Something about music...

„Switchies höchstpersönlich“ (employees of - very personal) was an initiative by our HR in 2007 to familiarise each of us a bit more with our mates and other members of the company. 


We had a very tiny space on the intranet website where we were able to say something about ourselves, for five days, that is one week per person. Since the space was too small for me, I just published the gray thext there, and referred to my own web spae for what’s here shown in black. There were links to my intranet-wide accessible  iTunes library. I replaced them here with some youtube links as found. But i gave up being very specific regarding artists, since that seemed impossible. Comments in [square brackets] are contemporary add-ons (2018, that is).




Music has always been important for me, but in the first years it was a bit scarce. Over time i gained some autonomy, and with it came some variety. For me music expresses something. It creates pictues, motion, emotions, ideally all three things together [in the last few years it was enriched by texture, a tactile element or maybe material property]. Thus follows: i like music with a clearly distinguishable line. When it becomes a carpet i lose my interest.
Here I’d like to present you a selection of my collection. There is a lot more fascinating, touching or impressive  music there, but this space is limited. 

I try to find the proper youtube links, but no promises.

PS: KV stands for Köchelverzeichnis, the numbering scheme for W.A. Mozart’s works, BWV for J.S. Bach’s. 



1. Monday


The very first record of classical music i ever consumed was „die kleine Nachtmusik“ by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But i couldn’t bear the slowness of the work, so i played this 33RPM record with 48RPM and found that quite pleasing. Nowadays i mostly listen to piano music. Very beautiful, the KV37 2nd [ @5:10] movement, where the first notes - very typical for Geza Anda - rivulet out of the loutspeaker, perfectly round, shining, like droplets of water on top of a freshly filled dishwasher sink, before they overcome the surface tension and disappear. - Or the KV41, again the 2nd movement, [this is Barenboim, i couldn’t find Anda. Anda is more playful, i think] graceful like a butterfly over a blooming meadow. The piano then, twinkle-toed like a fairy, moving its delicate arms in a deftly playful manner. Again with Geza Anda and the Camerata Academica of Salzburg. :-)


The reason why i started to percieve Bach as enjoyable lies in the short episodes strewn into the book Gõdel, Escher Bach“ by Douglas R. Hofstatter, with Achill, the Turtle, Carl Cancer etc. The CD i bought in consequence was Bach Works for Oboe & Cembalo by Ingo Goritzki & Jörg Ewald Dähler (by Claves, a label renouned for its highly precise plays).

This was very quickly followed by the Goldberg Variations by Glenn Gould (the older one. This is very important because he says in the cover leaflet „with  the age i realized that the contrapunctic music requires a certain deliberation, a certain deliberation“ [maybe he said something else, like thoughtfulness, i translated this from the german booklet]. Compare the raced version of 1955 Aria with the later recording from 1981 in its dreamy-bacchanal way. Also compare the forcefulness of the notes. Okay, some difference is an effect of the recording technique.)

Gould is wonderful to look at, as he hunkers over the keyboard and admires his large hands dashing over the keys and sings along while wallowing in the beautiful music that emerges in front of him.



2. Tuesday


Chicco Rhea:

I met him by pure chance in a hotel lobby, where he felt like introducing himself after our 2nd encounter. "Hi, I'm Chiccoreah." „Chicco Rhea?" „Yes." Many years later i recognized him, and how he spells his name. My wife at that time bought me then a longplay vinyl record, Duet, where he plays with Gary Burton. When i really stay with it, i manage to get along and understand what they do. The Children’s Song No 15 is much more of my taste. Besides that, i feel like that old lady who had been to a concert of a famous jazz musician and afterwards told him „i don’t know what you do there“ and he answered „you know, i also needed fifteen years for that.“Come to speak of it: Children's Song No. 2, 6 and 7 are also very cute. 

Follow the links - and you know how his name’s spelled correctly.



3. Wednesday


Philip Glass:

It’s Armin Brunner from ETH Zurich’s fault that I came into contact with Philip Glass’ works. Glass is a representative of Minimal Music, but he is very versatile.

