Music Freelancers About to Strike

It is reported that freelance adjunct teachers at Bavarian music universities (Lehrbeauftragte) plan a general strike in November 2017 for a duration of two weeks, objecting to the State Ministry of Culture’s directive to have institutions check the part-time employment status of their adjunct staff (only 9 teaching hours per week per person are allowed to comply with the state law). While it is a good idea to organise, align together, and protest against the desolate working conditions, striking for so short a period might not turn out favourable. Universities will probably not even react to this, only the strikers will earn less and venture their future occupation. Instead, a bold demonstration of power and indispensability is needed. A strike during the exam period at the end of the semester could be way more effective, provided that freelancers have the support of professional organisations such as Deutscher Tonkünstlerverband and Deutsche Orchestervereinigung.

To me the most intriguing question is whether adjuncts will be dismissed due to violation of the 9 SWS limit, and if yes, what will happen next. Does this only apply to institutions within Bavaria, or are teaching assignments in other states also taken into consideration? Students and courses previously taught by freelancers need to be served by other faculty – will universities hire even more freelancers with smaller teaching loads, or will they advertise full-time positions instead? In this case, the current developments are not necessarily negative.

Statement on UdK Berlin

Dear folks, I need to clarify something. Apparently there are rumours spreading that I quit teaching at the Berlin University of the Arts for some other reason than I have pointed out. Several persons seem to assume a tactical move: By leaving university I might have made myself unsuspiciously eligible for accepting a professorship, allegedly due to a nepotistic agreement, and in order to avoid a domestic appointment (»Hausberufung«). This story currently circulates among German music theorists and music universities, so I feel obliged to issue a short statement.

Let me get things straight: This is absolute total bullshit. Neither was any post at UdK Berlin’s Faculty of Music offered to me, nor did I apply for any position with more than average expectations to be considered an eligible appointee. The suspicion is particularly absurd because the said institution just recently appointed a long-term faculty member as professor without any objection. As for my own concern, I assure everybody that I left university with no subsequent contract or other prospective position in mind. At the time I decided to quit I had no knowledge of any professoral position at UdK Berlin to be advertised soon. This is the truth, and nothing but the truth.

A Month with Medtner

September keeps me busy with two activities related to the music of Nikolai Medtner. I am again contributing to a project based at TU Dresden, providing harmonic analyses for a bunch of Medtner’s fascinating skazki in order to make the music accessible to computational modeling. At the end of the month I will be participating in the annual conference of Gesellschaft für Musikforschung for the first time, presenting a paper on Medtner’s massive ›Night Wind‹ Sonata, Op. 25 No. 2, at Universität Kassel. Couldn’t be more excited!

Vacation Void

Three short announcements to fill the summer slump, wishing all of you an awesome holiday time:
(1) My favourite workspace of the last months, Goodies Deli cafe at Bikini Berlin, has suddenly closed without notifying me in advance (#wtf).
(2) I would really appreciate if German academia took similar care in advertising their vacancies as the University of Copenhagen does (#omg).
(3) Nikolai Medtner‘s E minor Piano Sonata, Op. 25 No. 2, is one of the most intriguing pieces of music I have ever encountered (#yolo).

Women and Music Theorists on the Rise

There are two general tendencies in music university administration in the German-speaking countries. First, more and more institutions are led by music theorists and composers (Berlin, Freiburg, Hamburg, Mainz, Munich, Nuremberg, Würzburg). Second, an increasing number of principals and deans are female (Augsburg, Dresden, Hanover, Rostock, StuttgartTrossingen; a significant peak in Austria: Graz, Linz, Salzburg, and Vienna; none in Switzerland). I feel positive about both of these developments. Let me know what you think!

Farewell from University

I am announcing here that I will no longer teach at the Berlin University of the Arts, Faculty of Music. My decision to quit is the result of a number of developments and personal experiences during the last months and years. However, this farewell has absolutely nothing to do with my students who belong to the most devoted, curious, and amiable persons I encountered at university. If you would like to learn more about my thoughts on lectureship at UdK Berlin and on academic teaching and precarious work in general, please read this paper (in German only).

Social Media and Teaching

My colleague Benjamin Vogels published an excellent study on the applicability of social media in academic teaching, particularly in the context of music theory. The article is available in the current issue of the journal of the Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie (ZGMTH). An exciting read, and highly recommendable for faculty and students open to present-day teaching methods.
Besides, my own article on Vincent d’Indy’s Cours de composition musicale has recently been published in the first volume of Bärenreiter’s new dictionary of music theory treatises and textbooks.

