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29/06/2007

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what's been happening in the German-language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET.. Here a key to the German newspapers.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 29.06.2007

In an inteview with Kai Luehrs-Kaiser, Simon Rattle takes stock of his first five years at the head of the Berliner Philharmoniker, and his efforts to bring music closer to Berlin's young. "I started this work 25 years ago, in Birmingham. In England it was hard not to see that less and less music was being taught in the schools. I had an extraordinary percussionist at the time, and she said, 'We've got to play more for deaf kids.' That led to amazing experiences. For instance I once asked a group of deaf youths: 'Tell me, what did you hear?' They answered: 'Everything!' When we played Messiaen and I explained something about the song of the birds, a deaf child said to me: 'Fine, and what does the song of the butterfly sound like?' That was the most poetic question I've ever heard."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 29.06.2007

Florian Coulmas reports about a worrying development in Japan - "Hikikomori", the pathological retreat of young people from society. "Today Hikikomori is a recognised civilisational sickness in Japan. For a long time it has extended well beyond the context of abberational individual development. The number of affected is estimated at over a million, but it could be far more than that, because psychological illness is often regarded as a serious blemish here. In addition, the clinical picture of the condition is new, and as yet still very vague. It ranges from slightly maladjusted behaviour to severe psychosis. What those affected have in common is an inability to interact normally with other people."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 29.06.2007

Despite his technical shortcomings, Lang Lang, the "grimace maker" among pianists, is a godsend for the classical music scene, writes Reinhard J. Brembeck. "Physically reserved, almost aseptic music-making is a modern invention, a phenomenon of the 20th century. By contrast, appearances by Niccola Paganini and Franz Liszt were, if you believe eyewitnesses, major and very effective theatrical performances. Costumes, mimicry, a certain way of walking, wry expressions, fingered palsies, flirtations with the audience - all of that belonged inalienably, and not just as exterior foibles, to the appearances of the major virtuosi of the 19th century. Because at that time, marked by the discovery of mass audiences without the aid of records, radio or television, without state funding or social security for artists, the public concert was the sole location for a musician to establish himself. And the more hysterical and stylised such appearances were, the better."


Die Welt 29.06.2007

Iris Alanyali reports that "the 20th century stood on trial" on Wednesday in the New York Public Library. Günter Grass and Norman Mailer were there. Of course, Grass' brief membership in the Waffen SS was one of several themes discussed (more). "Norman Mailer offered support, calling an excerpt from 'Peeling the Onion' great war literature. And although it wasn't solicited, he offered an explanation for Grass' silence. Mailer had given some thought to what he wouldn't want to write about. His taboo topic would be the knife attack against his second wife Adele, which put Mailer in the headlines in 1960 and for five years on probation. (more) 'And then I asked myself why I couldn't do that.' Because reporting on it wouldn't be enough. 'At such and such a time, such and such happened. Only bad writers do that.' Such difficult topics have to be tamed, overcome."


Frankfurter Rundschau 29.06.2007

Ina Hartwig reports that two German writers are in New York at the moment: Maxim Biller (more) with a short story and an online interview in the New Yorker is there in virtual form and Günter Grass in the flesh. Hartwig received a note from a private correspondent. "An American friend and fan of Grass' novels, who was able to grab a spot in one of the last rows, sent me an account of the event per email. 'Grass read a few pages from the end of the book about his beloved Olivetti type-writer. He read in German and a young woman interpreted. He serious, slow; she entertaining, fast. The questions at the end were boring – one was posed in German – until an middle-aged man finally commented: I'm glad that your Olivetti survived longer than the Nazis."

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