Schostakowitsch Revival

Je mehr Putin sich unablässig in seinem Angriffskrieg gegen die Ukraine und gegen seine eigenen Leute versteift, umso mehr werden die musikalischen Werke von Dmitri Schostakowitsch aktuell. Schostakowitsch hatte viel unter Stalin zu leiden. Sein Werk konnte kaum Gefallen bei der stalinistischen Führung finden, aber dennoch haben voele der Russen seine Werke geliebt. Insbesondere die sogenannte „Leningrader“ Symphonie, die das Volk einte vor den Radioempfängern, selbst mitten im Krieg gegen Nazi-Deutschland. Die Berliner Symphoniker haben diesem Werk eine neuere Ehre erwiesen mit einer Aufführung in Berlin 2024-5. Das Interview dazu mit dem Dirigenten Yannick Nézet-Séguin wurde geführt von Matthew Hunter, Bratschist der Berliner Philharmoniker. Es beschreibt diese eindrückliche Auswahl hervorragend. Die Berliner Philharmoniker haben eine lange Tradition, Werke von Schostakowitsch aufzuführen und einzuspielen. Die Digital Concerthall hat eine umfangreiche Sammlung mit Werken von Schostakowitsch. Oftmals etwas schwere Kost, aber durch das Ausspielen des ganzen dynamischen Spektrums von pp bis ff nie langweilig. Eine kleine Filmmusik „Volksfest“ (Sylvesterkonzert 2022) ist leicht beschwingt oder gar etwas beschwipst. Der musikalische Nachwuchs hat die Tiefe der Werke erkannt und gewinnt international anerkannte Preise mit Vorträgen von Werken Schostakowitschs. So geschehen zum Beispiel beim „Concours de la Reine Elisabeth in Brüssel 2024-5. Der Ukrainer Dmytro Udovychenko würdigte Schostakowitschs Leben und Werk inklusive des Existenzkampfes und gleichzeitig seine Heimat die Ukraine mit dem Belgischen Nationalorchester mitten in Europa. 

Example Audio Playlist on Spotify or Videos on DCH

Jury Competition

We can enjoy a lot of competitions in the field of the arts. In each of these competitions there is a different kind of rationale about how to judge the performances of candidates. The composition and competence of the members of the jury are of particular importance. We all tend to agree on this. However, the basic aim or direction of the competition needs to be defined or even redefined from time to time. Some perceive a competition useless if for example nobody takes notice of the results or the event. A good fight or drama within the jury helps to attract attention to it even if candidates suffer at times. The Belgian Music competition „Concour de la Reine Elisabeth“ has an annual major competition of young musicians competing for the beginning of a career as soloist. All phases of the competition are up for streaming so we all can watch and form our own opinions on the many candidates. It is not just the solo performance which counts but also the team performance with orchestra and the openness to new compositions in the realm of classical music. There is no vote of the public (yet?) like in the widely followed „European song contest“ but public acclaim does not leave a jury unmoved I believe. Tough work for jurors to single out small differences of fairly high standards to even enter the competition. The success of a jury has probably another evaluation criteria which consists in the follow up of candidates 5 or 10 years after the event or the awards. The making or destroying of careers as solo performers might hinge on very small differences on a single day. One competition with several prizes awarded is an encouraging way to promote musicians or other artists.

Concours de la Reine Elisabeth 2024 RTBF

Puccini Media

In honor of Giacomo Puccini the Media enterprise Bertelsmann features one of its treasures. In cooperation with the “Archivio Storico Ricordi” of Milano, Italy, 100 years of Puccini’s oeuvre is celebrated with this exhibition. Fans of Puccini’s operas will have to visit the archives but the interest of this small exhibition lies in the impressive success story of Puccini and his publisher (part of Bertelsmann). Continuous innovation and adaptation to new media, like disks, accompanied an extraordinary marketing campaign throughout the 100 years. Even today there are cycling tours around Puccini’s hometown for the modern eco friendly tourists. We learn a lot about how the media industry functioned in the 20th century. It was absolutely vital to fighting for the rights of authors, composers and rights to receive royalties for performances as well as for the publishing on media. The exhibition in “Unter den Linden 1” is just next door to the Staatsoper which also gave honor to Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly” in 2024. His uncompleted Opera Turandot closes the exhibition with his rough sketches of the final scene. Merchandising is not an invention of the 21st century, but almost a century old tradition. This exhibition is a great testimony for this. It remains an important effort to allow authors and composers to gain a comfortable living during their lifetime. The gains for humanity as a whole are enormous.

