<span class="vcard">Wendelin Bitzan</span>
Wendelin Bitzan

Fair Payment Workshop in Berlin

Glad to have been discussing perspectives for implementing fair payment in public funding of freelance music projects with a panel of various Berlin-based music associations and professionals today. As a representative of Deutscher Tonkünstlerverband Berlin, this is another important step in participating in opinion-making and state cultural policy, advocating for the interests and needs of our freelance members. The panel will continue next week with another session, to which I am looking forward.

Efforts for Fair Payment of Freelancers

During the last few weeks and months, a number of initiatives have been formed on different administrative and political levels, advocating for fee guidelines and minimum payments in the freelance music sector. Some of these take up previous ideas and groundwork, carried out by the Deutsche Orchestervereinigung, Tonkünstlerverband Baden-Württemberg and Bayern, the Sächsischer Musikrat, and others. However, in some respects, a superordinate perspective—which would enable to speak for as many freelancers as possible and to make plausible statements for the whole sector—is still missing. So far, there is no central entity that would bring together and concentrate the efforts and considerations of the following recent initiatives and working groups.

  • A meeting upon invitation of German federal minister of cultural affairs, Claudia Roth, and minister of labour, Hubertus Heil, on the topic »Improving Social Security of Artists« on 30 May 2022. Various protagonists and freelance organisations from the cultural industry were involved, and a report on the subjects of discussion has been published. At the moment it seems unclear whether and when the exchange will be continued, and if the initiative will result in the forming of a permanent committee.
  • A meeting upon invitation of the German conference of state ministers of culture for the newly founded commission »Fair Payment of Artists« on 22 June 2022. Representatives from the music industry and professional associations were discussing possibilities of public cultural funding. After the project had been previously announced in a press release of March 2022, there is no published documentation of the results of the meeting or the intended following procedures until now.
  • A proposal of the Section of Arts and Culture of trade union Ver.di for the calculation of base payments for freelancers, launched on 29 June 2022. The published article presents the general principles of the calculation model, but does not include further insights into the numbers and figures, the design of which appears to be subject to further debate.
  • A constitutive meeting of a working group »Fair Payment«, initiated from the executive committee of Deutscher Musikrat, the umbrella organisation of the German music sector, on 13 July 2022. The cast for the working group, consisting of representatives of unions and professional associations, was decided upon unilaterally. A coverage of the results and future perspectives is yet to be seen.
  • A general survey of freelance fees and earnings, launched on 15 July 2022 by the new initiative SO_LOS in collaboration with ver.di. This cross-industry data collection, named »Let’s Speak about Money!«, goes far beyond the cultural sector and is intended to provide an orientation guide for collective and individual bargaining of fees. A publication of the results of the survey is announced for October 2022.

An Unconvenient Solitaire

One of the most disputatious musicologists of all time has left the stage: Richard Taruskin (1945–2022) died a few days ago. As a music scholar and practitioner, he incited controversy wherever he raised his eloquent and often relentless voice. His merit is to have polarised and politicised musicological discourse in such a way that it became a public affair again, unquestionable in its social relevance. With his prolific writing, he took Russian music studies to a new level, continuously debunking myths and disenchanting widespread opinions in historiography. Most certainly, even those who ardently disagreed with Taruskin will regret that his voice fell silent. My own German-language obituary appeared in VAN Magazin today.

Piano Trio in Düsseldorf

I am delighted to announce the forthcoming performances of my piano trio Kammerdialog. A Conversation with Violin, Cello, and Piano, which will be played multiple times on 9 and 10 July as part of the Tage der Kammermusik series at Robert Schumann Hochschule Düsseldorf. The piece already dates from 2008, but has been performed in public only twice (also some years ago). So I am lucky to enjoy the support of some talented musicians, cellist Inés Bueno López and violinist Enrique Carlsson, with whom I will share the stage on two consecutive days, with two respective performances of the trio in either concert. Cordial invitation implied!

  • Saturday, 9 July 2022, from 7 pm: in a programme with piano trios by Beethoven and Clara Schumann
  • Sunday, 10 July 2022, from 11 am: alongside more piano trios by Haydn and Shostakovich

A Little Appreysal

One of my most formative teachers who influentially shaped my way of thinking about music and art is the music theorist, double bassist, mathematician at heart, and philanthropist Stefan Prey. At the end of the current semester he will take his leave after four decades of teaching at Universität der Künste Berlin. His career has been a silent and dedicated one: never striving for publicity or reputation, but constantly focusing on the subject and the students’ interests in a way I have not experienced anywhere else. The appearance of his website tells more about him and his attitude than I can explain here. This is just to say that my approach to teaching and my general understanding of how music can be perceived and comprehended owes quite a lot to Stefan and his paragon. So I am grateful and humbled to contribute my bit to the online festschrift for his 65th birthday—an analytical paper on the music of Amy Beach, which is accessible here. Thank you so much!