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General Assembly

The General Assembly, which elects the Executive Board, convenes at each WMA conference. Here, you can find the minutes from the recent General Assemblies.

General Assembly, Munich 2023

1. PRESIDENT'S REPORT The President Michael Halliwell thanked Frieder von Ammon for organizing the Munich conference and announced that he will be stepping down in the course of the meeting. ​ 2. TREASURER'S REPORT The treasurer Werner Wolf was relieved by auditor Gerold Gruber. Afterwards he talked about problems Brill has caused in the course of distributing the last volume of the WMA series, which are now resolved. Three more completed volumes are expected to be published this year. Funds for financing two of them are available, the third one when future membership fees arrive as from October. In his last remarks, Werner Wolf explained his decision to step down. He thanked his secretary for her support over many years and promised to assist his successor in every possible way. ​ 3. WMA FORUM REPORT Jan Czarnecki reported of several conferences in recent years, the last of which (on “Words, Music and Environment”) took place in 2022. The next conference will take place in Cologne in 2024. Its (provisional) theme is “Myth, Religion and Tradition”. ​ 4. ELECTIONS The President proposed to award the title of Honorary Founding Member to Werner Wolf, which was approved by all. In his laudatio, the President emphasized the merits of Werner Wolf: In many ways, Werner Wolf is WMA. From the outset he has provided a profoundly important theoretical profile for the Association, being central in the formulation of topics for future conferences which have shaped the way the whole field of word and music studies has developed over the last 25 years. His many presentations at the conferences themselves have provided a theoretical framework for current work on a particular topic, but also pointing the way in which further work might proceed. As importantly, his work as a co-editor on many of the volumes of WMA book series has contributed greatly to the effectiveness and importance of the books that have been published during this period. Of course, his own many publications have been central to the field and have provided many scholars with a model and template and a well-reasoned theoretical basis for their own work. If I may comment on a personal basis; Werner has been a wonderful colleague and friend to me over the years. In all honesty, at the beginning of our relationship, he terrified me when I was starting out to build my own academic profile after moving away from my performance career into academia. To have his endorsement after a presentation was enormously gratifying, while his always well-reasoned and constructive criticism helped me greatly to find a framework and direction for my own work. If Werner Wolf considered what you were discussing made sense, that was praise indeed. I learned over the years to appreciate his subtle but deep sense of humour underneath the sometimes fierce exterior, and we have enjoyed many wonderful conversations over the years. I think that this endorsement and recognition of his enormous contribution to WMA is highly fitting.  Afterwards the new Executive Board was elected. It now consists of: President – Axel Englund Vice-President – Jessie Fillerup Treasurer – Gerold W. Gruber Secretary – Frieder von Ammon Members-at-Large: Helen Abbott  Walter Bernhart  Michael Halliwell  Heidi Hart  Christine Hoene  Alexandra Reznik (liaison WMAF) As auditors were elected (again unanimously) Saskia Jaszoltowski and Katharina Reischl. After the election, the new President Axel Englund gave the following speech: I am deeply humbled by this election and honoured by your trust. I would like to take a few minutes express some personal gratitude and perhaps hint at some intentions. I have this organization to thank for my development as an academic, indeed, for my whole identity as a researcher and critic. When I was a student – a bit lost and wavering between whether to continue with composition and musicology or to turn to comparative literature – a friendly professor lent me his copies of the first couple of WMS volumes. I devoured them and was thrilled: There was a field! That would permit me to indulge both of my favourite things! I believe I never returned those books. First of all, I want to thank Frieder von Ammon and Anna Axtner-Borsutzky for a fantastic conference, organized in the most exemplary way in one beautiful venue after another. I also want to thank the two former presidents, both of whom will remain on the board in order to ensure continuity. Walter Bernhart and Michael Halliwell were of course among the authors that so inspired me as a student, and I later got to know them as wonderfully amicable colleagues. I also want express my personal gratitude to the three senior members of the organization who have today stepped down from their responsibilities on