Dealing with (Guy) Deutscher.

Dealing with (Guy) Deutscher

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In my life as a musician I have encountered countless different personalities. I met fascinating human beings who I have had the luck to have had as teachers and mentors, and for whose support I will always be thankful. But I have also dealt with various levels of delusion, obsessiveness and fanaticism. Some people in this business are weird – some in a good, some in a bad way.

But let me tell you: Guy Deutscher belongs to neither category. He can easily hold his own as being “somebody special”.

Let me tell you my story with him.

Let it be a warning, a cautionary tale if you will.

“It seems you don’t enjoy tolerance. You might have a little a problem with tolerance?“ Guy Deutscher

Guy Deutscher is no musician, he is the father of a girl called Alma Deutscher. Alma Deutscher – who is not the subject of this article, as she is definitely not to be faulted for the actions of her father – has had some success as a prodigy composer of classical music. Recently she was awarded a prize in Austria, and to the surprise of the organizers she used the occasion of a short interview on stage to suddenly make a seemingly well-rehearsed statement that describes how she felt pressured by the classical music establishment to write “ugly” music, but that in her opinion music should have the right to be beautiful and that it would be better for the world, if everybody wrote “beautiful” music. The full text of her statement can be found here.

I was not the only one who smiled at her seemingly earnest “revelation” that there was something like an evil music police who forces innocent young teen composers to compose in an “atonal” style, but there might have been more naïve members of the audience who actually believed her, and that seemed worrying to me.

As I am a composer who likes to use melody and tonality but who also likes to use all other possibilities of music, regardless of how radical and experimental they are, I felt that Alma’s statement should be scrutinized a little more. Had I ever been “rejected” by the music establishment, because of my sometime use of tonality and melody? I had indeed been criticized in some reviews by some hardliner critics with an old-fashioned modernist view. But the same pieces also got good reviews by other critics, and everybody’s a critic anyway. Had it harmed my career? No. I have been called “traditionalist” by Avantgarde colleagues, but I have also been called “too Avantgarde” by more traditional colleagues. Did anybody ever force me to write music that I did not really want to write? Certainly not, and I have also studied in England, where Alma grew up. In my studies at the Guildhall my esteemed fellow composition students had no problems writing “beautiful” as well as experimental music, and nobody ever criticized them for it. There was always a discussion of quality of course, but that is necessary in any kind of education, and is something essential to any academic study: to get advice, constructive criticism and new perspectives.

So why was Alma (or the person who wrote her statement, it is not entirely clear she wrote it herself) so adamant in her claim that she was told by ominous forces to “forget melodies” or “concentrate on dissonance”? Who was actually preventing her writing the music she wants and that she is actually pretty successful with?

So I wrote this article (in German), in which I pondered this question a little. An article not about Alma Deutscher and her music, but simply about the question if there is something like an “anti-tonality” law still in existence and if it is relevant to the current young generation of composers.

It is common that I discuss topics like this in my blog, and it is also common that I get comments either agreeing or disagreeing with my point of view. But I was little prepared for the angry email (in German) from Alma’s father, Guy Deutscher, who apparently felt it to be compulsory to attack me personally for my article.

To my utter surprise his letter was not at all about what I had written about. Instead it was an attempt to make me look like some kind of Nazi. In his opinion I was “intolerant” towards his daughter and family, had “mocked” her name and should be ashamed for the crimes that my nation had committed against his family. He also wrote that my hand should “tremble”, because I did all this as a professor in the “Fuehrerbau”, which was probably still reeking from all the evil committed there. He was also angry that I (in his view) had called his daughter “arch-reactionary”.

I admit I was completely flabbergasted. I read my article again. Had I “insulted” Alma? I had not even thought about her being Jewish at all, and the article was not about her Jewish heritage in the least. Why was Guy Deutscher bringing this up? There was also not a single instance of me calling her “arch-reactionary”, I had only expressed that there is something like a reactionary trend in some of contemporary music (I was thinking of the bland harmlessness of some Neoclassical or conservative composers, who pretend that the last 150 years of music history haven’t happened). And I had indeed expressed my opinion that Alma’s statement could be “hijacked” by extreme traditionalists. But that was all. I also had not written anything about her name except that it showed she comes from an educated background, which is hardly an insult and certainly not “mockery”.

Even more puzzling was Deutscher’s demand that I publish his weird and frankly embarrassing (for him) mail, threatening me with the ominous prospect to publish it “somewhere else” if I didn’t.

After some consideration I decided to fulfill his wish, but to ignore all the strange angry narratives he created about me completely. If something is so obviously a misunderstanding of my original essay, I thought it would be more polite to not make that misunderstanding even more obvious by acknowledging it too much. Instead I wrote an article as an open answer to his letter, in which I tried to explain my point again calmly, expressing my greatest respect for the talent of his daughter, coupled with some thoughts about the necessity of freedom in music, the possible downsides of being marked as a “prodigy” too early on and how I wished that his daughter would retain her curiosity towards all kinds of musical expression and become an independent and interesting artist.

