“It would be nice if this crisis would lead to some sort of a raised awareness”

During the corona crisis, SUISA’s “Music for Tomorrow” project provides a platform for some members to report on their creative activities and the challenges they are facing during this period. This time, Zurich musician and songwriter Anna Känzig tells how it feels when one concert cancellation after the other flutters into her house and why she hasn’t lost her courage despite of that. For “Music for Tomorrow”, she exclusively performed her song “House of Cards”, which nicely describes the current circumstances.  Text by Nina Müller; video by Anna Känzig, edited by Nina Müller

Anna Känzig (35) was already very musical at a young age. She learned to play the guitar at the age of five. Later, the bass and the piano followed, and her school education also took place in the musical field. At the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) she completed her Bachelor’s degree in the jazz department and since 2009, Känzig has been an integral part of the Swiss music scene. With her clear voice, the Zurich native has already thrilled audiences at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Gurten Festival, Energy Air and the finals of the Elite Model Look 2016.

She has been under contract with Sony Music Switzerland since 2014 and has already produced three albums, the first one still on the Nation Music label. She produced the album “Sound and Fury”, which also features on “House of Cards”, together with music producer Georg Schlunegger from Hitmill, and Lars Norgren, who also works with Swedish pop musician Tove Lo, mixed the album.

In 2016, her song “Lion’s Heart” was the anthem of the fundraising campaign “Every Rappen Counts”. Anna Känzig is the first woman to contribute the official song for the fundraising campaign by the SRF and the Swiss Solidarity organisation “Glückskette”.

“House of Cards”

For “Music for Tomorrow”, Anna Känzig performed and recorded the song “House of Cards”. On the play, she says: “The song actually describes the current situation very well. It is about the fact that situations can change from one day to the next and despite meticulous planning everything can suddenly be different. The song was written a few years ago and has been a fixed part of my live programme ever since.

Anna Känzig, what does your working day as a composer/lyricist look like during the corona pandemic?
I try to use the resulting compulsory break as creatively as possible. At the beginning of the corona crisis, I found this extremely difficult, as the whole situation paralysed me. Every day new concert cancellations fluttered in, and the planned single release suddenly didn’t seem to make much sense anymore. At some point I was able to free myself from this lethargy and found my creative flow again. I dug out a lot of song ideas that had been lying fallow until then and barricaded myself in my band room with them. Meanwhile many new songs have been written, at best material for a new album!

What does this crisis mean for you personally?
Due to the crisis I suddenly had to deal with myself and my work much more intensively again. The collective foreclosure triggered a creative impulse in me. Since no more live concerts were allowed to be played, personal contact with the audience broke off abruptly. Many concerts have been moved to the internet, which I personally didn’t really like. I understand that alternative forms have to be found, but especially with streaming concerts an essential part of cultural enjoyment is lost for me. In the meantime, smaller concerts are allowed again, and I notice more than ever that this exchange of energy between musicians and audience is simply irreplaceable.

How can the audience support you at the moment?
In quite a classic way: Buying albums and songs always helps. Of course, this does not always have to happen via the large platforms. It helps us most when the music is bought directly from us, via our webshop, or upon personal request. Streaming is also possible, but here the revenues per stream are very low. Social media certainly also play a role in supporting the artist. A Like is not a payment, but the attention and sharing of contributions in social media helps us to expand our reach and, at best, to gain new fans.

Would it help if people on Spotify and Co. streamed your music more often?
Streaming helps to a small extent, sure. But it would be much better if people would consume the music on platforms where they can buy the individual tracks. It would be nice if this crisis would raise awareness and people would be more willing to pay for the consumption of culture again.

In your opinion, what positive things could the current situation bring about?
I hope that the lack of cultural experiences and adventures triggered by the corona crisis will create a new hunger for live encounters among people and that something like a concert visit will be much more appreciated again.

What do you want to give your fans to take away from this interview?
I am looking forward to welcoming my fans at a live concert again soon!

www.annakaenzig.com

“Music for Tomorrow”
The Covid-19 crisis has hit SUISA’s members particularly hard. The main source of income for many composers and publishers has completely been lost: Performances of any kind have been prohibited by the Federal Government until further notice. In the coming weeks, we will be posting portraits of some of our members on the SUISAblog. They will tell us what moves them during the Covid-19 crisis, what their challenges are and what their working day currently looks like. The musicians also performed and filmed their own composition for the SUISAblog at home or in their studio. SUISA pays the musicians a fee for this campaign.
Related articles
Information on live streams for SUISA membersInformation on live streams for SUISA members The corona measures led to a loss of performance and earning opportunities for music creators and to a painful loss of live music for music consumers. Live streaming therefore enjoys great popularity, especially in these times, and takes on a pertinent role in the cultural industry. Read more
Kety Fusco: “This situation will put everyone – musicians, technicians, insiders – to the test”“This situation will put everyone – musicians, technicians, insiders – to the test” With the “Music for tomorrow” project, SUISA aims to support its members in these difficult times. We offer artists a platform where they can talk about their current situation while in lockdown and present one of their works. The prelude is made by the Ticino composer and harpist Kety Fusco. In a written interview she talks about her everyday life in lockdown and why not that much has actually changed for her. Read more
Why SUISA members should also consider joining SWISSPERFORMWhy SUISA members should also consider joining SWISSPERFORM Composers and lyricists who are SUISA members and are also active as artists and/or producers and whose performances are broadcast by Swiss or foreign radio and TV channels are entitled to receive a remuneration from SWISSPERFORM. For all those authors-composers-artists/producers, a membership with SWISSPERFORM is thus a necessary addition to their SUISA affiliation in order to safeguard their rights and the full remuneration they are entitled to. Read more
Collapse article
  1. Guten Tag Nina,
    danke für deinen Beitrag! Ein sehr wichtiges Thema was du da ansprichst. Es war und ist auch immer noch für uns alle eine schwere und ungewohnte Zeit.

    Liebe Grüße
    Christoph

Leave a Reply

All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

Your email address will not be published.

During the corona crisis, SUISA’s “Music for Tomorrow” project provides a platform for some members to report on their creative activities and the challenges they are facing during this period. This time, Zurich musician and songwriter Anna Känzig tells how it feels when one concert cancellation after the other flutters into her house and why she hasn’t lost her courage despite of that. For “Music for Tomorrow”, she exclusively performed her song “House of Cards”, which nicely describes the current circumstances.  Text by Nina Müller; video by Anna Känzig, edited by Nina Müller

Anna Känzig (35) was already very musical at a young age. She learned to play the guitar at the age of five. Later, the bass and the piano followed, and her school education also took place in the musical field. At the...read more

Willy Viteka, the successful music publisher and music producer has passed away

Willy Viteka, an entrepreneur who made a significant contribution to the Swiss music industry as a classical producer-music publisher, passed away on 19 May 2020. Obituary by guest author Stephan F. Peterer

Willy Viteka, the successful music publisher and music producer has passed away

Willy Viteka was a long-standing member of SUISA both as an author and as a publisher. (Photo: zVg)

Born in Madrid on 6 November 1949, he discovered a great enthusiasm for the various arts at an early age and studied art, literature and music with determination. He built up his extensive knowledge and network in the music industry by working in important locations of the western music scene and thus was able to gain extensive experience. In particular, he used part of his “journeyman years” in the 1970s, which were particularly important for the music scene, as a studio musician, producer, author and editor in London, which had a special influence on him.

Producer, publisher and entrepreneur

After his years of travelling, he settled in Switzerland in 1976, together with his beloved wife Olivia, from where the committed couple built up and ran their company, Viteka Musik AG, which included both their own labels and musichouses. But Willy also remained connected to his original home country. In particular, he carried out his production activities in his favourite place, Mallorca, and built a second home together with Olivia. It is there they were always to be found in the music studio.

Within the scope of his entrepreneurial activities, he specialized, in addition to his own music production, in the classical activity of a sub-publisher in Switzerland and had many important works in his catalogue: among others by Kylie Minogue, Milva, Rick Astley, Bananarama, Donna Summer, Cliff Richard, Aitken & Watermann and many more.

Great commitment to the Swiss music industry

Willy Viteka recognised early on that music publishers and producers not only have to be creative and entrepreneurial, but that they also have to fight for an economically viable environment. Although there were already a large number of associations in the music industry in Switzerland at this time, he was unable to find one as a “production-oriented publisher” and immediately sought like-minded entrepreneurs to found a new association together with them. This is why one might as well call him the creative father of the SVMV, the Swiss Association of Music Publishers, which he presided over for 27 years. In 2019, he was appointed honorary president for his great services. He was also intensively involved in the founding of the ASMP, the “Association of Swiss Music Producers”, which he chaired simultaneously to the SVMV.