Summer Solstice Stuff

Two events to come on the following weekend. I will be presenting some of my »Vokalsalat« pieces in an event named Slam The Library, part of the Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften at Berlin Technical University – Saturday, June 24, poetry slam starting at 10pm in the Volkswagen Library. The following day, the Chamber Choir of the Berlin University of the Arts will perform motets by Josquin, Schütz, and Reger in a choral concert at St Mary’s Cathedral, Gransee – Sunday, June 25, 5pm, with free admission. Come around, it’s gonna be quite a treat!

Music for Organ

It’s an organ transplantation! I felt that my music could use a bit of ecclesiastical reverberation, so I arranged my keyboard piece November Lament for the queen of instruments. If you are an organist aiming to enlarge your repertoire with an affective secular composition, please find the sheet music here.

Medtner Society Inaugural Concert

This Sunday, May 21, will see the first Berlin Medtner Concert Day take place at Logenhaus Wilmersdorf, serving as the inaugural concert of the freshly founded International Medtner Society. In two recitals starting at 11am and 6pm, six devoted musicians will introduce themselves with piano sonatas, skazki, and Goethe songs. Looking forward to the performances of Anna Warnecke, Luisa Splett, Irina Chistiakova, Darya Dadykina, Vasily Gvozdetsky, and Evgeny Nikiforov—and also to adding some introductory words and remarks based on my latest research. The concerts are nearly fully booked, so hurry up to snatch one of the last tickets. For details see the Facebook event page.

Storm in a Teacup

German classical music journalism has approached a state of mud-wrestling these days. Alban Gerhardt is attacked by Christine Lemke-Matwey for his political engagement, Laura Wikert‘s criticism of David Garrett earns her a mini shitstorm from his groupies, Norbert Schläbitz condemns traditional musicology, Hartmut Welscher and Tobias Ruderer settle up with Deutsche Grammophon‘s marketing policy, Igor Levit defends his unjustly harassed colleagues in an angry rant, and Alphonse Sauer seriously speaks of »journalist fascism«. Feuilletonistic trifle at its best! I feel very well entertained.

Medtner in Vienna and Moscow

This Saturday I will be giving a talk on Nikolai Medtner’s Sonata-Skazka, Op. 25 No. 1, in the framework of the MAEK symposium at Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien. The programme features presentations by PhD students from Austria, Romania, and the US. I’d be delighted to have your physical support and inquiring remarks on narrativity, cyclicity, and hybrid form in Medtner! Meet me on April 29, 3:30 pm @ Neuer Konzertsaal, Rennweg 8, 1030 Vienna.

If I weren’t travelling to Vienna, I’d most certainly be in Moscow over the weekend. Students of the Royal College of Music London will present Medtner’s complete piano sonatas on two consecutive evenings. If you have the chance, come to Moscow Conservatory‘s Rachmaninov Hall on April 29–30, 7pm, and listen to the performances of Dinara Klinton, Emily Hooker, Varvara Tarasova, Natsumi Ikenaga, Su Ton Chen, Poom Prommachart, Mario Ahijado, Adam Taylor, and professor Dina Parakhina.

Telemanniana in Magdeburg

Fancy a musical performance in an extraordinary location? My composition Telemanniana will be premiered in the context of Theater Magdeburg‘s youth project »Telemann bewegt«, celebrating the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death. Join us in one of Telemann’s favourite places in his native city—come to the Gruson-Gewächshäuser this Friday, April 21, and listen to the chorus of Hegel-Gymnasium Magdeburg and awesome baritone Thomas Florio, conducted by Astrid Schubert. Performances start at 2pm, 4pm, and 6pm, surrounded by exotic plants and flowers. More details here.

I Don’t Name Any Names

This is why I am not really interested in performers of classical music. My impression is that many artists, particularly those featured by the major labels, abuse their personality to mask the music. I cringe whenever I see a concert ad or CD cover with a performer’s name printed in capital letters bigger than the composer’s—this makes me stay away from the concert or leave the store. Their faces may be pretty and their attitude seductive, but unfortunately I am attracted by the music itself rather than by the people performing it. And what they perform is largely uninteresting—no surprises, hardly anything beyond the established canon. So all of you big shots and top sellers: Please spare me your hundreds of Moony Sonatas, Teardrop Preludes, and La Campannoyas just serving your self-portrayal. Keep your artistic profile neurosis for yourself. For being commercially controlled puppets of the music industry, you have my pity, not my sympathy. You don’t illuminate the music, you are basking in its light. Go on selling your shallow high-gloss products, but don’t expect me to watch or listen.