A Brief Expression of Enthusiasm

Totally fascinated with the music of Amy Beach (1867–1944). I only recently discovered some of her compositions, which made me wonder why I didn’t take notice of this marvellous composer earlier. The first woman to have her symphonic works performed in the United States, Beach left an extensive and versatile catalogue of orchestral, chamber, and vocal music, and advanced to considerable acclaim as a performer of her own piano works in the US and Germany. While I am still in the process of exploring this remarkable late-Romantic oeuvre, I’d like to encourage everybody to have a look at her A minor Violin Sonata, Op. 34, the four-movement Piano Concerto in C-sharp minor, Op. 45, and the ›Gaelic‹ Symphony in E minor, Op. 32. A special preciosity among her solo piano works is the early Ballade in D-flat major, Op. 6, that I am looking forward to practising in the near future.

Gender Strongholds in Orchestras

There are 129 professional orchestras in Germany. According to a recent survey conducted by the Deutsches Musikinformationszentrum, most of the orchestras have significant gender imbalances among their employees, which vary strongly depending on the instrument, rank, and income level. The largest disparities appear in the tuba section (98.1% male) and harp section (93.7% female). To raise awareness of this issue, I am considering to compose a duo for a female tuba player and a male harpist in which both performers are also required to sing while playing. The piece is envisaged to incorporate a musical reference to Josquin Desprez, commemorating the 500th anniversary of his death. Anybody interested in receiving the dedication?

Teaching Online Revisited

The third digital semester at Robert Schumann Hochschule Düsseldorf has started last week, and teaching online already feels somewhat familiar. I tried to further improve my methodology and will now regularly use collaborative platforms for real-time music analysis and score-writing assignments. Jamboard and Noteflight promise to be convenient tools to enhance the classroom experience. Maybe these will also increase the students’ disposition to take part in peer assessment and self-evaluation routines. Blended learning and teaching aural skills will hopefully benefit from the use of Shared Piano, an on-screen keyboard that allows up to ten persons to play simultaneously. I am still unsure, though, about the best way to move music theory exams online without having to rely on scans or photographs of paper worksheets.

I am particularly looking forward to a music analysis seminar that I am offering to instrumentalists and students in the musicology minor. We will be exploring the repertoire of the Russian Silver Age, ranging from Scriabin, Rachmaninov, and Medtner to Myaskovsky, the early Stravinsky and Prokofiev, as well as lesser-known figures such as the Gnesin siblings, Aleksandrov, and Roslavets. Let me know in case you are interested in attending as a guest auditor.

Some Pitiable Things

Just like many other people who publish controversial content or strong peculiar opinions on the web, I experience derogatory or hateful ad hominem reactions from time to time. These comments mostly respond to innocuous statements, attempting to denounce my work on a perfunctory level, but are apparently targeted at my attitude on a greater scale and express general disagreement and rejection of my professional and policital positions. The comments cited below were presumably posted by one and the same person with different pseudonyms. I’m not going to take any further measures as that would mean to overrate the author’s pathetic misanthropy and vulgarism, but I nonetheless intend to raise awareness for those and similar cases. In the end, such backlash basically serves as confirmation of the impact of one’s public outreach, even where there is little coverage, and may encourage to keep up one’s efforts. #potatoesgonnapotate

New German Copyright Law

As part of the pending copyright reform associated with the legal harmonisation of federal law to the EU guidelines, mostly referred to as the DSM directive, a number of changes will be applied to German legislation. I am generally positive towards most of the forthcoming amendments in copyright law, but there is one paragraph in the drafted bill that perplexes me: Collecting societies, such as the GEMA, will prospectively be allowed to make use of extended collective agreements, which means that they are entitled to exercise rights on behalf of non-member authors who have not granted their copyright management to the collecting society. This poses a problem if authors prefer to use CreativeCommons or other free licences (an integral component in the operational model of the C3S cooperative) or choose not to rely on copyright protection at all. In these cases, authors will have to actively opt out from the ›automatic‹ granting of their rights to a collecting society. Composers and arrangers do not seem to have reacted yet to this enhancement of the so-called GEMA presumption—or, in other words, to the reinforcement of the GEMA’s monopoly status as the only collecting society for musical works in Germany. I feel that this issue should at least be controversially discussed.