Conflicting Key Signatures

The denomination of key signatures of musical works does not always reflect the actual reality. For example, Beethoven‘s Kreutzer Sonata, Op. 47, is referred to as an A major work due to the tonality of the introduction and the finale, whereas the sonata-allegro part of the 1st movement is in A minor. A slightly different case is Schumann‘s String Quartet, Op. 41 No. 1, where the introduction also determines the alleged tonality of A minor, regardless of the fact that the first sonata-allegro is in F major. Even more curious is the key of Schubert‘s Impromptu, Op. 90 No. 4, notated and generally given as A flat major, even if the music clearly begins in A flat minor.

Isn’t it a bit awkward to only look at a piece’s beginning when identifying its overall key? To me it seems reasonable to consider the main section of a movement more relevant than an introduction, as long as the latter only switches between major and minor modes—such as Mendelssohn‘s Rondo capriccioso, Op. 14 (correctly termed an E minor work, even if its introduction is in E major), or Dvořák‘s Eighth Symphony, Op. 88 (a G major work with a 1st-movement introduction in G minor). According to that principle, we should speak of the Kreutzer Sonata as an A minor composition. On the contrary, the abovementioned Schumann remains an A minor work, as indicated by three of its four movements, and despite the 1st movement moving to the submediant. What do you think?

Concert introduction in Hamburg

Tonight is my first appearance as a music communicator in Hamburg. Pretty excited to present an introduction to an orchestral concert in the Laeiszhalle, featuring the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and violinist Christian Tetzlaff as a soloist. If you feel in the mood for Mozart, Beethoven, and Schoenberg’s »Transfigured Night«, it’d be just awesome to have your company! Introduction 7 pm at the Recital Hall, concert 8 pm.

Taneyev, Scriabin, Medtner

My recent writings on Russian music are now obtainable online. Make sure to read or download the papers soon—once they are printed, the publishers will have me take them down 😉 The Taneyev & Scriabin symphony essay is available in three different languages, while the papers on the Medtner sonatas, Opp. 11, 22, and 27, come in German or English only. My apologies for the language barrier—hope you appreciate my stuff anyway!

New Recording

The editing of my latest recording is now finished. It features some recent piano compositions, including Children’s Kaleidoscope, a short cycle in four pieces that was written for my daughter Cosima’s 4th birthday. I’d be most delighted if you could spare a couple of minutes to listen to some excerpts, such as this one: »Being First«, a little invention for piano, with its two voices chasing after each other. — Also, the typesetting of my complaisant woodwind quintet named Symphonic Scene is finally completed. The score is available here.

St Petersburg Competition

The First International Nikolai Karlovich Medtner Competition will be held at the end of November 2016 in St Petersburg, organised by Nota Bene Association. The competition is open for pianists, vocalists and musicological research and review in English or Russian language. Applications are accepted until 15 October. The submission guidelines can be found here; they didn’t announce them in translation for whatever reason, but I was told that contributions in English are welcome.

Update November 2016: The competition’s musicological research and review section was cancelled due to an insufficient number of contributions. This fact was communicated only upon request.

Eckardstein & Gurdal Recital

Life is so full of contrasts. Only two days after appearing as a jury member in the OneBeat SampleSlam at Kantine am Berghain, gladly evaluating some amazing productions of electronic music, I was lucky enough to witness another outstanding Medtner experience today. Severin von Eckardstein and Michèle Gurdal were playing his 3rd Piano Concerto at Piano Salon Christophori, leaving me completely stunned. Apart from enjoying one of the very rare occasions to hear this piece performed live, it has been an overwhelming encounter with intelligent, emotional, and simply breathtaking musicianship. Besides, eavesdropping on what people chat after listening to what they consider to be just another late-Romantic virtuoso concerto makes me feel even more grateful to belong to a curious species—a company of some assorted, enlightened, and inaugurated bastards acquainted with Nikolai Karlovich Medtner‘s music. Thank you for an unforgettable evening!

Letter to Music Educators

To all Berlin-based musicians and music teachers: Please take notice of an extended article co-authored by Helge Harding and me, published on the website of the Tonkünstlerverband Berlin (DTKV). The essay is concerned with the current state of freelance musicianship and music education in Berlin, pleading for more professionalized activity and engagement. Feel free to read, share, and comment. We’d also appreciate you to get involved yourselves!

PhD Symposium

Who was that fabulous Russian composer-pianist of German ancestry named Nikolai Medtner, and what made him so noteworthy as a creator of piano sonatas? Dear Vienna residents, come and learn more this Thursday, May 19, 2 pm, at Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst‘s Fanny Hensel hall. I’ll be presenting part of my PhD work in an one-hour talk on Medtner‘s Sonata Triad, Op. 11, and G minor Sonata, Op. 22. Would be fantastic to have your company. Entrance to the PhD symposium is free.