SignAndSight.com

From the Feuilletons


27/01/2006 

Mozart's 250th birthday

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born 250 years ago today. In Die Welt, clarinettist and composer Jörg Widmann describes why he is still so in awe of Mozart's works: "In the final movement of the C minor Wind Serenade K.388, one of Mozart's most demanding works in a minor chord, one minor variation follows the next, until all of a sudden there's a bit in C major that seems to have been stuck in there almost out of the blue. Then just before the end there's a modulation to A minor. This is related to what preceded it, but very distantly. I mean you've still got the C major in your ears. And then very curiously he leaves out the major third in the final chords. No heed is paid to a long-standing baroque technique. Mozart surprises, he questions, he nullifies and overrides. And he leaves you with a constant feeling of wonder."

The Süddeutsche Zeitung features a very engaging discussion between Bettina Ehrhardt and composer Wolfgang Rihm on Mozart and his peers. "Mozart's contemporaries, the composers Vanhal, Cannabich, Kozeluch, Jommelli, Kraus and whatever their names were, Dittersdorf, Eberl, were also very highly esteemed. They composed similar works, for all intents and purposes the same. And Mozart, well, people noticed he was somehow particularly good at what he did. But the others weren't bad either. Today we can tell the difference. Or can we? If you said to an audience: here, this is a symphony by Mozart, and then played one by Eberl – could they really tell the difference? There's a question for you!"

All this wide-eyed enthusiasm about Mozart has prompted writer Eckhard Henscheid to take a critical stand. He comments in Der Tagesspiegel: "I would be more interested in some straight-out questions like whether it was a good thing that a 13-year old scamp could write a mass of such quality that only very close listening could distinguish it from a requiem. Was Mozart not child enough, too much of a music machine? We could take Albert Cohen's statement that Mozart delivered feelings no longer produced by the heart one step further - from the phylogenetic to the ontogenetic - and say: he delivered feelings created by the head and the pen that the heart had never experienced. Which brings us back to the role of his father. 2006 would be a good time to cool our relationship with Mozart the verbal artist. This is not to say we should draw a veil over the joys of scatology – but overrating Mozart the filthy joke teller seems just as ill-advised as the desire to paint him as a revolutionary. No, Mozart was also a genuine conservative at heart."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 27.01.2006

Hoo Nam Seelmann scours the streets of South Korea for reasons why people continued to defend clone researcher Hwang Woo Suk even after his research was revealed to be fake. But Seelmann "retains a shred of hope. Young Korean bioscientists played a crucial role in exposing the fraud. Particularly important was the Internet portal BRIC (Biological Research Information Center) for news and trends in bioscience, which is particularly popular with young scientists. Its online reports were objective, sometimes even ironic about the blind patriotism which had taken the country by storm."

The media and IT page also focusses on South Korea. Christoph Neidhart presents a "remarkably successful" online paper: Ohmy News. Anyone can contribute to it, provided they have registered as an Ohmy member. The website is "not a print organ which treats the Internet merely as an additional sales channel. It is a web-project which also prints its best stories as a paper each Saturday." That means, it makes money. And it has become "one of the country's leading voices. Three years ago the paper mobilised enough young voters to decisively influence the outcome of the presidential elections. Roh Moo Hyun is considered by many to be the world's 'first Internet president'. To express his appreciation after his election he gave his first interview to Ohmy News. Today Ohmy has two million hits per day. Just over a year ago it also started up an English-language Internet paper for an international audience. Japanese and Chinese versions are in the offing."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 27.01.2006

The Herbert Hoover secondary school in the Berlin district of Wedding has jumped the gun and opted to pioneer the policy, now being hotly discussed, of enforcing German-speaking only in the school yard. While the Turkish paper Hürriyet, the Federal Council of Parents, immigration politicians and a host of Berlin head teachers are shouting "discrimination", the kids themselves feel more discriminated against for their lack of German skills than by any rule on which language to speak, writes Dieter Rulff. He sees it as a positive step: last year this school had the "highest number of enrolments in the district. And while integration experts are busy quarrelling about the hindrances to immigration in the playground, the head of this school can be glad to have started the process of breaking them down."
signandsight.com - let's talk european