I went to great lengths to make this article as polite and respectful as possible, to show Guy Deutscher that I would be the last person on this planet to “demand” any kind of musical style from his daughter, and that I would be very happy if she followed her own intuition with her music and become even more successful with it. I also expressed my feeling that it felt strange to converse with the father about his daughter instead of speaking directly to Alma, as I could already tell from Deutscher’s first mail that he seemed quite obsessed with speaking in her name instead of letting her speak herself. My answer and his letter can be found in full length (and in German) here:

“There were others in Munich who had a small problem with tolerance. Your predecessors in the Fuehrerbau also found tolerance outdated and reactionary, and they were never tired to proclaim this.” (Guy Deutscher)

Was the statement at the Vienna prize ceremony really Alma’s own? Or had it been written by her father? I spoke with a colleague involved in the award, and he told me that there had been indeed a quite difficult communication with Guy Deutscher before the award ceremony. Guy Deutscher was extremely protective, always accompanied Alma to interviews and seemed to act as her manager and personal bodyguard. The organizers were also quite unhappy with the unannounced statement of Alma that had not been discussed before and seemed to be a bit “guerilla” style, unnecessary in an event that actually awarded her with a prize for exactly the music she claimed to be stigmatized for. With this information some sentences of Guy Deutscher’s words in his first letter felt even more like they were uttered by some kind of Mafioso who suddenly takes your arm in the street and utters “you have a problem with tolerance, eh?” before taking you to a dark corner to beat you up.

The whole Nazi angle brought up by Deutscher felt increasingly shabby the more I thought about it, a kind of extremely unfair preemptive killer argument to prevent any further discussion about Alma’s statement, which was actually my sole intention. But I thought I had laid the whole thing to rest by not letting myself be provoked by his aggression.

Boy was I wrong.

Only shortly after my article I received a new mail by Deutscher, this time in English. This was even more aggressive in tone. Suddenly I was accused of “verbal abuse” (where exactly had I “verbally abused” Alma?) and “name calling” (where exactly had I called Alma “names”?). Suddenly – in a weird table-turning moment – I was (in Deutscher’s word)  the “reactionary” who tells poor Alma how she “must” compose, which she – of course – has to refuse (I had never asked her to compose in any way, instead I had explicitly encouraged her to find her own way and to stay curious).

“But Mr Eggert, even if you sit in the Fuehrerbau, you are not actually the “Führer”, nor are you Stalin. What gives you the right to tell others how they “must” compose? If I were you, I would watch my language a bit more carefully when I preach to the world.” (Guy Deutscher).

“What the f***?” is perhaps an understatement when describing what I thought while reading his angry and insulting prose. I felt like he talked to a completely different person, had read a completely different text than the one I had written. Why did he feel the need to compare me with “The Fuehrer”? Why was this brought up again and again? His letter and my attempt at another reasonably unexcited answer can be found at the end of this article.

Suddenly it dawned on me what may have happened. Someone with a not-so-firm grasp of German may have read my original blog post and alerted Deutscher of its content. Enraged he probably read over it in a very superfluous way, misunderstood it as an attack and immediately wrote to me. After my answer he probably realized that he misunderstood key parts of my text, but as a noted linguist found it perhaps too embarrassing to admit that in retrospect. Frankly it IS extremely embarrassing for a linguist to not know that the German word “muessen” does not directly translate to the English word “must” for example. At least I would be very embarrassed if I was a linguist.

Realizing that I guess the only way for him now was perhaps to follow the good old Donald-Trump-school of simply repeating the untruth in the hope that it becomes a truth at some point. That also explained his increasingly raging mails. He could not give in because it would mean admitting an error on his side. Or was it something else? I of course truly felt sorry for the tragic history of his family, and could respect that there was a certain touchiness on his side, but couldn’t that be worked out in a normal way, by having a sober and normal conversation about it, that could resolve any misunderstandings? I am sure we could have talked it over and come to some kind of friendly understanding, so that he would understand that I never even remotely wanted to insult Alma or her family’s history. Why would I want to do that? But he simply rejected all my attempts to converse in a normal way. A famous friend from the classical music world even tried to write to Deutscher in this context to calm him down (because of knowing him from a past meeting), but got an aggressive response from him as well. He is just stubborn, I thought, let’s forget about him and see how things calm down.

Sadly this is not the end of the story, otherwise one could let it rest somehow as the ramblings of somebody clearly obsessed with worries about the continuing success of his daughter slowly approaching less prodigy-marketable adulthood. Or with a really bad opinion of Germans.

Because a day later I suddenly got a mail from the Bayerische Akademie der Schoenen Kuenste (where I am a member) notifying me that a certain “Guy Deutscher” had complained about me and what I had to say about his accusations. A similar letter was sent to the Music University where I am teaching, and which Guy Deutscher had previously discredited as simply “the Fuehrerbau” instead of acknowledging it as an internationally recognized musical institution with countless famous alumni that it is today.

In an act that can only described as extremely embarassing my University, the Muenchener Musikhochschule, actually was so scared of Deutscher’s invented accusations that they EXCUSED themselves to him for my blog without actually really having read it at all.

