Tag Archives: patronage

Chimes on the Rhine

The bells of the Basel Minster greeted me each morning when I arrived at the doors of the Paul Sacher Foundation. A short ringing inside the building signaled the lunch break for everyone. The Minster’s bell at 1 p.m. told me to come back. Eventually, the little chime at 4:45 p.m. would mark the end of the day in the archive. And from time to time, through the open window in the reading room, I would hear another bell ringing down at the river, meaning that someone was just calling the ferry. This is how my days were structured as I followed the traces of Antoinette Vischer (1909-1973), harpsichordist and patron of music at the crossroads of old and new.

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Introducing Performer Patronage as Research Field

The Genius of Music, Italian, late 15th–early 16th century (Rogers Fund, 1938, public domain, Metropolitan Museum of Art)

It all seemed so simple, not so long ago: composers (white, male, European) were directly in touch with their muses (mysteriously and unmediatedly – but also overcoming doubt, struggle and hardship), and were at the same time the obedient servants of the destiny of the material. Under the twin guidance of these absolute forces, but somehow also fired up by moments of inspired subjectivity, the music poured out effortlessly onto the page (Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn), or was hewn into shape with superhuman effort and hard-won musical logic (Beethoven, Schoenberg, Boulez). And then along came faithful, unflinching performers, ready to renounce their identities in their service to The Work, […].

CLARKE/DOFFMAN:2017, 1
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