However, the work was not done with the establishment of industry associations, as these also required activities to achieve the desired effects. This includes exerting influence in important bodies of the Swiss music industry, in a large number of ad hoc commissions and above all in the legislative authorities. Mutual training and exchange between entrepreneurs and, in particular, the training of young people in the sector also became an important activity, as there were no specialised schools and universities for these professions in Switzerland. For example, Willy organised training events over the years together with members of the board of the association he initiated and with the constant help of his wife Olivia as secretary. These culminated in the two-day music symposium in Fürigen, which became the most important annual professional event in the music industry calendar.

With the revision of the copyright law in the 1980s and the resulting establishment of neighbouring rights, Swissperform was subsequently founded, in which Willy was involved as a delegate from the very beginning. He was also a member of the Expert Committee of Phono Producers for several years. For many years, he has also participated in the copyright discussions of the Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI), as well as in the development of standard contracts for music publishers, sub-publishers and producers.

Died at the age of 70

After being hospitalised due to an accident, Willy Viteka was, on top of that, infected with Covid-19. Although he was still cured of the virus itself, he was so weakened by the disease that he succumbed to pneumonia at the age of 70, which he contracted during convalescence.

We will remember Willy as an extraordinarily good-natured and warm person, who with his approachable manner and great dedication has forged many friendships in the Swiss music industry and beyond.

Collapse article

Leave a Reply

All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

Your email address will not be published.

Willy Viteka, an entrepreneur who made a significant contribution to the Swiss music industry as a classical producer-music publisher, passed away on 19 May 2020. Obituary by guest author Stephan F. Peterer

Willy Viteka, the successful music publisher and music producer has passed away

Willy Viteka was a long-standing member of SUISA both as an author and as a publisher. (Photo: zVg)

Born in Madrid on 6 November 1949, he discovered a great enthusiasm for the various arts at an early age and studied art, literature and music with determination. He built up his extensive knowledge and network in the music industry by working in important locations of the western music scene and thus was able to gain extensive experience. In particular, he used part of his “journeyman years” in the 1970s, which were particularly important for the music scene, as a studio musician, producer,...read more

“The crisis feels a little like being in a rehab clinic to me”

During the corona crisis, via its project “Music for Tomorrow”, SUISA is providing a platform for some members to report on their work and the challenges they are facing during this period. This time round, the Valaisian musician and songwriter Tanya Barany tells us why she hopes that people in this crisis have focussed their awareness of things like care, appreciation, solidarity or reflection and exclusively performs her song “Cotton Clouds”. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; video by Tanya Barany, complemented by Nina Müller

“Dark like my British humour, but with a touch of fresh mountain air,” is how Tanya Barany describes her “Dark Pop”. Born and grown up in the Upper Valais, Tanja Zimmermann, that is what she is actually called, found her way to music at an early age: “I’ve been singing, dancing and performing all my life. The stages have simply become a bit bigger over time,” she says in a written interview. “What was once my bed has mutated into a Gampel Open Air stage.” Her musical career began with her first solo appearance with guitar at a children’s hit parade at the age of 11. At the age of 14 she founded the girl power trio Labyrinthzero, with which she released her first EP with her own compositions and played over 150 concerts at home and abroad.

Found a musical home

Decisive for her musical career was the encounter with Jonas Ruppen, who plays keyboard in her band and creates the videos: “He showed me the world of Radiohead, James Blake, etc. – and suddenly I had found my musical home!” The two have been playing music together for ten years now and work together on the overall concept of “Tanya Barany” – Tanya as songwriter and Jonas as video producer.

She began her musical education in 2014 by studying music at the Zurich University of the Arts, where she says that she was able to benefit from great teachers. “At the same time, I learned how to use the recording program LogicX, which took my songwriting in a completely different direction – my ‘Dark Pop’ saw the light of day!”

The debut album “Lights Disappear”

In 2019, Tanya Barany’s debut album “Lights Disappear” was released. Several performances on stages at home and abroad followed, e.g. Gampel Open Air, Zermatt Unplugged, Swiss Live Talents or at the Blue Balls Festival.

Besides her project Tanya Barany, she is a full-time studio singer and musician, songwriter, lyricist and vocal coach.

“Cotton Clouds”

For “Music for Tomorrow” Tanya Barany performed and recorded the song “Cotton Clouds”. She says the following about the work: “‘Cotton Clouds’ describes the feeling of immersion in water where suddenly everything around becomes silent; where suddenly another world appears. One the one hand, the water walls are depressing (almost oppressive), on the other hand they remind us of the security of an embrace. ‘Cotton Clouds’ is my unreleased hidden track. Like my songs on the album ‘Lights Disappear’, ‘Cotton Clouds’ grew out of the dark corner of my heart, but the track didn’t find a place on the album. I had composed ‘Cotton Clouds’ on the piano at that time; I prefer to play the piano alone for myself, without anyone listening to me. I chose ‘Cotton Clouds’ for ‘Music for Tomorrow’, because I want to invite the audience into my little lounge and take you on a little personal journey … :-)”

Tanya Barany, what does your working day as a composer/lyricist look like during the corona pandemic?
Tanya Barany: At the moment, I have more time to convert my song ideas into finished songs. Therefore, I try to generate as much output as possible – not only for me as Tanya Barany, but also as a ghostwriter for other artists. My partner, David Friedli – also a musician and composer – and I often write together. We move in all possible style directions – from folk to rock to pop to electro pop to soul etc. – it’s really fun!

What does this crisis mean for you personally?
The crisis feels a little like being in a rehab clinic to me. I don’t really want to be there – I miss performing live, cultural life and even planning ahead – who would have thought – and I can’t wait for normality to return.
On the other hand, this crisis also brings something valuable with it: Time! The world just seems to revolve a bit more slowly. Suddenly I am allowed to concentrate on things that are not necessarily on my having to do list but on the nice to do list – that feels incredibly good! This time has made “Reboot” possible, now I feel much more energetic and creative than before the crisis.

How can the audience support you at the moment?
My audience can best support me by telling all my friends and relatives about my music and telling them to buy the “Lights Disappear” CD! 🙂 Dark songs help through dark times … 🙂

Would it help if people on Spotify and Co. streamed your music more often?
When selecting live acts, the organisers look at the number of “listeners” on Spotify, YouTube etc. Therefore, it is surely an advantage if my music is streamed regularly on these platforms. It is also nice to see that my songs are even heard on the other side of the world! But to support me as an artist directly, I am always very grateful for purchased music on iTunes etc. or directly at concerts.

What do you think the current situation could bring with it?
I very much hope that people’s awareness will be sharpened somewhat – on all levels! A little more care, appreciation, solidarity, reflection – that would do us all good!

What do you want to give your fans to take away from this interview?
Dear fans, although it seems to be quieter around Tanya Barany at the moment, I’m working diligently in the background on a new concept, so that it will be even more cracking afterwards – so enjoy the calm before the storm! 🙂 I am already looking forward to presenting you new songs! Thanks for your support so far! Take care <3

www.tanyabarany.ch

“Music for Tomorrow”
The Covid-19 crisis has hit SUISA’s members particularly hard. The main source of income for many composers and publishers has completely been lost: Performances of any kind have been prohibited by the Federal Government until further notice. In the coming weeks, we will be posting portraits of some of our members on the SUISAblog. They will tell us what moves them during the Covid-19 crisis, what their challenges are and what their working day currently looks like. The musicians also performed and filmed their own composition for the SUISAblog at home or in their studio. SUISA pays the musicians a fee for this campaign.
Related articles
Information on live streams for SUISA membersInformation on live streams for SUISA members The corona measures led to a loss of performance and earning opportunities for music creators and to a painful loss of live music for music consumers. Live streaming therefore enjoys great popularity, especially in these times, and takes on a pertinent role in the cultural industry. Read more
Kety Fusco: “This situation will put everyone – musicians, technicians, insiders – to the test”“This situation will put everyone – musicians, technicians, insiders – to the test” With the “Music for tomorrow” project, SUISA aims to support its members in these difficult times. We offer artists a platform where they can talk about their current situation while in lockdown and present one of their works. The prelude is made by the Ticino composer and harpist Kety Fusco. In a written interview she talks about her everyday life in lockdown and why not that much has actually changed for her. Read more
Why SUISA members should also consider joining SWISSPERFORMWhy SUISA members should also consider joining SWISSPERFORM Composers and lyricists who are SUISA members and are also active as artists and/or producers and whose performances are broadcast by Swiss or foreign radio and TV channels are entitled to receive a remuneration from SWISSPERFORM. For all those authors-composers-artists/producers, a membership with SWISSPERFORM is thus a necessary addition to their SUISA affiliation in order to safeguard their rights and the full remuneration they are entitled to. Read more
Collapse article

Leave a Reply

All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

Your email address will not be published.