the executive board. The first other book those WMS volumes led me to was of course Werner Wolf’s The Musicalization of Fiction. It was perhaps the most important publication in pushing me toward word-and-music studies. I found its clear and communicative style, the rigour of its thought, and the seriousness with which it approached its task singularly inspiring. It is still indispensable for anyone on their way into this field, and I always recommend it to my students. Next, there is David Francis Urrows, our long-serving secretary. I won’t try to list all his qualities as a researcher and speaker, but point out that to me, personally, his solid philological and historical grounding has always seemed like something the organization has hugely benefited from, indeed, would need more of. The third person I want to thank could unfortunately not be with us here in Munich, and that is Lawrence Kramer. I got to know Larry while I lived in New York for a while in 2009, and since then, I have considered him a friend, an intellectual role-model and mentor, as well as a critical writer of the very first order, whose influence, obviously, stretches far beyond this organization and this field. When I started attending the WMA conferences, which is now fourteen years ago, I soon noticed that there was rarely much agreement between the perspectives of these and other members. For me, as an aspiring researcher, seeing professors with so fundamentally different ways of tackling words and music co-exist in the same organization was of inestimable value. I think Bourdieu was right to pinpoint conflict, confrontation and competition as the tissue that holds a field together. And when we are young and emerging as critics and scholars, I think to experience these clashes – be they between intermediality, philology or hermeneutics or other perspectives yet to arrive in the association – is absolutely essential to finding our own voice. I think Bourdieu was equally right that in order for a field to become stable, these clashes need to take place within a non-destructive environment. As I see it, providing a framework for collegial confrontation – as unburdened by personal prestige as is realistically possible – is the primary job of the executive board of an organization such as ours. I very much look forward to honouring the trust of the general assembly by performing this job in the years to come, as a part of a board that I think is eminently suited for the task, in a spirit of diplomacy and democratic team play.   5. FUTURE ACTIVITIES The next conference in 2025 will be hosted by Helen Abbott in Birmingham. ​ 6. OTHER BUSINESS Delia de Sousa Correa pleaded for a greater visibility of the WMA, for which its online presence needs to be increased. Rolf Goebel pleaded for a closer connection between the WMA and the WMA Forum. Werner Wolf proposed to merge the conferences again in the future.

General Assembly, Graz 2019

1. The meeting was called to order by the President of the Association, Prof. Walter Bernhart, at 11:20 am. 2. The President gave his report, beginning with mention of Vol. 17 of Word and Music Studies, which has now been published by Brill. This contains the New York conference papers of 2015. Vol. 18, which will contain the Stockholm (2017) conference papers, is being edited by Walter Bernhart and Axel Englund, and should come out later this year or early next year. The President also reported on changes at Brill: Masja Horn will no longer be our contact there, and her responsibilities will be taken over by Christa Stevens. It was also noted that the website is now in good shape, and under the hands of a good webmaster, Amir Dini. The website, the President reminded the meeting, is also the place for the online publication of short papers, and those not on the conference topic(s), read at WMA conferences, and that interested authors should contact the Secretary. Finally, the President announced his resignation from his post in the WMA w.e. after the election of the next President of the WMA. 3. The Treasurer’s Report for 2017-2019 was given by Prof. Werner Wolf. He mentioned that, as decided in Stockholm, there would be no increase in fees for membership, and that we have a credit balance of 16,155.80 Euros. Thus, we are in a good position to face the expenses connected to the next three volumes of Word and Music Studies. The review of the accounts of the WMA were submitted by Prof. Gerold Gruber, sole auditor (in the absence of the late Prof. Zerinschek), who pronounced them "all correct". The accounts were accepted unanimously, with no objections and no abstentions. 4. The WMAF Report was given by Emily Petermann, on behalf of Alexandra Reznik. She reported on the successful WMAF conference in Düsseldorf, held on 5 November 2018 at the University of Düsseldorf on the topic “Popularity in Words and Music”, organized by Thomas Gurke and others. 