A challenging summer term at Robert Schumann Hochschule Düsseldorf is over now. After an intense period of designing classes and tutorials, online teaching, and examining with an unexpectedly high workload, I’m glad to have some less busy times ahead of me. This is the written music theory test I devised and assigned to my second-year students, covering music by female and male composers from France and Germany in equal parts. It’s so easy to enhance the repertoire canon and create a bit of diversity at least in teaching, even though this will not change anything in the classical music business. Yet I assume it is the will that matters.
My participation in the music theatre education project YOUR_Street.Scene at Magdeburg Theatre has come to a successful conclusion. It was fun to supervise the creative process which resulted in a collaborative composition by a number of students of International School Pierre Trudeau in Barleben. We ended up with a four-minute score for six instruments, originally intended as an overture for an outdoor scenario in loose reference to Kurt Weill’s opera Street Scene. Due to the current circumstances we were unable to present a live performance of the music. Instead, two video trailers have been produced as a documentation of the musical and choreographic work.
Today’s reading recommendation: The journal of the Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie (ZGMTH) has published an intriguing survey on the underrepresentation of female and non-binary faculty members at the music theory and composition departments of German music universities. The authors Irene Kletschke and Kirsten Reese highlight basic problems and causes of this misbalance and, most notably, give a list of recommended actions to improve the situation. In doing so, they would not simply postulate a women’s quota but make a series of suggestions how to tackle this issue on the structural level of academic administration. I hope that some deans, principals, and educational policymakers will take notice of these considerations.
An irregular and somewhat confusing semester at Robert Schumann Hochschule Düsseldorf has begun. The buildings are still closed—yet most of my department’s music theory classes are taking place, and I am teaching a number of online courses, switching between synchronous webcasting and tutorials on various e-learning platforms. Thanks to Jeannette Getrost of Studio Balu, I found a temporarily unused space where I can deliver my video conferences well-focused and without even leaving my neighbourhood, which is a great opportunity! Students are widely accepting the challenging conditions and show a remarkable level of flexibility. I am currently developing some freely accessible musical form and ear training tutorials for the ELMU platform, an open educational resource founded by Ulrich Kaiser which I invite you to check out.
Do you know music by Gioseffo Zarlino, Johann Mattheson, or Heinrich Schenker? Thanks to my dear students and their widespread interests, I felt inclined to go beyond the well-known treatises and textbooks of European music scholarship, and to dig a bit deeper to see what those scholars contributed in the domain of musical composition. The playlist Music by Theorists is, if you will, the side effect of a seminar on the history of music theory which I had the pleasure to give at Robert Schumann Hochschule Düsseldorf. I believe that many of these pieces are worth being disclosed from obscurity—and, of course, there is still much more to discover. For now I hope you enjoy this selection of preciosities as much as I did.