During the corona crisis, via its project “Music for Tomorrow”, SUISA is providing a platform for some members to report on their work and the challenges they are facing during this period. This time round, the Valaisian musician and songwriter Tanya Barany tells us why she hopes that people in this crisis have focussed their awareness of things like care, appreciation, solidarity or reflection and exclusively performs her song “Cotton Clouds”. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; video by Tanya Barany, complemented by Nina Müller

“Dark like my British humour, but with a touch of fresh mountain air,” is how Tanya Barany describes her “Dark Pop”. Born and grown up in the Upper Valais, Tanja Zimmermann, that is what she is actually called, found her way to music at an early age: “I’ve been...read more

“This crisis is indicative of a sick society”

Today, in the context of our “Music for Tomorrow” project, we are introducing Swiss jazz and improvisation musician Cyril Bondi, and his piece “We Need to Change”. In a written interview, Cyril tells us why he believes that politics and not the virus are responsible for the current crisis. Text by Nina Müller; video by Cyril Bondi, edited by Nina Müller

Cyril Bondi, age 40, describes himself as an experimentalist who loves working with others. Jazz and free jazz are the preferred domains of the Geneva-born musician. He describes improvisation as the backbone to his music. “Improvisation has allowed me to play in different contexts and to feel as much at ease in a jazz trio (Plaistow) as in experimental/traditional music (La Tène), in a pop/rock duo (cyril Cyril), or working collaboratively on a multitude of projects with “d’incise””, he tells SUISA in a written interview. Cyril’s music regularly oversteps the musical boundaries that society has erected over the years. “I have always tried to develop new things, new concepts, to play my instrument differently, to deconstruct it, reinvent it, seek new sounds, new textures”, Cyril says, explaining his musical evolution.

Bondi composed the piece “We Need to Change” exclusively for “Music for Tomorrow”. Before the lockdown, he was occupied with writing several pieces for his next solo album. He had to interrupt his projects because of the coronavirus. When he received the invitation to “Music for Tomorrow”, he realised how much he was aching for a change. Working on the piece was an intense experience. “Intense because I saw it as an opportunity to express a feeling related to what we are experiencing, this curious blend between the clear evidence of a collapsing society and the denial thereof”, Bondi explains. ”I feel this tension deeply and the creative space I plunged myself into enabled me to express it my way”. Moreover, because he normally works with a band or an orchestra, it was unusual for him to work alone.

Cyril Bondi, what are your workdays like during the corona pandemic?
Cyril Bondi: My workdays are generally organised around my family. I have three children at home, so I constantly have to look after them, help them with their homework and keep them occupied. If I want to get some work done, I have to get up early or devote the evening to work on my various projects. There’s no denying it, the pandemic has hit cultural circles with full force, and musicians even more so, underscoring the precariousness in which they have been living for years. I therefore spend much of my time handling concert cancellations and re-schedulings and checking the different aids and grants available. I am also a member of the FGMC, the Geneva federation of creation music, which brings together professional musicians of all genres, from hip hop to contemporary music, and which is trying to put forward common claims for an industry devastated by the pandemic. As a result, I don’t have much time left for my artistic work; at a certain point, I needed to get back to composing; I plunged into new pieces without knowing who I was writing for or why, apart from the need to delve back into creation. I’m also trying to get ahead with recording the Cyril Cyril (pop/rock) album and my own solo album (experimental).

What does this crisis mean for you personally?
This crisis is indicative of a sick society. We are in this situation not because of a spreading virus but because of the political choices our societies have made. Public services and hospitals are being dismantled, forests destroyed, we are exploiting, plundering, and consuming. Personally, I try to read, keep informed, have discussions with others, listen to music. These dark times make me realise just how much we need culture, the arts, and artists to inspire us, to make us dream, help us escape and make us think. We have never needed them as much as we do now.

How can the public help you at the present time?
People must be aware of the state of emergency impacting the cultural industry and stop thinking that they are contributing any aid whatsoever from behind their computers or smartphones. They must buy records, support the live artists they like, listen to the musicians living around them, and above all support the concert halls, theatres, and festivals as soon as they are allowed to re-open; because my greatest fear is yet to come. People are afraid to meet each other, touch each other, hug each other, kiss each other, dance with each other… how can we be expected to share a true moment of music?

Would it be helpful if people streamed more music from Spotify and Co.?
I think anybody would say the same: companies like Spotify, Youtube, and Facebook are looking to make as much money as possible by exploiting other people’s resources. I am one of those other people. They will never give me a penny of what you consume.

What positive effects might the current situation have in your opinion?
My hopes lie in the collective experience we are living through. Are we intelligent enough to realise that a world with fewer airplanes and cars, with more nature, a less hectic rhythm, more time spent with the family, and greater solidarity is a world where hope can be born again? This capitalist society is leading us to our downfall – we must take the opportunity to invent, create, and conceive a new world. This may be naive, but I believe that everyone today can understand this message.

Do you have a message for your fans?
Listen, sing, dance, and go out!

www.cyrilbondi.net

“Music for Tomorrow”
The Covid-19 crisis has hit SUISA’s members particularly hard. The main source of income for many composers and publishers has completely been lost: Performances of any kind have been prohibited by the Federal Government until further notice. In the coming weeks, we will be posting portraits of some of our members on the SUISAblog. They will tell us what moves them during the Covid-19 crisis, what their challenges are and what their working day currently looks like. The musicians also performed and filmed their own composition for the SUISAblog at home or in their studio. SUISA pays the musicians a fee for this campaign.
Related articles
Nik Bärtsch: “In this, we are all really challenged as a community”“In this, we are all really challenged as a community” With the “Music for tomorrowˮ project, SUISA aims to support its members in these difficult times. We offer artists a platform where they can talk about their current situation while in lockdown and present one of their works. This week we present the Swiss pianist, composer and music producer Nik Bärtsch and his piece “Modul 5ˮ. In the interview, Nik talks about his everyday life in lockdown with his family and what he has in common with an Australian emergency doctor. Read more
Penny-pinching in digital music distributionPenny-pinching in digital music distribution Business in the online sector has been subject to constant change – not only for copyright societies. In the second part of the interview, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin reports on the status quo and provides an outlook on the scenarios that are being discussed. Read more
“Répondez-Moi”: Third Swiss ESC song from the SUISA Songwriting Camp“Répondez-Moi”: Third Swiss ESC song from the SUISA Songwriting Camp With “Répondez-Moi”, Switzerland is sending a French-language entry to the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time since 2010. The song was written by Gjon Muharremaj (Gjon’s Tears) and SUISA members Alizé Oswald and Xavier Michel of the Duo Aliose together with Belgian producer Jeroen Swinnen at the SUISA Songwriting Camp. Read more
Collapse article

Leave a Reply

All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

Your email address will not be published.

Today, in the context of our “Music for Tomorrow” project, we are introducing Swiss jazz and improvisation musician Cyril Bondi, and his piece “We Need to Change”. In a written interview, Cyril tells us why he believes that politics and not the virus are responsible for the current crisis. Text by Nina Müller; video by Cyril Bondi, edited by Nina Müller

Cyril Bondi, age 40, describes himself as an experimentalist who loves working with others. Jazz and free jazz are the preferred domains of the Geneva-born musician. He describes improvisation as the backbone to his music. “Improvisation has allowed me to play in different contexts and to feel as much at ease in a jazz trio (Plaistow) as in experimental/traditional music (La Tène), in a pop/rock duo (cyril Cyril), or working collaboratively...read more

Remembering an extraordinary person and gifted musician

The pianist Willy Bischof was an established figure on the Swiss jazz scene and made his mark on the programmes of Radio DRS as music editor and programme director. In December 2019, the long-standing SUISA member died at the age of 74. Obituary by guest author Pietro Schaller

Willy Bischof: Remembering an extraordinary person and gifted musician

Willy Bischof at Studio Mulinetti in Genoa on the occasion of the CD production of “A Pianist In Parisˮ in September 2004. (Photo: Pietro Schaller)

Dear, caro Willy

In 1968, I saw and heard you for the first time – as pianist of a quintet in a dance hall. As guitarist and trombonist, I played in a dancing band, too. I made the decision to “get outˮ in mid-May 1978. Trigger for this was a contact to Radio Bern, which produced a live recording of our band in July 1974 in the Kursaal Bern – Georges Pilloud was the initiator.

