Composing Assisted

Before the existence of digital composition tools composers were assisted by “Kopisten”. These persons rewrote the original draft of a composition into a “proper” version of the original document. Musicology has a tough time to deal with deviations from the original. It needs to be clarified which is the final and authorized version. In some instances this is far from evident. Just as an example Robert Schumann made ample use of the assistance of Kopist Otto Hermann Klausnitz (cf Nr 6), sometimes for the preparation of the composition, the finalized versions or the explicit drafting of different voices. Klausnitz himself was a flautist in Leipzig (Gewandhausorchester) and a conductor in Duesseldorf. Overall the debate is still going on, whether the composer’s draft or in many instances the Kopist’s version of the composition (authorized or not) prevails. In the age of AI, which is highly influential in modern music, such questions will most likely be intrinsic to the process of composition as well. AI is influential in evening out rough edges. Anette Mueller (2010) has done a great job to make this work of “Kopisten” much more transparent and her concluding chapter is programmatically entitled “Komponist und Kopist- Aspekte einer produktiven Kooperation”. (Image Mueller, A 2010 p. 340).

Gas light

Even if it sounds crazy from today‘s perspective gas lights once were the symbol of progress. In the middle of the 19th century gas lights started to lighten and brighten the boulevards of major cities in Europe. The historic evolution of the various designs can still be followed in Berlin in the open space museum of gas light in the Tiergarten area near Zoologischer Garten. These gas lights were brighter than candles or petroleum lights and needed less maintenance. The CO2 footprint was no concern at that time and also safety concerns have been tolerated. Mechanical maintenance was relatively easy and sufficiently qualified personnel still abundant. All this has changed and the lamp posts powered by gas are mostly a part of industrial history now. The image below shows a fine example from Amsterdam. The solid construction shows nice ornaments on steel. The rounded shape remained quite unique.
Unfortunately, the accessibility of the museum has contributed to the loss of many nice examples of gas light designs. Many were destroyed during the football world cup in Berlin in 2006. Let’s hope the Tiergarten survives the Euro2024 better than the previous huge football events and Love parades. Serious precautions have been taken with quite solid fences to protect the inner city wild life.

Berlin Gas Light Museum

Schinkel Winkel

Was wäre Berlin ohne Schinkel. Die Berlinerin sagt sogar, „in jedem Winkel steht ein Schinkel“. Das trifft das historische Berlin schon recht gut. Am Charlottenburger Schloss mit seinem schönen rechteckigen Parkanlagen, ganz nah, steht das sogenannte „Schinkel Palais“, genauer heißt es das Neuer Pavillon. Wenn Könige reisen ließen sie schon mal ganz gerne eine Kopie einer schönen Architektur in ihrem Park anfertigen. Das Vorbild eines italienischen Palazzos war hinreichend eindrucksvoll, um Schinkel mit einem Nachbau zu beauftragen. Viele rechte Winkel ließ der Schinkel mauern. Die verhältnismäßig kleinen Innenräume sind heute mit zeitgenössischen Bildern ausstaffiert. Da darf der Caspar David Friedrich natürlich nicht fehlen. 200 Jahre nach Beginn des Bauens am Schinkel Pavillon lässt sich noch recht gut sozusagen in die Epoche eintauchen. In einem etwas abgelegenen Winkel vom großen Schloss lässt sich somit die Zeitreise architektonisch Fortsetzen und mit weiteren Kunstgegenständen verknüpfen. Es ergibt sich so eine „dichte Beschreibung“ der Berlin prägenden Epoche.

