Trials and Loyalties

Next week will see Siegfried Mauser‘s appeal proceedings at the German Federal Supreme Court, of which a final judgment on his sentence in several cases of sexual misconduct is expected. Just ahead of this decision, publisher Königshausen & Neumann has pre-announced a commemorative volume to Mauser’s 65th birthday, co-edited by two close friends of his, Dieter Borchmeyer and Susanne Popp. Given that the preparation of this volume might have begun well before the time when Mauser’s offences were revealed to the public, it is unclear if the publication is intended as a sort of exculpation, or if the extensive list of contributors should be read as a list of Mauser’s partisans. In any case, publishing an article or composition in such a volume can be considered a supportive act, or at least a failure to distance oneself from the dedicatee as a public figure. Social media and blogs have begun covering the issue, including Alexander Strauch‘s thoughts on the possible purposes of the publication and an impudent rant by Theo Geißler, reviling Helmut Lachenmann, Manfred Trojahn, Wolfgang Riehm (sic!) and other contributors as »groping buddies«. A more deliberate assessment of the Festschrift and its scholarly value seems desirable, ideally in the shape of a proper review, once it is published.

The Sonata as an Ageless Principle

Dear folks, I am delighted to announce the open-access publication of my doctoral thesis. As of now, it is available via the online repository musiconn.publish, part of the Qucosa project of the Saxon State and University Library Dresden. You are welcome to read, download, and share the document. Please cite as follows:

Bitzan, Wendelin: The Sonata as an Ageless Principle. Nikolai Medtner’s Early Piano Sonatas: Analytic Studies on their Genesis, Style, and Compositional Technique. PhD dissertation: University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, 2018. —

RagTangles in Rectangles

Semester break is time for recreation and re-creation. Here is a little gimmick for you to keep in shape during the summer months. Proudly introducing a newly devised worksheet called RagTangles™, based on one of Scott Joplin‘s most popular compositions, The Easy Winners. Except the very first one, every ragtangle’s position is mixed up. Now it’s your turn to bring them in the correct order—but, needless to say, without checking the original sheet music first. Have fun!

A Seminal Festival by the Lake

Attended the Detect Classic Festival in Neubrandenburg, a three-day event developed and curated by Konstantin Udert and Joseph Varschen. Beautifully situated at the edge of the Tollense lake, the festival sported a versatile line-up with classical and electronic music, live performed in industrial halls formerly used for military purposes. Despite the stylistic diversity (which I appreciated very much, even though contemporary classical music was absent), my impression was that the classical and EDM audiences did not really join together. The main orchestral concerts, appearances of the Junge Norddeutsche Philharmonie, Ensemble Reflektor, and the fabulous Stegreif.Orchester, attracted far more and different people than most other performances, probably due to the advertisements by Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern who provided the framework for the festival. This raises the question if traditional classical music marketing is the best way to promote an event that aims to transcend the borders of genres and audiences. A successful transition between concert hall and club culture seems unlikely to be achieved by music management, but depends on the efforts and open-mindedness of the artists themselves. In this regard, I particularly enjoyed the performances of Alexej Gerassimez, Deep Strings, and AFAR. Regardless of my slight doubts, the festival has been a rewarding experience as a whole, widening my perspective of what can—and should—be done in today’s music programming.

Medtner Collective Volume

I’m excited to announce that I will be editing a collective volume named Nikolai Medtner: Music, Aesthetics, and Contexts in collaboration with Christoph Flamm, which will be published with Olms Verlag during 2020. Funding is provided by the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts. The volume is designed to discuss Medtner’s music and artistic thought from different perspectives, aiming to cover multiple aspects of the composer’s work and life. Contributions from various musical and scholarly backgrounds are welcome. If you are involved with Medtner and wish to submit an article, please send your abstract and academic bio by September 30, 2019. Full texts in English language, ranging between 25,000 and 40,000 characters, should be submitted by January 31, 2020. — Here is the official Call for Contributions.