Ten Years of Rapture

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.

Music for Voices

Pleased to announce two new contributions of vocal music:
(1) Last year I dedicated a composition named Silbensalat to my son Lionel as a gift to his fourth birthday. The work comprises four canons in different combinations of voices, scales, and intervals, and is set to lighthearted texts about Lionel’s most beloved things and activities. Just in time before he turned five today, I finally managed to complete the sheet music of the pieces, which is available here.
(2) Fascinated by the delicate and imaginative music of singer-songwriter Eleni Irakleous aka Eleni Era, I recently arranged two of her tunes, Beautiful Moon and Big Star, for solo voice and SATB mixed chorus. Sheet music is provided here by courtesy of the artist. You can listen to the original songs at this place.

Trials and Loyalties

Next week will see Siegfried Mauser‘s appeal proceedings at the German Federal Supreme Court, of which a final judgment on his sentence in several cases of sexual misconduct is expected. Just ahead of this decision, publisher Königshausen & Neumann has pre-announced a commemorative volume to Mauser’s 65th birthday, co-edited by two close friends of his, Dieter Borchmeyer and Susanne Popp. Given that the preparation of this volume might have begun well before the time when Mauser’s offences were revealed to the public, it is unclear if the publication is intended as a sort of exculpation, or if the extensive list of contributors should be read as a list of Mauser’s partisans. In any case, publishing an article or composition in such a volume can be considered a supportive act, or at least a failure to distance oneself from the dedicatee as a public figure. Social media and blogs have begun covering the issue, including Alexander Strauch‘s thoughts on the possible purposes of the publication and an impudent rant by Theo Geißler, reviling Helmut Lachenmann, Manfred Trojahn, Wolfgang Riehm (sic!) and other contributors as »groping buddies«. A more deliberate assessment of the Festschrift and its scholarly value seems desirable, ideally in the shape of a proper review, once it is published.

The Sonata as an Ageless Principle

Dear folks, I am delighted to announce the open-access publication of my doctoral thesis. As of now, it is available via the online repository musiconn.publish, part of the Qucosa project of the Saxon State and University Library Dresden. You are welcome to read, download, and share the document. Please cite as follows:

Bitzan, Wendelin: The Sonata as an Ageless Principle. Nikolai Medtner’s Early Piano Sonatas: Analytic Studies on their Genesis, Style, and Compositional Technique. PhD dissertation: University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, 2018. — dx.doi.org/10.25366/2019.15