Schinkel Pavillon 2024-5

Nocturnes

Contrary to some people’s belief “Nocturnes” is not only the denomination of the late opening of splendid shopping centres selling French fashion, but the name of music pieces. The origin of the Nocturnes as innovative form of composing is attributed to Irish born and bred John Field. The Polish born Frédérik Chopin developed the art form to perfection and he is the person who is also remembered for master pieces of this type of short romantic music pieces.
Mozart has left a famous piece entitled “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” and previous lesser known attempts of this kind were named Notturni, popular “Serenade” or “Pastoral”. All these Nocturnes shared the basic emotion, which we might call nowadays some kind of love-songs (Piggott, 1973, p.115). “Bel canto”, the tradition of emotional recitation of songs or arias, Paganini’s virtuous violine play were predecessors of the Nocturnes.
John Field published the first 3 pieces named “Nocturne” in 1814 and continued to produce new Nocturnes and revising former ones. These somehow more easy-going melodies or phrases often written in E or A flat major are technically less demanding for piano players than the later ones composed by Chopin, but their “charme” lies especially in their simplicity. Reducing complexity of sound rather than the virtuous effect seeking of a tune could attract large audiences. After the rebellion in France in 1830 and the foundation of independence of Belgium in the same year, so-called high culture had to address a lot widely differing emotions.
Maybe, in 2024 we are less surprised to rediscover the value of straightforward emotional tunes when even so-called high fashion shows in Paris return to more simplicity.(Image: KI Dall-E, Composer plays on grand piano Nocturnes by Chopin with romantic flair, photorealistic style on 2024-3-5).

Paris 1830s

The music life in Paris in the early 19th century, almost 200 years before now, was incredibly rich. In 1828 the young Flotow arrived in Paris to receive lessons. The pianists Liszt, Chopin, Fields and Czerny passed or lived for longer times in Paris. The innovation in this period of romantic music and operas saw also a fierce competition among those talents. It was no easy task to find your niche to thrive in composition or in both performing and composing.
The 1830s had a rich urban bourgeoisie, which animated and indulged in festive events of live music and social life. Friendships of Chopin and Sand are a testimony for this. Similarly, the young Flotow and Offenbach paired to find their place in the Paris music salons and society of that time. The biography of John Field, written by Patrick Piggott (1973, p.73-81) supports this density of musical experience. The period is also characterized by the fast industrialization and the rise of the global trade. The musical life found refuge in the romantic period and more and more artistic performances by musicians. Theatres, opera houses, concert halls and private salons were meeting points of the upper social class which practices networking in rather closed circles with rather rigid routines and admission at the time.
In architecture the Operas became meeting points and a matter of national pride with National Operas contributing even to national identities. The opulent “Palais Garnier” in Paris was started in 1861 to become an iconic place in the new Paris with the huge boulevards à la Haussmann. The wealthy citizens cultivated a new lifestyle of a networked upper class that had the leisure to participate in the masses of modernity. Cultural events of all kinds filled newspapers and specialized editions. There were inner and outer circles of influence in the economic, military, political and cultural spheres.
Recommendation letters were a real currency for entry in each of these circles. Some of these social practices, have still a lot of currency even in 2024. In short, in the 1830s Paris was the place to be. Compositions of that time still fill concert halls today and their music is abundant on the new music platforms and streaming as well.

Schubert Franz

Franz Schubert hatte ein kurzes Leben. Geboren in 1797 verstarb er bereits mit 31 Jahren. Seine Lieder werden nach wie vor viel gehört und aufgeführt. Mit 10 Jahren wurde er vom Hofkapellmeister Salieri in Wien bereits als Sängerknabe in die Hofkapelle aufgenommen, was gleichzeitig die Aufnahme ins Stadtkonvikt bedeutete. Seine Lieder wie „Der Lindenbaum“, „Die Forelle“ oder „Die Rose“ blieben lange Standards in den Musiksalons und Konzerthallen. Beeindruckend bleibt auch die Schaffenskraft des jungen Schuberts der in seinem „Liederjahr“ 150 Lieder komponierte. Seine Versuche eine Oper zu schreiben waren weniger erfolgreich. Das hat dann fast 200 Jahre gebraucht bis die Pariser Opéra Comique diesen Traum Schuberts erfüllt hat. Vielleicht hatte es etwas mit seinem Lehrmeister Salieri zu tun oder den hohen Ansprüchen der Wiener Klassik in der damaligen Zeit. Friedrich von Flotow hatte den Weg nach Paris gefunden und war sich der Bedeutung des ausdrucksstarken Librettos bewusst. Orchestrierung zur Verpackung der Lieder wird dabei bedeutsam. Flotow sollte das Oeuvre Schuberts bekannt gewesen sein. Erfolge mit eingängigen Melodien haben beide feiern können. Jeder auf seine Weise.