My youtube accounts were also affected – suddenly I got countless hate comments on my videos, demanding for example that I should stop “insulting the girl”. I tried to enter a conversation with some of these visibly enraged and hateful commentators, and it became clear that they only had heard about me “insulting the girl” without really knowing how exactly and that they felt threatened by me wanting to “stop beautiful music”, something which I had neither expressed a wish for nor had ever demanded. I wonder who told them that. Is there a Pro-Deutscher league out there somehow, innocent poor people who can be willfully manipulated to believe any kind of bullshit Guy Deutscher tells them, I wondered?

Now Deutscher has announced that he will use the statement of my University to take “juristic action” against me. What is next? Will MOSSAD-agents kidnap me at my doorstep and torture me with waterboarding because I supposedly “insulted the girl”? Will Deutscher continue to harass not only me but anyone who says anything that he does not approve? He has already attacked my colleague Axel Brueggemann as well, so who is next?

And this is why I wrote this story down – for you, dear friends, colleagues, music critics, jury members. Let this tale be a warning to you.

Because I tell you this: if you encounter Alma Deutscher, don’t be a dunce like me. Accept everything she does without questioning it. She is a great kid. She is the greatest living composer, performer and basically the pinnacle of everything in the history of music, because she writes BEAUTIFUL music. Every other kind of music is crap. Everybody should write BEAUTIFUL music about princesses, because there are evil scheming and heckling gnomes out there who want to torture us all with their EVIL UGLY music. Alma Deutscher is the answer. We should all bow to the genius of Alma Deutscher, our life will be better for it. Thank you Alma, with your BEAUTIFUL name and BEAUTIFUL personality for bringing us the power of BEAUTIFUL music so that we may be healed of the ugliness and the errors and the wrong ways of contemporary music. Yes, countless Jewish composers had to flee Europe or get killed in concentration camps because they didn’t agree on the concept of how exactly music should be beautiful, they fought for the right to write music that actually goes forward instead of backward. But forget about them, they were wrong, because they’re music was really not… BEAUTIFUL.

Some of you may get the impression that Alma’s statements in her youtube videos seem a bit learned by memory, even robotic. YOU ARE WRONG AND YOU ARE A NAZI IF YOU THINK THAT! Rest assured, everything is normal, everything is under control. It is also certainly better that Alma is home-schooled, protected from evil outside influences who want to spoil her, that’s all. Her father watches over her ALL THE TIME. And he only wants GOOD THINGS.

In short: Alma Deutscher is the single best thing that has ever happened to mankind. And I mean this honestly, truthfully, and with full conviction. I am sorry that I gave you the impression that I doubted that even one moment. I am healed. I now see the TRUTH.

And now you can stop twisting my arm, Mr. Deutscher.

Moritz Eggert

Yes, the world can really look different in another language. Especially if you misinterpret it incessantly.

 

ADDENDUM: the last mail conversation with Deutscher

 

Mr Eggert, thank you for publishing my reply on your blog. You will, I am sure, do the same also with this second reply to your (astonishing) answer. I am writing this time in English, because you have managed to misunderstand my first message completely, as an invitation to discuss with you the future of music in general, or to be lectured by you on the music of my daughter in particular. What could have given you this impression? I can think of various explanations – none of them particularly flattering, so let’s just assume it was my inability to make myself clear in German. I’ll try again in English. Hopefully you will understand this time.

I know almost nothing about you. Until about a week ago, I wasn’t aware of your existence. So you will forgive me if I say that your personal views on the future of music or on the duties of an artist interest me about as much as the local elections in Liechtenstein.

Neither did I write to complain about criticism. I wrote on the subject of verbal abuse. I find it disturbing that you pretend not to understand the difference.

Many people have engaged with Alma’s music in the last few years, in blogs, in newspapers, in private – sometimes very critically. To engage critically is not just legitimate, it’s welcome. It’s an honour that other people find it worthwhile to engage with someone’s views and artistic creations, be it approvingly or in disagreement. If your blog had only criticized Alma’s statements or her music, I would never have written to you. I might not have heard about it or you.

But in (parts of) your blog, you did something very different. To denigrate anyone as ‘arch-reactionary’ just because you don’t agree with what she says is not criticism: it’s verbal abuse. ‘Name calling’ is the favourite weapon of the cheapest propagandist, it’s the weapon, as I tried to explain in German, of those who feel their factual arguments are too weak, so they need to ‘hit below the belt’. For a grown-up to use this type of verbal abuse against a 14-year old girl is already repulsive. For a German professor sitting in the Führerbau to add to that by denigrating this girl and mocking her Jewish name, is morally indecent. And the fact that you don’t even see fit to apologize for it is frankly beyond belief.

Your ‘reactionary’ outburst was not just a one-off ‘glitch’. A couple of weeks before you, your compatriot Axel Brüggemann used exactly the same denigrating epithet, just because he, also, did not like what Alma had said. What is it about some people in Germany, which makes them so easily abuse and denigrate even a child, just because she might not entirely agree with them? I think you should reflect a little bit, because your propagandistic abuse proves, more than anything Alma ever said herself, how intolerant you are.

And on a point of order: you repeatedly use the verb ‘must’ in your posts, in relation to what a composer ‘must do’. ‘Must’ is a verb that belongs to a totalitarian conception of art, not a tolerant and liberal one. The Führer used to tell composers how they ‘must’ compose. And Stalin even more frequently. But Mr Eggert, even if you sit in the Führerbau, you are not actually the Führer, nor are you Stalin. What gives you the right to tell others how they ‘must’ compose? If I were you, I would watch my language a bit more carefully when I preach to the world.