At the end of May 1978, I contacted you at Radio Studio Bern, “Do you need an archive staff member?ˮ “No! A producer is urgently needed, come to Bern, details will be discussed later.ˮ The first meeting with you took place in the radio play studio. You at the Steinway Concert Grand piano. “Do you know Cantaloupe Island?ˮ I asked, you played it right away. Perhaps this was the prelude to our long-standing relationship.

Monday, July 3, 1978 was my first day of work at the radio studio in Bern. No sign of Willy. I was on my own, because your workplace was at the Montreux Jazz Festival – together with Ruedi Kaspar. For several years you were the “Radio dream teamˮ in Montreux – unforgotten are your multilingual interviews with world-class musicians. At that time, I did not know that you had made a brilliant coup years earlier by acquiring the broadcasting rights for all live broadcasts on Radio DRS2.

The following 2 months were a crash course in “how Radio DRS worksˮ: Departmental structures, reading and interpreting minutes of meetings, as well as ways of speaking and sensitivities of media workers. Whenever the “regularˮ working hours were exceeded, these extra lessons were moved to the garden of a nearby pub.

Your plan was to manage the programme area of entertainment music at DRS1. Together with Ruedi Kaspar you invented “5 after 4ˮ, the first radio show with pop and rock music. Polo Hofer was a discovery by the two of you, and your presence on this show was the cornerstone of Poloʼs career and of dialect rock.

Your specifications for a balanced DRS1 music programme were easy for me to meet. Like you, I was not afraid of any kind of music: in our opinion, it had to be well played and sound good. There were numerous records of almost every genre, and all the music editors maintained extensive archives of their own. I didnʼt know at that time that you had established a free sampling service through your excellent relationships with the record industry approximately 5 years earlier – a classic win-win situation. Without this coup de main, your ideas of a successful DRS1 radio music programme would have failed – simply because the desired music repertoire would not have been available.

Your appointment as “Chief of Entertainment Music Radio DRS1ˮ occurred in 1978. In the following year, your new place of work was Studio Zurich, Ruedi Kaspar “dislocatedˮ to Studio Basel. The fact that this was the prelude to DRS3 was unknown to me. However, inside the radio it was suspected that a 3rd radio programme could be in the planning phase. In autumn 1982, I followed your call to move to Studio Zurich to build up the “Zurichˮ part of the music editorial department. With the success of Radio 24 (start of broadcasting 28.11.1979), Radio DRS increased the implementation speed.

On 1 November 1983, SRG General Director Leo Schürmann symbolically pressed the start button: DRS3 broadcast for the first time.

The following 5 years were the most successful years of DRS3, despite some major differences of opinion between the three editorial offices in Basel, Bern, and Zurich. As “Head of the Music Departmentˮ, you mastered these difficulties with great expertise, caution and gentle pressure.

In 1988, he moved from DRS3 to DRS2. It is possible that recurring discussions of principle on the subject of “musicˮ as well as overflowing meetings and bureaucracy left their mark. It may also be that your love of jazz and music-making as a member of the DRS3 management team had been neglected. The takeover of the “jazzˮ department was the prelude to the establishment of the CH jazz scene, which became a valuable platform with studio sessions for young talent and lesser known formations. For Radio DRS2, this was an important undertaking, which also established the station as an institution for the promotion of culture.

1991 was the birth year of “Apéroˮ, the radio show on DRS2, which you conceived. On the occasion of an annual studio party in Studio 2 in Zurich, you played a Duke Ellington Medley on the concert grand piano, which made everyone present – radio director Andreas Blum was also present – realise that you were a brilliant pianist.

I have always been a big Hazy Osterwald fan. My idea was to re-produce the jazz repertoire of the Osterwald Sextet with an identical formation consisting of you and former DRS band musicians. Together we discovered more than 70 recordings of Hazyʼs best formation from 1951-1964 in the Zurich radio archive. Jazz of the highest level in excellent recording quality, produced by Radio Beromünster in the studio in Basel with Eddie Brunner as sound engineer – former member and later band leader of the famous Teddy Stauffer Band. With your help, a significant document of Swiss jazz from the years 1951-1964 was produced in 1994, the CD box set “50 Years of Music with a Touch of Swingˮ was a great success.

Our intention to realise a production with the post-produced “Hazy Osterwald Jazz Hitsˮ was not executed after careful consideration: Sound, charm, groove of this epoch were too unique and could not be reproduced … A wise decision and a reference to the great recording technique of Radio Beromünster and the producing of Eddie.

In November of the same year the “Berner Song Daysˮ took place in the “Bierhübeliˮ. Your formation, the Willy Bischof Jazztet with Hazy Osterwald, Willy Schmid, Peter Schmidlin and Stefan Kurmann, founded in 1993, was invited as guest of honour. Radio DRS1 recorded the concert. The subsequent CD “Swiss Airˮ is still available today.

In 1998 you were awarded the long overdue “Prix Waloˮ for the radio show “Apéroˮ.

Willy Bischof warming up in the studio. (Photo: Pietro Schaller)

In 2004, I had the idea to produce a recording with you as a solo pianist. The planned location was Studio Mulinetti in Genoa. Versions of Italian classics such as Roma Nun Faʼ Stupido Stasera or Estaté were up for discussion. No persuasion was needed on my part – you were immediately enthusiastic about the project. We assembled the repertoire together. Victor Eugster from “Activ Recordsˮ financed the project. The production date was the end of September 2004. However, shortly before the recording date you changed your mind: “I would rather record French chansons in my own versions – a CD title is already available – ʻA Pianist In Parisʼˮ … Suitable chansons were quickly evaluated. I travelled to Camogli – 30 km east of Genoa – at that time my second home to prepare the production.

The session was successful – all participants got along very well and you played superbly as always. I remember that this was perhaps one of your lucky musical moments.

Your retirement in 2005 encouraged me to retire a year later as well. In the following years, our meetings became rarer – I learned through the grapevine that your health had become unstable. Our last personal contact was on the occasion of a concert I organised with your trio on 21 January 2011 at the Hotel Palace Lucerne.

What remains is the memory of an extraordinary person and gifted musician. You didnʼt strike me as a superior. You were a friend.

Addio Willy

Collapse article

Leave a Reply

All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

Your email address will not be published.

The pianist Willy Bischof was an established figure on the Swiss jazz scene and made his mark on the programmes of Radio DRS as music editor and programme director. In December 2019, the long-standing SUISA member died at the age of 74. Obituary by guest author Pietro Schaller

Willy Bischof: Remembering an extraordinary person and gifted musician

Willy Bischof at Studio Mulinetti in Genoa on the occasion of the CD production of “A Pianist In Parisˮ in September 2004. (Photo: Pietro Schaller)

Dear, caro Willy

In 1968, I saw and heard you for the first time – as pianist of a quintet in a dance hall. As guitarist and trombonist, I played in a dancing band, too. I made the decision to “get outˮ in mid-May 1978. Trigger for this was a contact to Radio Bern, which produced a live recording of our...read more

“In this, we are all really challenged as a community”

With the “Music for tomorrowˮ project, SUISA aims to support its members in these difficult times. We offer artists a platform where they can talk about their current situation while in lockdown and present one of their works. This week we present the Swiss pianist, composer and music producer Nik Bärtsch and his piece “Modul 5ˮ. In the interview, Nik talks about his everyday life in lockdown with his family and what he has in common with an Australian emergency doctor. Text by Nina Müller; video by Nik Bärtsch, complemented by Nina Müller

Nik Bärtsch (48) is a successful jazz pianist who lives with his family in Zurich. In addition to music, Zurich-born Bärtsch also studied philosophy, linguistics and musicology. It is therefore not surprising that music has a deeper meaning for him. On his website, he describes his music as follows: “A piece can be entered like a room, inhabited. Through obsessive turning moments, overlays of different meters and micro interplay, the music moves on and changes its states. Attention is drawn to the minimal variations and phrasing. The band thus becomes an integral organism – like an animal, a biotope, an urban space. Youʼre supposed to think with your ears and hands.ˮ

He lives this philosophy with his band Ronin and has already toured in Europe, Asia and the USA. With his formations Nik Bärtschʼs Ronin and Nik Bärtschʼs Mobile as well as solo, the musician has released more than thirteen sound recordings, which are performed at weekly performances as part of his concert series at the Zurich Club Exil. Since 2006, he has his own label “Ronin Rhythm Recordsˮ.

