Dear devotees and scholars of Russian music: this is an invitation to my forthcoming musicological lecture on Thursday, January 30, 3 pm, which will see me delving into biographical studies for the first time. In the framework of a conference on Eastern European émigré culture at Zentrum für Musikwissenschaft Leipzig, I will be presenting an English-language paper titled »Decision, Hope, and Resignation«, examining Nikolai Medtner‘s stay in Berlin (1921–24) and the personal and artistic implications associated to that period. Admission is free, so please stop by if you are around! The conference will also cover aspects of emigration from Poland, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Hungary. — Full schedule available here.
This is to commemorate Linda Shaver-Gleason who passed away last week, aged 36. A public musicologist, as she used to refer to herself, Linda appeared as a scholar of Mendelssohn’s reception history, as a highly valued author writing for diverse outlets, and not least as an influential blogger who reached out via her own website Not Another Music History Cliché. Her eloquence, commitment, and courage will be missed. May she rest in peace and her legacy continue.
It’s not that I attach particular importance to jubilees and anniversaries, and the upcoming BTHVN 2020 celebrations will leave me largely indifferent. However, I suppose I am unlikely to let this day pass unnoticed: Nikolai Karlovich Medtner was born 140 years ago. Happy birthday, mate, your music is an infinite source of inspiration to me, and will continue to give me moments of passion, joy, and utter beatitude. It is my sincere hope that you would have condoned the following arrangement which I prepared in 2018, and am now re-posting here as a posthumous present—I borrowed the catchiest tunes from your C major Sonata, Op. 11 No. 3, added an English translation of the Goethe lyrics which you chose as a motto for that work, and compiled these ingredients into a little jazz ballad named Atonement. I’ll be more than content if this trifle serves no other purpose than provide a humble delight for the fellow admirers of your art.
As a person involved in both artistic and scientific activity, I don’t sense a pressure to publish my writings to such an extent as somebody working in the humanities or the natural sciences. Yet I do feel the need to regularly contribute to the output of my academic environment by writing for journals, conference proceedings, and edited volumes in my fields of interest, and thus enhance my ›emerging scholar portfolio‹. In doing so, it appears to me that the best way to go public is full open access under a Creative Commons license, without any fees or restrictions posed to potential readers—and the more so since my occupation is a rather marginal discipline, measured by its overall relevance in society. Accessibility means a lot more to me than monetisation. In other words: I don’t see any point in commercial publishing in the current state of academic life.
Obviously, some partners in publishing do not share this view. While there are many convincing examples for gold and green open-access strategies throughout European and North-American academia, I have recently faced problems when I tried to self-archive or reuse my work after a period of closed access or conventional printed publication. For instance, some journals would not permit green open access of articles after an embargo period, or even charge the author for publishing in repositories other than his or her personal website. Despite platforms such as Academia.edu or ResearchGate enable researchers to share their work on a non-commercial basis, they are played off and dismissed for their alleged profit-oriented approach by some publishers who do not seem to have developed sustainable open-access policies themselves. At any rate, a topical handling of copyright issues and rights of use would demand for an attitude more sensitive towards authors’ interests. To cut a long story short: I believe that, if I am neither required to pay for publication nor do I get paid for it, my articles should be accessible to anybody free of charges. I will aim to live up to this principle from now on.
This is where the story began: In autumn 2009 I started practising the first movement of Nikolai Medtner‘s Sonata-Ballade, Op. 27, and was immediately captivated by the refined textures, formal balance, and intellectual depth of the music. It was this composition that sustainably connected my mind to Medtner’s art, resulting in a kind of fascination that kept me busy for years and is unlikely to ever cease.
A decade later, having absorbed the music in numerous papers, presentations, and a dissertation, destiny finds me tackling this intriguing work as a pianist again. I am excited to present a lecture recital on the Sonata-Ballade on two different occasions: The first one is to be held in German language this Friday, September 27 (matching the opus number!), starting around 7 pm at a private venue in Berlin Prenzlauer Berg—in case you want to attend, please get in touch for directions to Ekaterine Khvedelidze‘s place. The second appearance will be in English, forming part of the MedtnerFest XXI festival and symposium, taking place next Friday, October 4, 11 am, at the Small Hall of the Odessa National Music Academy, Ukraine. As always, your graceful company is considered a most convenient reward for my humble efforts.