Finally Mr Eggert, I’m not so sure why you are so keen to discuss the future of music with my daughter – an arch-reactionary with a pompous Jewish name. She doesn’t actually share this keen urge to discuss the future of music with you. But if it’s so important to you, you are of course welcome to take a train to Vienna, and she will find an afternoon to meet you. Would you like her to start the conversation by apologising for her name? That will be a nice way to break the ice…

However, you might find the discussion a little bit frustrating, because from what I can judge, your conception of music and hers have precious little in common. The sort of music she enjoys writing you find ‘uninteresting’. The sort of music you call ‘interesting’ she calls ‘noise’. She doesn’t have the remotest interest in the academic history of music, which seems to be the cornerstone of your musical identity. For her, music is a living and breathing thing, something that comes out of the heart and not out of a history book. She doesn’t care if a piece of music was written 5 minutes ago or 500 years ago. Either it’s beautiful and moving or it isn’t – that’s the only thing that matters to her.

But above all, the difference between you and Alma is this: she doesn’t feel the urge to lecture anyone else on how they should or should not compose (let alone ‘must’ compose). She is happy for others to compose and express themselves just as they like, even if they write music that she personally isn’t interested by at the moment. On the other hand, ever since she was 7, she has been repeatedly told, partly in public and even more in private, that it is wrong, worrying, practically a crime to compose the way she does. So your hollow and disingenuous claim ‘we are already tolerant!’ caused a lot of merriment here. Alma did not speak about Darmstadt. She spoke, as a 14-year-old child would, only about her own personal experiences in the last years. And she wished for herself and for others the freedom, which she has had to fight so hard for, to create music that she actually enjoys (and as it happens, millions of others too), rather than having to write the ideological music that people like you find ‘interesting’.
Anyway, congratulations on your sense of humour and the invitation for Alma to study with you in the Führerbau. Of course I’ll pass on your invitation. If you have written any music that you believe Alma could learn something from, you are welcome to send it to me, and she will certainly look at it.

Und nur noch einen Satz auf Deutsch. Sie sagen, Sie sind sehr tolerant. Sie sagen, Sie tolerieren gern jeden hässlichen Klang. Letzteres glaube ich Ihnen sehr wohl. (Ich habe mir Meisterwerke wie dieses jetzt angehört). Wenn ich Ihnen aber einen Rat geben dürfte: vielleicht sparen Sie doch lieber ein bisschen Toleranz bei den hässlichen Klängen, damit etwas übrig bleibt – für die Andersdenkende.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen,

Guy Deutscher

My answer:

Dear Guy Deutscher,

The hosts of my Blog (The Neue Musikzeitung) and me have mutually decided that we would rather not publish your reply because it is our strong impression that the discussion would not be very fruitful right now. I have already made my point, and it was formulated towards you in a polite and respectful manner, whereas both your mails are full of wrong accusations, attempts to either insult or provoke me and assumptions and crass misinterpretations of both my texts. I want to protect you from possible embarrassment, because these misinterpretations are obvious for any German reader.

For example you make a big point about me allegedly insulting or mocking Alma`s name. This is not even remotely true.
This is in fact what I have written, one single sentence containing neither an insult, nor a reference to her being Jewish nor anything else:

„Alma Deutscher (man kann sich die bildungsbürgerlichen Eltern allein schon anhand ihres Namens sehr gut vorstellen) stößt in eben dieses Horn, ohne es wahrscheinlich besser zu wissen.“

This translates exactly to: „Alma Deutscher (one can imagine well that her parents are from an educated class because of her name) is repeating this message, perhaps because she doesn’t know better”.

“Bildungsbürger” is in no way a derogatory term, it can only be perceived as insulting if you find it embarrassing to be educated. If you would call me „Bildungsbürger“ I would not be insulted the least. My son – for example – is called Milo, which is a name from Cicero`s times. My daughter is called Siri – not after an iphone program but after Siri Hustvedt, the writer. Both names clearly show that the kids come from a home in which education plays a role, this is something I would never deny. I would probably not call my kids “Kevin” or “Chantal”, which are typical names for households in which education does not play a role in Germany.

I have also never even once written that Alma or her music are “arch reactionary”.
This is in fact the sentence:

„Es ist an der Zeit, dass sich die Gegner neuer Musik von dem Mythos der „Zwangsatonalität“ verabschieden. Und dass sie vielleicht einfach zugeben, was wirklich hinter ihrer Argumentation gegen alles Neue und Andere steckt: eine handfest erzreaktionäre Haltung, die sich der Phantasie und der Freiheit in den Weg stellt. Und diese Haltung will jemanden wie Alma Deutscher gerne instrumentalisieren.“

Translating to:

„It is time that the enemies of new music (not Alma, sic!) say goodbye to the myth of “forced atonality”. And that they confess what really is behind their fear against anything new and different: an arch-rectionary stance that is opposed to freedom and imagination. And this group would love to instrumentalize somebody like Alma Deutscher”

I have made a point here to differentiate between Alma and the “arch-reactionary” movement, that indeed does exist in contemporary music and for which I fear Alma could be instrumentalized. I have NOT said that Alma is arch-reactionary, and this is clear for everybody to see.

