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The Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art Presents A Virtual Concert/Talk on Whistler and Debussy

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The event takes place on Thursday, November 19, at 6 pm EST.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art Presents A Virtual Concert/Talk on Whistler and Debussy

The Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art, will present a free virtual program led by curatorial research fellow Kerry Roeder at the museum and Brian Ganz, classical pianist on Thursday, November 19, at 6 pm EST. They will explore the deep links between the American expatriatea??artist James McNeilla??Whistler and the French composer Claude Debussy, who was known in the late nineteenth century as "the Whistler of music." Immediately after the premiere of the virtual program, the museum will host a brief reception with Ms. Roeder and Mr. Ganz at which viewers and listeners can meet the presenters and ask questions.

Whistler and Debussy were friends, and several common themes in their works will be explored, especially the influence of Asian art on both. Whistler's radical ideas about art were adopted by Debussy to forge a new kind of music that would influence composers throughout the 20th century. Roeder's presentation will be illustrated with some of the paintings Whistler entitled "Nocturnes," along with his Variations in Flesh Colour and Green - The Balcony. After Ganz's brief remarks he will play the first of Debussy'sa??Estampes, "Pagodes," inspired by Japanese woodblock prints. In addition to "Pagodes", pianist Ganz will perform selections froma??Debussy'sa??Images, books 1 and 2, as well as one of Frédéric Chopin's beloved Nocturnes. More information at or 202-633-1000. Join the free webinar at

Ganz said, "We associate the phrase 'art for art's sake' with Whistler, and credit him with a fresh vision of artistic beauty. And we also say that Debussy taught us to hear harmony in a new way, thus ushering in a 20th century of extraordinary creative vitality in music. This presentation explores common ground in their artistic world views. Our program will highlight the ways in which the worlds of music and art were intimately connected in the late 19th century."

The event is part of the museum's new "Look and Listen Series," which pairs music with relevant art from the museums collections.

Katherine (Kerry) Roeder is the curatoriala??researcha??fellowa??fora??American art at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, where she curateda??Dewing's Poetic Worlda??(2020) and co-curateda??Whistler in Watercolora??(2019). She is also adjunct faculty in art history at George Mason University. In 2014,a??she publisheda??Wide Awake in Slumberland: Fantasy,a??Mass Culture, and Modernism in the Art of Winsor McCaya??with the University Press of Mississippi. Her articles have appeared ina??American Arta??and shea??hasa??contributed essays toa??A New Literary History of America.

Brian Ganz was a top prizewinner at two of the world's most prestigious piano competitions (the Marguerite Long Jacques Thibaud and the Queen Elisabeth of Belgium) and has since appeared with the St. Louisa??Symphony,a??the Baltimore Symphony,a??the National Symphonya??Orchestra,a??and the City of London Sinfonia, among others, under conductors such as Leonard Slatkin, Marin Alsop, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Piotr Gajewski,

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