The ongoing discussion in VAN Magazine on the future of music education in Germany reaches another level. In her follow-up article to the recent contributions by Clemens Thomas, Heinz Geuen, Esther Bishop, and myself, Judith Gerhardt finally adds the perspective of music pedagogy students at Berlin University of the Arts, focusing on the misbalance between soloist training (which is way more encouraged and promoted at institutions) and music education (a subject generally regarded as inferior and less representative, despite its significantly higher social and political relevance). Once more it becomes apparent that a paradigm change is overdue—and now, after students and musicians have variously expressed their discontent with the present system, it is about time for administrations and educational policy on federal and state level to join the discussion and determine how professional music education can be re-organised and modernised.
I recently stumbled upon this 2015 piece by Damian Thompson claiming the general inferiority of woman composers, and can’t quite figure out whether it really is the blatantly offensive, misogynic bullshit which it appears to be, or if there is some sort of hidden irony in it which I just don’t get. I tend to believe it is the former. Only good thing about this crap is that the author rapidly and unmistakably discloses himself as an ignorant moron, excreting loads of incredible nonsense while not having the slightest clue of what terms such as ›well crafted‹ or ›badly crafted‹ actually mean in a musical context. What is more, he totally lacks the criteria to judge whether, and under which preconditions, assessments such as ›great‹, ›genius‹ or ›first rank‹ may be reasonably applied to music, nor is he aware of the sheer obsolescence of his terminology. He does not even deliver a proper argument in support of his boastful headline, assuming that »there are no great female composers«. Howsoever disgraceful this overt sexism comes across, I still don’t think that Thompson is a troll who should simply be ignored. Given that the article is already three years old, my comment may not seem necessary at all, but I cannot help but wish that the author’s name may forever be associated with this breathtaking load of rubbish.
300 pages. 156000 words. 982000 characters. 710 footnotes. Around 300 works cited. 128 music examples. Roughly 6 years of work. — That’s my PhD dissertation in musicology, submitted today to the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts, and titled »The Sonata as an Ageless Principle«. It is a study of Nikolai Medtner‘s early piano sonatas, examined as manifestations of a traditional genre and central paradigm of instrumental music, and analysed from various perspectives. To those of you interested in the forthcoming open-access publication, I will send a notification as soon as it is available online in full. For the time being, here is an abstract of the thesis and a pre-published chapter on the general features of Medtner’s musical language.
Lassies and Gendermen, let me introduce you to one of the greatest hypocrites in German music business—Enjott Schneider. A successful and influential representative of film music industry, president of the German Composers Association, and honoured with the highest academic and professional merits, this man doesn’t miss an opportunity to denigrate the system that feeds him. Here are some testimonials of his blatant double standards (quotes in in my translation):
(1) In a public discussion on the sense and nonsense of the term ›maestro‹, he contemptuously mocks German audiences for their alleged vanity and superficialness: »The average attendant of classical concerts is rarely a responsible citizen: […] he is just interested in celebrity hype and […] reactionary, masochistic self-suppression.«
(2) In an interview just published in this month’s nmz, he exuberantly praises the Chinese government for its cultural policy, and particularly for funding his recent mammoth opera project with fabulous production conditions. At the same time, he again dismisses the European music scene for its shortlived capitalism: »Everything is subordinated to capital and rigid economic principles«, focusing on »the ego’s hyperindividualism«, and »›freedom of art‹ has long become an eyewash«.
I say: Enjott, stop lamenting the system. You are one of the most powerful figures in it, so start improving its deficiencies if you really mean to change something. If not, please do me a favour—just enjoy your wealth and STFU.