Tag Archives: SUISA Music Stories

“A melody like a memory from far away” | plus video

For the project “Swiss Beethoven reflections”, Xavier Dayer not only let himself be inspired by the melody of the Swiss song used by Beethoven. He also took the situation in which the composer was as a young man at the time into consideration. Text by guest author Markus Ganz; video by Mike Korner

Xavier Dayer: A melody like a memory from far away

Xavier Dayer in the interview about his work “Cantus VII” at the end of January 2020. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

Xavier Dayer is convinced that the central significance of Ludwig van Beethoven goes well beyond the circle of composers and musicians. “I would even say that he stands at the outset of the image which the broad public has of Romanticism and the clichéd figure of a composer.” Despite all of his admiration for Beethoven, he takes a sober view when it comes to categorising his variations on a Swiss folk song. “I do not think that it is his most impressive piece”, said the composer who was born in Geneva and lives in Berne, during his interview at the end of January 2020.

The variations did, however, make Xavier Dayer think about the time of creation: In 1792, Beethoven was 22 years old and about to move to Vienna. Correspondingly, Xavier Dayer considers the variations to be some sort of practice at a time when Beethoven found himself in the enthusiasm of his own music. This should be understood against a wider background. “Back then, people believed in modernity, progress; even the composers. And that preference for modernity was associated with a love for the homeland – here, his fondness for Romanticism with one for the nation, something I always had a problem with.”

In order to create his own composition, Xavier Dayer initially looked into the melody of this song, “even more than into the variations by Beethoven and their harmonisation”. The melody was so simple that it had something that he could approach from his own creation. He used it like a cantus firmus, a melody which was given from the outside and that he was going to rather hide in his own music. “It is like a memory from far away, as if you were to recall this lost enthusiasm back from memory, something that is concealed in my music which wants to be restless and calming.”

Specifically, Xavier Dayer chose the melody of the beginning of the song. “We spoke about enthusiasm. When it comes to enthusiasm, there is something purely positive in this melody which is also very clear from a harmony point of view and holds no notion of doubt. (…) In my composition, however, it is going to be concealed by some kind of fog.”

In terms of instrumentation, Xavier Dayer chose a quartet for flute, clarinet, violin and cello, “an instrumentation for which there are not too many references yet”. This was of interest to him because it meant less pressure from tradition and enabled him to have more freedom. You might wonder that the piano does not get deployed, despite the Beethoven reference. Xavier Dayer highlights that he was not trained as a pianist but as a guitarist and therefore felt some kind of a complex with respect to composers who are pianists. Still, he uses the piano as a tool for his work, particularly so in order to be able to control the harmonic progressions.

How the composition is going to sound one day, remains open during this development stage. But even when the piece has been completed, there will be a lot of space for the performers. “When it comes to the sequence of the creative steps, I am the one to suggest signs that others will then interpret with their sensitivity and experience. I absolutely and utterly adore the art of interpretation.” Xavier Dayer emphasises that he, as a listener, loves to discover how performers make the composition their own. “In this sense, this part of the creation is an essential moment because it appears in a room for the first time.” Add to that the significance of the audience. A composition is like a love letter which in itself means very little – especially if nobody read it, and even more so, if nobody replied to it (laughs).

The role of a composer would also be challenged, especially since Beethoven’s 10th Symphony, composed only in a sketch-like manner, was completed with a specifically trained algorithm for the anniversary year. Xavier Dayer did not consider this to be as a threat but as an “extremely stimulating challenge”. He felt that his students also dealt with the question what the creation of an individual still meant today “I admire artists who challenge the act of creation. (…) Maybe we are at the end of a cycle where the individual creating music had been viewed as a kind of genius and a cult had been created around that.” This also created complex consequences in his opinion. “Each note of Beethoven, each sentence by Goethe created the impression for us that we were rather small in comparison.” He thought that one could not simply continue with such a pigeonholing of the artist, who had ”everything” to say. “Today, the performer is seen in a different light: as someone who does not stand somewhere above or below but simply stands in the continuum of social connections.”

Xavier Dayer was born in Geneva in 1972. There, he studied composition with Eric Gaudibert, and with Tristan Murail and Brian Ferneyhough (IRCAM- Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music) in Paris. He is a professor for composition at the University of the Arts Berne and has been authorised representative by the “Master of Arts in Composition/Theory”. He has been the President of SUISA since 2011. The canton Berne granted him the Music Award 2020. www.xavierdayer.com
Swiss Beethoven reflections: A project by Murten Classics and SUISA on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven had not much to do with Switzerland. He did, however, write “Six variations on a Swiss song” (Sechs Variationen über ein Schweizerlied), namely the folk song “Es hätt e Bur es Töchterli” (A farmer had a daughter once). This is the starting point for the composition assignments which the summer festival Murten Classics and SUISA allocated to eight Swiss composers of different generations, aesthetics and origin.

Oscar Bianchi, Xavier Dayer, Fortunat Frölich, Aglaja Graf, Christian Henking, Alfred Schweizer, Marina Sobyanina and Katharina Weber had a choice of basing their work on the variations, the folk song used by Beethoven or Beethoven in general. The compositions were written for the ensemble Paul Klee which allows for the following maximum instrumentation: Flute (also piccolo, G- or bass flute), clarinet (in B or A), violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano.