For “Music for Tomorrowˮ Nik Bärtsch performed the piece “Modul 5ˮ. He says with regards to the piece: “The piece consists of a small complex pattern in 6/4, which spreads over the whole piano in the course of the piece. I came across this pattern quite early in my musical development and it has accompanied me constantly over the years. Thus the piece, which was composed at an early age, experiences a constant evolution, as I do myself. We work together so to speak, so that our relationship becomes ever simpler, more direct and yet deeper and more mysterious – just as my wife and I shape our lives together.”

Nik, how does your working day as a composer look like during the corona pandemic?
Nik Bärtsch: I am a completely independent composer, pianist, bandleader, producer and publisher. So, at the moment, the only difference compared to the time before the virus is that I travel much less. All international concerts, productions and workshops have obviously been cancelled. I now have the same daily routine that I have at home between trips: I compose, practice, rehearse, organise and communicate alternately. In addition, I share family life with our children together with my wife, who is also very active in her job.
As usual, it requires a lot of love for life, discipline, structure, but also creativity and the desire for surprises.
Since we want to organise and maintain all this at a high level, it was not a big change for us. Our children are often at home and not in after-school care or anywhere else. We all do martial arts and therefore we also have the possibility to train together on the meadow in front of the house.
Our Monday concert series at the EXIL Club will continue for the time being as pure streaming (www.yourstage.live). So Monday remains the ritualized local concert day and the community and the different teams stay in constant contact.

What does this crisis mean for you personally?
Like all severe crises, it shows me exactly where I stand as an artist and human being and once again unconditionally demands my creativity, integrity and resilience.
But as a freelance musician this is often the normal state of affairs anyway. But the big question is: How do groups, ensembles, bands and concert venues survive the current change in the medium term? In this we are all really challenged as a community. The questions that do arise are actually rather useful: What does music mean to me as a professional? What does it mean to all of us? How do we pay for music and the services behind it? How do we sensibly link the value-appraisal chain with the value-creation chain?

How can the audience support you at the moment?
By rewarding my performance and ours: So by watching our paid streams and by consuming and distributing our music on all other media as well. And by learning exactly how music production and presentation works: How many people and their achievements are behind it, when a wonderful song helps me through the day.

Would it help if people on Spotify and Co. streamed more of your music?
The number of streams must be very high for this kind of payment to work. It still helps, though. Everything is connected and the more independent artists are heard and shared, the better. The local, authentic and special art and initiative ultimately feeds the global commercial development. We have noticed this everywhere on our tours around the world.

What do you think the current situation could bring with it?
I always try to deduce the positive in every situation and learn something. The current situation is once again fundamentally testing our prosperity, our security and thus our working methods. This is valuable. Only when we realise how vital music, its inspiring environment and its wonderful possibilities are, can we appreciate the professional handling of it. SUISA and, for example, the Association of Swiss Musicians communicate this very well. Every musician should do this just as passionately and professionally.

What do you want to give your fans to take away from this interview?
Be honest in your approach to music: Nobody simply takes home a loaf of bread at the bakery without paying.
So enjoy the music with the awareness that people have worked on it with love and unconditional devotion.
I recently received an email from an emergency doctor in Australia. He thanked me for the music. He tackles every challenge of the last few years – the floods, the bush fire and now the virus – by listening to one of my tracks in the morning and drinking a coffee with it. Then he would know why he was doing all this and would also be able to bear death, pain and danger. The music gives him strength to rescue, save and help people. I understood then that it is better to focus unconditionally on the music than to help out a little everywhere. In this case, the chain of inspiration works with precision: We both concentrate on the essentials. His integrity, talent and professionalism help me and vice versa. So we both help others again. Societal appreciation and value creation can only work together.

www.nikbaertsch.com

“Music for Tomorrow”
The Covid-19 crisis has hit SUISA’s members particularly hard. The main source of income for many composers and publishers has completely been lost: Performances of any kind have been prohibited by the Federal Government until further notice. In the coming weeks, we will be posting portraits of some of our members on the SUISAblog. They will tell us what moves them during the Covid-19 crisis, what their challenges are and what their working day currently looks like. The musicians also performed and filmed their own composition for the SUISAblog at home or in their studio. SUISA pays the musicians a fee for this campaign.
Related articles
Kety Fusco: “This situation will put everyone – musicians, technicians, insiders – to the test”“This situation will put everyone – musicians, technicians, insiders – to the test” With the “Music for tomorrow” project, SUISA aims to support its members in these difficult times. We offer artists a platform where they can talk about their current situation while in lockdown and present one of their works. The prelude is made by the Ticino composer and harpist Kety Fusco. In a written interview she talks about her everyday life in lockdown and why not that much has actually changed for her. Read more
Bertrand Denzler: Sound space surveyor and ambient sound explorerSound space surveyor and ambient sound explorer Saxophonist Bertrand Denzler is always working on new opportunities to express himself in the delicate balance that lies between improvisation and composition. The 55-year-old musician from Geneva, who is now resident in Paris, now intends to extend the frontiers of his artistic dialogue with others even further using “roaming residencies”. FONDATION SUISA is supporting this project financially with Get Going! funding. Read more
Penny-pinching in digital music distributionPenny-pinching in digital music distribution Business in the online sector has been subject to constant change – not only for copyright societies. In the second part of the interview, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin reports on the status quo and provides an outlook on the scenarios that are being discussed. Read more
Collapse article

Leave a Reply

All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

Your email address will not be published.

With the “Music for tomorrowˮ project, SUISA aims to support its members in these difficult times. We offer artists a platform where they can talk about their current situation while in lockdown and present one of their works. This week we present the Swiss pianist, composer and music producer Nik Bärtsch and his piece “Modul 5ˮ. In the interview, Nik talks about his everyday life in lockdown with his family and what he has in common with an Australian emergency doctor. Text by Nina Müller; video by Nik Bärtsch, complemented by Nina Müller

Nik Bärtsch (48) is a successful jazz pianist who lives with his family in Zurich. In addition to music, Zurich-born Bärtsch also studied philosophy, linguistics and musicology. It is therefore not surprising that music has a deeper meaning for him....read more

“This situation will put everyone – musicians, technicians, insiders – to the test”

With the “Music for tomorrow” project, SUISA aims to support its members in these difficult times. We offer artists a platform where they can talk about their current situation while in lockdown and present one of their works. The prelude is made by the Ticino composer and harpist Kety Fusco. In a written interview she talks about her everyday life in lockdown and why not that much has actually changed for her. Text by Nina Müller; video by Kety Fusco, edited by Nina Müller

Kety Fusco (27) plays electric harp and composes her own songs. She began playing the harp as early as at the age of six. But the classical harp became too boring for her at some point and so she discovered the electronic harp for herself. Kety Fusco is also part of the collective “Peter Kernel and their wicked orchestra” by the duo Barbara Lehnhoff (Camilla Sparksss) and Aris Bassetti, who are also members of SUISA. In 2018, Kety Fusco was allowed to perform in the presence of Federal Councillor Alain Berset at the Locarno Film Festival. On 8 May their debut album “Dazed” will be released on the Sugar Music label. Kety Fusco is based in Arbedo (TI) and has been a member of SUISA since 2018.

For the project “Music for tomorrow”, Kety Fusco performed the previously unreleased song “Saceba”. She says this about the song: “ʻSacebaʼ was born in a former cement factory at the bottom of Switzerland’s southernmost valley. I was in this place, enchanting and sombre at the same time, to breathe life into a dance and music performance.

On the first day already, when I entered the main building, I gradually became aware that a treasure of sound was hidden there. The next day I went back with various objects (stones, tools, instruments) and my recording equipment to record the entire Saceba (that was the name of the factory) from the first floor to the top floor: the rubbing of the concrete and the sound of the big echoes of this wonderful industrial archaeology.