Schubert Sekundärliteratur

Paper and Pastel

Sometimes the art is in the material. At least this could be a rapid conclusion of the exhibition presented in London at the Royal Academy of Art in 2024-1. From the informative Catalogue the importance of material is demonstrated. The ease of taking your equipment with you, like a sketchbook and out into nature have been an important feature of the impressionists’ movement. With artists challenging traditional techniques of painting and paintings as such even the apparently less noble material as paper had become a statement of being different from the established art academies making use of more noble materials. The impressionists made a convincing point with their additional use of materials accessible to all. Capture the moment and capture your very own impression of it. This is one way to immortalize the emotion and essence of the scene. In the catalogue of the exhibition I spotted “The Swimmer” drawn by Caillebotte with pastel on paper. Freezing the moment, freezing the motion and emotion is evident here, too. Testing different materials is part of the journey to find your artistic impression, expression or materialization of imagination. The ways and means are manifold.

Royal Academy, 2023: Impressionists on Paper. p 32

Memory Struggle

The struggle of memory is also the memory of a struggle. The exhibition in the Palais Populaire in Berlin doesn’t leave spectators untouched. It is a struggle to recover memories which were attempted to be eradicated. This is the univeral message of this exhibition. The colonial past and crimes are part of the struggles of artists from these cultures to re-establish their rights to their own views, traditions and memories. Grass and plants may cover the shelled soil and people, but traces or mortars are often left behind. Light from different angles needs to be shed on these places to reveal the shadows of the wounds. The atrocities and exploitation linked to colonialism and imperialism keeps us struggling with those memories. Just before we jump to the conclusion that it is a memory of a past struggle, we are reminded that consequences are still haunting the present and with the Russian aggression in Ukraine we have to realize the fight against imperialism continues in the 21st century. Thanks for memorable moments and impressions in view of a global arts and history experience. (Image of art work installation by Sammy Boloji, untitled 2018, exhibition Palais Populaire, Deutsche Bank foundation)

Sammy Boloji, untitled 2018 exhibition Berlin 2024

Clausewitz 3

As the Russian aggression in Ukraine continues it is interesting to re-read Clausewitz again. In his major work on strategy in warfare we rediscover lots of strategies that Putin’s army applies in the war against Ukraine. But equally, the successful defence strategy of Ukraine with a sizable difference in the size of the army, they both let us better understand the theoretical considerations and relevance of Clausewitz until today. For example,the overriding importance of the size of an army in comparison to the opponent was discarded by Clausewitz (p.111-112) already. He refers to the battles at Rossbach and Leuthen in the Seven Years’ War 1756-1763. Frederic the Great won 2 battles despite having armies of half the size or even less at his disposal (Tempelhoff). Training and morale of the armies is an important part of the explanation of a later outcome. In terms of strategy Clausewitz mentions surprise and wit in chapters as well. The next 3 chapters are devoted to (in modern words) distribution and mobility of forces in space and across time including additionally a strategic reserve. The “classical warfare” which Clausewitz transforms into a theory of warfare is followed with horrific resemblance by Putin’s Russia in the 21st century. “War is an instrument of politics” writes Clausewitz 200 years ago (p. 467-8).
The painters or theorists that attempted to go beyond this rationale have had a hard time to convince politicians otherwise. The idea that law and courts will replace the atrocious power play of nations is silenced again for some years, only to come back with more force eventually.
(Image Extract from Nationalgalerie and Digital Collection of Gemäldegalerie 2024-1 by Adolphe Menzel “Ansprache Friedrich des Großen an seine Generale vor der Schlacht bei Leuthen 1757) unvollendet.

