RMA Podcast: Jo Cormac, Composer biopics: interfaces between research and popular culture

How much does academic research come to influence the making of films about classical composers? Drawing on archival material from the USC Cinema and TV library, the Margaret Herrick Library in LA, and the BFI archives, Jo Cormac has studied a range of films about Chopin and Liszt, including Charles Vidor’s A Song to Remember (1945), Charles Vidor and George Cukor’s Song without End (1960), Ken Russell’s Lisztomania (1975) and James Lapine’s Impromptu (1991). She discusses the types of scholarly sources used by producers of composer biopics, and the tensions between academic input and directorial vision.

Joanne Cormac is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow and during the academic year 2017-18 she was also a Visiting Scholar at Wolfson College, University of Oxford. During the 2018 autumn semester she will took up a Visiting Researcher position at Georgetown University, Washington DC. She studied Music at the University of Nottingham (BA) and at the University of Birmingham (MMus and PhD). From 2013-15 she was a Lecturer in Music at Oxford Brookes University. Joanne’s research interests include 19th-century music and culture, with particular interests in the symphony after Beethoven, the music of Franz Liszt, biography, historiography, and reception issues. She is the author of Liszt and the Symphonic Poem (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

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