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Composers on the Coronavirus Crisis: Moritz Eggert

The consequences of the coronavirus crisis affect us all. We have asked our composers how these months and weeks affect their artistic work. We will publish their answers successively in this section.

Moritz Eggert

(was born on November 25, 1965 in Heidelberg. For Eggert, art and music are declared a means of overcoming ideological or stylistic limits)

"My thoughts on it:

As a composer, one is used to working alone and isolated, so the initial limitation presents no great change for me, purely in terms of work technique. There is enough to do - at the moment I am working on a new opera, writing articles or thinking about projects. But most of all I use the extra time to be together with my family intensively (which is a welcome change considering the many trips I usually have to take). The uncertain projects (those you still have no idea whether or not they will take place) are the ones hardest to work on at the moment, so I try to think more in the long term.

But in the final analysis, these are all ludicrous problems compared to the global situation impacting everybody on this planet. Even as part of "show business" - a profession in which a certain vanity and also a certain narcissism play an inevitable role - a little modesty and withdrawal may do us some good at the moment. Calming down and reflecting - that's also where the strength lies that can be drawn upon for the future.

We can all be extremely happy we are still doing relatively well compared to the rest of the world hit by Covid-19, and I am aware of this every day and am very thankful for it. I don't struggle with measures to protect life and would always contend that every single life is more important at any given time than a world premiere of mine or a concert. I don't struggle with the resultant financial losses (which will afflict all of us), because even money can never be more important than recklessly risking human lives. These priorities are absolutely clear to me, and perhaps that is also what one can learn again in the current situation: to be aware of precisely these priorities afresh. Without people there is no art, so first off you have to take care of people before you can make art again. 

But then again it is art that can tell us best and most vividly about these priorities - we know great works in every epoch of music history that have succeeded in doing just that, be it Monteverdi's "Vespers of Mary", Bach's Passions, Beethoven's 9th Symphony or B.A. Zimmermann's "The Soldiers"... I can only understand the underlying content of these works as a profound appeal to humanity, as a demand not to be one's own neighbor. These works contradict everything that is proven to be so dangerous these days: the idea that a functioning economy is more important than human life (Trump) or that power interests are more important than the health of the population (Bolsonaro). Wherever separatists, survivalists or radicals now stock up on firearms and supplies, the most important basic treaty of essential human cohesion is being rescinded. But this cohesion is our only chance. The globality of our world has exacerbated the crisis, but at the same time it is also the only salvation from the crisis, that is, if we see Corona as a problem that involves us all equally. In Africa as in Europe, in America as in Asia. Viruses do not respect borders and show us how virtual such borders are, including those we have drawn in our immediate environment

What the future holds, none of us can say, but it is clear that it will affect what we accomplish creatively in some way. Not so much by directly referring to it. Even after the Spanish flu there were no operas about it, quite the contrary. I don't have the slightest desire to make any corona compositions at the moment too, and even less desire to post them on the net. Personally, I would feel miserable doing such a thing, although I respect that it brings comfort to some colleagues. But I just trust that music grows in silence and becomes more important with every day of silence. Sometimes the best thing is just to be silent. After times of isolation, death and suffering, you may be best served listening to your inner self, to what is really so important about art. I find it fascinating, for instance, how strong a piece like "Metamorphoses" by Strauß is (which was created at just such a time), precisely as it is not bold, but on the contrary, especially subtle and intense.

When this crisis makes us realize how valuable art and music actually are - and I am sure that this realization will be reached in the end despite endless streamed living room concerts - then a lot is accomplished! It's like a temporary fast - and everyone knows that after Lent, you can enjoy and appreciate food all the more intensively. It will be the same with music."

Moritz Eggert (24 March 2020)

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