Bertelsmann, Berlin 2024 Puccini.

AI Travel

Playing around with AI it is nice to test take fun examples. Image you want to plan a vacation, then the use of AI is ready to suggest to you a couple of things to do. Of course, AI is eager to propose travelling services like transport or accommodation to you where it is likely to earn some commissions. So far, the use of the “Vacation Planer of Microsoft’s BING Copilot” is free of charge. In entering the time period and a region as well as some basic activities you’ll receive suggestions with quotes on the sources (webpages of public services from tourist offices mostly). It seems like trustworthy sources and the suggestions of D-Day activities in Normandy is a positive surprise to me. These are popular activities which attract huge international crowds every year.
Thinking further on the potentials it becomes evident that travel suggestions will be biased to those paying for ranking higher on the algorithms selection criteria, which are not disclosed. Entering into the chat with the AI you and AI can target more precisely locations and also hotels etc. You are disclosing more of your own preferences in the easy-going chat and probably next time you will be surprised to be recommended the same activities at another location again.
So far, I have bought travel guides or literature about locations to prepare vacations. This is likely to change. I complement my traditional search or planning with the “surprises” from AI for travelling. I rediscovered, for example, the public service of tourist offices and their publications ahead of the travel rather than the leaflets at the local tourist office. In order to plan ahead there is value in the augmented search and compilation capacities of AI. Drafting a letter in foreign languages is also no problem for AI. The evaluation of the usefulness of AI, however, can only be answered after the vacation. Outdated info or databases have a huge potential to spoil the fun parts as well.

Citizens Gardens

There are multiple ways to link citizens to gardens. Most people would link citizens to the property of their own garden. This is more the perspective of people from the countryside. The aim of citizens who can afford it have a garden, many others wish to have one and all of them enjoy public garden spaces. An intermediate version of the public versus private property of citizens’ garden is the joint ownership of groups of like-minded people to work together in the shared property or rented garden space. The recreational and health effects are well documented, if care is exercised with utensils etc. Spring is the ideal time to join projects again as the results of a little bit of gardening will be visible and enjoyable for several months afterwards. Gardens are also meeting points for people of all walks of life as in the vicinity of the European Parliament in Brussels. The Citizens’ Garden has a different function to people gardening there. When you puzzled about Europe after a visit to the Parliament or the Museum of the History of Europe, then it is time for a stroll and relax in the garden nearby.
Alternatively, the Exhibition Centre of Tour & Taxis in Brussels not too far away from the North train station has an impressive indoor garden for the times of rough weather conditions. At the time of the book fair culture in the indoor garden made a splendid combination. There is a green version of Europe. It is like a small plant. It needs a lot of time and care to grow.

Symbol

What is it that makes an object a symbol? Probably, it is the widely shared perception of the meaning of a symbol that turns an object into a symbol. The etymology of the word symbol refers back to the Greek word σύμβολον. The earliest philosophical refer back to the Greek philosopher Aristoteles who deals with symbols when he writes about interpretations. Written words have become powerful symbols in the ancient world. We still have them all around us today. The interpretations of the words as symbols, however, may change considerably over time. Some symbols keep their designation and significance over centuries. Maps are well known to contain lots of symbols for roads, railways, tunnels or height. We learn about these symbols and interpret them in a specific societal context. Science is making ample use of symbols, e.g. chemistry. Different cultures define and apply their own symbols. Colonialism has been a form to impose symbols upon other societies. Throughout history symbols of power have changed as well. Each of those topics is an interesting field of application in itself. Young generations create their own symbols to establish a specific cultural identity or subculture. Urban spaces have been invaded by graffiti that tend to spread symbols as messages or symbols for their own sake.
Sociology has taken up the challenge to identify “status symbols” of groups of society. Possession of gold and silver have long ago been symbols of being rich. Maybe, even today such easily visible symbols play a role in how a person’s role is perceived in societies. Not only for priests etc. dresses have been applied as a symbol. Modern fashion is full of symbols as well. Interpretation of the meaning or even no meaning is an act of becoming conscious of the world around you. From the seriousness of symbols, we have come to the playing around with symbols as expressions of ourselves.
No matter whether we use the word, like water, we all know the chemical symbol H20. An image or art work using the symbol in whatever form will be decoded by us accordingly. However, the meaning we attach to water depends on the environment as well as specific context we (or the artists) are using it in. Cross-cultural competences consist in the awareness that symbols grow out of contexts and need to be interpreted accordingly. It needs a lot of openness, willingness to learn about differences and careful consideration in our everyday world to handle symbols. Doing culture is doing symbols.(Image of art work by Anderegg, Andi taken in 2016)