The initiator of this project, launched in 2019, was Kaspar Zehnder who had been Artistic Director of Murten Classics for 22 years. Due to the corona crisis and the measures ordered by the authorities, it was not possible to hold the 32nd instalment of the festival in August 2020 or the scheduled replacement festival in the winter months that followed. The “SUISA day” with eight compositions of this project was performed and recorded nevertheless, without an audience, on 28 January 2021 in the KiB Murten. The recordings have been available for listening at radio SRF 2 Kultur in the programme “Neue Musik im Konzert” and are released on the platform Neo.mx3. The project is also documented online via the SUISAblog and the social media channels of SUISA.

www.murtenclassics.ch

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For the project “Swiss Beethoven reflections”, Xavier Dayer not only let himself be inspired by the melody of the Swiss song used by Beethoven. He also took the situation in which the composer was as a young man at the time into consideration. Text by guest author Markus Ganz; video by Mike Korner

Xavier Dayer: A melody like a memory from far away

Xavier Dayer in the interview about his work “Cantus VII” at the end of January 2020. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

Xavier Dayer is convinced that the central significance of Ludwig van Beethoven goes well beyond the circle of composers and musicians. “I would even say that he stands at the outset of the image which the broad public has of Romanticism and the clichéd figure of a composer.” Despite all of his admiration for Beethoven, he takes a sober view when...read more

“The precision applicable to notation requires almost more time than composing itself” | plus video

For the composition project “Swiss Beethoven reflections”, Aglaia Graf developed a concept with several movements. These are based on two, three motifs or themes which have been inspired by a work of Beethoven. Text by guest author Markus Ganz; video by Mike Korner

Aglaia Graf: The precision applicable to notation requires almost more time than composing itself

Aglaia Graf during the talk about her composition in March 2020. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

From the start, it was not an easy task for Aglaia Graf to find a suitable path to her own composition in the course of this project. First, the composer and pianist from Basel took a look at the notes of the Swiss folk song used by Beethoven and read its lyrics. Then she went for a walk with her dog and sang the song – expecting that it would trigger something in her and inspire her for her own composition. “However, nothing sprang to mind, I could not find a connecting point I could grasp.” Not even when she studied Beethoven’s variations. “I must say that I am not that thrilled by this work even if you can retrace quite well which elements he used to build up his variations.” It was probably some kind of a conceptual work by him and that is why it has not directly inspired me for my composition.

Then Aglaia Graf thought that she could pick up the general element of the folk song and set out to find other Swiss folk songs that appealed to her. “I found very beautiful ones and looked whether there was material which I could work with.” But yet again, she turned away from that approach. She came to the conclusion that she had to develop a concept in order to really get going. Thus, she decided to relate to Beethoven in general.

When asked what personal significance Ludwig van Beethoven had for her, Aglaia Graf posed a counter-question: “For which musician does Beethoven not have a special significance?” Especially in the life of a pianist he was very important from the very beginning and was a companion through life. “You grow with his music and you develop alongside it.” It was also an absolute reference point whenever you composed a piece. “By playing his works you already learn a lot in terms of composition, albeit indirectly. This also happened to me, both consciously and subconsciously, and he has certainly left many traces.”

Aglaia Graf has also had other special experiences when it comes to Beethoven. “When I sit with his pieces as a composer or a pianist, it is possible that I brood over a few notes for many hours. The perception of a specific section is an experience, the timeframe extremely long. The audience, however, who is listening to the piece, only experiences this moment in maybe two seconds.”

Therefore, it is not only the analytical derivation that is exciting. “Beethoven had, like hardly any other composer, a feel for how listening to his music could be experienced in terms of time.” As a composer it could happen quickly that one – because one spent so much time with so few notes – became too complex and packed too much into the piece. It would, in such cases, no longer be possible for the audience to savour this experience in the short time that they were listening to it. With Beethoven, however, this was the case, and that was something that had always fascinated her. “If you sit in a concert, you see, rather you hear, how a building gets constructed, stone by stone. This influenced me very much, as a musician, as a composer, as a human being.”

With the decision to base her composition on Beethoven in general, Aglaia Graf made quick progress. She developed the concept of several movements, which are based on two, three motifs or themes which have been inspired by a work of Beethoven. “This could also be appealing to the audience: as a small piece of homework or rather listening work to detect which piece of Beethoven such a passage has been inspired by.” With a brainstorming, she began to search for motifs or themes that she could integrate: “Which ones do I have in my memory, which ones are known to a wide audience, so that they have a recognition effect”. She selected a few and pondered thought it over which would be suitable for which movement so that they would result in a meaningful sequence.

First, Aglaia Graf wanted to only use these motifs and themes as connecting points. “But it actually ensued that, in the final movement, variations arose from it.” They related to the theme of the last movement of the “Gassenhauer Trio” (Piano Trio Op 11) – and that is how the circle of the six variations of Beethoven on a Swiss song closes. “My first movement also relates to the first movement of the ‘Gassenhauer Trio’ but does not, like the other movements, contain any variations.” Aglaia Graf stresses that she had not adopted the Beethoven motifs “1:1”, of course. In terms of the folksong-like theme in the last movement of the “Gassenhauer Trio”, she had not simply taken the melody as an element but “the rhythm and the character which I have changed slightly – in the original it is dance-like and popular, in my piece it is humoristic.”

The plan emerged at the beginning of 2020 to write four short trio movements for piano, cello and clarinet. “My last commissioned composition was for solo clarinet, so I already found myself in that sound world. I also play with the English cellist Benjamin Gregor-Smith in a duo. This is how the instrumentation came about; in addition, Beethoven also wrote fro this instrumentation, i.e. the famous ‘Gassenhauer Trio’.”

At the time of the conversation, mid-March 2020, she already had composed large parts of the first, second and fourth movement for this instrumentation – “even if that was partly only in the back of my mind”, she adds with a laugh. “The first movement is literally complete, including the full notation with all details, when it comes to the other two movements, I only have the notes themselves so far. The precision applicable to notation, which is already clearly present in my mind, requires almost more time than composing itself.” For the third movement she now leans towards designing it as a kind of interlude to the final movement, probably for cello solo. With regards to the composition parts which are not based on motifs, “I have picked up certain composition elements which are very important for Beethoven or in classical music in general, especially in the first movement.”

