From the Feuilletons


Die Zeit, 05.01.2006

The entire feuilleton section of this weekly paper celebrates Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose 250th birthday falls on January 27.

A "man like gunpowder": Claus Spahn describes the explosive mixture that made up Mozart: "Mozart is simple and difficult. He is a child-god-angel-man. He is a witty-earnest-sun-night artist. He is a preserver-completer-renewer. He is Salzburg-Vienna-Germany-Europe." But Mozart was no "dialectical egghead, all tied in knots. He pursued his artistic visions with an incredible single-mindedness, his music is of an impressive clarity. However you look at it, however you twist it, the dilemma remains the same: 'What you intend is not what you shit' (Mozart)."

Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini explains in an interview why he has played so little Mozart until now: "Perhaps you remember the comment by Wilhelm Kempff: Mozart's sonatas are too easy for amateurs and too difficult for professional musicians. Maybe that's why. (...) I think the older you get, the closer you come to Mozart. Perhaps because it's only as a mature musician that you can really appreciate the subtlety of his music. I always loved Mozart, but it could be that that love has now grown even stronger. Beethoven speaks to us with grand, powerful gestures, Mozart with nuances. If you listen closely, you hear that he can express everything. There is an infinite well of hidden profundity to be discovered – in his operas as much as his instrumental works. The more experienced you are, the more you come to see that."

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 05.01.2006

Joachim Kaiser travelled to Berlin to talk with pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim about his Israeli-Palestinian "West-Eastern Divan Orchestra" (more here). "As if he didn't know how provocative his analogy could be, Barenboim explains things as follows: the mixture of permanence and selective change in his orchestra is roughly 'like the situation in Bayreuth' (home of the Wagner Festival – ed). But doesn't it require a lot of courage on the part of young Palestinians or Egyptians when they work with a prominent Israeli? Barenboim says he has never heard of families forcing their children against their will, but he does admit there is social pressure, to which Israelis are also subject when they play together with Arab musicians. But that doesn't seem to be too much of a problem for Barenboim, who says proudly: 'Living together (on concert tours) and playing music with the enemy is an existential experience.' Everyone involved, and that goes for him too, emerges a different person."

Pop freaks are back, Karl Bruckmaier writes gleefully. "Records are springing up all over from politicised collectives: freak relics like Godspeed You Black Emperor and Silver Mt. Zion who have been hanging out in tumbledown houses in a Canadian middle of nowhere are now getting reinforcement - and it's even charts compatible. A concert by Arcade Fire from Toronto is a euphoric experience, the fireworks are lit collectively, lit by more or less anonymous participants in the general revelry, who take turns entering the stage and leaving it again in ever changing constellations, so that after two songs the audience has lost track of what's going on and the notoriously name-obsessed New Musical Express can only write 'the guy with the motorbike helmet' in their yearly list of the coolest people on the planet."

Die Welt, 05.01.2006

Reinhard Mohr writes on the forum page that the long goodbye to "old German beliefs" has finally come to an end with the pragmatism of German chancellor Angela Merkel, and that fundamental changes are in the air: "Without wanting to, former chancellor Gerhard Schröder did the (dirty) work of radical disillusionment for Merkel. Nowadays, practically no one believes in anything politicians promise. The SDP-Green Party roller-coaster ride spawned a deep-seated political fatigue, an almost Schopenhauerian absence of will. And this can now form the basis for a renewed, resurgent pragmatism. Recent weeks have seen a new hope in Germany. This is not only an irony of history, it is also logically consistent. To paraphrase Hölderlin: Where there is pessimism, optimism is close by."

Die Tageszeitung, 05.01.2006

The disastrous collapse of an ice rink in the Bavarian town of Bad Reichenhall on Monday is symbolic of the decline in people's faith in the state and politics, writes Clemens Niedenthal. "In the end it is completely irrelevant what the archaeologists of this catastrophe give as the actual cause, the crisis thermometer is already clearly pointing at the protecting hand of the community which no one can really trust any more. And one can see a final metaphor in the movement of the catastrophe itself: things fall apart. The protective roof becomes a deadly weight." - let's talk european