Once home, I downloaded all the sounds to my computer and built the piece by mentally retracing my steps and imagining a story that took place within the walls of the factory. Then I added real music with my harp and considered it the soundtrack I would have liked to hear when I first entered the Saceba: the soundtrack of the cement factory.”

Kety Fusco, how does your working day as a composer/lyricist look like during the corona pandemic?
Kety Fusco: I play classical harp for four hours every day, working two hours on the technique of the instrument and the other two hours playing pieces I want to record. I play for about two more hours or so with my electric harp and prepare my new live set.

What does this crisis mean for you personally?
I never keep up with the world because everything happens too fast for me. When I am not on tour, I like to stay at home, take a lot of time to play, study and devote myself to my harps. My debut album “Dazed” will be released on 8 May on Sugar Music and I’m working on my new live set. I am very inspired when nothing happens around me and I live everything in my head. The virus has not changed the way I do things – it has improved the way I am. When I walk around in the street and don’t hear the noise of the cars, I feel good. Knowing that nobody is outside my home and living the daily life but experiencing a “daily surprise” inspires me to imagine stories in my head. I think that everyone will forget what we’ve been through. It must have been like a bad dream for some and a difficult memory for others.

How can the audience support you at the moment?
I would really like the audience to hear my debut album and thus contribute to the streaming music market on which part of my income depends.

Would it help if people on Spotify and Co. streamed more of your music?
Yes, absolutely. With the crisis, streams fell by 33%, and the entire music industry was hit hard.

What do you think the current situation could bring with it?
In my opinion there is nothing positive for musicians, even if I think about creativity: For me, it doesn’t necessarily come when I quit, like Covid-19 … in fact, I usually feel more creative when I don’t have time for it. This situation will put everyone – musicians, technicians, insiders – to the test. The music market has never been fully understood, and I think there are very few people who understand what it means to have lost a whole year’s worth of concerts.

What do you want to give your fans to take away from this interview?
I want all my fans to know that I want to hug them all.

www.ketyfusco.com

“Music for Tomorrow”
The Covid-19 crisis has hit SUISA’s members particularly hard. The main source of income for many composers and publishers has completely been lost: Performances of any kind have been prohibited by the Federal Government until further notice. In the coming weeks, we will be posting portraits of some of our members on the SUISAblog. They will tell us what moves them during the Covid-19 crisis, what their challenges are and what their working day currently looks like. The musicians also performed and filmed their own composition for the SUISAblog at home or in their studio. SUISA pays the musicians a fee for this campaign.
Related articles
SUISA membership in numbersSUISA membership in numbers More than 38,000 authors and publishers have instructed SUISA with the management of their rights. Where are they from, how old are they and are there more men or women who are composers? The figures and graphics below provide an insight into SUISA’s membership structure. Read more
«La SUISA a Lugano – un punto di riferimento per la scena musicale nella Svizzera italiana»“SUISA’s office in Lugano is a reference point for the music scene in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland” SUISA has offices in Zurich, Lausanne and Lugano and is thus represented in three language regions of Switzerland. In Lugano, four members of staff look after the Italian-speaking members and customers in Ticino. The new manager of the regional office in Ticino, Stefano Keller, has been in office for 100 days now. In this interview, he elaborates on topics such as why the Lugano office requires allrounders, how SUISA contributes to the promotion of creative performances in Ticino and which goals he has as a manager of the Ticino office. Read more
The result of an endless passion for experimentationThe result of an endless passion for experimentation The Eclecta duo, made up of Zurich and Winterthur residents Andrina Bollinger and Marena Whitcher, experiments with sounds that defy established definitions and seeks out interdisciplinary exchanges with other art forms. FONDATION SUISA is supporting this project financially with Get Going! funding. Read more
Collapse article

Leave a Reply

All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

Your email address will not be published.

With the “Music for tomorrow” project, SUISA aims to support its members in these difficult times. We offer artists a platform where they can talk about their current situation while in lockdown and present one of their works. The prelude is made by the Ticino composer and harpist Kety Fusco. In a written interview she talks about her everyday life in lockdown and why not that much has actually changed for her. Text by Nina Müller; video by Kety Fusco, edited by Nina Müller

Kety Fusco (27) plays electric harp and composes her own songs. She began playing the harp as early as at the age of six. But the classical harp became too boring for her at some point and so she discovered the electronic harp for herself. Kety Fusco is...read more

Reto Parolari: The passionate and blazing flame shines no more

On Sunday 15 December 2019, Reto Parolari, composer, conductor, arranger and multi-instrumentalist from Winterthur passed away, completely unexpectedly, aged 67. Reto Parolari had been a Board member of SUISA since 2007. Before then, he had been participating in the Distribution and Works Committee which he had been presiding over from 1997 onwards. Obituary by Xavier Dayer, SUISA President, and Urs Schnell, Director of FONDATION SUISA

Reto Parolari shown in a picture at the SUISA General Meeting in 2014 in Berne. (Photo: Juerg Isler, isler-fotografie.ch)

A few days ago, the very sad news of Reto Parolari’s passing away reached us; SUISA‘s Board is in shock. Until a week ago, Reto had been chairing the “Tariffs and Distribution” Committee and took part in our Board meetings with the immense human generosity which was so characteristic for him. Nobody could have even imagined that he would leave us so suddenly. I remember our intensive and cordial discussions at the Board dinner.

I would like to highlight his valuable input into the SUISA Board with a few lines: As a composer and a musician he contributed with an important view. He was always constructive and an indispensable partner.

We had known each other since 2007 when he joined our Board as Chairman of the Distribution and Works Committee. He is thus an important person in the life of the Board that left us on Sunday – irreplaceable, and we regret his passing very much.

In order to visualise his music and his artistic development, it seems best to let Urs Schnell, Director of our foundation, to say a few words. It was only recently that he held an outstanding laudatio on the occasion of the Culture Award of the city of Winterthur on 3 December. The speech of Urs Schnell, which we are going to reproduce in the following will have a particularly moving dimension to it.

In the name of the SUISA Board I would like to express our deepest condolences to the family of Reto Parolari in this rather sorrowful time.

Xavier Dayer

Laudatio on the occasion of the Culture Award to Reto Parolari in the Winterthur Theatre on 3 December 2019

Dear Reto

For me, tonight, a circle is complete: it was on the stage of this very house that I had my first encounter with you, Reto – that’s going back to 1990 or thereabouts. As a student for a teaching diploma at the then music conservatory here in Winterthur, I had to join in singing at the annual Konsi [conservatory] choir concert. A joint concert with your orchestra was scheduled. The programme read: “Sophisticated entertainment music”

This starting point was, maybe you can try to imagine this, ladies and gentlemen – well, not quite simple. For the music students which had been conditioned towards the sublime classical music, it was initially completely far-fetched having to even deal with such kind of repertoire. The project met with a lot of scepticism. “Entertainment music”…. Possibly even with a ternary swing element…. Excerpts from “My Fair Lady” and such like… Well, the then choir conductor and Konsi director, Fritz Näff, whom I hold in high regard, was facing a real challenge.

But, the closer the concert was, the clearer it became: Entertainment music is not, per se, “light” or “casual” music which you could be casual about. There are some tough musical nuts that need cracking.

At the end of the day it was you, Reto, who managed to make the whole thing take off: Thanks to your enthusiasm, your zeal, your humour – and yes, a natural authority which only artists hold in themselves, when they are well above anything material, a jolt went through all of the students gathered there. Resistance melted away, and people made music together.

Something I had the privilege of taking home with me as a life wisdom from you that evening: In order to really captivate your audience you need respect vis-à-vis your co-musicians, the profound knowledge of what you actually do, a deep reverence for music, but above all your own enthusiasm, a passionate, blazing fire – the feu sacrée.

With this small step back in history, I would like to welcome you to this Culture Award ceremony for Reto Parolari.

It is a huge honour and joy that I may speak to you today. And I thank you, Reto, that you asked for me to do so….

You, the Parolari family, are probably the one family in Winterthur with the most comprehensive Culture Award collection. Your father, the oboist Egon Parolari, had already received the award exactly 30 years ago – which also is a sign of the continuity of the culture policy of Winterthur.

Since you were a kid, you were active in Winterthur. You once said: “I have literally grown up on the stage floor of the town hall. My father took me along to rehearsals and concerts that often.”

At the age of 24, you completed your studies as a qualified musician with the main subject drums, further studies followed in Hanover, Stuttgart and Vienna.

