As the lovely tradition of vinyl albums and subsequent single releases would have it, an excerpt from my dissertation on Nikolai Medtner‘s piano sonatas has now been published as a separate paper in German language—coinciding with the composer’s 141th birthday. I invite you to have a look at my discussion of Medtner’s largest and structurally most enigmatic piano composition, the epic E minor Sonata, Op. 25 No. 2, which is inspired by Fyodor Tyutchev’s poem Night Wind. The article is available in open access as part of the GMTH Proceedings, a new publication series of the Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie, the current issue of which summarises the contributions of a 2017 conference at Graz University of the Arts.
Here are some recent considerations about how a professional body of musicians should be like. I am unaware of any existing organisation to offer all of these features, but I might be mistaken. Amendments and additional thoughts are welcome!
- It should represent and primarily act in favour of freelance musicianship and music teaching, support its self-employed members through networking and lobbying, be acutely aware of their economical situation, and promote political initiatives for a fixed fee structure.
- It should enter a dialogue at eye level with federal and state politicians, and be in permanent touch with leading figures in the music and media industry, publishing business, unions, and collecting societies.
- It should think beyond the music business and collaborate with other freelance organisations and associations from adjacent fields in the creative industry.
- Its organs and board members should appear in public continuously and on all relevant media (print, broadcasting, and on the web). External communication is crucial and should lie in the responsibility of a professional PR officer.
- It should have its own journal or bulletin, dedicated to the members’ most important issues, and issued independently from other media outlets or periodicals.
- It should offer legal advice for members, as well as special conditions in liability, compensation, and disability insurances.
- It should hinge the organisation and funding of concerts and other public events on the members’ approval, and have them self-evaluate and legitimise all such activities on a regular basis.
- It should encourage its members to participate in internal discourse, to present their ideas publicly, and to form workgroups for specific topics which regularly report their work to the board.
- It should establish a junior development programme, acquire new members through campaigning at universities and conservatories, and set up a membership bonus scheme.
- It should employ a full-time professional management responsible for all executive work, accounting, and membership administration. Maximum transparency of all financial transactions and budgeting should be granted to all members.
- It should limit the election period of its board members to 2–3 years and allow delegations of votes to other members. A general assembly should be held online twice a year, enabling the members to participate in all relevant decisions.
- It should offer graded membership fees that mustn’t exceed 1 percent of the respective member’s annual income.
The German music journal neue musikzeitung regularly features a section with news from the Deutscher Tonkünstlerverband. My colleague Anne Uerlichs and I recently wrote an open letter of complaint to the editors-in-chief, criticising the poor quality of some of these articles. For example, the current issue includes a review of a recent DTKV Berlin event, the Steglitz Early Music Days, written by the organiser herself in an embarrassingly boastful tone, full of entitlement and self-praise. This is but one of several journalistic failures recently found in the nmz, some of which clearly contradict their own editorial guidelines and the general principle of unbiased coverage. We wonder how such derailments are even possible, and propose that a committee be installed for the quality control and supervision of the DTKV contributions. The full letter is available here (in German language only).
The current administration of Deutscher Tonkünstlerverband Berlin has not yet budged from its unsubstantiated and formally invalid attempt to expel me from the association. After the board has refused the proposals of several members to introduce a professional mediation and also declined two out-of-court settlements, I have now filed a lawsuit against my expulsion, and thus the board members will have to face a charge in court.
Meanwhile, the activities of the professional body are almost completely disrupted. Neither is there a political position towards the present situation, nor has a statement been made on the current measurements of infection prevention. Support of the DTKV freelance members is limited to some very rudimentary references to state aids; legal advice, although included in the membership fee, is unavailable; and the board doesn’t show any significant initatives on behalf of the members. Moreover, no general assembly has been held during this whole year, although the elections to the board were not completed in 2019, and no cash auditors and delegates have been appointed. Apparently the legal dispute (which could have been avoided altogether) is not only a financial burden to the association, but also an obstacle to the internal and external professional work, however sorely needed a professional representation is in these times. All of this appears as evidence of incapacity and failure of the board members, Detlef Bensmann, Anka Sommer, and Isabelle Herold.
During the last days I made a three-part keyboard arrangement of the final aria Drum schließ ich mich in deine Hände from Johann Sebastian Bach’s motet Komm, Jesu, komm, BWV 229. This aria is one of my all-time favourite chorale settings: It features cadences in no less than five different scale degrees and culminates in a marvellously ornated concluding melisma. The Baroque lyrics by Paul Thymich figure as a deeply touching embodiment of poetic devotion to the creator in the face of death—and this is why I chose to perform the music at my grandmother’s funeral earlier this week. Subsequently, I replenished the composition with a brief fughetta on the subject of the aria’s first line. Hope you won’t mind the sad occasion of its genesis and enjoy the piece anyway.