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Church Music – Ideal and Reality

Incense. A procession of acolytes, deacons, and priests moves forward through the nave to reach the chancel. The congregation stands, reverently observing this pompous performance. What’s happening up in the organ loft while all this is going on? The (typically male) organist accompanies the procession with the droning sounds of his organ, while the music director (yes, also male) waits …


Sacred Silence

Tuscany in early June is like a birthday party where far more guests have turned up than were actually invited. In the big cities like Florence, Pisa, or Siena, it’s still somehow bearable—after all, there’s always a side-street or a little alley to run and hide in. Things can get brutal, though, in the little villages out in the country. …


Uncompromising Yet Open to Everything: Can it Be Done?

Contemporary music, viewed a bit ironically, is a comfy filter bubble that, for decades now, has been inflating almost unnoticed by the worldwide public. Nourished by public subsidies, it grows happily away and even gets some late-night radio play from time to time. And festivals, awards, subsidies, etc. ensure that by far the most important recognition for many composers is …


Adopting a Different Tone

The difference between noise and music is a question of taste, of what one’s used to hearing and listening to, and of the times in which one lives. Music that has run counter to the accustomed and eschewed conventional harmonies, challenging listeners rather than calming and soothing them, has never had it easy. Arnold Schönberg, Paul Hindemith, and Richard Strauss …


Afternoons at the Piano

My godmother was not a talkative woman. She wasn’t even my godmother, really; she was the wife of my godfather. But following his sudden death, she took over everything he used to do. His relatives, his office at home, his obligations. I was part of what she’d inherited. She had never been one for feigning all that much interest in …


He Tweets – We Tweet

We all tweet. Trump, Macron, and now Mr. Kurz, too. “have clear [sic] commitment to a differentiatated [sic] & performance-rewardings [sic] school system”, he tweets—and if not correctly, then at least rightly. But we are save! Even under Mr. Kurz, people in Austria will still be able to go to school. Even if, after reading his tweet, we’d be pardoned …


Criticism and Friendship

In a small country, perhaps the biggest misunderstanding has to do with the connection between being critical and being friends. A small country is a confined place, and where people feel confined—with little space left to breathe and even less left to move—fear is not far off. Those who are afraid seek security. Not freedom, not confrontation, not radicality. But …


Yeah, sure, but let’s see, now…

Imagine mentioning some political, businessrelated, or university-related thing that you think could use some improvement. How familiar does the following reaction sound to you? Oh, really? Interesting, you really see a problem there? No, I’d never seen it that way before. So far, it’s always worked just fine as it is. But now that you mention it, I can understand …


Beginning the New Semester with Renewed Mindfulness

In the everyday stress that’s so universal these days, it can quickly happen that we lose our feel for ourselves and forget to even ask what we need, desire, and feel. Instead of turning our gaze inward and becoming conscious of our own strengths and abilities while learning to accept and value them, we often spend time comparing ourselves to …


For Love

“Die Liebe ist die größte Kraft. Die Liebe, die alles schafft.” [Love is the greatest force. Love, the universal source.] These lines were sung by art collective Laibach during the mid-1980s. They came embedded in the hard, dark arrangements so typical of these musicians, performed as part of a militaristic stage show that flirted with fascist political aesthetics. It was not …


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