Flotow Hund

F. v. Flotow hat seine letzten Jahre in Darmstadt verbracht. Seine Kompositionen und Aufführungen seiner Werke haben ihm ein hinreichendes Auskommen an seinem Lebensabend ermöglicht. Als früher Streiter für Autorenrechte an kompositorischer Arbeit wusste er wie wichtig solche Bezüge im höheren Alter waren. Für viele in der damaligen Gesellschaft galten Komponierende als Künstler mit hohem Verarmungsrisiko. Bis kurz vor seinem Tod hat Flotow noch neue Werke komponiert. Das Lied „Der blinde Musikant“ von 1884 wird als das letzte veröffentlichte Werk bezeichnet. Den sterbenden Musiker begleitet sein Hund, der ebenfalls Teil der Aufführungspraxis war. Die einleitende und abschließende Komposition im 3/4 Takt hat eine tänzerische fast humoristische Prägung, die vielleicht eine Anspielung auf seinen Hit „Die letzte Rose“ darstellt. Eine irische Melodie zu einem vom Hund getanzten Begräbnis hätte eine opernhafte Leichtigkeit erzeugt, die nicht vielen im Angesicht des Todes gegönnt ist. Hunde mag ich nicht, aber den da schon. Flotow vertraute sicherlich selbst bis zu seinem Tod auf die Macht der Musik. Sich selbst dabei nicht zu ernst zu nehmen, nachdem sein Freund Jacques Offenbach kürzlich vorher verstorben war, lässt sich hier erkennen. Da bleibt ein gewisser ironischer Begleitton oder zumindest ein Augenzwinkern. (Image Digitale Sammlung der Staatsbibliothek Berlin Auszug Flotow Musiknoten 2024-1).

POSSE

for a German speaking audience POSSE stands for a farsical popular drama of the 18th and 19th centuries. Nowadays POSSE has particularly in the English speaking world a completely different meaning. POSSE is short for Publish on your Own Site, Syndicate Everywhere. In other words publish your own creative work, text, tech or melody on your own website first before spreading the content on other platforms. By this strategy you make sure your content stays your content even if a platform like eXitTwitter disappears or the hype has passed like with facebook. And if at any point in time you decide the whole internet is a farce, you will be able to edit the content from your own webpage as a book or audio version as an edited volume. Do not make yourself a modern slave of tobacco, drugs, alcohol or platforms for whom you create (mostly unpaid) content they use to sell advertisements with huge untaxed profits. With POSSE you can make an end to this farce. We still rely on search engines like QWANT, Ecosia, duckduckgo or Mozilla’s Firefox, to name a few less well known web searching tools. They ensure that other people find your webpage beyond the elephant in the room called Google.

Examples of search engines of the internet

Gruber

Welche Assoziationen kommen Ihnen bei dem Namen Gruber? Das deutschsprachige Fernsehpublikum assoziiert wahrscheinlich die Gruber Milch , die es gar nicht wirklich gibt, oder den Arzt aus der Serie „Der Bergdoktor“ mit dem Namen Gruber. Fiktive Personen, gespielt von noch realen Schauspielern, haben einen starken Einfluss auf unser Gedächtnis.

Wir erkennen zum Beispiel in der Weihnachtszeit nach den ersten 4 Tönen einer Melodie sofort das Lied „Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht“. Dennoch werden die Wenigsten die Person nennen können, die diese weltbekannte Melodie komponiert hat. Das ist überraschend. Es zeigt uns jedoch wie selektiv unsere Wahrnehmung ist. Das melodische Gedächtnis erinnert sich sofort. Das Namengedächtnis kann da scheinbar bei weitem nicht mithalten. Die Auflösung des Rätzels ist: Gruber, Franz Xaver. Der Liedtext stammt von Joseph Mohr. Der österreichische Komponist hat einen Hit gelandet, der selbst 200 Jahre nach der Komposition noch Millionen von Menschen bewegt oder oftmals ungewollt beim Shoppen begleitet.