I am sensitive to any argumentation that says that music should be like this or that. You talked a lot about concentration camps – I hope you are aware of the many great and immensely talented composers (many of them Jewish) who had to flee Europe or even die simply for their belief in the freedom of art and the freedom of music, because they refused to write the “nice” and harmless music that the Nazis wanted them to write to keep the populace cheaply entertained . You might have heard about how artists were denounced as being “entartet” because they found different sounds beautiful than the dictatorial regime that ruled Germany. This was one of the greatest tragedies in art history. The talent that was lost saddens me to this day, and this is why I will always fight for the right that music can be anything: It can beautiful, it can be ugly, it can be dramatic, it can be nice. All that is in life, sadness and joy, consonance and dissonance, should have a place in art, otherwise art is meaningless.

Therefore it is my strong belief that Alma can write any music she wants, and I very much hope that she will continue to do so. My article was not about her as an artist, only about her statement, that I perceived as a misinterpretation. More composers have suffered because people have tried to force them “beautiful” music (think of Stalin and Shostakovich) than the other way round. There was never any regime that demanded that composers write ugly music. That’s a fact. If you have only had contact with composition teachers who tried to force Alma to write ugly music, I am really shocked. Having studied in England myself this would greatly surprise me, as I haven’t perceived the British music scene as being totalitarian at all. It would be interesting to know more about your experiences here, perhaps you simply met the wrong people?

You also write about my perceived “totalitarian” use of the word “müssen”. This surprised me the most, coming from an esteemed linguist, as it is based on the common mistranslation of the German verb “müssen” into English “must”. As you surely know “müssen” in German (which is a language with less words than English) is a word that is necessary in most sentence constructions and translates into many different meanings in English, none of them totalitarian.

Common uses are for example:
“Ich muss zum Bus” (I better get the bus)
“Ich muss mal” (I have to go to the bathroom)
“Hier müsste mal geputzt werden“ (One should clean up here)
“Ich muss telefonieren” (I have to make a telephone call)

In German one has to say “müssen” all the time, because it is necessary for so many sentence constructions. This is not the case with “must” in English, it is used completely differently.

So if I write “Am Ende muss Alma selber entscheiden“ it simply means “In the end the decision is up to Alma”. No German would read this as a “Befehl” (command), it is completely harmless and common use of German language.

I write all this to bring the discussion – again with all respect towards you and Alma – to a normal and friendly level, I very much hope this is possible for you. Of course you are free to publish your letter somewhere else (for example in our comments), but I don’t want to feel responsible for the ridicule that will surely follow and which might damage your reputation as a language expert. I stand by everything I’ve written – it is free of insults and also free of wrong assumptions, respectful and constructive in tone and not aggressive at all. I very much hope you can do the same.

With best regards,
Moritz Eggert

12 Antworten

  1. Guntram Erbe sagt:

    Hatte ich doch all das Obenstehende am PC im Original gelesen und mir zur Sicherheit von Google übersetzen lassen. Beim zweiten Durchgang freilich muss (!) ich eingeschlafen sein und Morpheus schickte mir einen illustren Traum:

    Offensichtlich waren Moritz Eggert und Alma Deutscher meiner Anregung gefolgt, sich zwischen München und Wien auf halbem Wege zu treffen. Zum Glück gab es im Theater zu Wels, der netten Stadt an der Donau, gerade keine andere Vorstellung, und so war es ein Leichtes gewesen, dieses Zusammentreffen von UGLY und BEAUTIFUL mit der Hilfe des Sprachwissenschaftlers Guy Deutscher, der Bayerischen Akademie der Künste und der Musikhochschule München zu arrangieren.

    Am Eingang des Theaters stand tapfer durchhaltend Arno Lücker und drückte jedem Besucher einen Takt aus Beethovens nicht unbedingt BEAUTUFUL erscheinendem op. 111 samt seiner – Lückers – Analyse (UGLY) auf Bütten gedruckt in die Hand. So gab es für das Publikum jederzeit etwas zu rascheln, was nötig war, da man ein Programmheft nicht für nötig erachtete hatte (UGLY). Auf den denkmalgeschützten 620 Sitzplätzen nahmen die Honoratioren der Stadt Wels, aber auch ganz einfache Musikliebhaber, sogenannte Fans und bedeutende Leute der Klassikszene des deutschen Sprachraums Platz. Ganz vorne entdeckte ich Thomas Hampson (BEAUTIFUL). Er war bereit, dem Mädchen beizuspringen, indem er sich rasch entschlossen neben sie auf den Klavierschemel setzen und sie schützend um die Taille fassen würde, verwirklichte jemand ein böses Ansinnen gegen die Verehrte /UGLY). Selbst André Rieu hatte die Anreise nicht gescheut (BEAUTIFUL). Auf den hinteren Rängen entdeckte ich das Voigas-Duo und weitere lokale Volksmusikgrößen. Demonstrativ hatte sich Almas Vater Guy Deutscher zwischen sie gesetzt; denn er ist ein ausgewiesener Kenner von BEAUTIFUL Music.

