Music is as diverse as the people who render it. Just as people distinguish themselves through their gestures, sounds and thoughts, their music distinguishes itself through sound, rhythm and expression.
Music is closely connected to the various atmospheres of different places. Such places may be a tavern in a Spanish village, where flamenco is being performed, a concert hall, a Buddhist temple, an entire cultural area or just the quiet imagination of an individual thinking about music that nobody else can hear.
Music occurs in time, and there are different times when music occurs. At times, it is celebrated at a specific time, such as an Indian morning raga or the Matins in Catholic liturgy. Rarely does its performance not depend on a specific environment, time of the year or time of day.
People meet to play music. At times, the distance covered for it is as short as from a cloister cell to the sacred room where the prayer is sung. At times, musicians travel thousands of kilometres to a specific concert hall or festival for a shared experience of music.
Music goes round the world and sounds across the world. People turn Earth into a planet that resounds with music. Possibly, Earth is the only planet in the universe that sounds like this. Music has its place and time – its current place and its present as well as its tradition and its hope for a gloriously sounding future.
Music gives the place at which and the time when it sounds an unmistakable character.
From time immemorial, music has been both the naive, spontaneous expression of a single human and a highly complex skill, passed down from master to student for generations.
Darmstadt is also such a place where people come together in various places and at various times in order to play music. There is private music making, the so-called free scene, street music as well as municipal institutions, where music is performed and the ability to perform it is taught in classes.
The Academy for Musical Arts is such a place, itself made of various rooms where two thousand people meet every week in order to make and experience music in a variety of different ways.
It is a cultural institution of Darmstadt, the City of Science, imparted with a mission for the benefit of all citizens of Darmstadt.
At the Academy for Musical Arts, which consists of a study department operating on assignment from the state of Hessen as well as a municipal school of music operating on assignment from the city of Darmstadt, musicians of a variety of ages, cultures and educational backgrounds meet with the aim to pursue two common goals in a variety of ways: learning music and playing music.
The distances they cover to that effect vary in length. Some live in Darmstadt, others in neighbouring districts or more distant places in Hessen. Students come from all over Germany and the world to learn to play or communicate music at the Academy for Musical Arts: Brazil, France, Korea, Italy, Mexico, Japan, Ukraine, China, USA …
The youngest are twelve months old and are carried to their first class in their parents’ arms. The oldest have passed the age of retirement by many years.
No matter whether you choose music to be your purpose in life by electing to become an opera singer, orchestra musician, composer, choir director, pianist or saxophonist, or whether you would like to experience music as an enrichment of a life otherwise defined by a different professional reality: the Academy for Musical Arts is the ideal place for that in Darmstadt.
The tradition of the Academy for Musical Arts, Darmstadt’s central location for music making and education, goes back many years. The places and times of its music making have evolved over 160 years.
The essential conditions for fulfilling music making appear to be space and time. Since those conditions may at times vary drastically throughout social changes, it must always be ensured that space and time for making and learning music are provided. Today’s tendency towards all-day schools is prompting people in charge to reorganise the spatiotemporal conditions of general educational schools and music schools. Schools must provide times and spaces for practice, and playing music must be recognised as a school achievement.
Music requires its place. Music requires its time.
Depriving people of a place and time for their music making is depriving them of an essential condition for a fulfilled life.
The concentration of scientific, creative and political intelligence is so high in Darmstadt, the City of Science, that I am confident it will find a path to a city of the future, where the time and place for inventing and experiencing music are counted among the assumed conditions for urban life.
The author (born in 1955) is director of the Academy for Musical Arts in Darmstadt. After studying guitar and composition at the Academy for Musical Arts, he obtained master training from Hans Werner Henze in Cologne. He earned a scholarship at the former East Berlin Academy of Arts with Hans Jürgen Wenzel. Cord Meijering received various advancement awards.