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23/01/2006

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.

Monday 23 January 2006

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 23.01.2006


Beqe Cufaj, a Kosovar writer living in Germany, has some critical words to say in his obituary of Ibrahim Rugova. The Albanian president, he writes, was certainly more gentle than the UCK (or Kosovo Liberation Army), but not necessarily better. "The worst Kosovan gossip rags were all closely affiliated to him and his party. When in March 2004, Serbian houses and churches were torched by young Albanians, Rugova was in no hurry to condemn the crime. Only weeks later, when the UK Europe Minister Denis McShane dragged him into a burnt out Serbian church, did he deign to condemn the violence carried out by Albanians on the Serbian minority."


Edita Gruberova sings "Norma" in Munich


The prima donna of bel canto Edita Gruberova sings the lead role in Jürgen Rose's staging of Vincenzo Bellini's "Norma", which premiered at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich on Saturday. Writing in the Frankfurter Rundschau, Hans-Klaus Jungheinrich calls the production "prudery for old men". But he is ecstatic about the Slovakian soprano. "What fascinated me most was her finely graded piano nuances and the flexibility and eloquence of her vocal diction, with which she gracefully masters the most breathtaking changes of register. And she is never lacking in warmth of timbre, spirited dramatic passion or sudden forte attacks. The result is the very opposite of an icy singing machine: a glorious, passionate, suffering figure the likes of which you can only experience in the opera."

In the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Marianne Zelger-Vogt is decidedly less enthusiastic: "Once more Edita Gruberova shines for her unsurpassable technique. But her Norma fails to touch the heart – not only because her voice often sounds hard and the run of tones seems increasingly mannered, but also because has no idea how to turn the role into a living figure."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 23.01.2006

The philosopher Otfried Höffe considers "which elements have the potential to develop into a future-oriented, perhaps even visionary power" for Europe. Here one example from a long list: "For years now people have complained about the democracy deficit in the European Union, but are only too happy to push responsibility for this deficit far away, to Brussels. In reality, the European Union is not primarily responsible for something so essential as a European public sphere. Let's take the media as an example: how should Europe grow closer when the media in neighbouring countries refuse to open up to one another to a far greater extent?"


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 23.01.2006

Ralf Dombrowski has attended the Midemnet Forum in Cannes and learned that things have still not sparked between the music industry and the Internet. "All told, the digital market accounts for just six percent of revenues. That's peanuts – especially as in the course of discussions it became clear that the branch still has no common idea of what it's really after. And fascination has dwindled in the non-Western growth markets, which until recently were being much eulogised: 96 percent of Chinese listen to Chinese music, 90 percent of Indians prefer Indian culture, while in Brazil 80 percent of the population swears by local productions. There's little room left for pop imports. Despite the promise of the Internet, the global market seems more than ever to be an illusion."


Saturday 21 January, 2006


Spiegel Online, 20.01.2006


Iran is preparing a conference on the Holocaust and the speakers invited include Holocaust deniers such as Horst Mahler (one time defence lawyer for the Rote Armee Faction and more recently for the far-right NPD party). In an interview with Alexander Schwabe, historian Götz Aly (see our feature articles here and here) warns about this combination of historical insanity and state power. "In the case of Iran, we are currently witnessing a political process in which prejudices of the kind that are present in every society are becoming state ideology. A feeling of resentment coupled with state power." Aly is in favour of staging a counter conference: "The EU could do it. Over and above the Holocaust, there could be a discussion of other historical images which have prompted hate, murder and the denial of the rights of existence of millions of people. What is currently taking place in Iran is not so foreign to European history. We only have to go back 60, 70, or 90 years to come face to face with things that seem crazy and ludicrous to us today."


Die Welt, 21.01.2006


Hanns-Josef Ortheil describes his impressions listening to Mozart: "The slow movement of the piano concerto in C minor K491 is another piece that enraptures you almost to the point of immobility. As you listen you become a child, you just listen, you follow along, looking neither left nor right. How does it do that? Why does it happen that every time I listen to it I get the impression that it procures an easy, matchless access to the most profound spheres?"


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 21.01.2006


On the 20th anniversary of the death of artist Josef Beuys, Holger Liebs asks why he is so little celebrated today: "How could it happen that Beuys, who alongside Andy Warhol was once considered the most important and most colourful figure in the entire artworld – and who on top of that was very German – can be so forgotten?" Liebs surmises that it is only "Beuys the redeemer" who has dropped out of vogue – and not Beuys the artist: "A new generation of artists came along in the 1980s at the very latest, and cheekily, unselfconsciously used his work as a box of tools to plunder the formal language of social artefacts and ruins. That these were used by Beuys as salutary symbols for the promise of redemption didn't bother them at all."

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Three East German theatre directors talk about the trauma of reunification. In the FAZ, Thilo Sarrazin denies accusations that his book propagates eugenics: "I am interested in the interplay of nature and nurture." Polemics are being drowned out by blaring lullabies, author Thea Dorn despairs. Author Iris Radisch is dismayed by the state of the German novel - too much idle chatter, not enough literary clout. Der Spiegel posts its interview with the German WikiLeaks spokesman, Daniel Schmitt. And Vaclav Havel's appeal to award the Nobel prize to Liu Xiabobo has the Chinese authorities pulling out their hair.
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