Philippines have but a few number of noted music scholars.
One of our very own music scholar who published
“Contemporary Filipino Composers” in 1976, is Dr. Helen
Samson-Lauterwald, an alumna of the English and Music
programs at UP Diliman, and also a graduate of the
University of Cologne, Germany. Dr. Lauterwald have
published a book on the Las Pinas bamboo organ and a new and
forthcoming one is a book on sarsuelas of Severino Reyes in
the early 20th century.
Last November 17, 2014, the UP College of Music welcomed her
in a colloquium.
Dr. Lauterwald, in her lecture, started with an update on
the history of the restoration of the Las Pinas Bamboo
Organ. Now a national treasure, its cultural significance is
important to the residents of the town of Las Pinas and the
national government. Showing a map of Spain, she pointed out
the cultural region where the Recollect priest Diego Cera,
the organ builder, originated. In the township of Graus
alone, are about thirty similarly constructed organs.
However, the bamboo organ of the Philippines stands alone in
its category in the world. She said that the Jesuits in
Shanghai also built bamboo organs around 1850. However, none
have survived in its original place except a portative that
is now in a museum in Paris. A further reference to this can
be found in David Francis Urrows “The Bamboo Organs of
Nineteenth Century Shanghai.” (Nineteenth Century Music
Review Vol. 11 no. 1 (June 2014) pp. 113 - 134.)
The horizontal reeds of the Las Pinas Bamboo Organ which is
made of metal and located above the organist’s head, is a
furnishing found in Spanish organs only. Its practice
originated from Mexico and not Spain, she conjectures. In
the mid-1970's, the Las Pinas Bamboo Organ was restored and
rebuilt in Germany. After the restoration, while still in
Bonn, famous organist Wolfgang Ohms, played on it, with
original arrangements using Filipino folksongs. Dr.
Lauterwald also mentioned the training of two former Las
Pinas Boys Choir members Cealwin Tagle and Edgar Montano in
organ building in Austria. Today, Philippine organ builders
help organ restorations in Korea and Hongkong, and even as
far as Russia.
Part II of her lecture dwelt on her experiences as a
musicologist in Europe, which involves theoretic
competencies. She narrated that she had to deal with the old
German handwriting translation called the Suetterlin. In
another exercise, she needed to read archaic Spanish aloud
and realized how its aural value facilitated translation.
She also dealt with music transcription and analysis which
are basic methodologies in music source inspection.
In the lecture, she also presented a survey of studies in
musicology and ethnomusicology in Germany featuring authors
Carl Dahlhaus, Karl Gustav Fellerer, and Dietrich Kaemper.
For harmonic analysis, she reiterated Walter Piston’s
undying hegemony and de la Motte.
Asked about why she chose a dissertation topic on the
tensions between Filipino nationalism and internationalism
in composition, she replied that it was a subject close to
the Filipino heart and soul. The title of her work,
translated in English, roughly means, “How the Filipino
“spirit” translates into a work of music written in the
idiom of Western music." This dissertation is already due
for translation and will be added to a number of works to be
published in the UP Press, now under negotiations.