Greetings from Szczecin, where I attended an orchestral concert at the five-year-old Mieczysław Karłowicz Philharmonic Hall tonight. This place is an acoustic and architectural delight! I nearly feel ashamed to have never previously heard of it. Maybe this is due to my personal ignorance, but I am unaware of German media to have adequately covered the inauguration of the new Szczecin hall in 2014 (which might have been unjustly overshadowed by the subsequent openings of Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and Pierre Boulez Saal). Dear Berliners: Do consider the trip of barely 150 kilometres, and take the opportunity to visit this venue. They offer a diverse schedule, including an elaborate and low-threshold education program, and Rune Bergmann serves as an inspiring principal conductor. The aspect I liked best: In a cooperation with local music schools, they have young children perform selected pieces in the upper foyer during intermissions, giving them the chance to present themselves in front of a large and appreciative audience. What a beautiful synergy of cultural policy and music-educational effort!
Time for a brief retrospect to a beautiful trip to Freiburg im Breisgau where I attended the initial conference of the recently founded Music Research and Teaching Centre, hosted by Musikhochschule Freiburg and co-organised by University of Freiburg (April 10–12, 2019). The title »Between Ivory Tower and Employability« suggested a topical focus on musicians’ career perspectives, but the event rather turned out to be a self-presentation of interdisciplinary work at the two institutions. This is highly valuable in itself, and I witnessed several impressive lectures, performances, and demonstrations—but a limited perspective and lack of stimuli from outside was also noticeable. In my opinion, the current state of professional music education in Germany suffers from two severe misdevelopments: (1) the extreme difficulty to make a living as an employed or freelance musician, partially caused by the inability (or unreadiness) of universities to help their graduates enter the job market; and (2) the declining educational level and dwindling prospects for domestic applicants, leading to absurdly high rates of international students. Neither of these problems was addressed in the Freiburg conference. The next meeting of this kind clearly requires an open call for contributions, and its range of topics should also investigate and discuss career paths before and after university.
I wrote a few lines on the questionable tendency in classical music journalism to refer to performers as ›geniuses‹ and to conductors as ›maestri‹. Not that anybody asked for my opinion, and I guess that some of you don’t care at all—but that’s exactly why I felt the need to express my uneasiness with that matter. Out now in VAN Magazin. Your thoughts are appreciated.
Dear Viennese people, I have the pleasure to announce the public defence of my PhD thesis, a musicological study of the piano sonatas of Russian composer Nikolai Karlovich Medtner. Attendance will require your early bird virtues—but in case you are willing to take up this challenge, I’d be delighted if you joined me next Friday, 5 April, 9 am, in the Rectorate Meeting Room of the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. The presentation will see me giving a 20-minute talk, followed by a 40-minute disputation, both held in German language.