A Choiryphaeus Ends His Career

After Christian Grube has stepped back as conductor of Kammerchor der UdK Berlin, an era has come to its end. It may seem melodramatic to say so, but is nonetheless true. Since he retired from his professorship in choral direction at Universität der Künste Berlin, Christian still sticked to his ideals and kept on leading the ensemble he had founded back in 1978, and has been shaping as its sole conductor during the past four decades. Now, at 84 years of age, he finally decided to no longer run in front. Heaven knows whether and how his work can be continued. At any rate, I am deeply grateful to have witnessed the final stage of his activity in Berlin. It’s been fourteen years of extraordinary artistic and personal influence that helped me sharpen my ear, brain, and musical understanding by singing and performing under Christian’s charismatic guidance. Thank you so much!

Poor Advocacy for Freelance Musicians

It amazes and puzzles me how freelance musicianship is talked down in two articles from this month’s neue musikzeitung. In his title page column, editor Theo Geißler reports from the recent conference of Verband deutscher Musikschulen in Berlin, denigrating a group of protesters from DTKV Saxonia who had complained about their working conditions. Geißler basically blames them to suffer from self-chosen misery—an unworldly and rather impudent claim. In another article, the VdM administration issues a statement in objection to an initiative of TKV Baden-Württemberg which had denounced competitive distortion and unequal treatment of employees and freelance music educators. It is hard to understand how one can disagree with the legitimate demand for a balanced rate of public funding for both groups.

These positions construe an artificial antagonism between music education taking place in public responsibility and in private institutions, disregarding the fact that the two parties for the most part operate with near-to-identical teaching staff, offering the same services with the same qualifications. We need to think these two sectors as one functional unit and not as competitors. In Berlin’s municipal music schools, still more than 80% of instrumental and vocal teachers are unwillingly working as entrepreneurs. It is just insane to bash this considerably large group of colleagues as »mercantilists« striving for profit—an offensive and entirely inappropriate description of people working hardly above the subsistence level. I feel ashamed that courageous initatives, carried out in favour of the majority of musicians and music educators, are denied any support by those who are supposed to be their allies. Once more, VdM and the federal parent organisation of Deutscher Tonkünstlerverband form an unproductive opposition against their freelance colleagues, and it is hard to imagine how professional lobby work could succeed in the face of these ongoing quarrels.

How to Use Your Doctoral Degree

Part One: Written Correspondence
(1) Feel free to sport your doctoral degree in your email signature module, letterhead, or address stamp.
(2) State your doctoral degree in the displayed sender name of your email account, if you really do consider it necessary.
(3) Refrain from including your doctoral degree, or any abbreviation of it, in your email address, such as philip.dee.phd@ac.edu or dr.donald.rump@cumbridge.pov.jiz. If at all possible, also avoid writing it on envelopes by hand.
(4) Do not, by all means, sign your correspondence with your doctoral degree attached to your name, regardless of how cordially, sincerely, or respectfully you choose to express your salutation. Your conversation partner will appreciate your modesty. Thanks for your attention.

Part Two: Oral Conversation
(1) Do not introduce yourself with your doctoral degree. (Well, this should go without saying.)
(2) Do not expect others to address you by your doctoral degree.
(3) Do not mention your doctoral degree in non-academic conversations unless requested by a legal authority, Elsa of Brabant, or Master Yoda (»Decently behave you must!«).

Music from Szczecin

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!