Voilà – and from now on, ladies and gentlemen, it will be difficult, because the biggest challenge, if you wish to approach Reto’s works and their impact, is simply the unbelievable diversity of his creations.

It is not an easy task for the poor person holding the laudatio, to summarise your curriculum, Reto: it is characterised by concurrent and contrary, complementing and parallel events. But and that makes the task a bit simpler for the not quite so poor person holding the laudatio: it is all held together by a fiery passion for music, the feu sacrée – and it is exactly because of the rough edges that it is a curriculum which is logical per se.

You are an artist – but also a shrewd entrepreneur. You are a composer and an arranger, you are author and editor of specialist literature, conductor and instrumentalist.

Multi-instrumentalist: Marimba, continental typewriter, drums, piano and you are even a virtuoso of car horns. Your main instrument, however, is you. Your authenticity, your belief in your mission, your warmth and humour, your stubborness and unconditionality, in other words, your feu sacrée.

It is impossible to talk about you without implying “sophisticated entertainment music”.

But, hold on a minute… what is that?? What distinguishes a Parolari from other musicians, what is, in marketing speak: Your unique selling point?

Let me quote Cédric Dumont, the founder of the Radio Orchestra of Radio Beromünster and the Director of the radio studio Zurich: “The original sin in music happened when people began to distinguish between E and U, between serious and entertainment music…. But even for U you need stamina, craftsmanship and enthusiasm.” Voilà, the feu sacrée.

You are burning for a music genre which clearly has not got an “easy life”. A genre which, if it is even perceived as such, often only attracts a smug smile…

But where does it come from, that representatives from the so-called “serious” category turn up their noses?

The demands are high, probably higher than some others, presumed serious music genres: In order to reach the full effect of entertainment music, the score must be transposed exactly, the music MUST be taken seriously, but – careful: Contradiction here – it always has to be played with a wink.

But – by implication: May I not feel “entertained” by a Beethoven symphony, a Bach concert? And if I was to feel “entertained” after all: does this mean somebody made a mistake??

I leave this for you to ponder…

Your art is closely connected with the history of Swiss radio. Until the seventies, each radio station had its own contractual orchestra, which accompanied the spoken broadcasts live with specially composed repertoire. In order to create the desired mood effects with the listener, music had to be composed in various, colourful and pictorial ways, and be implemented perfectly in terms of the skills applied. What makes me put forward this thesis is: sophisticated entertainment music is film music – a film music which needs to create its own images – and that is musical storytelling at its best.

With the massive distortions of the media landscape at the beginning of the seventies, the marriage of the radio orchestras was over – one ensemble after the other was dissolved – the repertoire was no longer requested, musicians with the highest qualifications were laid off, the music archives were under threat to end up in the waste paper collection….

That is when Reto was at the right place at the right time:

You literally saved the music scores of the radio studio Basel, the Bayerische Rundfunk and later those of the radio orchestra Beromünster from the shredder.

And that is how your biggest achievement, in material terms, is growing more or less in secret, nearly literally beneath our feet….

In a huge air raid bunker in the middle of Winterthur, you have become the guardian of a huge music score collection of more than 110,000 titles.

This biggest music archive in Europe is not just a mausoleum of creative moments, no, you mediate access for numerous international orchestras which use the music actively.

Your merit for a continuation of sound and paper of this musically historic unique legacy, the keeping alive of cultural goods cannot be commended highly enough. I would like to thank the city of Winterthur at this point that it acknowledges this unique commitment and also pays the respect it has deserved to this kind of music with its award.

And of course it is not possible to talk about you without mentioning your own orchestras.

The first orchestra you founded was during your studies at this music conservatory.

The “ORP” was created with a symphonic line-up, which has been exclusively made up of 40 professional musicians since 1990. Such an orchestra – something I have to mention as an aside – is actually an entrepreneurial nonsense. It can never break even – but still: You never had to report it to the bankruptcy office.

You conducted more than 40 orchestras from all over the world, among which there were exotic ones such as the State Hermitage Orchestra St Petersburg (Russia), the Airport Orchestra Zurich (Switzerland) or the Philharmonic Orchestra Pyongyang (North Korea).

You never applied for any of these engagements – you were always contacted by them.

The same applies – for the world of circus: at the tender age of 28, you were offered the conductor’s position at Circus Nock, shortly after the same position at the Circus Knie. For your creative engagement at the Carré Theatre in Amsterdam, the Queen of the Netherlands even awarded you the title “Royal Bandmaster”. And, you also found yourself shoulder to shoulder with aristocrats and other crown-wearing royalty as Head Conductor of Music at the International Circus Festival in Monaco.

It was only at home where there was less glamour for you: with your own international festival of sophisticated entertainment music, you may well have launched a unique music event with international reach – but the public at home did not take quite as much notice of it…

I would also need to mention your work as a composer and arranger, spanning more than 800 works, in more detail, and you also deserve to be honoured as the author of expert articles and several specialist books – but, alas, time flies…

Something is, however, important to me: You are not only standing up for yourself, Reto: as a Board member of the collective management organisation SUISA, or as an active member of the local Rotary Club Winterthur -Mörsburg, you are also committed to the service for people around you.

As mentioned at the outset: a curriculum with rough edges – because all of the facets of your activities, whether as a musician, conductor, orchestra leader, entrepreneur, event organiser, publisher, archivist, composer, they complement, require and need each other and result in the overall picture of someone who creates art and culture. – a logical curriculum, a curriculum that follows through.

It was only recently that I was allowed to perform once more under your direction: if only in one musical piece, but this time as a trained flautist. And within seconds, it was there again: that feeling that you can convey so well: the respectful “this will be good, trust me”. Easy going when it comes to your appearance, but serious when it comes to the matter at hand. And indeed: You counted the intro, the big band started to swing, my part…. Your feu sacrée was blazing and all was superb – and yes all went well!

Merci, Reto, for all of that!!

Urs Schnell

The memorial service will take place on Monday, 30 December 2019, at 3 pm in the Stadtkirche in Winterthur.

Collapse article
  1. Samuel Zünd says:

    Bitte veranlassen Sie unbedingt die Sicherung Reto Parolaris einzigartiger Notenbibliothek als ein Ganzes der Nachwelt! Sie ist ein einzigartiger Schatz und gehört der Öffentlichkeit für alle Zeiten zugänglich gemacht. Auf dass die von Reto geretteten Werke nicht noch einmal vorm Schreddern bedroht werden!
    Herzlich Samuel Zünd

  2. Markus Niffenegger says:

    Lieber Reto
    Die Nachricht von deinem unerwarteten Abschied vom irdischen Leben hat mich zu tiefst schockiert, denn du warst mir stets ein guter Freund und ein grosses Vorbild. Die Zeit, in welcher ich vor über 40 Jahren als junger Amateurtrompeter in deinem Orchester mitmusizieren durfte, ist mir bis heute als meine beste musikalische Erfahrung in guter Erinnerung geblieben. Mit dir haben wir einen grossen Musiker und überaus edlen Menschen verloren.
    Vielen Dank für alles, ruhe in Frieden!
    Markus

Leave a Reply

All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

Your email address will not be published.

On Sunday 15 December 2019, Reto Parolari, composer, conductor, arranger and multi-instrumentalist from Winterthur passed away, completely unexpectedly, aged 67. Reto Parolari had been a Board member of SUISA since 2007. Before then, he had been participating in the Distribution and Works Committee which he had been presiding over from 1997 onwards. Obituary by Xavier Dayer, SUISA President, and Urs Schnell, Director of FONDATION SUISA

Reto Parolari shown in a picture at the SUISA General Meeting in 2014 in Berne. (Photo: Juerg Isler, isler-fotografie.ch)

A few days ago, the very sad news of Reto Parolari’s passing away reached us; SUISA‘s Board is in shock. Until a week ago, Reto had been chairing the “Tariffs and Distribution” Committee and took part in our Board meetings with the immense human generosity which was so characteristic...read more

Where there is no love, everything is in vain

Zurich composer and music journalist Rolf Urs Ringger passed away on 26 June 2019 aged 84. Obituary by guest author Thomas Meyer

Rolf Urs Ringger: Where there is no love, everything is in vain

Rolf Urs Ringger had been a SUISA member since 1960. (Photo: Keystone / Gaëtan Bally)

When he was young, he is said to have wanted to write a novel with the title “The Dandy”: The protagonist takes a taxi to the opera. The book was supposed to be about this short yet extended trip – and with that, probably a little bit about himself. Never mind, whether this was invented or whether the inheritance really might include a fragment of the novel: Rolf Urs Ringger knew, of course, what kind of bait he threw to journalists with such an anecdote. Full of mischief, he envisaged how the image of Ringger, the dandy, emerged, and was happy because that is who he was: the dandy among Swiss composers, genuinely vain, but also sensually playful with this vanity. When Adrian Marthaler visualised his orchestral work “Breaks and Takes” for TV, Ringger himself played a Delius-like, melancholic composer by a swimming pool.

