Ian Bostridge, the German version: Audience are to blame

Ian Bostridge, the German version: Audience are to blame


norman lebrecht

August 29, 2016

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has reviewed the Ian Bostridge recital in which (as we reported) an audience member stood up and shouted at him to learn German.

Patrick Bahner in the FAZ writes that the most shocking thing was the passivity of the audience. They should have stood up and chased the elderly heckler out.

Das Schockierende nach dem Befehl zum Deutschlernen, der einem Künstler erteilt wurde, der für sein Buch über die „Winterreise“ eigene Übersetzungen der Liedtexte angefertigt hat: Es entsteht zunächst absolute Stille. Man spricht von der Schrecksekunde, aber was heißt das? Hier: völlige Passivität. Bostridge und Drake auf der Bühne sind erschüttert, wir im Saal tun und sagen erst einmal nichts. Dann gibt es natürlich Buhs gegen den Störer, aber erst nach einem weiteren Moment des Schweigens fällt uns ein, durch Klatschen unsere Solidarität mit den Künstlern zu bekunden. Niemand von uns steht auf und sagt zu dem Mann: Verlassen Sie den Saal!

We disagree. It’s the festival management that should have stepped in and removed the disrupter, banning him from future concerts.

Read full review here.

Ian Bostridge, Julius Drake - Schubert


  • Dirk Fischer says:

    The key sentence of Patrick Bahners’ article, which you should have included, was the following: “Ich kenne den Mann. An der Garderobe hat er mir ähnlich laut und deutlich seine Meinung über Matthias Goernes „Schwanengesang“ am Vorabend gesagt: „Gebrüll!“ Nur hatte Goerne das nicht gehört.”

    Which translates, roughly, to: “I know this man. At the cloakroom, he told me his opinion about Matthias Goerne’s “Schwanengesang” from the night before, in a similarly loud voice: “Yelling!”. It’s just that Goerne did not hear that.”

    I leave it up to your readers to decide if this man’s motivation was really about Bostridge being a foreigner, or his ability to sing the German language.

  • Una says:

    Doesn’t matter what this guy was shouting, some good manners and grace would have been a better idea, or perhaps he has dementia and there’s some Where I live, the audience would have told him to behave and shut up. It was downright rudeness, and I don’t write as part of the Ian Bostridge. Just appallingly bad manners and lack of human decency.

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Museart says:

    The whole thing is very scandalous, however, there’s a bit of typical confusion here. The headline should not be about the “German version” but about the “Austrian version”: Schubertiade (Schwarzenberg, Hohenems) is Austria not Germany. It reminds a bit to the the typical confusion to tell people that Mozart was Austrian and Hitler was German. It is in both cases exactly the opposite.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      The headline and the story refer to the German language. We have not yet identified an Austrian language.

      • Wolfgang Amadeus Museart says:

        Basically true, however, Austrian German is very different as is Swiss German. In the first post you clearly wrote “Ian Bostridge confronts a German heckler” instead of “German speaking heckler” or even “Austrian heckler”. Would you also confuse Australians with Americans and Britains?

      • Jaybuyer says:

        And the Frankfurter Allgemeine is a national German newspapers. (I don’t know about Patrick Bahner’s nationality.) Where are the Austrian newspapers in all this?

      • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

        Agree. There is no Austrian language. Yet, as history tells us, in certain things Austria is more German than the Germany itself. Witness the yelling “linguo-nationalist” who accuses Ian Bostridge of not speaking German. Only possible in Austria, in modo austriaco.

        • Jaybuyer says:

          ‘In modo austriaco’ – yes, there are a lot of Italian speakers in Austria. I really must go back to Vienna (not provincial Austria, I know) but a change from Düsseldorf, even Munich. I often wonder how much tongue-in-cheek there is in Rosenkavalier. Ariadne has its funny moments about highbrow and lowbrow, but I do feel, dear Alassio, that Strauss/Hofmannsthal make fun of Ochs’s regional accent/dialect.

    • Paul says:

      “It is in both cases exactly the opposite.” and in what way do you say Mozart is German instead of Austrian? Perhaps because his father was from Augsburg? But then Wolfgangerl was born in Salzburg, nicht Wahr?

      • Wolfgang Amadeus Museart says:

        Salzburg was for centuries Germany (Bavaria to be exact) and not Austria. Many years after Mozart’s death it became part of Austria as decided at the Wiener Kongress (1816) at the very latest. So two of the three main composers of the “Wiener Klassik” (Mozart and Beethoven) were not Austrians but immigrants.

        • Paul says:

          Herzlichen Dank!

          • Wolfgang Amadeus Museart says:

            You are very wellcome. Of course Mozart didn’t like Salzburg because he had trouble with Count Hieronymus von Colloredo (Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg) but let me add that the Archbishop of Salzburg holds until today the honorary title Primas Germaniae… ,-)

        • Jurichan says:

          Salzburg was not part of Germany (which didn’t exist as such at the time, like Austria), it was its own political entity as an Erbistum within the Holy Roman Empire. So it’s probably safest to say that Mozart was Salzburgian, and neither German nor Austrian.

          • Wolfgang Amadeus Museart says:

            Correct in Mozart’s time Germany didn’t exist as a national state as there was no Italy in that sense. However, Mozart wrote in his letters very clearly that he saw himself being a German: “Was mich aber am meisten aufrichtet und guten Muthes erhält, ist, daß ich ein ehrlicher Teutscher bin” (letter to his father from May 29, 1778). Another example: “Will mich Teutschland, mein geliebtes Vaterland, worauf ich (wie Sie wissen) stolz bin, nicht aufnehmen, so muß in Gottes Namen Frankreich oder England wieder um einen geschickten Teutschen mehr reich werden – und das zur Schande der teutschen Nation.” (letter to his father from August 17, 1782). So it’s probably safest to say that Mozart saw himself as a German. This is not wishful thinking, this is a matter of fact. Can we accept this, please?

    • MWnyc says:

      Usually the quip is that people think Beethoven was Austrian and Hitler was German.

    • Robert Holmén says:

      Even the crank in the audience didn’t say “Learn Austrian”