an accident on June 30, 2006. [2]

Publications by Dika Newlin

Related Research Articles

Anton Bruckner Austrian composer

Josef Anton Bruckner was an Austrian composer, organist, and music theorist best known for his symphonies, Masses, Te Deum and motets. The first are considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism because of their rich harmonic language, strongly polyphonic character, and considerable length. Bruckner's compositions helped to define contemporary musical radicalism, owing to their dissonances, unprepared modulations, and roving harmonies.

Gustav Mahler Austrian composer (1860–1911)

Gustav Mahler was an Austro-Bohemian Romantic composer, and one of the leading conductors of his generation. As a composer he acted as a bridge between the 19th century Austro-German tradition and the modernism of the early 20th century. While in his lifetime his status as a conductor was established beyond question, his own music gained wide popularity only after periods of relative neglect, which included a ban on its performance in much of Europe during the Nazi era. After 1945 his compositions were rediscovered by a new generation of listeners; Mahler then became one of the most frequently performed and recorded of all composers, a position he has sustained into the 21st century. In 2016, a BBC Music Magazine survey of 151 conductors ranked three of his symphonies in the top ten symphonies of all time.

Arnold Schoenberg Austrian-American composer (1874–1951)

Arnold Schoenberg or Schönberg was an Austrian-born composer, music theorist, teacher, writer, and painter. He is widely considered one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. He was associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School. With the rise of the Nazi Party, Schoenberg's works were labeled degenerate music, because they were modernist and atonal. He emigrated to the United States in 1933, becoming an American citizen in 1941.

Symphony No. 7 (Mahler) symphony by Gustav Mahler

Symphony No. 7 by Gustav Mahler was written in 1904–05, with repeated revisions to the scoring. It is sometimes referred to by the title Song of the Night, which Mahler never knew. Although the symphony is often described as being in the key of E minor, its tonal scheme is more complicated. The symphony's first movement moves from B minor (introduction) to E minor, and the work ends with a rondo finale in C major. Thus, as Dika Newlin has pointed out, "in this symphony Mahler returns to the ideal of 'progressive tonality' which he had abandoned in the Sixth". The complexity of the work's tonal scheme was analysed in terms of "interlocking structures" by Graham George.

Symphony No. 10 (Mahler) symphony by Gustav Mahler

Symphony No. 10 by Gustav Mahler was written in the summer of 1910, and was his final composition. At the time of Mahler's death the composition was substantially complete in the form of a continuous draft, but not fully elaborated or orchestrated, and thus not performable. Only the first movement is regarded as reasonably complete and performable as Mahler intended. Perhaps as a reflection of the inner turmoil he was undergoing at the time, the 10th Symphony is arguably his most dissonant work.

Eugene Ormandy Hungarian conductor and violinist

Eugene Ormandy was a Hungarian-American conductor and violinist, best known for his association with the Philadelphia Orchestra, as its music director. His 44-year association with the orchestra is one of the longest enjoyed by any conductor with a single orchestra. Under his baton, the Philadelphia Orchestra had three gold records and won two Grammy Awards.

Erwin Ratz was an Austrian musicologist and music theorist. He is known especially for his work as president of the Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft and for his book Einführung in die musikalische Formenlehre.

Deryck Cooke was a British musician, musicologist, broadcaster and Gustav Mahler expert.

The curse of the ninth is a superstition connected with the history of classical music. In essence, it is the belief that a ninth symphony is destined to be a composer's last; i.e. that the composer will be fated to die while or after writing it, or before completing a tenth. To those who give credence to the notion, a composer who produces a ninth symphony has reached a decisive landmark, and to then embark on a tenth is a challenge to fate.

David Matthews (composer) English composer

David Matthews is an English composer of mainly orchestral, chamber, vocal and piano works.

Hans Rosbaud Austrian conductor

Hans Rosbaud, was an Austrian conductor, particularly associated with the music of the twentieth century.