“I love flirting. It does, after all, provide my production with a light and playful moment. And it is really well received by the audience. And I enjoy it.” That’s what he said in a conversation. “The moment of narcissism, now understood without bias, is prominently perceptible with me.” I liked him for this kind of self-irony which was rather natural in his case. He brought his very own and outstanding colour into the Zurich music scene which tended to be modest. He was glamorous, eclectic, urban, even though he always spent his summers on Capri where he created a few sensual sound patterns. The composer was heavily involved in creating this image.

Sound and word artist

Ringger was also a native of Zurich. Born in Zurich on 06 April 1935, he grew up here, lived and worked here, a word and sound artist. He attended the seminar in Küsnacht, he completed a thesis on Weberns piano pieces at the musicologists’ seminar Zurich with Kurt von Fischer. As rur. (his initials used for writing as a journalist for the NZZ), he belonged to the critics’ staff of the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”, delivered trenchant and elegant, sometimes deliberately careless texts, but also wrote early portraits on those composers who only got attention to a great extent such as Edgard Varèse or Charles Ives, Erik Satie and Othmar Schoeck. Apart from great characters, there are also mavericks, and he happily remembered the nostalgics among whom he probably counted himself. In publications such as the essay collection “Von Debussy bis Henze”, he bundled these portraits.

Ringger had lessons in composition very early on, privately with Hermann Haller. At Darmstadt summer schools in 1956, he studied under Theodor W. Adorno and Ernst Krenek, shortly after for half a year with Hans Werner Henze in Rome. Those were aesthetic antipodes since Henze had already withdrawn from the avant-garde scene by then. Even though Ringger later on mentioned with a smug expectant smile that he got on better with Adorno than with Henze, he still followed his abandon of the strictly serial techniques to an orientation towards a sensual sound language. This can already be heard from the sound of his titles: “… Vagheggi il mar e l’arenoso lido…” for orchestra (1978), “Souvenirs de Capri” for soprano, bugle and string sextet (1976–77), “Ode ans Südlicht” for choir and orchestra (1981) or “Addio!” for strings and tubular bells. He also created three ballet music works, namely “Der Narziss” (1980), “Ikarus” (1991), and “Ippòlito” (1995). What he obviously never tried was to approach the great dramatico-musical forms.

Sensual sound language

Ringger was one of the first who used neo-tonal elements in the 70ies, as a Henze follower, trending rather early. I dedicated a caustic comment to this in a review back then. Of course, despite all of his self-irony, he reacted relatively offended. And yet, a few years later, he reverted to the issue with pleasure and proudly announced that I had called him the first neo-tonal in this country back then. The change towards postmodernism had proved him right.

Thus, his music often played with quotes (from Debussy, for example), indulged in impressionistic colours or in highly romantic gestures, but still remained transparent and light all the while. I did, however, treasure him most as an urban flâneur. Not where he put newspaper clippings together in a childish manner to create a collage (“Chari-Vari-Etudes”, “Vermischtes”) for chamber speaking choir but in his musical promenades. In the “Manhattan Song Book” (2002) for soprano, three speaking voices and five instruments, he is out and about in New York, observes, takes notes, comments in eleven songs, cheeky, carefree, again in a coquettish self-mirroring. When a lady, called as a not so friendly “crazy witch”, asks him whether he was the “famous composer”, he only answers briefly: “No, it’s my cousin.”

Now he passed away. “Lights!” is written at the top of his obituary, below the sentences: “He loved the sun of the Mediterranean, music and youth. He thanks all of those who have done well unto him in his life and supported his music.” Capri is going to miss him. His “Notiziario caprese” (2004) ends with the words “(very calm, nearly without pathos) Se non c’è Amore, tutto è sprecato. (very matter-of-fact) Where there is no love, everything is in vain. Inscription on a grave in Capri; about 2020.”

The obituary by Thomas Meyer was first published in the “Schweizer Musikzeitung” no. 9/10 of September/October 2019.

Collapse article

Leave a Reply

All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

Your email address will not be published.

Zurich composer and music journalist Rolf Urs Ringger passed away on 26 June 2019 aged 84. Obituary by guest author Thomas Meyer

Rolf Urs Ringger: Where there is no love, everything is in vain

Rolf Urs Ringger had been a SUISA member since 1960. (Photo: Keystone / Gaëtan Bally)

When he was young, he is said to have wanted to write a novel with the title “The Dandy”: The protagonist takes a taxi to the opera. The book was supposed to be about this short yet extended trip – and with that, probably a little bit about himself. Never mind, whether this was invented or whether the inheritance really might include a fragment of the novel: Rolf Urs Ringger knew, of course, what kind of bait he threw to journalists with such an anecdote. Full of mischief, he envisaged how the image of Ringger, the...read more

A tribute to Claudio Taddei

On 9 August this year, singer-songwriter and painter Claudio Taddei passed away at the age of 52. Obituary by Rossana Taddei and Sara Ravarelli

A tribute to Claudio Taddei

Rossana and Claudio Taddei. (Photo: Alejandro Persichetti)

Born in Uruguay to parents from Ticino, Claudio grew up between Switzerland and South America, where he embarked on a glittering musical career that took him to the top of the South American charts. In 2002, at the height of his fame in Uruguay, Claudio was struck down by a serious illness that led him to return to Switzerland. Here he alternated periods of intense medical treatment with a busy schedule of concerts and artistic performances, quickly becoming a popular figure in Ticino – a renowned musician and celebratedpainter.

Claudio Taddei began indulging his passion for music in childhood, together with his sister Rossana, who has also enjoyed a successful musical career in Uruguay. A SUISA member for some years now, Rossana wanted to share with us her loving and personal memory of Claudio, as a brother and artist. (Sara Ravarelli)

Dear brother, friend and companion on a journey full of adventures and dreams

A sun, a giant star full of light.
You always loved to trace the path of the sun and to the sun you now return.
There is no farewell because you live on in all your songs, in every brush stroke, in your colours, in our hearts and minds.
Dear brother, friend and companion on a journey full of adventures and dreams, we shared an eternal bond, as if two twins.
Your bright, cheerful, curious eyes reflect the broad smile of your guiding heart. You sang and told your story, your joy, your sadness, your goodness.
Let your true hand now guide the way for all of us who loved you and want to start walking again, to move forward in accepting the pain and void of your absence.
I will miss you, we will miss you. I will fill the hole by singing and telling our story, our being brother and sister.
Creativity always saves us and has always saved us.
Creativity always unites us and has always united us.
It was the strongest thread in our bond and will always be what unites us.
Every image in my memory starts and ends with a heartfelt smile.

Intensely calm
Worryingly intense
Silently noisy
Untidily tidy
Passionately quiet
Quietly passionate
Stubbornly shy
Shyly exuberant
I know you inside out, brother, yet I do not know the depth and infiniteness that you were and continue to be.

Thank you for being a mentor. Life is a gift: you must know how to lead it for the gift to become light.

“Te toca la pena, también la alegría y el amor. No dejes que nada espere, la vida hace siempre lo que quiere, más vale echarle picante y hacer que las cosas se vivan bien pa’delante.”

Rossana Taddei

Collapse article

Leave a Reply

All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

Your email address will not be published.

On 9 August this year, singer-songwriter and painter Claudio Taddei passed away at the age of 52. Obituary by Rossana Taddei and Sara Ravarelli

A tribute to Claudio Taddei

Rossana and Claudio Taddei. (Photo: Alejandro Persichetti)

Born in Uruguay to parents from Ticino, Claudio grew up between Switzerland and South America, where he embarked on a glittering musical career that took him to the top of the South American charts. In 2002, at the height of his fame in Uruguay, Claudio was struck down by a serious illness that led him to return to Switzerland. Here he alternated periods of intense medical treatment with a busy schedule of concerts and artistic performances, quickly becoming a popular figure in Ticino – a renowned musician and celebratedpainter.

Claudio Taddei began indulging his passion for music in childhood, together with his sister...read more