Enroled at the mdw since: 2011

Programmes of study: IGP – Percussion (BA) and Cultural Institutions Studies (PhD programme); Instrumental Studies diploma in Percussion completed in July 2020

© Stephan Polzer

Favourite place at the mdw: In front of the percussion building. The Department of Cultural Management and Gender Studies (IKM) has deckchairs set up there that we’re allowed to use, and you see a lot of people going by. It’s a nice place to take a break, especially during the summer. And another bonus about this place: the percussionists have a coffee machine and a refrigerator!

Favourite place in Vienna: the Observatory. I sometimes take my motorcycle up the Höhenstraße after a concert and enjoy gazing down at Vienna by night, with all its lights. I find that relaxing!

What I wish I’d known back when I began my studies:

The true extent of the hmdw’s resources and activities.

When I sit at my instrument… I feel empowered—because there’s hardly any situation there that can rattle me.

A topic that I’m currently very interested in is… the notion of rohe Bürgerlichkeit [“bourgeois harshness” or “brutal bourgeoisie”] proposed by German sociologist Wilhelm Heitmeyer with regard to politicians. As media reports have shown, this concept can also be applied to Austrian cultural institutions—which is something I’m researching as part of the work on my dissertation.

How has the past year gone for you, with the COVID-19 crisis? Have you hit upon any particular strategies for gathering renewed strength during these challenging times, or what helped you personally?

Wofgang Nagl (WN): Things actually went pretty well for me. I recognised for the first time what it means to pursue a so-called portfolio career—where you don’t allow your professional success to be dependent on one special area but rather have multiple different sources of income. I ended up spending a lot of time on instrument repair. What’s more, my work as a representative with the hmdw was challenging and interesting, since you constantly have to read up on laws and regulations. And I was lucky to also be able to teach on the side—which (in addition to public subsidies) made up quite well for the concerts that didn’t happen.

© Stephan Polzer

Is there anything that you did during or between the lockdowns that you definitely wouldn’t have done if the crisis hadn’t occurred?

WN: I’d already dealt quite extensively with natural membranes—meaning drumheads made from animal hide—in my diploma paper. And during the pandemic, I had the opportunity to learn a good deal about the topic on my parents’ farm and do lots of trial-and-error experimentation. Now, the mdw has a drum on which I’ve installed my own head for testing purposes. And I’m excited to see where that will end up leading me…

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