<i>A Survivor from Warsaw</i> cantata by Arnold Schoenberg

A Survivor from Warsaw, Op. 46, is a cantata by the Los Angeles-based Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg, written in tribute to Holocaust victims. The main narration is unsung; “never should there be a pitch” to its solo vocal line, wrote the composer.

Progressive tonality is the music compositional practice whereby a piece of music does not finish in the key in which it began, but instead 'progresses' to an ending in a different key or tonality. To avoid misunderstanding, it should be stressed that in this connection 'different key' means a different tonic, rather than merely a change to a different mode : Gustav Mahler's Second Symphony (1888–94), for example, which moves from a C minor start to an E-flat major conclusion, exhibits 'progressive tonality'—whereas Ludwig van Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (1804–08), which begins in C minor and ends in C major, does not. A work which ends in the key in which it began may be described as exhibiting 'concentric tonality'. The terms 'progressive' and 'concentric' were both introduced into musicology by Dika Newlin in her book Bruckner, Mahler, Schoenberg (1947).

Harold Byrns was a German-American conductor and orchestrator.

Dika: Murder City is a 1995 documentary film by Michael D. Moore on the late-life punk rock career of composer/singer Dika Newlin. The film features Newlin, who was 74 years old when the film was shot, in concert at a Richmond, Virginia, club where she is wearing black leather garb and singing punk versions of Elvis Presley and Nancy Sinatra songs. Newlin also talks about her childhood musical training with Arnold Schoenberg, and she performs several of her original songs. She also offers a Gioachino Rossini aria, Duetto Buffo di Due Gatti in which she meows the entire number. A clip from the 1968 film Night of the Living Dead is included in the film.

Alexander von Zemlinsky Austrian composer, conductor, and teacher

Alexander Zemlinsky or Alexander von Zemlinsky was an Austrian composer, conductor, and teacher.

<i>Style and Idea</i> book by Arnold Schönberg

Style and Idea: Selected Writings of Arnold Schoenberg is the name for a published collection of essays, articles and sketches by Arnold Schoenberg, that has appeared in various forms.

Christopher White is an English classical pianist, musicologist and repetiteur. He plays internationally, not only the standard classical and romantic repertory, but premieres of new music. He made a transcription of four movements of Mahler's unfinished Tenth Symphony for piano, playing and recording the work.

References

  1. Sinclair, Melissa Scott. "Dika Newlin's Legacy in Wild Sights and Sounds". Style Weekly. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Martin, Douglas (28 July 2006). "Dika Newlin, 82, Punk-Rock Schoenberg Expert, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Ammer, Christine (1980). Unsung: A History of Women in American Music . Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. ISBN   9780313229091.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Norrisey, Susan (4 November 1980). "Newlin Remembers Music Master". Commonwealth Times. Virginia Commonwealth University. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  5. Sampson, Zinie Chen (29 July 2006). "Dika Newlin; wrote operas, punk music - The Boston Globe". Boston Globe. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  6. 1 2 3 Arnold, Donna (19 July 2017). "Schoenberg's Punk Rocker: The Radical Transformations of Dika Newlin" . Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  7. Craft, Robert (18 December 1980). "Schoenberg and Dika". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  8. 1 2 Newlin, Schoenberg Remembered, p.333.
  9. "Dika Newlin - American musicologist, composer, and pianist". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  10. Feisst, newmusicbox.org
  11. Woodell, Sarah (9 February 1988). "Apocowlypso: Ruminant Rock". Commonwealth Times. Virginia Commonwealth University. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  12. Georello, Sibella C. (March 17, 1996). "All the world's a stage for prodigy, professor, punk rocker, pinup girl" (Sunday Flair). Richmond Times-Dispatch. pp. G1–G3. Dika the enigma.
  13. Sinclair, Melissa Scott. "Dika Newlin's Legacy in Wild Sights and Sounds". Style Weekly. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  14. "Deryck Cooke Timeline". Cambridge University Library. Retrieved 23 September 2017.