German Music Council adopts ‘F*ck you’ program

German Music Council adopts ‘F*ck you’ program


norman lebrecht

December 06, 2016

Just landed:

The Presidium of the German Music Council has unanimously adopted the proposal ‘Fuck you 1Falt. Making musical diversity possible and usable’.

It’s a list of six demands to be presented to the German Bundestag.

Not sure I’d want it on my desk.

More here.



  • J. says:

    Typical of this mature world.

  • John Borstlap says:

    The Deutsche Musikrat is an advisory body. The government is asked to put more money into musical education and the job security of music teachers, and to put more money into new music which is ‘not mainstream’. (One suspects that sonic art will get another boost, since its enthuastic audience is marginal.) The president exclaims:

    “Bildung und Kultur sind das Fundament für den gesellschaftlichen Zusammenhalt.“ That is why the advice is called ‘F*ck you 1falt’, i.e. ‘to hell with simplicity (or: naivety)’. It is very puzzling: is the Musikrat addressing the government? Not the best way to stimulate them to pay-up. Or is it addressing all the people working in music education? Are they advised to put more complexity in the curriculum? (more Stockhausen, Xenakis and Boulez), or to exclude children who have as yet no idea about music because of being ‘naive’? The message of the middle finger suggests that the advice is meant to secure the goodwill of street gangs, The North-African querulants maybe, who attacked the German womanfolk at silvester night last year in Cologne? The mind boggles.

    Interestingly, there are no slogan words in the advice, as the authors want to underline themselves:

    “Schlagworte wie Populäre Kultur, Integration, Inklusion, Neue Musik und Kulturelle Bildung lesen Sie bei uns nicht.”

    That they do not want to use the term ‘cultural education’ is, given their choice of title, understandable. And yet, the entire advice is about cultural education and the protection of it in modern times. Nowhere in the text can the term ‘classical music’, or ‘musical tradition’ be found; apparently, this is not at the top of the Rat’s priority list. If one did not know this was about Germany, the impression would arise that it was about a country without Western classical music whatsoever, a country in which education and culture have nothing to do with classical music, and in which the building of a humanistic society, i.e. a really civilized society, should do without Western classical music.

    The advice rightly stresses cultural identity as defining the values of the constitution:

    “Die Werte des Grundgesetzes vermitteln sich gerade über eine kulturell geprägte Identitätsfindung.”

    But in relation to the rest of the text, it seems that classical music is definitely not at the heart of the country where it has established the most flowering music praxis of Western classical music in the entire world. Between the lines one smells the inclination, to turn the musical field into a caleidoscope of ‘equally-valid’ musical practice, where ‘F*ck you’ is as polite as a Mozart symphony.

    What to do when the pope declares from his balcony that catholicism has been cancelled and that there is no God and that everybody should go home and enjoy him/herself? People will organize their own religion. If Germany cancels its own cultural heritage, I am sure there will be enough people there who will find a way to have classical music survive.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    I’m not always convinced that Europeans fully understand some of the English phrases that have crept into their vernacular.

    What would be the average age of this council?

    • John Borstlap says:

      The irony is, that the text reads as a well-thought, careful designed advice, in spite of the strange omissions and absurd title. It looks as if they first wrote the advice, in a cool, ledlamped office room, dressed in grey suits with cravate, and then send it to the junk around the corner of the block for a ‘gripping title’, not knowing what it actually means.

  • William Osborne says:

    The German word Vielfalt means diverse, or many-sided, or a multiplicity. Literally it means “manifold” Viel (many) and Falt (folds.) So 1Falt means “1 fold. The message is: Fuck you one-sided culture.

    It might sound like a plea for multiculturalism, but actually the thought is that we should not have a mono-culture created by the pop-music-industrial-complex. Instead, we should have a many-sided culture that includes classical music, including the rare subdivisions of the genre like contemporary classical music.

    There might be a bit of an irony in the statement, since Germany’s new music world is dominated by forms of modernism that give it a somewhat monolithic character. Still, one has to appreciate the German Music Council’s plea that public funding be used to counter cultural domination by the pop-music-industrial-complex.

    For some reason, one sees the word fuck used fairly freely in Germany, even though they would be embarrassed to use the German word for it which is Fick.

    • William Osborne says:

      One should also note that there is likely a very intentional anti-American intent in the use of the English language phrase “Fuck You 1Falt,” since the USA is seen as the source of a hegemonic pop-music-industrial-complex.

      Even if the phrase might contain a valid point, over the last 20 years anti-Americanism in Germany has steadily increased to the point that it is becoming a social problem.

      • Max Grimm says:

        I think you’re reading far too much into the use of the phrase if you see a high likelihood of it having a “very intentional anti-American intent”.

      • Gerhard says:

        Your claim of ‘a very intentional anti-American intent’ seems pretty exaggerated, to say the least. To me it looks very much more like a clumsy attempt to paraphrase the title of a fairly successful German film comedy named ‘Fack ju Göhte (sic!)’. But be it as it may, why anybody thought at all it would be a good idea is completely beyond me.

    • Scott Fields says:

      As an American living in Germany it is amusing to hear English-language vulgarities sprinkled into spoken German. The equivalent German-language words and phrases wouldn’t be stomached. Ads that read “Who the Fred is fuck?” (advertising Fred cigarettes) are common. I suspect that imported vulgarities don’t have the power of the native versions. It works both ways. Last week I heard “Scheisse” on an American TV show that wouldn’t have allowed “shit.” And “schmuck” is thrown about in ways that a Yiddish speaker might think about twice.

