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

Overview on Fair Payment Initiatives

My latest publication in the newly founded Pro Musik Magazine is out. It is a survey of the recent efforts and initiatives to establish fair payment for freelance musicians in associations and on political and administrative level. Some of the mentioned developments are still thought-in-progress, yet worthwhile to spread so as to have more colleagues and concerned persons informed about the ongoing considerations. Feedback and comments are welcome!

Spellbinding Silvestrov

It’s been such a pleasure to be an inconspicuous part of the audience and watch Valentin Silvestrov listen to his own pieces being performed on stage. This experience made me feel a proximity of both physical and spiritual nature, a certain unity with the music and its creator, while submerging in that continuous stream of sound, largely devoid of contours and contrasts, which seemed that it might go on eternally. Thank you, Viktoriia Vitrenko, Alexei Lubimov, and Pianosalon Christophori for making this happen just two miles from my place!

Some Insights into Chinese Music Theory

In an intriguing session of my History of Music Theory seminar at Robert Schumann Hochschule Düsseldorf, two Asian students presented a short panopticum of Chinese music theory. One gave an overview of the theories and writings of Ming dynasty scholar and polymath Zhu Zaiyu, who developed an approach to calculate equal temperament more accurately than ever before. The other presentation focused on the structure of traditional Chinese modes and the adoption of numbered notation which, originating from the Galin-Paris-Chevé system, is used as an alternative solfège method. Such a piece of luck when, as a lecturer, one gets the opportunity to gain considerable new knowledge from one’s own teaching activity!

Educational Goals of Music Universities

When I finished university in 2010, I was inclined to think that the goals of academic education in music would never change, and that institutions would continue to produce hundreds and thousands of highly-qualified graduates, preparing for a professional profile that had long ceased to be a standard: permanent full-time positions in orchestras and at theatres. I believed that administrations of music universities were uninterested, or even incapable, to thoroughly observe the occupational field and the conditions and requirements for career starters, as they obviously ignored the fact that the vast majority of music graduates were expecting patchwork careers in a precarious environment, characterised by short-term freelance jobs and hybrid working conditions. In particular, the numbers of available study places for artistic degrees compared to those qualifying for teaching in (music) schools were in a severe disproportion. So, in all likelihood, there would be a continuous and increasing mismatch regarding the goals of professional music education and the demands of the job market—that seemed to be the only predictable future.

However, after the experience of the past few years, there is at least some hope. Many music universities have reacted to the challenges of the quickly developing field, implementing self-management and career advancement courses in their curricula, and sometimes also offering professional development options for students and graduates. Of course, there are yet many issues and structures to improve at music universities (some of which still appear deeply rooted in their nineteenth-century traditions and routines). The most urgent desideratum seems to be to question the need for artistic elitism, and to focus on pedagogical expertise as the foremost aim of professional training in music. In a noteworthy VAN Magazin interview, Lydia Grün, the new president of Hochschule für Musik und Theater München, outlines some administrative measures to be taken at her institution, and demonstrates a remarkable openness and readiness for change. Hope this will yield some emulation, or at least incite appropriate thoughts in the boardrooms of other institutions.

Pro Musik Magazine Launched

The new online journal Pro Musik Magazin, hosted by the Pro Musik association of freelance musicians, has been launched yesterday with a set of articles, interviews, and podcasts. I am happy to collaborate with my dear colleagues of Harfenduo, Laura Oetzel and Daniel Mattelé, on the editorial board. My first contribution is an interview with conductor and pianist Hans-Christian Hauser, in which we discuss his conception to rethink professional music education and develop an initiative for a new music university. A worthwhile read for sure!

The magazine is looking for more authors and welcomes new contributors. So if you feel like writing an article or producing a podcast on topics relevant for the freelance music scene, please get in touch.