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.

Flotow Paris1

Die Biografie von Friedrich von Flotow, verfasst von seiner letzten Ehefrau, beschreibt die erste Parisreise und den prägenden Aufenthalt für die Ausbildung des noch sehr jungen Komponisten (S.29 ff). Bereits im Februar 1828, mit erst 15 Jahren, begann der erste Studienaufenthalt in Paris. In einer den Eltern bekannten Familie wurde der junge Friedrich aufgenommen und begann sein Musikstudium am Konservatorium. Prof. Friedrich Reicha war dort sein Lehrer, der 1825 seinen “Traité de la haute composition” veröffentlicht hatte. Schon Adam und Berlioz hatten bei Reicha Kompositionsunterricht einige Jahre vorher. Die Juli-Revolution 1830 in Paris führte jedoch zu solchen Unruhen, dass die Familie den Sohn rasch nach Mecklenburg zurückrief.
Die frühe Erfahrung in Paris, und wie wir heute sagen “total immersion” in die französische Sprachwelt und Musik, eröffnete dem jungen Komponisten einen Berufsweg, der sicherlich ohne den Aufenthalt völlig anders verlaufen wäre.
Seine letzte Komposition “Der blinde Musikant” ist als reale Erfahrung des jungen Flotow in der Biografie erwähnt. Zusammen mit seinem Freund Aubry hätte er für den stadtbekannten blinden Musikanten als Straßenmusikant Geld gesammelt. Mit seiner letzten Komposition hat er im Vorgriff auf seinen eigenen Tod, dem blinden Musikanten noch ein Denkmal gesetzt. Dieser war bald nach dieser Aktion dennoch verstorben.
Schüleraustausch und Studienaufenthalte zwischen D und F kann eine äußerst prägende Wirkung entfalten. Das trifft auch noch 200 Jahre später zu. (Image: Flotow Biografie 1892. A.28-29.

Communicate Broadly

Broadcasting before podcasting has been a kind of revolution in communication technology. The potential of mass communication was promising at the beginning with cultural practices spreading to wider groups in society. Let us take the example of the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin (RSB). Suddenly the audiences grew enormously and it became a public duty to allow the participation of the masses in so-called high art. The foundation of the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin had and has again such a mission. In a memorable address to the foundation of the radio Albert Einstein gave an historic address (Link). He praised the scientific method of discovery and the engineering skills that allowed the new technology to serve all people. The fascists in Germany were early in abusing the technology to manipulate society. Albert Einstein was well aware of this danger to society. His speech is a historic testimony before the waves of emigration began fleeing Nazi-Germany. The best brains were the first to sense the power of the new communication technologies to influence the masses. Broadcasting is around with us in even more invasive and many praise themselves to be influencers.

Albert Einstei 1923 Speech Radio Berlin

Eco-trees

This time we thought to advance with our ecological version of Christmas. We use LED lighting and instead of advocating real horse riding we opted for the wooden replacement. We reduced the size of the tree by 27.5% to further cut down on the carbon footprint of our event. As we were all feeling pretty confident that we are on the right track now, we learned from the media reports in Germany that the trees usually grown specifically for Christmas are taking away precious land where otherwise food would be grown. Much worse is the fact that pesticides are very often applied to facilitate the production of trees. (Link to study and test results).

