Event Title

Horses, Gunshots, and Saloons: The Portrayal of the American West in Libby Larsen’s Songs from Letters

Faculty Advisor

Adriana Ponce

Graduation Year

2019

Location

Room E106, Center for Natural Sciences, Illinois Wesleyan University

Start Date

13-4-2019 10:00 AM

End Date

13-4-2019 11:00 AM

Description

Libby Larsen’s song cycle Songs from Letters is based upon letters that were purported to have been written by Calamity Jane to her daughter Janey. The letters describe her travels in the American West, her relationship with “Wild” Bill Hickok, as well as her own internal struggles and regret. However, in recent years, new scholarship related to the authorship of the letters has determined that the author of the letters was not Calamity Jane, but rather a woman named Jean McCormick, the woman who presented the letters as evidence that she was the daughter of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok. The musical imagery of the American West and Calamity Jane’s emotions within the song cycle creates a new interpretation of the song cycle, one that is based on McCormick’s imagination of Calamity Jane’s experiences and emotions. It is through these images that we see a dramatic view of the life of Calamity Jane, and how Songs from Letters combines the ideas of both Larsen and McCormick to create this new interpretation of the song cycle.

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Apr 13th, 10:00 AM Apr 13th, 11:00 AM

Horses, Gunshots, and Saloons: The Portrayal of the American West in Libby Larsen’s Songs from Letters

Room E106, Center for Natural Sciences, Illinois Wesleyan University

Libby Larsen’s song cycle Songs from Letters is based upon letters that were purported to have been written by Calamity Jane to her daughter Janey. The letters describe her travels in the American West, her relationship with “Wild” Bill Hickok, as well as her own internal struggles and regret. However, in recent years, new scholarship related to the authorship of the letters has determined that the author of the letters was not Calamity Jane, but rather a woman named Jean McCormick, the woman who presented the letters as evidence that she was the daughter of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok. The musical imagery of the American West and Calamity Jane’s emotions within the song cycle creates a new interpretation of the song cycle, one that is based on McCormick’s imagination of Calamity Jane’s experiences and emotions. It is through these images that we see a dramatic view of the life of Calamity Jane, and how Songs from Letters combines the ideas of both Larsen and McCormick to create this new interpretation of the song cycle.