Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Friedrich Cerha receives the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize – some links
It was announced some months ago, but in Munich on Friday Friedrich Cerha received the honour referred to in the DACH countries by the awful sobriquet ‘Nobel Prize of music’. A friend asked why Cerha hadn’t received this award earlier and I responded that at this stage, when it can no longer confer the kind of prestige so repellent to him, seems only appropriate. At the ceremony Peter Hagmann gave a speech which can be read excerpted here (de). In English, there is this great UE interview and, on the Ernst von Siemens website, an essay by doyen of the Viennese contemporary music scene and close friend of Cerha, Lothar Knessl. Auf Deutsch again, percussionist Martin Grubinger conducts an interview with Cerha which touches on his youth, the question of biography in his music, and the percussion concerto written for Grubinger. The mention of coming of age in 1930s Austria brought to mind a favourite story not mentioned in these links, which is that Cerha’s immersion in the music of the Second Viennese School came due to the Entartete Musik exhibition which finally rolled into Vienna during the summer of 1939. While the exhibition attracted the usual crowds (even if the Volk, drawn by the taboo placed on these artworks, didn’t come for the reasons the Nazis intended), the first floor of the Künstlerhaus was unguarded and given over to listening booths, providing a refuge where the young Cerha and others, including Paul Kont, could study a wide array of materials undisturbed. As he still tells this astonishing tale today, the inspiration he was able to draw as a fledging composer was entirely facilitated by the fastidious censorship of Goebbels.