We know that there is a problem in Germany to be frank about environmental dangers of diesel and glyphosate, but we did not want to believe that we inhale glyphosate in our living rooms after the diesel disaster in cities. We thought trees were synonymous for nature. Far off the truth. Better check the ecological impact and risks incurred even for trees. Trust and good faith seems to be utterly misplaced when it comes to nature turned into a product.

2023 hazardous tree 🌲 is

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

CO2 Footprint of Books

In view of the worldwide size of book publishing we should also keep an eye on the CO2 footprint of book publishing. The Italian association of publishers gave a brief overview of the likely CO2 footprint the printing of a book causes. Their best guess is at ½ a kilo of CO2 on average. For simplicity of calculation and assuming that an editors’ association is unlikely to overstate the amount, let us assume it is 1 Kg CO2 per book. The most CO2 is consumed not in the book production but in the transport of the items, machinery and personnel involved in producing, editing, selling etc. Of course, paper is recycled to a large amount. Certified sustainability of paper from trees has become a standard in most countries.
Nice twist to the issue: your own library at home has become a CO2 storage, if you keep them or lend them or pass them on to others. Reading can be a little bit addictive and buying books as well. Reading online or electronic books reduces your CO2 footprint. The best way to imagine the reduction of your CO2 footprint, however, is to buy or to borrow a book on travelling which replaces the actual journal by reading on the couch. Yes, being a couch potato is good for the planet, and if you want to buy a book, walk to the book shop or the library if possible. If you enjoyed flying previously shift over to buying books on planes, airports, clouds in images or stories that involve extensive travelling instead for the sake of your own CO2 footprint and future generations.
Even a book will need somehow wood as input, many alternative ways of leisure time or professional activities are worse in terms of CO2 footprint. Any e-book, e-journal or e-newspaper is even better for the planet, especially if we think of the millions of paper copies across the world that are printed but never sold. Knowing your market is crucial to reduce misallocation of ressources. E-books are so much easier to store as well using regenerative energy for the content servers around the world.

Meta-language

Some writers accomplish the formidable task to draft a text that encompasses more than one language. Samuel Beckett surely is one of them. Arnaud Beaujeu (2011) exposes the meta-language that Beckett creates through his reductionism and minimalist style. It is first a deconstruction of language or languages expressed in French and/or English at times. There is an underlying discourse dealing with the link and sometimes opposition, but always a relationship between at least these 2 languages. Beaujeu reveals 2 other languages: « the trivial and the spiritual ». The reductionism of Beckett leads to a conscious expression of the obvious, the trivial in conversations. This, however, he turns in the theatre piece “cette fois” (original “That Time”) into a ritual, spiritual version of 3 persons A, B, C in a prayer like liturgy. In taking out the sentence structure and obligations of grammar more generally the text becomes a rhythmic reading of words. Today we might say a Rap-version of a text.
The meta-language is the spiritual experience and another kind of access and questioning of memory, eventually even reconstructing a collective memory. Maybe the meta-language is the attempt to collectivise and internalize the dialogue that has turned into a trilogue.
It is out of the memory of persons or historical evolutions that Beckett builds his meta-language. Adorno (1974) put this in a relationship to Shakespeare’s dramatic work and the experience of the horrors of Nazi-Germany.  Sarcastically put, the question to Adorno was not ” to be or not to be”, but “to die or to die”. Beckett travelled in Germany extensively in the year 1936 and faught in the 2nd World War with the French resistance.
„Paroles, musique, mémoire“ (Beaujeu, 2011) span a triangle which allows for a profound, albeit mostly empty space. Beckett offers a safety net to bridge the gap by way of reconstructing a language reduced to basics as well as meditative silence. The script lies in the meta-language and poetry is the more common access to this meta or essential level of our existence. Listening to the meta-language is like listening to polyphonic music. Some find it very disruptive, others a spiritual experience. Meta-language is all around us, like it or not. (Image: Französische Friedrichstadtkirche Berlin, Exhibition Princesses, 2023)

Ukraine Art

The touring exhibition of art works from Ukraine 1900-1930s is on show in Brussels at the Royal Museums of fine art Brussels in November December 2023. Before Ukraine became swallowed up in the Sowjetunion there was a very active independent artist world that had close links to all capitals in Western Europe. All art disciplines were covered. The paintings of Vadym Meller from 1919 (Aquarell on carton) show designs for a dance performance to the music of Chopin. The modern designs and vivid colors reflect the conscious reference to art movements across Europe. The inspiration from dance to painting is a recurrent theme in impressionistic paintings, abstract paintings and into our own time period. Ukrainian art from early on in the 20th century had a broad scope beyond the narrow focus on art controlled by the soviets. Well worth enlarging our vision to take into account these creative masterpieces from Eastern Europe as independent voices.

