General
General

Multiple Professorships

One shouldn’t consider it possible that somebody holds two professoral positions at the same time, particularly in a business as tough and competitive as classical music—but yes, two members of the teaching staff at Berlin University of the Arts’ Faculty of Music simultaneously occupy another post in Switzerland. Violinist Nora Chastain is also professor at Zurich University of the Arts, while clarinetist François Benda also teaches at Basel Academy of Music. Apart from challenging the necessity of a second salary at this level, one might question these persons’ ability to manage the teaching load associated with taking care of two instrumental major classes. Maybe they are lucky enough to be gifted with bilocation?

Music Freelancers About to Strike

It is reported that freelance adjunct teachers at Bavarian music universities (Lehrbeauftragte) plan a general strike in November 2017 for a duration of two weeks, objecting to the State Ministry of Culture’s directive to have institutions check the part-time employment status of their adjunct staff (only 9 teaching hours per week per person are allowed to comply with the state law). While it is a good idea to organise, align together, and protest against the desolate working conditions, striking for so short a period might not turn out favourable. Universities will probably not even react to this, only the strikers will earn less and venture their future occupation. Instead, a bold demonstration of power and indispensability is needed. A strike during the exam period at the end of the semester could be way more effective, provided that freelancers have the support of professional organisations such as Deutscher Tonkünstlerverband and Deutsche Orchestervereinigung.

To me the most intriguing question is whether adjuncts will be dismissed due to violation of the 9 SWS limit, and if yes, what will happen next. Does this only apply to institutions within Bavaria, or are teaching assignments in other states also taken into consideration? Students and courses previously taught by freelancers need to be served by other faculty – will universities hire even more freelancers with smaller teaching loads, or will they advertise full-time positions instead? In this case, the current developments are not necessarily negative.

Statement on UdK Berlin

Dear folks, I need to clarify something. Apparently there are rumours spreading that I quit teaching at the Berlin University of the Arts for some other reason than I have pointed out. Several persons seem to assume a tactical move: By leaving university I might have made myself unsuspiciously eligible for accepting a professorship, allegedly due to a nepotistic agreement, and in order to avoid a domestic appointment (»Hausberufung«). This story currently circulates among German music theorists and music universities, so I feel obliged to issue a short statement.

Let me get things straight: This is absolute total bullshit. Neither was any post at UdK Berlin’s Faculty of Music offered to me, nor did I apply for any position with more than average expectations to be considered an eligible appointee. The suspicion is particularly absurd because the said institution just recently appointed a long-term faculty member as professor without any objection. As for my own concern, I assure everybody that I left university with no subsequent contract or other prospective position in mind. At the time I decided to quit I had no knowledge of any professoral position at UdK Berlin to be advertised soon. This is the truth, and nothing but the truth.

A Month with Medtner

September keeps me busy with two activities related to the music of Nikolai Medtner. I am again contributing to a project in the field of cognitive musicology based at EPF Lausanne, providing harmonic analyses for a bunch of Medtner’s fascinating skazki in order to make the music accessible to computational modeling. At the end of the month I will be participating in the annual conference of Gesellschaft für Musikforschung for the first time, presenting a paper on Medtner’s massive ›Night Wind‹ Sonata, Op. 25 No. 2, at Universität Kassel. Couldn’t be more excited!

Vacation Void

Three short announcements to fill the summer slump, wishing all of you an awesome holiday time:
(1) My favourite workspace of the last months, Goodies Deli cafe at Bikini Berlin, has suddenly closed without notifying me in advance (#wtf).
(2) I would really appreciate if German academia took similar care in advertising their vacancies as the University of Copenhagen does (#omg).
(3) Nikolai Medtner‘s E minor Piano Sonata, Op. 25 No. 2, is one of the most intriguing pieces of music I have ever encountered (#yolo).