Vereinfachende Transkription des Originals

Selfie 3D

Wir meinen gerne die heutigen Gewohnheiten, wie die ständigen Selbstbildnisse seien eine Erscheinung des 21. Jahrhunderts. Weit gefehlt. Wer es sich früher schon leisten konnte, hat sich malen lassen. Photographen haben später diesen Markt übernommen. Aber eben auch Kunstschaffende haben seit langer Zeit ihr Selbstbildnis gezeichnet, gemalt und in Stein oder Gips geformt. Selfies sind daher eher die Demokratisierung der Möglichkeiten, sich selbst zu inszenieren. Eben sich so zu portraitieren, wie sie oder er sich selbst sieht, sehen möchte oder gesehen werden möchte. Es ist daher weniger ein narzisstischer Charakterzug die Antriebsfeder, sondern für die meisten Menschen steht ein Teilen, eine Form der Interaktion mit anderen im Vordergrund. Die portraitierte Person ist da, auch wenn sie gerade nicht da ist.
Diese Intention haben Herrschende jahrtausendelang genutzt und sich Mausoleen und Pyramiden errichten lassen. Gut, dass diese Praxis weit in den Hintergrund getreten ist. Heute regeln wir bereits unseren digitalen Nachlass in Ergänzung zu unserer analogen Hinterlassenschaft. Für viele werden dabei, ganze Sammlungen von vielfältigen Selbstbildnissen zu verwalten sein. Die 3D-Ausdrucke unserer Gesichtscanns samt mehr oder weniger noch vorhandener Haarpracht kommen dann in eine eigens vorbereitete Vitrine. Selbstverständlich gehören die MRTs und sonstige Scanns von ZahnärztInnen auch in die Sammlung. 3D ist schon ein guter Anfang auf der Interaktionsreise mittels Selbstbildnis. 4D Realisationen, wie Yoko Ono mit ihrem Cut Piece 1967 kamen dann später. (Photos from Friedrichwerderschen Museumskirche, Berlin 2023 Austellung Ideal und Form, li: Schadow Selbstbildnis, mi: von Kahle, re: Rauch).

Princess

Berlin is proud to present its princesses after a marvelous lifting. Yes, in the middle of the barbie hype, Berlin exposes two of its princesses of the late 18th century. And you can touch them, if you like or dare to. They don’t bite. I have not seen anybody kissing them either, except for a Spanish football president. All this is happening in the Museum Church Friedrichswerder designed by architect Schinkel an built until 1830s. The grouping of the two sisters was unusual for the time and only the inscription at the bottom introduces the distinction that Louisa on the left is the princess heriting the throne. Frederica on the right is wearing a different foot wear, considered less noble. The privilige to touch the princesses applies only to the smaller copy in front of the image below with “Braille inscription”. The original is further behind. Of course, this one is protected  against unwanted contact with the masses or “followers”. At the time “follower” still had a different meaning from today.

Louisa and Federica, Berlin

Work Satisfaction

There is an important distinction between job satisfaction and satisfaction with one’s work. Being satisfied with the work you have done or something you created or co-created has become almost a privilege. Production in capitalism has mostly different objectives like rent seeking rather than satisfaction with one’s work. Compromises between both are a major learning process about the functioning of labour markets. Remote work, for some, contributes a lot to more job satisfaction. For others a healthy work environment is the top priority. Many people however focus simply on pay packages and this is often out of sheer necessity to escape poverty eventually. Trades have a tradition to allow satisfaction with one’s work, more than most jobs in industry. Flat hierarchies and subordination to your own standards, rather than pressure from supervisors, are much more common. Recognition of your work adds to the pay you receive. Job turnover is related to job satisfaction but also to satisfaction or even identification with the product of your work.

There is more to work than pay. Recognition in form of winning a price in a competition may help to keep awareness high that pay is only one element of remuneration. “meilleur ouvrier de France“ is such a kind of recognition. It encourages people to try new things and test new ideas. This is a major source of satisfaction with one’s work. We might even feel sorry for someone shouting “I can get no satisfaction”. He probably has to try in a simpler or different fashion rather than to try harder. The city Dijon in Burgundy seems to have a pretty high number of people with high levels of work satisfaction and happy to show it.

