Tuesday, December 20, 2005

That's that.

I had my doctoral exam last Friday and succeeded. Hooray!

At the ensuing party, my colleagues presented me with a basket full of beer (in bottles, that is). It's going to be fun to taste all this stuff, given that I know but one of the eighteen. Thanks!

My wife and friends also had a "little" present for me... what's a prospective engineer's favourite toy in their younger days? Right. Lego.

So the Lego company had the brilliant idea of providing high-end models, one of which is the Star Destroyer known from the Star Wars series. That's over 3,000 pieces in the box waiting to be assembled, and the model is about one metre long when finished. Huuuuge. Thanks once more!

I couldn't say what I'm more looking forward to: tasting the beers, or building the Lego Star Destroyer...?

Monday, November 07, 2005

It's out the Door

I've submitted my doctoral dissertation for review today. It feels good. 230 pages. A praise to LaTeX and the people who built it!

Now I'm in the hands of the reviewers. Let's see. December 16th is defence day.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ian Bostridge and Noel Coward

Discovery! High spirits!

EMI Classics has, in 2002 (why haven't I stumbled over this much, much earlier??), released a CD entitled "The Noel Coward Songbook", starring Ian Bostridge (tenor), Jeffrey Tate (piano), Sophie Daneman (soprano), and, of course, Noel Coward himself, represented by his songs.

Cripes! This disc is marvellous.

The lyrics are witty, funny, melancholic, ironic... you name it: there's something in there for everybody. The music is so twenties it hurts. Morbid at times, ironic (must be, as it comes with these lyrics), with surprising melodic turns and twists...

Ian Bostridge is outstanding anyway. If you have ever heard his evangelist in Bach's St. Matthew's Passion, you know what I mean. He knows how dramatic the story is and interprets it appropriately. This also holds for his interpretation of the Noel Coward songs: he knows about the lyrics and their meanings, and he gets things across.

I love this disc. Give it a try.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Making a Church Whole Again

On October 2nd, the church of St. Elisabeth in Darmstadt was made whole again.

On the occasion of the fold's 100th anniversary, the chancel was renovated and a new altar was installed. The new altar was consecrated by Karl Cardinal Lehmann, and the first Eucharist after the renovation was celebrated.

I've got some images, taken by Peter Klaffke, who kindly allowed me to make them available here. Thanks Peter!

You can click on the images to see larger versions.

This is how the chancel looks now. The image was taken before the service. The altar was chiselled out of one massive block.

During the consecration, incense is burned on the altar.

Adoration of the now consecrated altar.

Cardinal Lehmann celebrates the first Eucharist on the new altar: the church feels complete and "right" again.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Whither now, Germany?

Good grief.

Now who would possibly have expected that? We Germans have elected a new parliament, and bang, nothing works any more. None of the old coalitions work any more. None of the majorities this country has gotten used to over the last forty years is in charge. The by-election due in two weeks in Dresden won't make much of a difference.

It is fascinating to see that the old-fashioned established political camps don't guarantee a majority any more, not without doping them. (No pun intended. Without a whole bunch of doped semiconductors, you wouldn't be able to read this.)

So, what's next? Or rather, who's next? A big coalition? Angela Merkel has the largest fraction behind her (or has she?). Gerhard Schröder claims to have the majority (and I'd very much like to know how he has come to that conclusion).

I'd appreciate a quick pragmatic decision. There is much to do in this country.

The next few days will be very interesting.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Tickets, please!

It's a pity that Lars von Trier has resigned from the demanding post as the director of the next "Ring" at Bayreuth. It was for this staging only that I've started to apply for tickets (no, you don't just buy them in Bayreuth) six years ago when I first heard that von Trier would be next.

Well, no. Whatever the reason was, it won't be him. When I first heard that, I thought the last five years of unsuccessful applications for "Ring" tickets - actually, I didn't want them to succeed - had been in vain, and wanted to give up.

But Tankred Dorst is the substitute. I don't know much of his works, but his "Merlin" is a good read after all, so that may be worth it.

In a nutshell, I applied for tickets once more yesterday. A blue sheet of paper in an envelope, a stamp, a letterbox, there you go. That's how easy it is. Now the waiting begins again. They'll tell me next year, probably around February, whether my application was successful this time.

Someone, please keep your fingers crossed.

Felix Draeseke: IVth Symphony

For all of you who'd like to read this in English... if at all...

Felix Draeseke, creator of the "Christus" oratory tetralogy, has also written four symphonies. Each of them is fascinating in its own right, last but not least because they have been dug out and made available to the public only over the last few years. Now the label cpo has finally released a CD containing the first and fourth symphonies as well as the "Gudrun" ouverture.

The recording is great. The orchestra sounds very clear; there are only a few moments where the music sounds somewhat "thick". But the music... the Fourth is, as a composition, a true discovery, a funny piece of music full of witty ideas, brilliantly orchestrated, with formidable counterpoint (as usual with Draeseke), and yet the overall tone is very light. You wouldn't believe it's a late work.

Agreed, Brahms's "Academic" is airy and laid-back, but Draeseke's Fourth and the "Academic" surely are on a par.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Felix Draeseke: IV. Symphonie

Felix Draeseke, der Schöpfer der "Christus"-Oratorientetralogie, hat auch vier Symphonien geschrieben. Jede für sich ist faszinierend, nicht zuletzt, weil sie erst während der letzten Jahre überhaupt ausgegraben und dem breiten Publikum zugänglich gemacht worden sind. Nun ist bei cpo endlich eine CD mit der ersten und vierten Symphonie sowie der "Gudrun"-Ouvertüre erschienen.

Die Aufnahme ist toll. Das Orchester ist gut durchhörbar, nur an ganz wenigen Stellen klingt die Musik etwas "dick". Aber die Musik... Die Vierte ist kompositorisch eine echte Entdeckung. Ein Schelmenstück voll witziger Einfälle, brilliant instrumentiert, kontrapunktisch anspruchsvoll wie immer bei Draeseke, und dabei doch von einem ganz und gar leichten Ton. Man glaubt kaum, dass es ein Spätwerk ist.

Ja, Brahmsens "Akademische" ist auch leicht und locker, aber Draesekes Vierte ist ihr zumindest ebenbürtig.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

First Entry

Everything has to start with something. So this is my first entry. It's basically just to say thanks to Daniel and his crew for a rainy yet wonderful sailing trip celebrating the aftermath of my and my wife's wedding on August 30th. That sure was one of the most appreciated wedding presents!

There's a blog entry on this event (in German).