Aglaia Graf was born in Basel in 1986. She completed her concert diploma as a pianist there with a distinction and continued her studies in Vienna and Paris. She attended master classes of Andràs Schiff, Paul Badura-Skoda, Dimitri Bashkirov, Klaus Hellwig and many more. Since she was 15, she has been composing many works, mainly for piano and cello/piano. She runs a piano class at the Basel Music Academy and holds master classes, most recently in Russia. In 2006, she was awarded with the European Culture Scholarship Award. www.aglaiagraf.com
Swiss Beethoven reflections: A project by Murten Classics and SUISA on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven had not much to do with Switzerland. He did, however, write “Six variations on a Swiss song” (Sechs Variationen über ein Schweizerlied), namely the folk song “Es hätt e Bur es Töchterli” (A farmer had a daughter once). This is the starting point for the composition assignments which the summer festival Murten Classics and SUISA allocated to eight Swiss composers of different generations, aesthetics and origin.

Oscar Bianchi, Xavier Dayer, Fortunat Frölich, Aglaja Graf, Christian Henking, Alfred Schweizer, Marina Sobyanina and Katharina Weber had a choice of basing their work on the variations, the folk song used by Beethoven or Beethoven in general. The compositions were written for the ensemble Paul Klee which allows for the following maximum instrumentation: Flute (also piccolo, G- or bass flute), clarinet (in B or A), violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano.

The initiator of this project, launched in 2019, was Kaspar Zehnder who had been Artistic Director of Murten Classics for 22 years. Due to the corona crisis and the measures ordered by the authorities, it was not possible to hold the 32nd instalment of the festival in August 2020 or the scheduled replacement festival in the winter months that followed. The “SUISA day” with eight compositions of this project was performed and recorded nevertheless, without an audience, on 28 January 2021 in the KiB Murten. The recordings have been available for listening at radio SRF 2 Kultur in the programme “Neue Musik im Konzert” and are released on the platform Neo.mx3. The project is also documented online via the SUISAblog and the social media channels of SUISA.

www.murtenclassics.ch

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For the composition project “Swiss Beethoven reflections”, Aglaia Graf developed a concept with several movements. These are based on two, three motifs or themes which have been inspired by a work of Beethoven. Text by guest author Markus Ganz; video by Mike Korner

Aglaia Graf: The precision applicable to notation requires almost more time than composing itself

Aglaia Graf during the talk about her composition in March 2020. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

From the start, it was not an easy task for Aglaia Graf to find a suitable path to her own composition in the course of this project. First, the composer and pianist from Basel took a look at the notes of the Swiss folk song used by Beethoven and read its lyrics. Then she went for a walk with her dog and sang the song – expecting that it would trigger something in her and inspire...read more

“Beethoven’s music is very groovy. I think that if he was alive today, he’d probably be a modern jazz rock freak.” | plus video

In her composition for the project “Swiss Beethoven reflections”, Marina Sobyanina refers to many aspects of the great composer. She also applied many modern methods and imagined musical passages to be graphic figures. Text by guest author Markus Ganz; video by Mike Korner

Marina Sobyanina: Beethoven’s music is very groovy

Marina Sobyanina during the interview about her composition “Quasi una Fantasia” in February 2020. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

Ludwig van Beethoven has a special significance for Marina Sobyanina. “The first real pieces that I was able to play as a child in my piano lessons were piano sonatas by Beethoven”, explains the composer who was born in Russia but now lives in Berne. “My sister had a major influence on me because she is twelve years older than me. Back then, she was the most important musical attachment figure for me, apart from my piano teacher. She is a classical pianist and still thinks that you ought to composer like Beethoven.”

Marina Sobyanina, however, does not share this opinion at all. And yet you might surmise that she used him as a reference point in a current composition. After all, in 2018, she named a piece “Taub’N” (“Deaf’nin”) and alluded to Beethoven turning deaf: What would it be like to composer music without hearing anything? This was indeed her first idea for the “Swiss Beethoven reflections”, she confirms. “But I would repeat myself by doing so since I have already expressed this idea.” The composer also had, for a brief moment, the idea to create “micro variations”. “I wanted to take a small theme and develop it to hundreds of variations. But then I gave up on that idea because you’d have to be a computer to do so – and I did not want to do that because I am not one.”

Another approach taken by Marina Sobyanina was Beethoven’s method with short themes: How he reviewed them, cut off parts and then repeated this exercise. It was some sort of a cyclical work with themes which in turn was suitable for the lyrics of the Swiss folk song. This is where Dursli promises to return home each year and ask for Babeli’s hand in marriage with her parents again. Then she started to look for themes which often get repeated in Beethoven’s work “but are not that easy to discern, since it should remain my composition”. Marina Sobyanina also gave up on that idea in the end. “This also would have been limiting, a kind of jigsaw where you had to put pieces together.”

Instead, she focussed on Beethoven’s variations on a Swiss song, especially the first and the second one. “I kept some of the themes which are very characteristic for Beethoven. And work methods like playing with the octavation, modulations with arpeggios, which follow in lower registers, big chords, which combined different and even opposing registers as well as aspects which make his piano style discernible.”

Finally, Marina Sobyanina turned to the first variation which she actually plays during the conversation at the end of February. She imagines that the melodic lines for the right and left hand are not notes with specific parameters such as pitch etc but contours of a silhouette. If you fill the space between these edges, some sort of an image would emerge. And it is in that image that the composer imagined several characters to flow into each other (see picture) which “created strange musical associations”.

Quasi una Fantasia

Excerpt from the score. (Photo: Marina Sobyanina)

She explains this as follows: “When I closed my eyes and tried to imagine my music, there were always humoristic passages with arpeggios, tremolos or (plays it to the interviewer). When I then tried to only imagine these musical passages as graphic figures, I realised that this part looks like a bloke on a pony which points to the other side.” That is how she created an introduction which was based on a C variation (sings it back to the interviewer).

