Sven Hartberger with Prunus armeniaca © Christoph Stuhlpfarrer

Vorwort zur neuen Saison 2017/2018

Music – what for?
When, exactly 15 years ago, Klangforum Wien chose this question as the motto for its concert series and at the same time asked thirty composers for their thoughts on this topic, their reactions turned out to be both diverse and surprising. It seems that we had somehow hit a nerve – at any rate, this was the first season in which, owing to a sudden doubling of the number of subscribers, the ensemble’s cycle was completely sold out. The answers that we received from the artists were wide ranging – from very differentiated and profound reflections to a barely disguised aggressive dismissal of the question itself, maintaining that we would be equally justified in asking: why breathe, eat, drink or sleep?

However – things may not be quite as simple as that. The fact that the number of so-called music-mediation activities of all kinds is constantly on the increase may be nothing more than the flip side of the current circumstances in which the arts are gradually disappearing from the curricula of regular school education. But on the other hand it also indicates that awareness of music in general – and alive, contemporary music in particular – as an inalienable necessity and ingredient of human life in the fullest sense of the word is not very deeply rooted.

Viewed in this light, it is surely no coincidence that nine institutions of the European music scene – ensembles, universities, research facilities and cultural centres from eight different countries – joined forces to participate in Interfaces, a project subsidised by the European Union, in order to find new ways of disseminating this dwindling primal knowledge. The musical expression of our present day forms an indispensable part of our human existence; it cannot be replaced by recourse to our inheritance or by reducing it to various types of muzak which are only semi-consciously perceived.

Therefore, if we speak of music in the full sense of the word, the very same question that we asked ourselves and our friends fifteen years ago still remains on the agenda and we would be well advised to rise to its challenge. Klangforum Wien’s current programme is an attempt, both by implication and explicitly, to offer – if not answers, then at least inspiring reflections on this topic.

—Sven Hartberger