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Composers on the Coronavirus Crisis: Jörn Arnecke

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

Jörn Arnecke
(the composer was born on September 28, 1973 in Hameln and is professor at the Weimar University of Music Franz Liszt for music theory since October 2009)

Composing in the Time of Corona

"Corona turned my life upside down too. And I'm privileged: Family (and therefore no isolation), permanent employment (at the Hochschule für Musik FRANZ LISZT Weimar) and a big firmly agreed world premiere project for 2021 (which is not yet threatened by cancellation). But Corona triggers many questions that go beyond music and are to do with our living together, our perceptions and our fears. And as I am particularly at home in music theatre from a compositional point of view, this has a very strong impact on my musical work.

Many things seem so small in the face of the threat of Corona. A few months ago, there was quite a commotion regarding the obligation to take a receipt at bakeries; now the receipt obligation is of no consequence to us, just as long as the bakery is open, and we manage to keep a safe distance. The fact that the global touring business was overwound, even that of classical music was noticeable earlier; it only becomes clearly visible now, with everyone staying at home and thinking about what is at the core of their lives. A lot doesn't have to be a lot - but the nothingness that concert halls and opera houses, festivals and the independent scene are forced to do is of course far too little. Where is the healthy measure? In music, in society, in one's own life?

It seems to me that quantity has become increasingly important over the years. Independent artists need many concerts, lots commissions, a huge network, a great deal of time for PR on their own affairs - simply to survive. Now that everything is falling apart, it is time to become aware of the value art has for our society and what we want to give it. Admission fees are reasonable if they give the artists enough to live without robbing them of any room for creation in their diaries. The immediate experience of art is vital and society-forming everywhere - not only in the big cities: We therefore need solidarity for the breadth of our cultural landscape. The German Orchestra Association has presented "MusikerNothilfe" (Musicians Emergency Aid) with its fundraising campaign. Many other fields need support too: freelance music teachers, freelancers at theatres and opera houses, lecturers at music colleges and many more.

I have not yet written about the composers. Festival cancellations, postponements of world premieres, cancelled concerts and the resulting loss of royalties are also hitting them - and again, freelance colleagues particularly hard. Here too, the solidarity of those protected is called for. Part of the essence of composing is to withdraw in order to find concentration for the musical fantasy. In times when contacts are diminished, this concentration tends to be easier (unless a child comes along from the Home Care Centre, hungry, thirsty, bored or defecating). However, in times when society is focused primarily on one topic, it seems almost unworldly to think about music while the concern for risk groups - even in one's own environment - smoulders.

On the other hand, this anxiety shows us what is really essential in our lives. And to penetrate to the essential, to create urgent music - that would also be the greatest goal compositionally. We are not obliged write pieces about the obligation to take bakery receipts. Everything that Corona triggers in us can become shatteringly deep music."

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