The first CD (a cardboard box with two CDs and a thick booklet) was Akhnaten, an opera. My most beloved favorites of it are

  • Window of Appearances: Echnaton, Nofretete and Tye present themselves in the palace window, accompanied by the acoustical regalia of power: kettledrums, trumpets, and an increasingly powerful orchestra - and
  • Epilog: we slowly climb from the waves of the Nile up to the barren plain where the wind creates small sand swirls, as if he wanted to grant the ghosts of the sunken city some short-lived bodies.

The choice of the pieces is hard work, there are some very beautuful passages.

Also the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra is very beautuful, especially the 2nd movement, or - something entirely different - Negro River.

Several participants of Minimal Music give us very beautiful pieces: for example the piece The Whole in Wim Mertens' "Motives for Writing" (entirely joyful!) or Karma Shadub by Paul Giger (be patient until 3.14, where a new melody appears, which makes us understand the title of the piece. The piece is very subtle, like the silhouette of a landscape which is always partially shrouded in fog. Appenzell. Notice how the tiny ice crystals flicker in the penetrating sun beams. And then, around 5.20, the darkness of the pine forest, and finally the clear view of the majestic mountains. The sun becomes very bright in the center of the piece, we haven’t counted with that. But the fog wil dominate again as the piece comes to an end.)

With Karma Shadub we enter the Fusion kitchen. If you’re interested in that, take a closer look at Laszlo Hortobagyi (e.g. Barocus Raga or Legend of Yrch, fascinating!).



4. Thursday

Arabic World

My excursions through the record stores of this town brought me one day to Ofra Haza. There is only one CD of this artist in my collection. Yemenite. She was the reason why i started to dabble in the Arabic language. You should at least have a hunch of what your loudspeakers blurt out into the world (speaking of volume, not of quality). See for yourself, isn’t this an exquisite Medley? Tzur Menati / Se' Yona / Sapri Tama. The last part associates with the snake-like  flexibility of the imagined dancer. Also fantastic: the cue of the instruments! 

Auch toll: Ode Le' Eli; spürt ihr das Kamel unter dem Po?

By the way: learning the Arabic language didn’t help me at all to understand the text of the songs (no wonder), but it motivated me to discover and admire some further middle-eastern artists. Natacha Atlas for example with Gafsa in the album Halim or Haydeh wiith Shab Zendeh Dari. Very powerful music!

In this time period - 10 years and more of discoveries - i also visited the lecture series „listening to extra-european music“ („hören aussereuropäischer Musik“) in der University. This had opened worlds, starting with Touareg via Dave Brubeck on to the Inuit. :-)

The middle east is very multifaceted. To compare Mohamed Abdel Wahab with Wael Kfoury is similar to mistake Charles Chaplin for Richard Gere. Dare to dive in. A good start would probably be "The best arabic love album - ever“, an immodest title, but a good cross-section.



5. Friday

Far East

Irene did, after her first trip to Japan, not only bring Matcha (see under Tea in a later „Höchstpersönlich") [which never happened, 1st because mine was not taken lightly for its „escaping the rules“ but also because the initiative ended. But there was a photo series many years later with the same purpose, where i was shown as making tea, with my colleague who specialised in Chinese tea.] but also a CD with classical japanese music. The approach kept me a bit occupied. Today i absolutely adore some of the pieces. Best start with Koto - Rokudan, then maybe Shomyo Todai-ji Omizutori. The rest of the CD is mostly for advanced listeners.

Nathan (from Uni Zürich, probably almost all of you have seen him already, he represented the man from Oslo in our VConf advertisement window) told me that the Shamyo is a religious piece (not surprising when you consider that it originated in the Todai-ji temple).

The Gamelan music from Bali is more for simple minds [goodness, i was impolite at that time already]. But India is very interesting, not least due to Ravi Shankar (i love this singing-nasal sound of the Sitar), for example in his co-production with Jehudi Menuhin, thereof the Raga Piloo (sob-creating melancholy, in its not really rare mixture with delight. The melody is fascinatingly intricate like the tentacles of a vine branch).

Ravi’s daughter Anoushka and her phenomenal piece Voice of the Moon with the strong Tabla (?) and the alluring rhythm are a remarkable delight.

Ok, that was it. Thanks for accompanying me to the trip.