18 papers were given, predominantly on popular music topics. Some travel expenses for conference attendance were covered by successful grant applications. The next WMAF conference will be held from 1-3 September 2020 at the University of St. Andrew’s, Scotland. The topic is still being finalized. It was also noted that the WMAF has both a Twitter and Facebook presence, as well as the WMAF website. 5. The President reported on Membership matters. There are 112 members of the Association, representing 22 countries. The question of honorary membership was again raised, as this year the traditional honorary members to be elected, who organized this conference (Prof. Bernhart and Prof. Wolf), would have had to nominate themselves. Their election as honorary members was then proposed by Prof. Peter Dayan, seconded by another member, and approved unanimously. 6. Election of Board members and others: the slate of nominations for members of the Executive Board, Liaisons, Auditors, and Advisory Board, prepared by the Executive Board, was then presented. The following changes were noted: Michael Halliwell replacing Walter Bernhart as President, Jessie Fillerup replacing Michael Halliwell as Vice-President, Axel Englund replacing Mary Breatnach as a Member-at-Large (as she is now devoting all her time to performance), and Emily Petermann replacing her as Liaison to the WMAF from the WMA. Walter Bernhart will remain on the Executive Board as a Member-at-Large, for purposes of continuity, the website, and contact with Brill. Saskia Jaszoltowski will replace the late Klaus Zerinschek as one of the two Auditors. As proposed by Prof. Wolf, thirty seconds of silence were observed in memory of Prof. Zerinschek. Advisory Board: after discussion by the Executive Board, it was decided to present the same slate of Advisory Board members as in Stockholm (with the exception of Axel Englund, who becomes a member of the Executive Board), and that the Association will now contact all the members on this list to understand if they wish to continue in their role here beyond the present. The members of the Association were also asked to consider who they think might make a good member of the Advisory Board. 7. Prof. Wolf than read a testimonial (laudatio) in honor of Prof. Walter Bernhart (the text of which is attached as an Appendix to these); he then proposed that Prof. Bernhart should be made an Honorary President of the International Association for Word and Music Studies. This was seconded and approved by acclamation. A gift of CD recordings was presented to Prof. Bernhart from the Executive Board, and Prof. Bernhart responded with thanks. 8. Prof. Bernhart then made the motion that all the proposed offices of the WMA for 2019-2021 should be presented as single slate with a single vote. The slate was as follows: Executive Board: President – Michael Halliwell Vice-President – Jessie Fillerup Treasurer – Werner Wolf Secretary – David Francis Urrows Members-at-Large: Walter Bernhart Axel Englund Heidi Hart Lawrence Kramer Emily Petermann Liaisons: To the WMA from the WMAF: Alexandra Reznik To the WMAF from the WMA: Emily Petermann Auditors: Gerold W. Gruber Saskia Jaszoltowski Advisory Board: Delia da Sousa Correa Peter Dayan Albert Gier Gerold W. Gruber Hannah Hinz Ulla-Britta Lagerroth Eric Prieto Albrecht Riethmüller Deborah F. Weagel Simon Williams This was seconded, and all were approved, with no objections and no abstentions. 9. Prof. Michael Halliwell then spoke on his election as President of the WMA: "I am very honoured by this election. WMA has been my academic ‘home’ since its inauguration in Graz 22 years ago. While my own research had moved into other areas, as a very new and green researcher in 1997, I was given much support and developed confidence in what I was doing. I am very happy to take over this role for a period, but certainly not for ever. I really believe that there needs to be generational renewal, and that it already happening. The range and scope of the Association has been enlarged substantially in recent years, and my view is that this must continue, but we also need to maintain the focus on what the Association was established for. I have to thank certain people for the support over the years and, of course, I will inevitably leave many out: Werner Wolf right from the start provided a rigorous sounding board for my often rather vague and ill formulated ideas. The very much missed Steven Scher, who with his dry sense of humour gave me much encouragement and a sense of direction for where my work might lead. Many conversations with Simon Williams were crucial for me in my early years in WMA. More recently, collaboration on various projects with Delia da Sousa Correa has been very important for me. David Urrows has been a wonderful sounding board for both research ideas, and more recently as a musical collaborator. Larry Kramer as well, both intellectually and in collaboration on at least six or seven major musical works. Finally, and, of course, most significantly, Walter Bernhart. He has been WMA for me. He has been so supportive from the start 22 years ago until the present. He was a wonderfully helpful and generous editor on my book on Henry James and Opera, and of course, on many other papers. From our performance of Schubert’s "Der Taucher" in Santa Barbara in 2003 to "Song Acts" last Wednesday, our musical collaborations have been stimulating and, most of all, great fun. Vielen, vielen Dank für alles. Or, in the immortal words of ABBA: 'Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing. Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing. Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty ...'." 10. Future conferences: it was announced that the next conference of the WMA will take place in Leipzig, Germany, from 2-5 June 2021, at the University of Leipzig. The organizer is Prof. Frieder von Ammon. The conference themes will be "Repetition/Variation" and "Surveying the Field". An open call was made for suggestions for WMA composers and their new works to be included in the opening recital for the Leipzig conference. 11. It was further announced that Vol. 19 of Word and Music Studies, edited by Walter Bernhart and Werner Wolf, will contain the papers from this (Graz) conference, and that the call for submission of papers will be sent out in the next few months. 12. Ideas were then discussed for the 2023 conference, and Vienna or Galway, Ireland were suggested as possible locations, to be explored and settled at a later date. 13. There being no other business, the meeting was closed at 12:12 pm. RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED: Prof. David Francis UrrowsSecretary SIGNED: Prof. Walter BernhartOutgoing President Prof. Michael HalliwellIncoming President Appendix to the Minutes: LAUDATIO in Honour of Walter Bernhart on the Occasion of his Retirement from the Presidency of the WMA held at the General Assembly in conclusion of the 12th biannual conference of the International Association for Word and Music Studies at Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, 1 June 2019 Dear President Walter Bernhart, dear members of the Word and Music Studies Association, Our president, Walter Bernhart, has announced his intention to retire from the post of President of the WMA. This leaves a vacancy which we must hasten to fill for the sake of our association, and we are grateful to Michael Halliwell that he has volunteered to become Walter’s successor. But before we proceed to the vote, it is my pleasure and a great honour to me to review Walter’s merits for our association and thank him for all he has done in a short laudatio. As all know and many among us recall, it was Walter who founded the WMA in a memorable conference held in Graz in 1997, which he also organized. In fact, the foundation of an association which after 22 years is still prospering and has achieved international renown in the field is perhaps his greatest merit with reference to our organization. However, it is by far not the only one. Since the foundation of the WMA Walter has been its President. That means: for 22 years he has dedicated his energy to this office, and it is to a considerable extent thanks to his circumspect and highly active guidance that our organization is alive and kicking. Part of the international standing of the WMA is the existence of the book series Word and Music Studies, of which the 17th volume has just appeared. Since its emergence with the first volume in 1999 Walter has been the editor-in-chief of this book series, and what is more, has edited or co-edited no less than 12 of its total of 17 volumes so far1. A book edited by Walter has a minimum of typos and other errors, if any at all, and whoever had the pleasure of observing his incredibly sharp-sighted reading and copy-editing will know why that is so. He is eagle-eyed and meticulous to the extent that he would notice a full stop in italics which ought to be recte. We hope that he will continue to dedicate his expertise and remarkable energy to further volumes, among which the proceedings of the present conference would be a very good option. We are all beholden to Walter for his work and undaunted assiduity dedicated to the WMA, but I would like to conclude with a personal word of thanks. In the first conference of the WMA back in 1997, I was no more than one speaker among many and had originally not intended to be further engaged with the matter. Fate – and/or/as Walter – had decreed otherwise: it was on the trip home from the conference venue in Andritz in the north of Graz to the south of it, where be both live – Walter had politely offered me a lift – that the question of who would edit the conference proceedings emerged. And Walter accepted my offer to cooperate, for which I am deeply grateful to him – for this was the beginning of my organizational involvement in the WMA, which I have found to be a very rewarding activity. Subsequently, I became its Treasurer and lately a conference organizer, but here again I am grateful to Walter for having taken over so many agenda as a