Teaching on the Rhine

My second semester as a lecturer in music theory at Robert Schumann Hochschule Düsseldorf is almost over. Most of my students in the musicology minor programme are communicative and highly motivated, and I particularly enjoy teaching because of the many smart questions I am asked. Now marking a number of counterpoint and thoroughbass exercises before compiling the upcoming written and oral tests—40 candidates in the preparatory class are awaiting their module examinations.

Medtner Live Recordings

Excited to share with you the latest results of my comparatively rare (but however passionate) activity as a performer. Here are two documents of my involvement with Nikolai Medtner‘s piano and chamber music, taken from a concert in November 2018 at Villa Oppenheim Berlin, which formed part of the first-ever festival in Germany exclusively dedicated to that composer. Both pieces belong, in my opinion, to the foremost achievements of Medtner’s musical expression: The Sonata-Vocalise, Op. 41 No. 1, an outstanding example of his treatment of the textless voice, holds a unique position in genre history, whereas the Sonata-Elegy, Op. 11 No. 2, pioneers in terms of formal architecture and thus stands out from most other single-movement piano sonatas of the early twentieth century. Since these are live recordings with only a few minor edits and digital improvements, the outcome is far from being technically perfect. Nonetheless I feel lucky to underpin my research on Medtner with a thorough interpretive approach to his music, and I am particularly grateful to soprano Anna Hofmann who, through her beautiful performance, made this concert one of my dearest memories on stage. Hope you will enjoy this as much as I did.

Make the Zodiac Great Again

Some of you may have heard of the German pianist Stefan Mickisch, known for his opera introductions and—more idiosyncratically—for assigning the keys of the circle of fifths to the twelve zodiac signs. In a concert announcement issued a few days ago, he praised his theory in boastful terms, referring to himself as the revealer of an absolute musical truth. To me, his conclusions appear self-referential and highly biased, and I tend to consider the whole affair a mere speculation, lacking clear philological evidence. I asked a number of questions on the pianist’s public Facebook profile which he appreciated but answered only inconsistently. Yet after I expressed my serious doubts, he would react in an aggressive tone, call me a »rare jackass« and »arrogant ignoramus« (my translations; see screenshot below), and ask me to STFU. After that, he headed for all my profiles and pages to leave spiteful troll comments everywhere. Mickisch’s offensive language probably reveals more about his character and professional attitude than he is aware.