Vadym Meller 1919 (Aquarell on carton), Brussels MRBAB 2023-11

Book traders

Some book traders have a mission. They assemble little corners on their book shelves or in tiny cupboards reserved for their passion or mission. In some book shops you’ll find a corner devoted to a specific language or translations, in some a world region is represented as a specific predilection. The choises are as numerous as there are books. Of course, from an economic point of view national and international bestsellers will be shown in the most prominent places. Second come books for children, cooking, life and travel guides. All those are the cash cows for book shops and traders.
But beyond those, it is always worth the effort to search for those little carefully curated corners in a good bookstore that derive from the vision or mission of the book trader, employed or owning the shop. In some areas this contributes even to a small community building. Readings of authors add to the function of book sellers to build a relationship to their non-random book buyers. I keep going back to my favourite book stores and libraries with those curated corners for decades and across countries to find inspiration and updating of special topics.
There is a danger that we are going to lose all this professional work of thousands of well-trained book traders that guide readers in addition to publishing houses, literary critics, numerous awards and huge marketing campaigns of derived products (as with Harry Potter). Living up to your mission while running a book store must be a great experience. If is really increases the buyers and readership for the topic, would be a great result. However, I suppose many bookshops manage to keep their little curated areas despite economic pressure to go with the mainstream marketing campaigns and top selling books and gadgets.
With the decline in the number of smaller book shops (in Germany from ca 5000 to 3000 in about 20 years) we see a parallel increase in number of franchises of the big book sellers (Thalia.de 500 stores in D). Big chain increase seems to cause fewer professionally trained book traders (-10% in D) within a country. For younger generations TikTok (BookTok) has taken over large parts of the “book counselling” of book traders previously. This was a big event at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2023 as well.
Time to rush to your local bookstore and book trader before it is taken over by a big chain or simply disappearing silently. We are likely to lose many of those book traders with a mission to make this world a better, more beautiful, more tasty, enjoyable or inclusive place.

Flotow Darmstadt

Warum wählt ein weitgereister Komponist Darmstadt als seine finale Station im Lebensverlauf? Familiäre und persönliche Angelegenheiten haben sicherlich viel dazu beigetragen vgl. Biografie. Kreativität in fortgeschrittenen Lebensphasen hat viel mit professioneller Routine zu tun, aber eben auch mit harter Arbeit, wenn die Ansprüche an die eigene Kreativität und Arbeit den groben Linien des eigenen Werdegangs gerecht werden sollen. Annehmlichkeiten des Lebens, wie Parks und einfache Erreichbarkeit von kulturellen Events, waren im aufstrebenden Darmstadt vorhanden. Die Nähe zu Frankfurt (Buchmesse für Libretti), Wiesbaden und Mainz sind weitere Pluspunkte. Ruhe zum Arbeiten gleichfalls.
Die Stadt Darmstadt hat es dem Komponisten seine Wahlheimat langfristig gedankt. Auf dem Alten Friedhof in Darmstadt befindet sich die eindrucksvolle Gedenkstätte für Flotow, ihm zu Ehren gewidmet von seiner Gattin Rosa und seiner Schwester Bernardine sowie den beiden Kindern.
Für seine beachtliche Zahl an Followern, beispielsweise 60.000+ auf der Plattform Spotify, wird es besonders freuen, dass sein größter Hit „die letzte Rose“ bildlich bei der Grabpflege eine anmutende Rolle spielt.

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.