co-organizer and director musices. This is, however, only a last instalment of a long-standing cooperation, which has developed into a lasting friendship, while our scholarly cooperation has intensified both inside and outside the WMA. A number of co-edited volumes in the WMS series, but also in the no less renowned book series Studies in Intermediality, testify to our common scholarly interests. In all the years since 1997, and indeed since my taking over the chair of Eng. Lit. at Graz University 25 years ago in 1994, Walter has been a favourite academic colleague, a dear friend and a wise counsellor in untold matters both professional and private, for which I would like to express my deeply-felt gratitude. All of which also shows to what extent a lacuna will open once Walter retires from his presidency. In order to minimize the potential damage for our organization I would like to make a move. As it is certainly not a good idea to henceforth renounce the cooperation, the good counsel and energy of an experienced and renowned scholar such as Walter, I propose the following: since Walter is adamant in stepping down from his post and pedestal as President, I would like to create a new pedestal on which he may ascend and remain in a responsible position of our organization: I thereby make the move to elect him a member of the Executive Board of the WMA, and this in a special quality: that of Honorary President of the WMA. Please, join me in acclaiming this move. As an outer sign of our deep gratitude to you, dear Walter, as most important person of our organization I would like to offer you a small present on behalf of the members of the board. May this multimedial combination of words and music in two collections, one a collection of music composed by medieval monks and another one in a complete edition of vocal works by a composer [J.S. Bach] dear to both of us, sound well in your expert ears and give you joy; and, above all, may you continue to prosper and remain active for the International Association for Word and Music Studies, your spiritual creation. Werner Wolf

General Assembly, Stockholm 2017

The Association’s General Assembly was held at the Department of Culture and Aesthetics of Stockholm University on 12 August 2017 after the conclusion of its biennial conference, organized by Axel Englund and Hannah Hinz. The President, Walter Bernhart, reported that two volumes of the Association’s book series, Word and Music Studies (WMS, published by Brill/Rodopi, Leiden/Boston, MA), had been published since the last conference, held in New York City in 2015: the proceedings of the 2013 London conference (Silence and Absence in Literature and Music, WMS 15, ed. by Werner Wolf and Walter Bernhart), and Song Acts: Writings on Words and Music (WMS 16, ed. by Walter Bernhart) written by the WMA Board member Lawrence Kramer. The President further noted the successful reestablishment of the WMA website, now based in Graz, the official seat of the association, and he encouraged members to send any announcements they think fit for being posted on the website to either himself ( or to David Urrows, the Association’s Secretary ( In particular, members were invited to announce their recent word-and-music publications. Emily Petermann reported on activities of the WMA Forum (WMAF), the Association’s daugher organization. The 2016 WMAF conference was held in Phoenix, AZ on the topic of "Words, Music, and Sexuality", organized by Charity McAdams. The new coordinator of the WMAF is Alexandra Reznik. The next WMAF conference will be held in 2018 in Düsseldorf on 22–24 November, on the topic "Popularity in Words and Music". Axel Englund and Hannah Hinz were voted to become Honorary Members of the Association. Motions were passed to introduce two amendments to the Association’s Constitution: to enlarge the maximum number of members on the Executive Board from 8 to 10, and to introduce the new category of Liaisons as part of the Governing Body. The following Executive Board was elected: President – Walter Bernhart Vice-President – Michael Halliwell Treasurer – Werner Wolf Secretary – David Francis Urrows Members-at-Large: Mary Breatnach Jessie Fillerup Heidi Hart Lawrence Kramer Emily Petermann The following Liaisons were elected: To the WMAF from the WMA: Mary Breatnach To the WMA from the WMAF: Alexandra Reznik The next conference of WMA will take place in Graz from May 29 to June 1, 2019, on the topic "Make it Old: Retro Forms and Styles in Literature and Music", organized by Werner Wolf and Walter Bernhart. This will be followed by the 2021 conference in Leipzig, to be organized by Frieder von Ammon. The New York proceedings, on Music, Narrative, and the Moving Image (WMS 17, ed. by Walter Bernhart and David Francis Urrows) are forthcoming. The Stockholm proceedings, on Arts of Incompletion: Fragments, Drafts, Revisions in Words and Music (WMS 18), will be edited by Walter Bernhart and Axel Englund.

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