In this picture-like imaginations of Marina Sobyanina, cartoon figures emerge which try to fly, and swans which kick her in the back. “I just try to imagine which kind of music this should be. That is why I have composed a part called ‘The Train’ which starts with very low arpeggios a bit like something between Beethoven and Stravinsky which then accelerates and rises to higher pitches.”

In the following two parts, Marina Sobyanina simply wanted to let her imagination flow and not clutch too hard to the graphic score. While doing so, she reapplied the methods mentioned above from Beethoven’s work, also the massive chords which he had loved so much. “I use a few quotes such as from ‘Fidelio’. Another quote is the harmony from the beginning of the ninth Symphony (plays it back to the interviewer). And I also use a theme from a sonata which has the exact same melody line such as in the C major mass (plays and sings it to the interviewer). Fragments of this melody continue to appear throughout the entire piece again and again but modulated.”

Marina Sobyanina is of the opinion that Beethoven’s music had something very physical. “It is also very groovy. I think that if he was alive today, he’d probably be a modern jazz rock freak.” In line with that, she composed a passage with a primed piano which was very groovy. “The pianist plays it like a drummer, elsewhere he scratches with a ring on the piano wires.” And then there is a short opening into a different musical universe – like a bebop fragment. She had not elaborated that one yet because the relevant musician could possibly improvise this better than she could ever compose it.

The idea of improvisation is also reflected in the “micro looping” method used by Marina Sobyanina. “I wanted to reflect that Beethoven improvised a lot on the elaborated cadences.” In a part of her composition, each instrument was playing a loop with its own tempo and roughly the same accents with each note, that is why all notes appear at a different place. “The loops thus move horizontally but then reconvene when an instrument is played just like the next part requires it.”

Marina Sobyanina was born in Russia in 1986 and studied art history until 2010. In 2014, she graduated at the Arts University in Berne as a Bachelor of Arts in “Jazz & Vocal Performance” and in 2017, she graduated as Master of Arts in “Composition & Theory”. Since then, she has been following a broad field of projects between contemporary music, experimental jazz, theatre and film. www.marinasobyanina.com
Swiss Beethoven reflections: A project by Murten Classics and SUISA on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven had not much to do with Switzerland. He did, however, write “Six variations on a Swiss song” (Sechs Variationen über ein Schweizerlied), namely the folk song “Es hätt e Bur es Töchterli” (A farmer had a daughter once). This is the starting point for the composition assignments which the summer festival Murten Classics and SUISA allocated to eight Swiss composers of different generations, aesthetics and origin.

Oscar Bianchi, Xavier Dayer, Fortunat Frölich, Aglaja Graf, Christian Henking, Alfred Schweizer, Marina Sobyanina and Katharina Weber had a choice of basing their work on the variations, the folk song used by Beethoven or Beethoven in general. The compositions were written for the ensemble Paul Klee which allows for the following maximum instrumentation: Flute (also piccolo, G- or bass flute), clarinet (in B or A), violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano.

The initiator of this project, launched in 2019, was Kaspar Zehnder who had been Artistic Director of Murten Classics for 22 years. Due to the corona crisis and the measures ordered by the authorities, it was not possible to hold the 32nd instalment of the festival in August 2020 or the scheduled replacement festival in the winter months that followed. The “SUISA day” with eight compositions of this project was performed and recorded nevertheless, without an audience, on 28 January 2021 in the KiB Murten. The recordings have been available for listening at radio SRF 2 Kultur in the programme “Neue Musik im Konzert” and are released on the platform Neo.mx3. The project is also documented online via the SUISAblog and the social media channels of SUISA.

www.murtenclassics.ch

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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.

In her composition for the project “Swiss Beethoven reflections”, Marina Sobyanina refers to many aspects of the great composer. She also applied many modern methods and imagined musical passages to be graphic figures. Text by guest author Markus Ganz; video by Mike Korner

Marina Sobyanina: Beethoven’s music is very groovy

Marina Sobyanina during the interview about her composition “Quasi una Fantasia” in February 2020. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

Ludwig van Beethoven has a special significance for Marina Sobyanina. “The first real pieces that I was able to play as a child in my piano lessons were piano sonatas by Beethoven”, explains the composer who was born in Russia but now lives in Berne. “My sister had a major influence on me because she is twelve years older than me. Back then, she was the most important musical attachment figure for me,...read more

“The clarinet should act as an individual, struggling and seeking the way” | plus video

Katharina Weber is basing her composition work for the project “Swiss Beethoven reflections” not only on Beethoven’s variations on a Swiss song and its lyrics. She also infuses it with the sound world of John Cage. Text by guest author Markus Ganz; Video by Mike Korner

Katharina Weber: “The clarinet should act as an individual, struggling and seeking the way”

Katharina Weber talking about her work “Badurbelisli”, which was still being created at the time of the interview in February 2020. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

Ludwig van Beethoven and his “Variations on a Swiss song” have a special meaning for Katharina Weber. “These variations are among the first pieces of a great composer that I was allowed to play as a child.” The pianist and composer from Berne explains in a conversation held at the beginning of February 2020 also that music has always been important in the life of the family since the grandmother was a violinist and the grandfather nearly had become a pianist.

Katharina Weber still considers Beethoven’s variations to be very intriguing since each of them was very characteristic. “And I asked myself whether Beethoven had also referenced the lyrics for example with the partly march-like, then again, the very soft, lyrical parts.” The story of the original song therefore stood at the start of her deliberations how she could implement the composition assignment. The lyrics are about Dursli who wants to marry Babeli but is rejected by her parents because Babeli was still too young and Dursli therefore goes to Flanders to serve in a foreign war.

