It’s been a pleasure to talk to aspiring musicology students and young scholars about the conditions, possibilities, and potential problems in doing a PhD. I’d like to thank the DVSM association of undergraduate musicologists for having me as a guest speaker in their online panel, and for initiating a fruitful exchange of thoughts. Do not hesitate to get in touch if there are further questions!
My current book project is taking shape! The anthology Nikolai Medtner: Music, Aesthetics, and Contexts, edited by Christoph Flamm and myself, is approaching its final appearance. Last revisions are in progress, the engraving of the musical examples is completed, and I am looking forward to the publication later this year at Olms Verlag, Hildesheim. The volume will include contributions by Benjamin Bertin, Benjamin Brinner, Lesley Day, Patrick Domico, Alexander Karpeyev, Kelvin Lee, Kateryna Pidporinova, Nicolò Rizzi, Tatyana Shevchenko, Nathan Uhl, and both of the editors.
You know that something went definitely wrong when you advertise a 4-hour adjunct teaching assignment for minor subjects and get more than 20 applications from three countries, half of them from distinguished artists and scholars with PhDs or other merits. The fact that there are legions of qualified people striving for underpaid jobs at an advanced age is indicative of the system of higher education having developed to a desolate state. For university administrations as employers, it must be highly frustrating to witness their own graduates being subjected to an oversaturated academic job market—and all the more so in times of a pandemic. This system desperately needs to change.
I am astonished at the recent trend in science and journalism to form public coalitions in favour of open debate, namely the Netzwerk Wissenschaftsfreiheit and Intellectual Deep Web Europe (aka Appell für freie Debattenräume). Regardless of the different background of these initiatives, a common stimulus seems to be that certain tendencies in the humanities, such as political correctness and perspectives from gender studies and critical race theory, are perceived as threats to the independency of teaching and research, or even to the freedom of opinion. How is it that some of the most influential figures in academia believe that their essential right to express themselves is being curtailed by illiberal ›cancel culture‹ or ›censorship‹? Do professors and renowned authors really face the risk of being silenced, stigmatised, or morally restricted? I wonder why people who are invited to talkshows or receive awards for scientific communication cannot acknowledge that they belong to one of the most privileged groups in public discourse. They better had a look at countries like Hungary or Turkey where academic and press freedom are truly endangered by oppressive governments, and then judge again if it is appropriate to keep on purporting those tearful scenarios of imaginary menace.
Some of you may remember the festschrift for Siegfried Mauser‘s 65th birthday, the publication of which conicided with the dedicatee’s criminal conviction finally becoming effective in late 2019. At present, Mauser is still on the loose and keeps evading the prison sentence with the help of his attorneys and supporters. In the meantime, the pianist Shoko Kuroe has recorded two of the musical contributions to the volume, Wolfgang Rihm‘s piano piece Solitudo and Aribert Reimann‘s Albumblatt für Sigi. In her remarkable comments on these miniatures, which can be found below the videos, Shoko Kuroe discusses the music in the psychological context of victim-perpetrator relationship associated with the dedicatee. This is noteworthy both for the performances and their superordinate perspective, and that’s why I am sharing these videos—along with my own review of the festschrift which appeared one year ago.