Thoughts on Academic Publishing

As a person involved in both artistic and scientific activity, I don’t sense a pressure to publish my writings to such an extent as somebody working in the humanities or the natural sciences. Yet I do feel the need to regularly contribute to the output of my academic environment by writing for journals, conference proceedings, and edited volumes in my fields of interest, and thus enhance my ›emerging scholar portfolio‹. In doing so, it appears to me that the best way to go public is full open access under a Creative Commons license, without any fees or restrictions posed to potential readers—and the more so since my occupation is a rather marginal discipline, measured by its overall relevance in society. Accessibility means a lot more to me than monetisation. In other words: I don’t see any point in commercial publishing in the current state of academic life.

Obviously, some partners in publishing do not share this view. While there are many convincing examples for gold and green open-access strategies throughout European and North-American academia, I have recently faced problems when I tried to self-archive or reuse my work after a period of closed access or conventional printed publication. For instance, some journals would not permit green open access of articles after an embargo period, or even charge the author for publishing in repositories other than his or her personal website. Despite platforms such as Academia.edu or ResearchGate enable researchers to share their work on a non-commercial basis, they are played off and dismissed for their alleged profit-oriented approach by some publishers who do not seem to have developed sustainable open-access policies themselves. At any rate, a topical handling of copyright issues and rights of use would demand for an attitude more sensitive towards authors’ interests. To cut a long story short: I believe that, if I am neither required to pay for publication nor do I get paid for it, my articles should be accessible to anybody free of charges. I will aim to live up to this principle from now on.

The Musical Mysteries of Ukraine

The spirit of Emil Gilels hovers over the Small Hall of the Odessa Academy of Music, so much I know for sure. And, by the way, this institution seems to be the one and only conservatory in Europe which is named after a woman—coloratura soprano Antonina Nezhdanova, the dedicatee of Rachmaninov‘s Vocalise. Yet other questions remain unanswered during my trip to Ukraine: Why were Horowitz and Richter so reluctant to perform Medtner, who toured the country in 1927? Where exactly was Horowitz born? And how on earth could the Soviet authorities issue him a passport with his father’s name misstated as ›Semenovich‹ instead of ›Samuilovich‹? Maybe somebody will shed light on these obscurities one day through further research. Off to beautiful Lviv now where I will spend one more day before returning to everyday business: Winter term at Robert Schumann Hochschule Düsseldorf requires my well-prepared presence.

Ten Years of Rapture

This is where the story began: In autumn 2009 I started practising the first movement of Nikolai Medtner‘s Sonata-Ballade, Op. 27, and was immediately captivated by the refined textures, formal balance, and intellectual depth of the music. It was this composition that sustainably connected my mind to Medtner’s art, resulting in a kind of fascination that kept me busy for years and is unlikely to ever cease.

A decade later, having absorbed the music in numerous papers, presentations, and a dissertation, destiny finds me tackling this intriguing work as a pianist again. I am excited to present a lecture recital on the Sonata-Ballade on two different occasions: The first one is to be held in German language this Friday, September 27 (matching the opus number!), starting around 7 pm at a private venue in Berlin Prenzlauer Berg—in case you want to attend, please get in touch for directions to Ekaterine Khvedelidze‘s place. The second appearance will be in English, forming part of the MedtnerFest XXI festival and symposium, taking place next Friday, October 4, 11 am, at the Small Hall of the Odessa National Music Academy, Ukraine. As always, your graceful company is considered a most convenient reward for my humble efforts.

Music for Voices

Pleased to announce two new contributions of vocal music:
(1) Last year I dedicated a composition named Silbensalat to my son Lionel as a gift to his fourth birthday. The work comprises four canons in different combinations of voices, scales, and intervals, and is set to lighthearted texts about Lionel’s most beloved things and activities. Just in time before he turned five today, I finally managed to complete the sheet music of the pieces, which is available here.
(2) Fascinated by the delicate and imaginative music of singer-songwriter Eleni Irakleous aka Eleni Era, I recently arranged two of her tunes, Beautiful Moon and Big Star, for solo voice and SATB mixed chorus. Sheet music is provided here by courtesy of the artist. You can listen to the original songs at this place.