Friday, February 04, 2005

Neue Musik I

Apologies for the long hiatus. I’ve been doing other things, but I haven’t forgotten the blog. During my disappearance, I’ve been thinking up a number of topics that I want to blog about. One topic concerns musical life here in German as different from the US.

I’m enjoying an interesting vantage point on the German musical landscape at the moment. Last time I came to live in Europe, I studied in Amsterdam for nearly a year. At the time, I had a vested interest in being involved with the music scene and I had hopes that my music would find friendly ears abroad.

Now in Germany, with almost all of my commissions and work coming from the States, I’m much less invested in having a musical presence as a ‘visitor.’ I think that not being a locally involved participant gives me a kind of detached objectivity when I examine what’s going on.

The most striking music world difference between home and here concerns the relationship of contemporary music to mainstream outlets (conventional orchestra, vocal, chamber, and opera). Over time, German music has divided itself. There’s contemporary music and classical music. They inhabit distinctly separate worlds and their interactions are rare and unhappy.

For the most part, you don’t often hear a commissioned work on a symphony program or the new piece on the recital. It just isn’t done here unless you are a contemporary music specialist. If you are a specialist, you usually don’t have much to do with mainstream performing either. Everything’s divided.

When the two worlds interact or collide it is mostly disastrous. Talking to German musicians who play in the classical mainstream about contemporary music and you’ll hear real passion. Real passionate disdain! Same goes for the audiences. It is like the niche, target-marketed pop music where if you are 14 you like X but not Y; if you are 16 you like Y and not X.

This is going to be a running topic. More tomorrow…

5 Comments:

Anonymous Fargo_the_Great said...

I've always liked the German scene personally.

3:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry ... don't see anywhere to email you ... but do you still exist in blogland? Seems like you aren't posting.

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Ferre said...

It's a real pity professional musicians participate in that squizoid vision of the classical music (I regard contemporary music classical too). As means between composer and audience (and not only that), they should be more open to the several styles in music, from medieval to nowadays, in order to take it to the public). If not, the audience stays unaware of that (like "I don't hear it, it doesn't exist").

12:39 PM  
Blogger Joshua said...

I've lived here in Germany for 9 months now, and I see it a little differently. The musical life is different here, but I have the impression that contemporary music here finds more acceptance and integration with the conventional scene. For example, I saw a concert with a Mozart Piano Concerto preceded by a piece from a Czech composer who was present in the audience. However, I do agree that the two worlds are very visibly split, and I definitely know the 'passion' that performers have towards new music. In spite of that, I think new music is a little better integrated here than in the States. That also depends on where in the States we're coming from: it's a big country.

12:36 AM  
Blogger mikewilliams8160 said...

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3:45 AM  

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