Wendelin Bitzan

Wendelin Bitzan

DTKV Federal Delegate Assembly

Here is a short report from this year’s federal delegate conference of Deutscher Tonkünstlerverband, held on 5 November 2022 and hosted by DTKV Bremen. Confidently chaired by Christian Höppner, the event took place in a collegial and basically productive atmosphere. However, the most important professional topic of the last month, fee standards and fair payment of freelance musicians, was not allowed enough time on the agenda, and the corresponding press release had not been sufficiently coordinated with the DTKV state associations. The delegates and board agreed to schedule another assembly day for the next year in order to enhance content-related discussions. Due to opposed communicative attitudes of the board and some of the state associations, the exchange prior to the conference had been unfavourably unilateral, which meant that the delegates needed to deal with formal and financial issues more than necessary. In addition, it became apparent in some of the ballots that there is still much opposition towards changes and innovations within the association.

Besides the indispensable revision of its structures and communication policy, it would seem desirable that the Tonkünstlerverband developed strategies for a sustainable and member-oriented representation of interests. These should result in significantly increased and professionalised public relations work as well. The new website of the federal association shows some promising approaches in that regard.

Scriabin and the Sonata

This semester I am teaching a music analysis seminar on Alexander Scriabin‘s sonata conceptions at TU Dortmund University. The covered repertoire will range from the early sonatas of the 1880s to the Poème de l’extase, Op. 54, including solo piano music, the three symphonies, and the piano concerto. Since the group of participants is a bit smaller than expected, I will gladly accept some guests—please let me know in case you would like to join. The seminar is taking place every Thursday, in alternating on-site and remote sessions.

Teaching in Dortmund

It is my pleasure to announce that I will begin teaching as a visiting professor in music theory at TU Dortmund University, Department of Music and Musicology, as of next week. Very happy to accept this new challenge and collaborate with a diverse and proliferous faculty, and glad to be involved in what I consider the most relevant field in professional music education: the training of future music teachers.

GMTH Conference in Salzburg

Tomorrow I will be off to Universität Mozarteum Salzburg again for this year’s conference of the Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie. Not going to present an individual paper this time (which feels sort of comfortable), but looking forward to chairing a session, to leading a professional development workshop together with my colleague Sigrun Heinzelmann, and to lots of encounters and fascinating exchanges of thoughts with peers, audiences, and my colleagues on the board. Hope to see you there! #gmth2022 #musictheory

Composing in the Ivory Tower

In a recent interview in the neue musikzeitung, Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf, a prolific composer and professor at Hochschule für Musik und Theater Leipzig for almost 20 years, admits that he has no idea why there are hardly any domestic applications for studying composition at music universities in Germany. After that, he complains at length that his works and conceptions, which he routinely submits to orchestras and opera houses to be considered for performance, keep being rejected all the time. Seriously, Herr Mahnkopf? I wonder how somebody involved in the training of composers for decades can be so clueless about the deficiencies in pre-university education, and the immense decline in meeting the preconditions needed for applying to a music university. And, besides this discomforting lack of care for the young generation, both he and the interviewer fail to notice the obvious interconnection of the two issues in question: the absence of a sustainable and integrative system of encouraging and supporting young people in a possible professional career in music, and the alienation of classical music business from everything topical and contemporary. Shouldn’t a professor of composition be more concerned about the future of his profession, and at least take interest in strategies of how teenagers can be introduced to composing and performing new music? Nearly every of Mahnkopf’s sentences demonstrates that somebody is speaking who totally lost contact with the basis of early education and promotion of young musicians. #ivorytower #upperclassproblems