    Und jetzt traten sie auf: Alma Deutscher (BEAUTIFUL) und Moritz Eggert (UUGLY). Aufeinander achtend (!) verbeugten sie sich synchron nach allen Seiten und nahmen an den beiden auf der Bühne zusammengeschobenen Flügeln (ohne Flügel) Platz. Alma interpretierte als erstes Stück Eggerts „Reise nach Jerusalem“ (UGLY), dabei locker um beide Flügel herumwetzend (BEAUTIFUL). Der Applaus war grandios. Besonders laut Gröhlten ob der sportlichen Leistung die Löwendompteure aus einem nah angesiedelten kleinen Provinzzirkus, die man neben der üblichen Welser Feuerwehr im Hintergrund aufgestellt hatte. Sie sollten bändigend einschreiten, falls Guy Deutscher erwartungsgemäß gegen Moritz Eggert vorgehend würde. Doch dazu kam es nicht, auch nicht, als Moritz Eggert sich selbst begleitend Alma Deutschers Lied „Twas the Night before Christmas“ (BEAUTIFUL) anstimmte und dabei exakt Thomas Hamsons Tremolo nachahmte, sogar genauso wie der berühmte Bariton nur erzwungen den letzten, hohen Ton des Liedes traf und sich abschließend auf die Klaviatur setze, jedoch darauf verzichtete, meine für ihn komponierte „Sitzmusik“ (UGLY) darzubieten. Sie wäre schon fast zu Ende gewesen, ehe angefangen. So kurz ist diese dissonante Mozart-Veneration. Stattdessen stürzten sich die beiden Ausnahmekünstler in einen Improvisationsdialog über die Tonfolge h-a-es-g (UGLY) bzw. b-a-es-g (BEAUTIFUL), je nach Schnauze die eine oder die andere Variante wählend. Das dauerte elend lange, und so ist es nicht verwunderlich, dass ich im Traum darüber einschlief und heute gegen 6.00 Uhr müde und zerschlagen in der Wirklichkeit aufwachte, mir der Traum vor Augen und Ohren kam, ich mich über die bis zu meinem einnicken erfolgreiche Veranstaltung freute (BEAUTIFUL) und ich mich entschloss, die Besucher dieses Blogs lesend daran teilhaben zu lassen (UGLY).

    Hier sitze ich * und kann nicht anders.
    * vor dem PC

    Guntram Erbe

  2. Nicolas Kuhn sagt:

    Lieber Moritz Eggert,

    ich bin der Diskussion gefolgt und war durchgehend angetan von der sehr klaren und unaufgeregten Diskussion Ihrerseits (und natürlich erschrocken über die Argumentation Deutschers).
    Jetzt bin ich allerdings entsetzt über Ihren fatalen Satz, der ausgerechnet den Mossad ins Spiel bringt.

    Warum plötzlich dieses Niveau? Der Satz bedient (sogenannte! „anti-israelische“ -> antisemitische) Vorurteile und gibt so gesehen selbst Guy Deutscher nachträglich recht… Wie unglaublich schade!
    Ich finde, trotz aller Wut und dem verständlichen Wunsch, mit Polemik auf Polemik zu reagieren, darf Ihnen das nicht passieren.

    viele Grüße,
    Nicolas Kuhn

    • Selbstverständlich ist der Mossad ein blödes Klischee, gerade deswegen habe ich es benutzt, um zu zeigen, wie absurd die ganze Situation ist. Nur übertriebene Klischees sind komisch, und diese Passage ist eindeutig ironisch gemeint. Es ist auch klar, dass ich das Deutscher nicht unterstelle, denn ich leite den Satz ja als Selbstgespräch ein („Was kommt als nächstes?“). Das ist ein literarisches Mittel – aus der Übertreibung entsteht Ironie. Das ist ungefähr so wie wenn ich sage „Was kommt als nächstes – der 1. FC Köln wird Deutscher Meister?“ (FC Köln-Fans mögen mir verzeihen), also die Behauptung von etwas, das ganz gewiss nicht eintrifft und auch nicht stimmt. Mark Twain war ein Meister in dieser Art von Witz – man muss nur einmal sein wunderbares Essay über die deutsche Sprache lesen – und ist mir in jeder Hinsicht ein Vorbild, ich bitte um Entschuldigung, wenn ich diesem großen Vorbild nicht immer gerecht werde und senke mein Haupt in Scham. Reports about me being tortured by Mossad are greatly exaggerated, though.

  3. Max Nyffeler sagt:

    Wer im Führerbau sitzt, sollte in diesem ganz speziellen Fall lieber schweigen.

  4. Philipp S. sagt:

    Im Internet wirken wenige Schreiber schnell wie eine ganze Armee, während fast alle Leser, die einfach nur nichts schreiben, aus der Aufmerksamkeit verschwinden.
    Ich denke, dass mindestens 90% der schweigenden Leser sich schon ein rechtes Bild von den militant-pathologischen Poltereien des Guy Deutschers und seiner „private army“ machen. Sie kommen Moritz Eggerts Argumentation zugute.
    Bitte nehmt nicht nur musikalische Hilfe an Anspruch.

  5. Kathrina Meyer sagt:

    Dear Mr. Eggert

    I can’t believe this. How old are you?

