Synopses & Reviews
The author analyzes representations of Javanese music and dance byNorth Americans, namely opera singer Eva Gauthier, dancer/painter Hubert Stowitts, ethnomusicologist Mantle Hood, and composer LouHarrison. He begins with a description of the first large-scale North American encounter with the cultures of Java through theSundanese gamelan music performed at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, then explores episodes in the lives ofeach individual that were most affected by images of Java and their significance for their self-fashioning, including the differencebetween their actual experiences and their representations. He describes how Gauthier used her limited experience with Javanesemusic to create a persona and act in America after a lukewarm reception in Europe; the role of Stowitts' homosexuality in theconstruction of aesthetics and masculinity in his dance and paintings; how Hood used Javanese music and culture to connect hisdual interests in spirituality and scientific objectivity; and how Harrison utilized gamelan music in conjunction with his lyricalmelodies, rational tunings, and emphasis on the autonomous composer as part of his stance against the conventions of mainstream music.Annotation ©2015 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)
Fragrant tropical flowers, opulent batik fabrics, magnificent bronze gamelan orchestras, and, of course, aromatic coffee. Such are the exotic images of Java, Indonesia's most densely populated island, that have hovered at the periphery of North American imaginations for generations. Through close readings of the careers of four javaphiles individuals who embraced Javanese performing arts in their own quests for a sense of belonging Javaphilia: American Love Affairs with Javanese Music and Dance explores a century of American representations of Javanese performing arts by North Americans. While other Asian cultures made direct impressions on Americans by virtue of firsthand contacts through immigration, trade, and war, the distance between Java and America, and the vagueness of Americans' imagery, enabled a few disenfranchised musicians and dancers to fashion alternative identities through bold and idiosyncratic representations of Javanese music and dance.
Javaphilia's main subjects Canadian-born singer Eva Gauthier (1885 1958), dancer/painter Hubert Stowitts (1892 1953), ethnomusicologist Mantle Hood (1918 2005), and composer Lou Harrison (1917 2003) all felt marginalized by the mainstream of Western society: Gauthier by her lukewarm reception as an operatic mezzo-soprano in Europe, Stowitts by his homosexuality, Hood by conflicting interests in spirituality and scientific method, and Harrison by his predilection for prettiness in a musical milieu that valued more anxious expressions. All four parlayed their own direct experiences of Java into a defining essence for their own characters. By identifying aspects of Javanese music and dance that were compatible with their own tendencies, these individuals could literally perform unconventional yet coherent identities based in Javanese music and dance. Although they purported to represent Java to their fellow North Americans, they were in fact simply representing themselves.
In addition to probing the fascinating details of these javaphiles' lives, Javaphilia presents a novel analysis of North America's first significant encounters with Javanese performing arts at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. An account of the First International Gamelan Festival, in Vancouver, BC (at Expo 86), almost a century later, bookends the epoch that is the focus of Javaphilia and sets the stage for a meditation on North Americans' ongoing relationships with the music and dance of Java.