Medtner: A Muscovite in Berlin

I tried to make productive use of the past days of pandemic lockdown to complete my lengthy study of Nikolai Medtner‘s Berlin period, 1921–24. This fascinating endeavour determined me to delve into a not-so-well-known section of the composer’s biography, and to elaborate on certain facts and details hidden in his correspondence and commemorative literature. For those of you who might be interested, a preprint of the article is available for reading and commenting on the platform Looking forward to your suggestions!

Bridging the Crisis with Social Benefits

Dear fellow freelance artists who are in danger of existential loss of earnings associated with the coronavirus crisis: Please do not rely only on donations, union initiatives, or aid efforts of the government. I recommend that you file an application for German social welfare to secure or augment your income for the short term. Processing a new request will take a few weeks, depending on the work load of your responsible job center. Don’t consider this move a social stigma, but a legitimate claim of resources that you are entitled to obtain as you are suffering from a state of distress caused by governmental measures. I applied for social benefits myself several times—the inevitable paper chase is considerably lower than in a tax return, and you will be granted a financial relief in due course for a period of six months.
The required forms and attachments are available via this website. If you have questions or are in need of advice with your application, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’ll be happy to help.

Decline of the Classical Music Industry

An anonymous conductor has published his / her reckoning with the classical music business in a fascinating longread. I never came across a piece like that from an insider, such a candid, ruthless, and courageous disclosure of misdevelopments during the last decades. It is not actually a lament but, as the subtitle more aptly claims, an analysis of the decline of a whole industry which, in my opinion, everybody concerned with the future of professional music practice and education should care about. I don’t agree with every aspect—in particular, ›greatness‹ does not qualify as an appropriate touchstone, just as little as the questionable concept of a ›masterpiece‹—, but in its essence, this critique is of overwhelming relevance and plausibility. The author has persuasively stated why he / she cannot disclose his / her identity (please also read the interview), but I for my part fully acknowledge the article’s position and will readily advocate its conclusions. The business is rotten to the core, and some things will have to change significantly.

Music by Theorists

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.