This story touched Katharina Weber immediately which is why the idea to take it as a basis was obvious. “It is a tragic love story if you consider that even today many people have to leave their homes.” She also personally views the story as a metaphor for love as an ideal: “He promises that he is going to hold on to it all of his life”. It was ultimately about the polarity between realistic constraints and idealistic desires.

During the Christmas holidays in 2019, Katharina Weber developed not only the basic concept of the piece and started to write down notes in an improvising manner. “I decided then to use the clarinet as an individual vis-à-vis the strings which act, in a way, as the family of Babeli, or society itself. The piano part was going to relate to the variations by Beethoven but not to the harmony; instead, to the rhythmical variants so that it is possible to recognise Beethoven.” “A completely different world of sound” should, however, prevail, and that is how we get to John Cage.

Katharina Weber tells me how the composer Urs Schneider once talked a lot about Cage in his lessons. “He told me that Cage did not like Beethoven and his strife for higher things and the search for faraway loved ones that Mozart was much grounded in life. He created a polarity between Beethoven and Mozart which occupied me a lot back then.” The first modern pieces which Katharina Weber played at the age of about 13 years with the piano teacher Janka Wyttenbach, the wife of the composer Jürg Wyttenbach, were works by Cage. “We played the piano pieces by Cage which I had first practised on the normal pianoforte at home, and then on a specially prepared pianoforte in the Conservatory – it sounded so different that really was a special experience.”

Now, Katharina Weber refers to John Cage in her composition by alienating the piano sound with magnets on the piano strings just like Cage had developed in “Sonatas and Interludes”. Cage was important to her “because he taught us to accept happenstance.” She did not want to play off the monument of modern times against the two of the past, Beethoven and Mozart. She was rather trying to bring these three together.

A good month after the Christmas period, Katharina Weber established quite a few things. The sound of the strings which represent the family, should result in harmonious structures. The clarinet as a solo instrument should, however, appear in a melodic manner and add movement – “as an individual which is fighting and searching the way”. She was, however, also using the double bass as a counterpart to the “family” of violin, viola and cello, to represent the captain who was signing on Dursli as a mercenary. The fact that the father does not want to release his daughter under any circumstances and Dursli still does not give up his set goal is something the composer wants to hint at throughout the entire piece by the flageolet sounds of the violin which appear very distant, an enormous vastness like the sky”.

Katharina Weber now tries to imagine how the individual instruments should sound and then checks them at the piano; including the notes that she had already written down. She continues to do so until the used notes and rhythms “hold” as she explains with a laugh. “The tonal space of the ‘family’, for example, is first rather tight and then expands by way of the double bass which reaches low.” Of the last verse which was breaking the boundaries of a folk song so that Katharina Weber simply goes ahead and auditions them, she wants to use the whole text, spoken or sung or even as a recitative:’ U wenn der Himmel papierge wär/u jede Stern ä Schriber wär/u jede Schriber hätt siebe, siebe Händ,/si schribe doch all meiner Liebi kes End’. [And if the sky was paper and each star was a writer and each writer had seven, seven hands, they would still not be able to write an end to my love] “Of the other ten verses, I only want to use a few words so that you can just about guess the story.”

At the time of the conversation, much is still only a draft, so it is possible that a lot can still change. Katharina Weber expects nevertheless that something was going to influence her piece in a way which is typical for compositions by her: “The harmonious space which I intend to create with the strings is similar to the space in another one of my pieces where the flute plays a soloist role.” Katharina Weber is also sure that this is going to be a composition laid down into the last detail even though she has made herself known with improvised music, too. “It would be difficult to leave space for improvisation; also because it is a relatively large ensemble and there is only little time (for practice).” She had a clear idea how her composition should sound. “And yet, I am pleased every time when I hear the actual sounds of the instruments and their sensuality.”

Katharina Weber was born in Berne in 1958. She studied piano in Basel and Berne with Jürg Wyttenbach, Urs Peter Schneider, Erika Radermacher and Jörg Ewald Dähler. She also attended master classes with Yehudi Menuhin, György Kurtág, Pauline Oliveros, Fred Frith, Alex von Schlippenbach, Barre Phillips and others. Katharina Weber teaches piano and improvisation at the Music School and Conservatory in Berne and at the Berne University of Arts. www.katharinaweber.ch
Swiss Beethoven reflections: A project by Murten Classics and SUISA on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven had not much to do with Switzerland. He did, however, write “Six variations on a Swiss song” (Sechs Variationen über ein Schweizerlied), namely the folk song “Es hätt e Bur es Töchterli” (A farmer had a daughter once). This is the starting point for the composition assignments which the summer festival Murten Classics and SUISA allocated to eight Swiss composers of different generations, aesthetics and origin.

Oscar Bianchi, Xavier Dayer, Fortunat Frölich, Aglaja Graf, Christian Henking, Alfred Schweizer, Marina Sobyanina and Katharina Weber had a choice of basing their work on the variations, the folk song used by Beethoven or Beethoven in general. The compositions were written for the ensemble Paul Klee which allows for the following maximum instrumentation: Flute (also piccolo, G- or bass flute), clarinet (in B or A), violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano.

