Corona help: is classical music systemically relevant?

Ein bad word. It usually resides in the financial world, where it is most musty and dark. If you borrow it, you should only use it with quotes. Also ask the wrong person here. The system speaks for itself. Or rather: it spoke, the thing is through.

Three months ago, at the height of the first pandemic wave, the lists were drawn up which determine which professional groups belong to the “critical infrastructure” of our country and are therefore particularly worth protecting and saving as “systemically important” – and which are not. The Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Monika Grütters, included the media in the list of “systemically relevant” occupational groups and excluded the area of ​​culture. On the one hand, she explained: “Cultural reporting is systemically important.” On the other hand, she admitted that culture is “vital”. I was not the only one who found this differentiation confusing. It’s good to know that when you write a cultural reporting column, you do something that is socially worth protecting. But I don’t understand why the musicians I’m writing about shouldn’t be as worthy of protection or much more worthy of protection.

For example: the soprano Asmik Grigorian, who sang “Chrysothemis” in the Felsenreitschule yesterday, despite all of this. Or the pianist Igor Levit, who streamed fifty-two house concerts under lamentable acoustic but heart-wrenching circumstances, cheering up a few portions of contemporary music to up to thirty thousand followers. Or: Conductor Marcus Bosch, who persistently worked on the health authorities for so long and, in cooperation with a generous biotech company, also convinced hygienically and logistically that five days ago a full orchestra was playing on stage for the first time in Germany since the beginning of the epidemic: in front of an audience, with a large repertoire, without distancing and plexiglass in between, live.

The damage is huge

The orchestra musicians are also regularly tested and the audience neatly sorted out at the enticing, shining Salzburg Short Festival, which began last night with Straussen’s “Elektra” in front of a thousand spectators. As long as the music is playing, no aerosols are used in classical music anyway, a festival theater is not a Ballermann, not even a jetty and beach at Lake Wolfgangsee, the disturbingly fresh Corona hotspot in the Salzburg region. Note: Tourism and transport are an economic factor. Keyword: “System relevance”. It is not much different in Austria than in Germany.

Classical music is also an economic factor, keyword: indirect profitability. But not on a similarly worthwhile scale. That is why the Salzburg “Elektra”, the individual actions by Bosch or Levit, the imaginative Bach Replacement Festival by Michael Maul in Leipzig or the thirty concerts “saved” by Franz Xaver Ohnesorg in the Ruhr area are so important. They are love’s food: they make generous. You give courage. Joy. Luck. They look ahead, even if there isn’t much to see.

Others tear themselves apart. The damage is huge. The powerful British agency Askonas Holt, which handles a large part of its business on the continent, has applied for government aid, rumor has it that it has sent half of its employees home. The Berlin concert director Adler, steeped in tradition, announced ahead of time that, in order to survive, it would no longer send young artists to the podium in the longer term, for “commercial reasons”. And the queen of chamber music, Impresaria Sonia Simmenauer, thinks out loud that the publicly financed houses should cover their top fees. A bubble has burst, thanks to Corona: “You can’t just keep growing. There are too many artists. There are too many agencies. “Against this, what Michel Butor wrote eighty years ago speaks:” Music is not only something for the diversion of idlers, it is not something for “lovers” – you free yourself from this idea. Music is essential for our lives, for the lives of all of us, and we have never needed them so much. ”

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