• Eugen Heller, Germany

    Born in South Germany


Assumptions about values in today's society and unexpected conclusions about the future of classical music.

Values, Music and Happiness_2

It is a material world or are there any other values that count higher than having a high income, a big saving account, a nice house, a prestigious car, the newest mobile phone or spending holidays in comfortable hotels?

Well, it is nice to have all this. But we also know that the efforts to afford all this are enormous. Haven’t we reached a point at which we say that it could be good for us if we focus less on the material values and more on immaterial ones? Which role is music playing in this process?

My vision is that there are four main values that are getting more important for many people.

1. Nature: Living in a healthy environment is getting important even for people in emerging countries. Pollution and feeling happy does not fit together. Nature in good order is an important factor for happiness. The large increase of classical festivals in an unusual environment, like the Verbier Festival or the Bregenzer Festspiele, shows that classical music and outstanding nature inspire each other and produce positive emotions.

2. Health: Pressure at work is getting higher and there are more and more overstressed people. But we have only one life. Steve Jobs said in his motivation speech for students: “Stay hungry, stay foolish”. I think we should add one more point: “Stay hungry, stay foolish, stay healthy”. Music helps to calm us down, to relax and to get inspired.

3. Social values: In an extremely individual society, the social responsibility is getting lost. Everybody thinks of his/her own profit. People start to feel that they can be happier if they care for their friendships and make sure that people around them are not in a dire need. One important reason to go out with friends has always been listening to music or making music together.

4. Culture: It has become extreme that almost all our activities at the back of our mind concentrate on to how to earn money with it. People discover more and more that thinking about beauty and getting inspired by unexpected and unusual performances of artists can create more wellbeing than earning money. They are in search of inspiring music, literature, theatre, dance performances.

If the assumptions about new values are right, there will be a following trend:
Classical music will be played more often in unusual locations, especially where it also gets inspired by nature. People see classical music more as a relaxation activity and consume it therefore in a relaxed environment and less in rigid and conservative concert halls. They like to hear classical music together with friends and appreciate the feeling of being close to the artists. In addition, they do not want to have a 100 % classical concert but prefer to have it mixed with other cultural activities.

Therefore my prognosis: The future of classical music is small, more intimate, event driven concert performances together with artists from other fields outside of the conventional concert environment organized and financed by private people.



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Why does the dream of Salon continue to live? Yesterday i had a pleasure of experiencing a music soiree in Steinway Hause, Munich. It was a kick off event for a whole series of “Musikalisch-Gesellschaftliche Soiree” – the revival of the salon culture.

Yesterday i had a pleasure of experiencing a music soiree in Steinway Hause, Munich. It was a kick off event for a whole series of “Musikalisch-Gesellschaftliche Soiree” – the revival of the salon culture. The tradition of salon comes from France. Salon atmosphere is an integral part of the Salon and the choice of location Steinway Hause Munich with Rubinstein Saal makes the salon experience even more real.

The formal structure of the Salon yesterday was the mixture of musical compositions in different styles ranging from French Baroque up to Broadway Music. The special guest was former Professor of Munich High School of Music, Michael Leslie who is famous for his individual and very differentiated Beethoven Interpretations. 20th of March was also the 100th birthday of famous piano legend Svjatoslav Richter and the Leslie’s play of Beethoven was a tribute to Russian pianist. The witty and charming conferencier guides the audience through the program and broke the frontiers between the formal division of performing musicians and listeners. The atmosphere was friendly and open and after the musical part there was time for drinks and interesting conversations in foyer.

Why does the dream of Salon continue to live? The spirit and wit, lively conversations, possibility to meet amazing artists and talk to them, music experience, intellectual touch, interesting discussions and the atmosphere of open dialogue are still important to today’s society and the salon events like “Anna Sutyagina’s musikalisch-literarische Salons” make us hope that the traditions of salons will still continue…


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The right allocation of money for classical music


It is not good. Munich has decided to renovate its old concert hall instead of building a new one. And now the whole classical lobby is attacking the decision makers like a wolf pack.
The columnist Gustav Seibt writes in the “Sueddeutsche Zeitung” that every child who has seen the beauty and grandeur of an opera will never forget it. For him the world of beauty and profoundness can only continue to exist if they are performed at outstanding locations. The decision against a new concert hall is for him like a destruction of culture.
A very strong group of supporters for a new concert hall is now trying to tip the decision. Especially the columnists in the newspapers and the traditional opera visitors have built up a strong lobby against the Governor of Bavaria and the Mayor of Munich who decided for the renovation solution.
There is a simple theory of Olson which describes the situation: There is a small group of supporters of a new concert hall and a much bigger group which does not want to spend so much money. Olson says that the small group will organize themselves very well and fight hard to get a decision in their favour. They have excellent access to the press and lobbyists who are close to the decision makers. On the other side the much bigger group will not get organized so well and will not fight so hard because they have much less to lose. This is the reason why the minority often wins over the majority.
Where are all the unknown musicians who would like to play in an affordable small concert hall? They do not organize themselves as a lobby group. Where are all the classical music lovers who would like to go to cheap concerts? Also they will not organize themselves as a group!
The big group has no lobby! And the small group is very professionally organized.
The Governor and Mayor have decided well! Go for a smaller solution. But please do not forget to provide unknown musicians with small concert halls and enable the mayority of the population to visit cheap concerts. This way you will make more people happy!


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