The initiator of this project, launched in 2019, was Kaspar Zehnder who had been Artistic Director of Murten Classics for 22 years. Due to the corona crisis and the measures ordered by the authorities, it was not possible to hold the 32nd instalment of the festival in August 2020 or the scheduled replacement festival in the winter months that followed. The “SUISA day” with eight compositions of this project was performed and recorded nevertheless, without an audience, on 28 January 2021 in the KiB Murten. The recordings have been available for listening at radio SRF 2 Kultur in the programme “Neue Musik im Konzert” and are released on the platform Neo.mx3. The project is also documented online via the SUISAblog and the social media channels of SUISA.

www.murtenclassics.ch

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Katharina Weber is basing her composition work for the project “Swiss Beethoven reflections” not only on Beethoven’s variations on a Swiss song and its lyrics. She also infuses it with the sound world of John Cage. Text by guest author Markus Ganz; Video by Mike Korner

Katharina Weber: “The clarinet should act as an individual, struggling and seeking the way”

Katharina Weber talking about her work “Badurbelisli”, which was still being created at the time of the interview in February 2020. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

Ludwig van Beethoven and his “Variations on a Swiss song” have a special meaning for Katharina Weber. “These variations are among the first pieces of a great composer that I was allowed to play as a child.” The pianist and composer from Berne explains in a conversation held at the beginning of February 2020 also that music has always been important in the...read more

“As a composer, you’re always a beginner” | plus video

In his composition for the project “Swiss Beethoven reflections”, Christian Henking uses the melody of the Swiss song used by Beethoven as a basis. In his six variations, he utilises different principles. Text by guest author Markus Ganz; Video by Manu Leuenberger

Christian Henking respects Ludwig van Beethoven, “this monument, this granite rock in music history”. “He is a master teacher to me again and again, independent of the aesthetics; fantastic what he has formally achieved.” As a consequence, Beethoven’s “Variationen über ein Schweizerlied” (Variations on a Swiss song) irritated him even more, as he explains in a conversation at the end of January 2020. “I really don’t understand them, thought, it wasn’t possible that they were by Beethoven.”

Since the composer from Biel and Berne could not relate to these variations, he dealt with the original song, “Es hätt e Bur es Töchterli” (A farmer had a daughter once) in more detail. But that was also rather awkward, he thought the melody was strange for a folk song, and he was also missing the elegance of the “Guggisberglied” (Guggisberg song). “At the same time, though, it holds the incredible tension of the huge tonal range. Its straightforward, pulse-like nature is also rather interesting; there isn’t really a rhythm, just those quarter notes that ‘hang about’. The song therefore has a certain emptiness and thus also offers openness.” Christian Henking thus decided to base his composition on the melody of the folk song. Then he also wrote six variations, “just like Beethoven, but rather accidentally”.

Christian Henking explains that he first analysed the melody and then cut it into individual segments. “In my first four variations I regard individual segments of the song, so to speak. The last two relate to the entire song.” He therefore stayed altogether or not altogether with the material: “In the second variation, I avoid, especially when searching for this variation, all notes that occur in the original piece.”

The basic approach was to apply different work modes, respectively different principles for each variation. The concept crystallised while composing and developed further. “I knew that I wanted to compose miniatures, short variation movements. I first wrote the 5th variation. Then I realised that I did not want to begin in such a machine-like manner, and therefore did something rather unrestricted as a contrast. One consequently affected the other. And from such relativities, many interrelations arose.”

Christian Henking very often works at the desk, and composes in his head. In order to stimulate his imagination, he often plays piano or cello. “While improvising, I often get ideas, very simple. That is my old-fashioned vein; I am really rather far away from the computer when I compose, I actually write the notes by hand onto the score sheet.” This also includes that he plays all instruments of his scores himself one time. “I like to have the instrument in my fingers. Not in order to hear its sound – I am a pianist, not a string player – but to play the fingerings, sounds and bow positions myself. Strangely, it helps me compose when I apply the haptics in this context even if it was not necessary; it provides me with a kind of grounding.”

Christian Henking selected the combination of strings trio with flute on the one hand because he wanted a small instrumentation so that no conductor was needed. He does, on the other hand, mainly find this instrumentation fascinating. “I have a close relationship with string trios per se. And then the flute joins in, as a kind of outsider, and melts with the sound of the trio.”

You must not expect a “typical Henking composition”. He rather sees “the task of a composer to look at each piece as if it was new, since as a composer, you are always a beginner”. Christian Henking has even started from scratch for each of his variations within the piece and consciously worked with different approaches and techniques: “This is what makes up the art of composing”. To start from scratch also signified to have a heap of possibilities ahead of oneself. Facing so many freedoms, one would have to reflect. He then also sees the risk to select and use a means or a method too quickly because it has worked in one place and has already been tried and tested before. “Routine is a risk and I fight against this with each note.”

During the conversation at the end of January 2020, the composition process had already been mostly concluded. “Everything is here now”, explains Christian Henking and points to numerous score sheets. “I will rethink everything again so that it is possible I apply corrections and other alterations.” Then, however, the composition will be finished into the last detail. Compared to other works, Christian Henking does not grant the performers any freedoms here.

Christian Henking was born in Basel in 1961. He studied music theory at the Conservatory Berne under Theo Hirsbrunner; Ewald Körner trained him to be a chapel master. After that, he studied composition with Cristobal Halffter and Edison Denisov, in master courses with Wolfgang Rihm and Heinz Holliger. He received various awards, among them the Culture Award of the Bürgi-Willert-Stiftung (2000), Acknowledgment Award of the Canton Berne (2002) and the Music Award of the Canton Berne (2016). He is a lecturer at the University of the Arts, Bern, for composition, theoretical subjects and chamber music. www.christianhenking.ch
Swiss Beethoven reflections: A project by Murten Classics and SUISA on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven had not much to do with Switzerland. He did, however, write “Six variations on a Swiss song” (Sechs Variationen über ein Schweizerlied), namely the folk song “Es hätt e Bur es Töchterli” (A farmer had a daughter once). This is the starting point for the composition assignments which the summer festival Murten Classics and SUISA allocated to eight Swiss composers of different generations, aesthetics and origin.

Oscar Bianchi, Xavier Dayer, Fortunat Frölich, Aglaja Graf, Christian Henking, Alfred Schweizer, Marina Sobyanina and Katharina Weber had a choice of basing their work on the variations, the folk song used by Beethoven or Beethoven in general. The compositions were written for the ensemble Paul Klee which allows for the following maximum instrumentation: Flute (also piccolo, G- or bass flute), clarinet (in B or A), violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano.

