Finally finished engraving my recent composition, Capriccio spirituoso for recorder (or flute) and piano, a piece that seeks to combine traditional harmony with a somewhat sophisticated approach to motivic work and form. The rather ambitious solo part was commissioned and supervised by my dear colleague Simon Borutzki, whose appealing virtuosity I will be fortunate enough to rely on for the forthcoming premiere. Everybody else is invited to access and check out the sheet music via IMSLP.
There is a recent article by Christian Höppner, chairman of Deutscher Kulturrat and Deutscher Tonkünstlerverband and general secretary of Deutscher Musikrat, providing a brief analysis of the state of freelance musicianship in Germany and its many structural problems—the first and foremost of which is the precarious income level of the protagonists. The article was published in the journal Kulturpolitische Mitteilungen and is available here in full text.
Höppner sketches some very general approaches to facing the current challenges, but he remains vague in offering specific recommendations for action. In particular, it is unclear how to achieve higher social recognition for working in the cultural sector, and how to avert the general danger of de-professionalisation as delineated by the author. Furthermore, Höppner claims that access to the Künstlersozialkasse should be facilitated and that the category of unemployment needs to be redefined with regard to freelance musicians, but these steps require political initiatives that are yet to be launched. The by far most important desideratum seems to be a general fee scale for freelance musicians and educators, which Höppner acknowledges but doesn’t elaborate on how to establish and enforce new regularia, and how to ensure that these cannot be evaded by both customers and contractors (which is a serious issue with the existing recommendations of minimum fees). In sum, the article provides little more than a problem description, while strategies and possible solutions remain to be found.
I suppose that many musicians are familiar with Russian online sources from where you can obtain sheet music or writings that are not yet in the public domain. In fact, it would surprise me if somebody told me that, as a musician, they had never heard of ScorSer, the Tarakanov Archive and the likes. Yet there is one case that I find particularly striking: the website www.kholopov.ru, dedicated to the work of Yuri Nikolayevich Kholopov, includes an electronic library that offers scans of comparatively recent Russian, English, and German musicological and music-theoretical publications, and as such poses multiple copyright infringements under the name of one of the most prominent Russian music scholars of the twentieth century. I imagine it is very unlikely that this is going to change, given the current situation, but that doesn’t mean we needn’t be aware of this and similar cases. — NB: In 2004, the term of copyright protection in Russia has been extended from 50 to 70 years post mortem auctoris.
My analysis of German music associations, professional representation of interests, and the chances and difficulties of lobbying for freelance musicians have been published in this week’s VAN Magazine. I’d love to hear your opinions and perspectives on this multidimensional topic.