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!
The sheet music of my new duet composition entitled »Lyric Diptych« is now available on IMSLP. It comprises settings of the German folksong »Es saß ein klein Waldvögelein« and of Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach‘s poem »Ein kleines Lied«, each scored for two voices and piano. The music was commissioned by Anne-Sophie, Caroline and Marina of Trio 2achtundachtzig. Looking forward to the premiere!
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).
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). Second, an increasing number of principals and deans are female (Augsburg, Dresden, Hanover, Rostock, Stuttgart; 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!
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).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Frédéric Chopin wrote 57 mazurkas, covering 20 of the 24 major and minor keys. I’m currently doing analytical annotations of the whole corpus in context of a musicological research project at TU Dresden, adding Roman numerals to every single chord in order to make the music accessible to computational modeling. Moreover, my bulky thesis chapter on Nikolai Medtner’s G minor Sonata, Op. 22, is approaching its final shape, incorporating Schenkerian and metrotechtonic perspectives. What a stunning masterpiece of musical architecture!
Dear fellow musicians and performers, please do me a favour. Do not write music-related texts or documents on your own unless you really, really know how to do this! In any other case, have somebody write these for you (or at least show your writings to somebody) who is specialised in this field. You may be wonderful as performers, but I recently made so many encounters with poorly written, awkward, or even embarrassing texts authored by musicians that I cannot suppress this plea. So if you need professional assistance with your CV, concert announcement, work introduction, liner notes, or texts for your website: Please do let me know! I’ll be more than happy to help you.