The initiator of this project, launched in 2019, is Kaspar Zehnder who has been Artistic Director of Murten Classics for 22 years. Due to the corona crisis and the measures ordered by the authorities, it was not possible to hold the 32nd instalment of the festival in August 2020 or the scheduled replacement festival in the winter months that followed. The “SUISA day” with eight compositions of this project was performed and recorded nevertheless, without an audience, on 28 January 2021 in the KiB Murten. The recordings are available for listening at radio SRF 2 Kultur in the programme “Neue Musik im Konzert” (5 May 2021, 9pm) and will be released on the platform Neo.mx3. The project will also be documented online via the SUISAblog and the social media channels of SUISA.

www.murtenclassics.ch

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In his composition for the project “Swiss Beethoven reflections”, Christian Henking uses the melody of the Swiss song used by Beethoven as a basis. In his six variations, he utilises different principles. Text by guest author Markus Ganz; Video by Manu Leuenberger

Christian Henking respects Ludwig van Beethoven, “this monument, this granite rock in music history”. “He is a master teacher to me again and again, independent of the aesthetics; fantastic what he has formally achieved.” As a consequence, Beethoven’s “Variationen über ein Schweizerlied” (Variations on a Swiss song) irritated him even more, as he explains in a conversation at the end of January 2020. “I really don’t understand them, thought, it wasn’t possible that they were by Beethoven.”

Since the composer from Biel and Berne could not relate to these variations, he...read more

Archipel Festival – a well-established works smithy | plus video

The Archipel Festival is going to give a large audience access to a plethora of new works between 16 and 25 April 2021 from its location in Geneva. The audience will be able to delve into the festival from the comfort of their homes and to log on in order to follow about 70 events which take place each afternoon. Text by Erika Weibel; Video by Nina Müller

The entire festival programme is going to be broadcast via streaming and will be made available via the Archipel website, free of charge. It is also possible to meet artists online, to participate in discussions, answer questions in quizzes, get an impression of the weather and throw a glance into the premises of the event venue.

Archipel provides a festival “under supervision” with a Web TV team which is going to broadcast live for ten days, from noon to midnight. A unique, experimental and artistic project which allows the audience to take part actively on air.

Baptism of fire for new composers

This year, the Archipel Festival has provided composers again with the opportunity to create new works and thus give the audience the pleasure of enjoying these new compositions. Salômé Guillemin-Poeuf, a young composer from Geneva, has, for example, created the work “50 Hertz”, whose première will take place on 21 April 2021 at 7.00pm.

Salômé Guillemin-Poeuf is a designer and musician who lives and works in Geneva. She creates interactive sound installations, performances and musical instruments. Her works have already been performed to be audio- & audiovisually on numerous international stages. The creative and versatile artist recently registered as an associate member of SUISA.

Collaboration with Archipel

SUISA is a sponsor of the festival again. It is great news that the Archipel organisers have found a creative means to adapt to the circumstances and to carry out the festival under strict stipulations in a new format – and thus enable many new works to be performed.

As a sponsor, we would like to point out two of the 70 events in particular:

Première of the work “50 Hertz” by Salômé Guillemin-Poeuf
on 21 April 2021 at 7.00pm

SUISA round table talk on being a composer in Switzerland
on 24 April 2021 at 2.00pm

Broadcast from the Maison communale de Plainpalais via: www.archipel.org
between 16 and 25 April, from noon to midnight each day

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The Archipel Festival is going to give a large audience access to a plethora of new works between 16 and 25 April 2021 from its location in Geneva. The audience will be able to delve into the festival from the comfort of their homes and to log on in order to follow about 70 events which take place each afternoon. Text by Erika Weibel; Video by Nina Müller

The entire festival programme is going to be broadcast via streaming and will be made available via the Archipel website, free of charge. It is also possible to meet artists online, to participate in discussions, answer questions in quizzes, get an impression of the weather and throw a glance into the premises of the event venue.

Archipel provides a festival “under supervision” with a Web...read more

Ghost Festival – The big silence

The Ghost Festival, the biggest concert event ever to be held in Switzerland will take place over the next weekend. The line-up includes around 300 bands and artists. However: There are neither performances, nor music or light shows. The Ghost Festival which was conceptualised as an initiative of solidarity for the Swiss music scene, is emblematic for the disastrous situation creators and artists find themselves in during the corona crisis. SUISA supports the festival as a sponsor. It had a video interview with Baldy Minder, the co-organiser of the festival regarding the facts behind the non-festival. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Nina Müller

The line-up of the Ghost Festival makes the heart of every Swiss pop and rock music fan beat faster: Established names such as Stephan Eicher, Patent Ochsner or Dodo are lined up next to the “young and wild ones” such as Crème Solaire, Annie Taylor or KT Gorique. Unfortunately, you will not get much more than their names. Music is something you will not find at this event, nor will there be brilliant live shows or the usual festival feeling with tents, catering stalls and queuing in front of mobile toilets.

The Ghost Festival is “the festival that does not take place”. It is not going to take place over the weekend of 27/28 February 2021.

Ghost matches in football were the inspiration for the Ghost Festival

Brought to life by a few Berne music lovers, the Ghost Club, the Ghost Festival is an initiative of solidarity for Swiss music creators and performers.  Baldy Minder, booker and manager of acts such as the Bern Hip-Hop-Kollektiv Chlyklass or the female rapper 11Ä is a member of the Ghost Club. In the backstage area of the Zurich concert venue “Exil”, he told us during the video interview what the basic idea of the Ghost Festival is: “There are ghost matches in football. And as a supportive football fan, you show your solidarity these days by renewing your season ticket even though the future is uncertain. And that is how the idea for the Ghost Festival came about.”