Shake Hands

Shaking Hands, like rubbing noses or kissing cheeks are social practices you will have to master depending on which society you live in. After the Covid-19 crisis we have become more careful to shake hands or exchanges of touching another person. The handshake has another medical function as well. If we are approaching eachother to shake hands, we prepare our handgrip mentally and physically.
It is exactly the strength of the handgrip, which serves as measure of another person’s health. Believe it or not, your handgrip is telling a lot about your general muscle strength. Of course, it is possible to conceal the true strength, but most people seem to have an intuitive handgrip with less mentally controlled strength of application. Medical studies mostly confirm the correlation of handgrip strength and frailty in older persons, predominantly for women. The conclusions of these studies lead us to a preventive approach of exercising your hand grip strength and other muscles in order to reduce frailty and to increase even life expectancy. After Covid-19 we should return to shaking hands more forcefully than ever before. Exercising by shaking hands with yourself or shaking your foot with your hand as alternative are fun exercises. The scientifically confounding effect of laughing while exercising might additionally cheer you up. Balance and joy are additional features of a healthy longevity. (Image: Extrait from Degas, copyright BnF, 2023)
Source: Santos S and Paúl C. Handgrip Strength and the Perceived Risk of Institutionalization, Hospitalization and Death. Journal of Fam Med. 2022; 9(4): 1302.

Krieg

„Zugunsten des Krieges kann man sagen: er macht den Sieger dumm, den Besiegten boshaft. Zugunsten des Krieges: er barbarisiert in beiden ebenfenannten Wirkungen und macht dadurch natürlicher; er ist für die Kultur Schlaf- oder Winterszeit, der Mensch kommt kräftiger zum Guten und Bösen aus ihm heraus.“ (Nietzsche, Menschliches, Allzumenschliches Nr. 444 S. 668).
Wir werden der Ukraine ermöglichen, ihre Kultur zu erhalten und gestärkt durch den Krieg zu bringen. Das können wir ermöglichen und gleichzeitig der von Putins Russland eingeleiteten Barbarisierung seiner eigenen Bevölkerung entgegen wirken. Nietzsche hatte das recht klar durchdacht und die Gefahren des Krieges kühl berechnet. In seinen aphoristischen Betrachtungen (u.a. Menschliches, Allzumenschliches) nachzulesen, lohnt immer mal wieder. Es schärft den Blick für zu schnell Vergessenes.
Die Einen dumm, die anderen boshaft gemacht. Es lässt sich damit nichts zugute des Krieges sagen, außer es werden Tendenzen, negative wie positive, verstärkt. Der Prozess der Zivilisation (Norbert Elias) wird auf barbarische Zeiten zurückgeworfen. Nur mit Erhalt und Förderung der Kultur kann dem begegnet werden. Die Ukraine ist auf einem vielschichtigem, demokratischem und kulturellem Weg in die Zukunft. 

Musée quai Branly

Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac” receives relatively few visitors compared to the much more popular art museums in Paris. The proximity to the Eiffel tower, however, allows easy access within walking reach from the most visited tourist attractions in Paris. A cheeky impression of the design of the building and surrounding gardens of the Museum resemble to me a shadow of the Eiffel tower in the afternoon sun in Paris. Some might even say with a westerly wind the tower would fall exactly on the museum. No, of course the tower is not tumbling. In the shadow of the tower there is superb place to meditate in the gardens or enjoy the many exhibitions of cultures from across the world. In remembrance of former President Jacques Chirac, Asian cultures have had a strong impact on the collections and the organisation of the garden. Very different from the French park “à la Le Notre” at Versailles or Fontainebleau, the garden of the museum du quai Branly follows a completely different design focusing on bio-diversity. The architect “Jean Nouvel”, is quoted having said, that the garden is not a complement to the museum, but the garden is the museum. Hence, it is possible to have very unexpected views not only from the museum buildings, but also of the Eiffel tower nearby. It is possible to view the Eiffel tower through different continental perspectives on it. To the extent that you might not even recognize the massive tower in the neighbourhood being immersed into wild life. Then try one of the special expositions or the permanent exhibition, if visiting for the 1st time. We travelled continents without devastating CO2 effects. Additionally, Paris is easy to reach by train. You may complement the intercontinental experience by visiting the headquarters of UNESCO, at least the book shop, in Paris also nearby.