    After you tried to bully a 14 years old girl with more talent than you could hope to ever gett enrolled in your school you got a pretty savage and stern tell off by the protective father of the said child. He rightfully told you off for having problems with tolerance, because you were basically stating you feel sorry for the poor child who couldn’t understand that tonality isn’t the measure for beauty. You, of course, as a grown adult, know so much better. It’s not that the modern music professors like yourself have problems with harmony and tonal music, of course not. You simply have problems with a child asking you for tolerance. You then stoop down to telling everyone how unoriginal and boring her work is, even though there are highly educated and talented musicians out there stating the obvious: that she does have a lot of talent and deep understanding of harmony and composing.

    You are doling out critics like it’s candy but you have plenty of problems with accepting critics. You even called her parents „reactionary“ because they love classical music and because they chose „old fashioned“ name for their daughter. You never stopped to think that many children are named after a beloved deceased family member or a personal hero of the parents. No, you found it a good idea to mock her name. And after a family member of holocaust victims called you out on your German arrogance, you thought it was a good idea to fight back.

    Pick your battles and learn some dignity, sir. You are sitting in a glass house. Stop throwing stones.

    • Paul Schroder sagt:

      Dear Kathrina Meyer,

      I don’t even know where to start right here.
      You are calling Eggert immature right afterwards accusing him of bullying Alma Deutscher. Let me tell you, as someone who have dealt with bullying in the past and knows few people who where bullied as well that this is a bigger offense, than anything Eggert has said during this whole controversy. Bullying is defined as a „behaviour that frightens or hurts someone smaller or weaker“ (Macmillan dictionary) and if you ever have been bullied you’d know what that means. The tyranny of being threatened to be beaten up if you don’t do something or the feeling of being totally excluded from anything that people around you do or talk about is nowhere near to criticism about a single statement that one made. Whether you are quite oversensitive or you don’t have any idea of what bullying means, your statement occurs childish itself and your comment about Eggerts immaturity absurd.
      And what does Almas talent has to do with anything? Nobody doubted her talent in any comment I saw so far and Egger himself didn’t as well. In fact he valued her talent. „Momentan ist das, was sie komponiert, gefällig harmlos und in streng klassischem Stil gehalten, kein billiges Neoklassik-Genudel und qualitativ hochwertig, aber eben auch eine Musik, in der die letzten 130 Jahre Musikgeschichte nicht vorkommen.“ This excerpt from Eggerts original statement in which he postulated that there is no such thing as „forced atonality“ translates to „right now, what she composes is accommodating harmless and written in a strictly classical style, no cheap neo-classical droning and high quality but is also music in which the last 130 years of music-history don’t appear“. The only thing he said was that Alma Deutschers music doesn’t seem to be very new or independent but that he believes that she will find her own style after a time. But all this has nothing to do with the subject itself so again: why do you even noticed it?
      Now to the real points: the argue about tolerance continued on and on during this argument and to me this was quite a puzzle since there was no intolerance at all, especially from Eggerts side. What you brought up (that Eggert said he was sorry for Deutscher who doesn’t seem to understand that tonality isn’t the measure for beauty) has nothing to do with tolerance. Despite the fact that he spent half his essay to explain that there is no such thing as atonality, his statement here simply says that it is a pity if someone thinks that tonality is the ONLY measurement for beauty since there are way more aspects than this and the focus on just one thing is simply one-sided. That in fact is a call for a wider focus and more tolerance against non-tonal music than intolerance against tonal music. I honestly don’t see how this can be misunderstood. It is not about a child asking for more tolerance (nobody denied that it is totally fine to only write tonal music) but about the fact that there is no forced atonality this days and if she feels to be forced to atonality she is sorrounded by the wrong people („Immer wieder begegnet mir die Mär, dass an den Musikhochschulen ein „Tonalitätsverbot“ herrsche, dass wir als Professoren die Studenten in strenge 12-Ton-Korsette zwängen (als ob 12-Tonmusik ein aktueller und kein historischer Stil sei) und sie mit fiesen hässlichen „zeitgemäßen“ Klängen quälen würden. Ich habe mit jungen KomponistInnen gesprochen, die aus dieser Angst heraus gar nicht erst studieren, und ich fürchte, Alma Mahler äh Deutscher wird es ganz ähnlich machen, wenn sie sich nicht von falschen Förderern distanziert und sich denjenigen zuwendet, die sie als junge Komponistin hinterfragen und herausfordern (denn nur das ist richtige Förderung).“).
      And after you shortly addressed the fundamental subject you went back to talking about Alma talent that wasn’t doubted with one single word.
      The next big misunderstanding in Eggerts essay seems to be his use of the word „arch-reactionary“ or to be fair: not the use of the word but the context within it was used. This is quite a tricky one and maybe it wasn’t the best choice of words by Eggert but the devil is in the details so let me quickly explain the problem right here. Eggert wrote „[…] eine handfest erzreaktionäre Haltung, die sich der Phantasie und der Freiheit in den Weg stellt. Und diese Haltung will jemanden wie Alma Deutscher gerne instrumentalisieren“ which translates to „[…] a concrete arch-reactionary position, which stands between fantasy and freedom. And this position would like to exploit Alma Deutscher“. The problem right here is that if he wrote „will JEMAND wie Alma Deutscher gerne instrumentalisieren“ it would mean that Alma would like to exploit this position but since he wrote instead „jemanden“ he did not accused Alma of being arch-reactionary but instead warned her to be used by arch-reactionary enemies of modern music. As I just said: the devil is in the details and I frankly admit that even I (who is a native German) had to read this sentence twice.
      What else? He didn’t mocked her name, he said it was quite obvious that her parents are well educated people since they choosed such a name.
      And what does the origin of Eggert and the religion of the Deutschers does have anything to do with all this? Eggerts statement was about music and false narratives about music professors. There was not a single word about Almas religion or his country. Then Guy Deutscher came up and accused him of being intolerant and not directly called him a Nazi but made a lot of insinuations about this. I still can’t see how someone who criticised a statement about forced tonality is considered right winged out of that. Is it simply because Eggert happens to be german? If he was russian and maybe the university for music was inside a building former used or even built for the communistic party, would he be considered a communist? Honestly: I think it is ridiculous to come up with such imputations, simply because a single statement was criticised. Yes: Deutscher made a call for more tolerance but no: Eggert did not denied this call he just explained why he thought it was totally unnecessary. And of course he fought back after being called a Nazi. I don’t know if there are some narratives of Germans all being tight winged or proud about their past in other countries but as a German myself I can tell you that being called a Nazi is easily the greatest insult for most Germans. Yes, there are Nazis in Germany as well as there are Nazis in the UK, in Russia, Poland, France and the USA but they are not the majority and Eggert himself made few statements in which he distanced himself from tjose people. I can understand that if Guy Deutscher misunderstood the part about the arch-reactionary position he wanted to fight back but he fought back way harder than the misunderstood statement even if it was against Deutscher herself (once again: it wasn’t) could have ever be. Now Eggert is called out on his „German arrogance“ despite the fact he did nothing but proved a single statement (about music and not politics) to be wrong and did that without any arrogance.
      I’m honestly very sorry for Eggert that he has to face such inadequate accusations even after repeatedly offering chats with Alma Deutscher and explaining his point, offering her to study at his university and asked Guy Deutscher to stay at the subject and talk like adults twice.
      And dear Mrs. Meyer, if you happen to see my answer to your comment and feel the urge to answer right back, I promise you, with all what I have: I love to discuss anything and if you can prove me wrong on any point I am instantly willing to admit this but please don’t act like Almas father and start making accusations out if nowhere.
      Sincerely P. Schroder