Music fans can buy tickets for the festival as follows: A one-day pass for CHF 20, a two-day pass for CHF 50 or a VIP ticket for CHF 100. And because it does not take place, the tickets are never sold out. Furthermore, there is a broad range of Ghost Festival merchandise from T-shirts to hats and caps or hoodies and jackets. The income thus made will be paid through to the artists as well as their bookers, light and sound engineers and others. This kind of money is more than just a nice little top up: In the current situation, the most important source of income for most of the music creators and artists – in the broadest sense – drops out: concerts. And this situation has been ongoing, apart from a few short periods of relief in the summer of 2020, for one year now. And an improvement is not in sight.

A hole of more than CHF 50,000 in the financial ledgers of the authors and publishers of music

This is also reflected at SUISA when it comes to the collections from performing rights which include concerts and festivals, among others. Based on the example of the Ghost Festival, this can be well demonstrated: Around 15,000 tickets have been sold so far for the festival. If this was a normal event, where artists perform their songs, the composers, lyricists and publishers of the performed works would receive more than CHF 50,000 in royalties. Since no music is played, this kind of income simply drop off.

Around 400 festivals take place in Switzerland each year, the country with the largest festival density worldwide. Most of these festivals had to be cancelled due to the corona pandemic last year. As a consequence, SUISA’s income for copyright arising from concerts in 2020 were more than 50% lower than in the previous year. In absolute figures, this is, compared to 2019, CHF 12m less which will be paid out to the music creators in 2020 from concert income. And this detrimental situation is going to last well into 2021 and probably also into 2022.

An initiative of solidarity also aimed at bookers, sound engineers, roadies and other participants

And these are only the collections for those who composed or wrote the lyrics to musical works or are in the publishing business. For musicians, there is also the loss of gig fees, which are usually much higher than the copyright royalties. Concert and festival cancellations are not just problematic for musicians: The crisis which has now been going on for about a year has also affected the people that make such a festival and concerts possible in general: Bookers, sound and light engineers, roadies, tour managers, merchandise salespeople, security staff or of course the concert promoters themselves.

“The idea is that it is not just the bands who benefit but also that there is a holistic promotion and support for people who work in this sector”, says Baldy Minder. “When bands are on the road, they have a tour manager, a light engineer or a sound engineer; bands who travel with instruments have stage hands who help to carry all the equipment. There are an awful lot of people involved who currently have very little to do, unfortunately, and thus much less income.”

100% of the ticket sales go to the music creators

That is why the artists and bands could name two additional people from their entourage who should also benefit from the income generated by the Ghost Festival. In total, this is about 1,300 people. “The collected monies will be distributed on a per capita basis and not on a per-band basis”, explains Baldy Minder. While 100% of the income from ticket and merchandising sales flow to music creators, a part of the sponsorship funds will be used to pay for the work of the organisers. “The partnerships enable us to pay our salaries”, says Baldy Minder.  And adds: “Whatever remains of the sponsorship funds will be allocated to the artists.”

One of the biggest challenges for the organisers was time management: The idea came about at the end of November 2020. There were just three months to carve out the biggest festival in Switzerland. Even if there are no performances in the end, there are some parallels between organising a ghost festival and a real festival, as Baldy Minder explains: “A major part is rather similar to a real festival. You have to make a booking, you initiate the entire promotion, social media and press campaign. You have a lot of contact with the bands. What you don’t have is the entire infrastructure. You do not have to build a fence, set up a stage and we do not have to organise a PA company. We also do not need security. We do not need to pay SUISA fees since nothing is going to happen from a copyright perspective, after all, you won’t hear a peep at the festival.”

Ghost sounds, if anything

The event organisers have also intentionally renounced on organising streaming concerts for the weekend. Baldy Minder says: “Many people are asking for streams, but no, there will simply be nothing this time, no music. It is now finally the time where you can lean back and give back.”

For the audience of the Ghost Festival that does not want the sounds of silence and is missing the music, there will be something to listen to after all, even if it is no music: “We will release an album. It won’t be a compilation but an album as “The Ghost Orchestra”, announces Baldy Minder. It will be released on 26/2/21, one day ahead of the festival.” It is going to be released as a CD – with a clear idea behind it, as Baldy Minder explains: “The CD is totally anti-cyclical, a little bit of a ghost which is slowly vanishing.” Most of the bands from the line-up will be included on the mysterious CD. And they are artists from all language regions of Switzerland. After all, the Covid-19 pandemic affects music creators across all of Switzerland.

SUISA is a partner of the Ghost Festival
The Covid-19 crisis heavily affects SUISA members. For that reason, SUISA acts as a sponsoring partner of the Ghost Festival, not just the Cooperative Society itself but also its staff members. Each ticket that is bought by the SUISA staff will be enhanced in value by the company: Each one-day ticket will be upgraded to a two-day ticket, each two-day ticket will be upgraded to a VIP ticket and for each sold VIP ticket the staff receive a second VIP ticket.Above and beyond that, SUISA will be reporting from the festival on the festival weekend and talk to some artists and organisers. More info will be available in the coming days on www.instagram.com/suisamusicstories.

 

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The Ghost Festival, the biggest concert event ever to be held in Switzerland will take place over the next weekend. The line-up includes around 300 bands and artists. However: There are neither performances, nor music or light shows. The Ghost Festival which was conceptualised as an initiative of solidarity for the Swiss music scene, is emblematic for the disastrous situation creators and artists find themselves in during the corona crisis. SUISA supports the festival as a sponsor. It had a video interview with Baldy Minder, the co-organiser of the festival regarding the facts behind the non-festival. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Nina Müller

The line-up of the Ghost Festival makes the heart of every Swiss pop and rock music fan beat faster: Established names such as Stephan Eicher, Patent Ochsner or...read more

“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.
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  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

“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.
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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.
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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.

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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