Wendelin Bitzan

Wendelin Bitzan

Large Reach, Thin Ice

German YouTuber Rezo, an otherwise eloquent and well-informed commenter on political and social matters, has spectacularly failed at launching a general attack on music teaching, and on the academic subjects of music theory and musicology (which he also fails to distinguish). After that, his rant was debunked by my colleague Johannes Wolff in a most impressive manner, giving a compelling example of what contemporary music theory teaching is supposed to mean. His answer to Rezo is a must-watch!

NB: Rezo’s contribution was not an official video, but an improvised episode from a Twitch stream that was uploaded on YouTube by someone else, and taken down after Johannes’s reaction. However, the original material is still available here (starting at approx. 05:08:30).

Launch of Musiktheorie Digital

Glad to be participating in the development of a new website dedicated to the exchange of music theory resources and OER teaching materials. The project is named Musiktheorie Digital and was started by my colleague Krystoffer Dreps. In collaboration with fellow music theorists Magdalena Büttner and Dennis Mayer, we will strive to gather a comprehensive and cross-linked collection of worksheets, syllabi, musical examples, and literature that is searchable by subject, media type, and author. The goal is not to keep one’s digital content to oneself, but to make it widely available to lecturers and students in German-speaking academia, and to motivate others involved in teaching music theory and aural skills to contribute and share their resources. Everybody is welcome to participate, so don’t hesitate to get in touch and open an account!

Pro Musik About to Take Action

Freelance musicians in Germany were having a tough time for more than a year now, struggling to make their living with largely insufficient support from the governmental aid programmes, and doing without a powerful professional representation. The new association Verband Pro Musik is now going to change this situation, offering a well-connected network that advocates for better working conditions, reputation, and social security of their members. I am confident that this federation can advance to a strong political voice, uniting and consolidating the diverse interests of the independent music scene—both during and beyond the current situation. These are important goals that the existing organisations and unions were unable to achieve so far.

Since Pro Musik opened their doors, more than 300 people have applied for membership in just one week, and I encourage you to consider supporting and joining this association. The corporate video was released yesterday and can be viewed here. For statutes and membership application, please follow this link.

A Brief Expression of Enthusiasm

Totally fascinated with the music of Amy Beach (1867–1944). I only recently discovered some of her compositions, which made me wonder why I didn’t take notice of this marvellous composer earlier. The first woman to have her symphonic works performed in the United States, Beach left an extensive and versatile catalogue of orchestral, chamber, and vocal music, and advanced to considerable acclaim as a performer of her own piano works in the US and Germany. While I am still in the process of exploring this remarkable late-Romantic oeuvre, I’d like to encourage everybody to have a look at her A minor Violin Sonata, Op. 34, the four-movement Piano Concerto in C-sharp minor, Op. 45, and the ›Gaelic‹ Symphony in E minor, Op. 32. A special preciosity among her solo piano works is the early Ballade in D-flat major, Op. 6, that I am looking forward to practising in the near future.

Gender Strongholds in Orchestras

There are 129 professional orchestras in Germany. According to a recent survey conducted by the Deutsches Musikinformationszentrum, most of the orchestras have significant gender imbalances among their employees, which vary strongly depending on the instrument, rank, and income level. The largest disparities appear in the tuba section (98.1% male) and harp section (93.7% female). To raise awareness of this issue, I am considering to compose a duo for a female tuba player and a male harpist in which both performers are also required to sing while playing. The piece is envisaged to incorporate a musical reference to Josquin Desprez, commemorating the 500th anniversary of his death. Anybody interested in receiving the dedication?