  6. paul steenhuisen sagt:

    as you can perceive from the election in the UK today, ppl are fucking bonkers.

  7. Good article by Moritz, though I think he hedges a bit about the stylistic biases surrounding new music in continental Europe. Moritz says he has not been criticized for writing music that includes traditionalist elements. Actually, he employs a an eclectic postmodern mixture of modernist and traditional styles, often with a lot of irony surrounding the traditionalist elements. It’s misleading to say this shows the establishment’s tolerance for traditionalist approaches since his use of them is often pointedly ironic. We might also note that Munich’s University of Music was known for its rather conservative stance surrounding new music–something that stems back to professors there including Karl Orff, Guenter Bialis, Wilhelm Killmayer, and others–and that Munich was somewhat isolated for this relatively anti-modernist stance.

    I agree that Alma Deutscher is another phenomenon all together and that people need to take a closer look at what is going on. Some candid discussion could perhaps lead to some wider perspectives being applied to Alma’s education that would greatly benefit her. It’s unfortunate that Mortiz was attacked in this manner.

    P.S. I hope that someday there will be more discussion about Munich’s University of Music being housed in the Fuehrerbau. Seen as just a building, it was constructed in the most expensive and monumental style with hundreds of tons of fine marble and such. And the concert hall has an extraordinarily good acoustic. And a new building would be terribly expensive. Even demolishing such an overbuilt monolith would cost a great amount. But still, we really need to admit that building truly is creepy. I can’t really explain it, but I think it might harm people’s souls in a way. Even having a more open discussion about the building might be healing.

  8. Chris Russell sagt:

    Everyone needs to relax.

  9. Andrew Blackmore-Dobbyn sagt:

    phew You’ve had an awful experience with an ambitious parent. But thank you for letting us all know. From the very first time I experienced the Alma Deutscher phenomenon I felt conflicted. On the one hand, the girl obviously has musical talent. On the other… there’s something wrong going on with her. There’s a layer of falseness that makes me feel like I’m missing something. It has the resonance of a cult and each time she popped up on this show or that, my feelings of unease increased to the point that I could no longer bear seeing her. Itzhak Perlman has the insight to ban parents from his summer program and the reason is precisely parents like Mr. Deutscher. Perlman’s there to teach the kids, not the parents. Alma’s father is of a much higher order of intrusive and I think it’s that presence that I intuited whenever I saw her. I was not seeing her genuine self but rather her father overshadowing her. But you dare not question anything about Alma or the beast will rear his ugly head. The smear of anti-semitism allows no room for legitimate criticism and he demands only unqualified praise. It’s the kind of accusation which, even if unsubstantiated, he well knows can end one’s career. It’s true that exceptional children must be protected from those who seek to exploit them but who can protect the child from his/her own parents?

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