Heidi

Neben dem Kassenschlager des neuen Barbie Films lebt ein anderer Mythos der Mädchenjahre weiter. Die in der Nähe von Zurich im Kanton Graubünden gebürtige Schriftstellerin Johanna Spyri hatte zwei Bücher mit Kindergeschichten im 19. Jahrhundert mit Namen Heidi verfasst. Dieser Ausgangspunkt bot zahlreichen Verfilmungen eine verwertbare Basis. Die Geschichten der kleinen Heidi wurden überraschenderweise von Filmstudios in Japan zu dem Welterfolg 1974 im Animé Format geschaffen.

Computer Animationen sind nichts Neues, und statt aus Japan kommen viele nun auch aus Südkorea. Outsourcing zur Gewinnmaximierung war schon immer ein verlässliche, gewinnorientierte Produktionsmöglichkeit. Lediglich für so etwas wie Kulturgüter glaubten wir, wäre das nicht so einfach. Filmrechte werden gehandelt wie andere Waren. Hohe Einschaltquoten werden uns noch mehr Heidis und Barbies im Filmformat bringen. Das werden wir aushalten müssen.

Flotow Aus

Irgendwann, so denkt man, sollte der Ruf einiger Komponierenden enden oder zumindest verblassen. Überraschend war das Auffinden auf der Musikplattform Spotify einer populären Sammlung von Liedern bei denen die letzte Rose von von Flotow zu hören ist. Ein Bayer oder Österreicher hätte vielleicht gerufen: Ja AUS is! Nix AUS ist es. Ein australisches Orchester (aus Adelaide) und Greta Bradman haben in 2018 auf der anderen Seite der Erdkugel, Flotow mit seiner „irischen“ Arie ins Programm genommen neben anderen Ohrwürmern. Die Romantik lebt. Einige Melodien finden weiterhin ihr Publikum. Erstaunlich, nach 150+ Jahren und 6000km Entfernung. Flotows Opernarien aus Stradella begeistern auch hin und wieder die Fangemeinden der Startenöre.

Caillebotte

Gustave Caillebotte has done it again. Son of a great beneficiary of war efforts himself. He started with support from his father’s fortune on a painting career. Soon after his father’s death, he joined the group of “alternative artists”, later called the impressionists in France. On the 1.2.2023 the Musée d’Orsay acquired a key painting of Caillebotte for 43 Million € with the help of a donation by LVMH. Where does the hype come from? A catalogue of the exhibition of the painter “Gustave Caillebotte, The painter’s eye” from the National Gallery of Art in Washington from 2015 established Caillebotte again as a key person of the impressionist movement. Rich in diversity of motifs, the painter and supporter of the impressionists (Philantropist) has foreseen the challenge photography could bring to painting. The painter’s eye is well explained by Michael Marrinan (pp.22) in the catalogue. In fact, the spatial depth of the views of the streets of Paris is a precursor to many photographers and movies of several decades later. Caillebotte’s images of Paris depict well the mixed feelings about a daunting city size and the isolation of people captured in their own little inner circles with little communication despite or because of the noisy surroundings. Misty atmospheres allow to focus on impressions. Almost meditative walking in the city is his modern topic. Reflecting on painting as profession versus painting as artist is somehow an impressionist’s sociology of professions. Gustave Caillebotte did not have to paint for money and he was aware of social class differences as son of a factory owner. It did not spoil his artistic view with social facts, but rather tried to reveal the intrinsic beauty not only of landscapes, but ordinary working people. Other impressionists painted beautiful ballerinas, Caillebotte painted workers and sometimes more challenging parts of Paris in his early years. With climate change near Caillebotte’s home in full swing, we shall “adore” the rainy days in Paris even more. And in the countryside, too. The painter’s eye reveals a visionary view of the modern and post-modern world.