      • John Borstlap says:

        An insightful explanation, but not less embarrassing for that matter. This is the reason I never use the word [redacted] because it could get me into prison.

        • qais alawqati says:

          You are so right !! I was raised in Baghdad and to this day many many decades later I cannot bring myself to say four letter words in arabic but they roll off much easier in English. What I am looking forward to testing this hypothesis is what will happen when I go to France where the dictionry tells me that the the word for f**k that is most popular in France is actually the arabic word frenchified into a verb; I can write it niquer. Any bets? Will I be able to use it?

          • John Borstlap says:

            When young and innocent, I spent a year in Paris with a girlfriend. We had only a very restricted french vocubalary, and the girl found the sound of the language very ‘chique’ and once, travelling in a full bus, she suggested that it would be very hard to talk vulgar in french. I objected and explained, by way of example, the word ‘merde’. She could not believe that was a vulgar expression and tried it out on the spot, suddenly screaming the word on top of her voice. Although to us it did not sound vulgar at all, a shiver of indignation went through the Parisian passengers and we were stared at in such an angry and contemptuous manner that we felt it better to get off at the first stop. Language can be tricky.

      • Robert Holmén says:

        I recall Isaac Bashevis Singer just about turning green in a TV interview when Dick Cavett inquired as to the use of the word “schmuck” 😀

      • David Osborne says:

        Indeed, I’ve been here for 18 months now and am discovering the use of the f-bomb is hardly unusual. Another example, one of the Rheinland theaters (I can’t remember which) had in their program sandwiched between a children’s pantomime and a performance of the Messiah, an event entitled ‘Fuck-up Night’. I think here it’s considered edgy more than rude.

        I think more interesting, albeit in a rather depressing sort of way, is the content of the document. As others have pointed out, beneath the eye catching title, this doesn’t say much at all. The key word is diversity which unless clearly defined, is just another bland, feelgood word. Education likewise. More money, more education, more diversity. Code for ‘more of the same’.

        My feeling is that there is great and justifiable pride here in the country’s musical tradition, and a wonderful respect for artists which is quite the eye-opener coming from Australia where a creative career is widely derided as a ‘lifestyle choice’. Unfortunately though, actual public engagement with the ‘Holy German Art’ is minimal. Their system of funding- heaps of money and a decentralised system that should foster (there’s that word again) diversity, seems to do nothing of the sort. This is because the high level of public support acts as a massive bulwark against change, those who make the decisions are the ones whose personal interest is served by things staying exactly how they are.

        What they need to do is have a good look at the way things worked when Germany was the centre of the musical universe. Making allowances for a very different world world of course, compare the practices of that era to how things are done now. Honestly. The simple answer to a highly complex question? 1. Take the power away from administrators, academics and educators whose role should be not as controllers but as facilitators and 2. Factor audiences back into the equation. Fucking simple really.

    • John Borstlap says:

      My dictionary says, Einfalt = simplicity, or naivety. So, something goes wrong there.

      When it is not described / explained what is understood as Einfalt, one can go into more than one direction. If ‘mono culture’ is meant, it could refer to both pop music and classical music. If pluralism is meant to be advocated, this is often used as an excuse to erode classical music, which is – by the ignorati – often seen as a mono culture. If the whole advice is a product of leftwing egalitarian thinking, which is quite possible, and even probable, it is an invitation to break-down classical music as much as possible because of being ‘elitist’ and ‘exclusive’. In the text, there is no mention of orchestras, concert halls, opera houses, etc. It is all described in the abstract, which is an ominous sign.

      Of course it is all about the immigration problem and the suggested unfair hierarchies of culture: should in Germany a German music culture be the musical ‘Leitkultur’? Should classical music be dominating in music life in Germany? If you ask the same question about, for instance, India, you see the insanity of the suggestion: should Indian music be dominating in India? Where else? And would that mean there would not be space for other musical cutlures?

      The Musikrat would have done better to be openly supportive about their own musical tradition and advise it to be more supported, and be made much more accessible to younger generations and to immigrants. There is nothing against a Leitkultur, as long as it does not pulverize other musics under its weight, and that is definitely not happening anywhere in Europe. In contrary: in the areas where it had developed, voices are heard that want it go away and be replaced by pop – by its own people.

      Remains the question: to whom, to what, is the gesture of the title directed? Which ‘mono culture’? On further reflection, given the linguistic style of the title and all its references, I think the ‘F*ck you’ does probably express the real intentions of the Musikrat: away with our classical music culture. Because if directed to the pop mono culture, it would merely be part of it, and not a critical gesture. It is apparently meant to shock and to offend.

  • Benjamin Gordon says:

    Copy of the letter I just sent to the President of the German Music Council:

    Sehr geehrter Herr Krüger,
    sehr geehrte Damen und Herren des Deutschen Musikrates,

    ich schreibe Sie heute um meine Entsetzung über Ihre Wortauswahl beim Ihrem aktuellsten Werbespruch auszudrucken, den ich hier nicht wiederholen möchte.
    Ich bin stutzig geworden, als ich diesen geschmacklosen Titel von dem Foderungskatalog gelesen habe. Es ist eine bodenlose Frechheit, dieses englische Wort in Zusammenhang mit Kultur und Bildung zu verwenden.

    Dieses Wort in diesem Kontext bedeutet, “lass dich davon vergewaltigt werden.” Damit ist eigentlich Analverkehr gemeint. Wollen Sie wirklich diese Botschaft an Menschen weitergeben? Soll man Sie daraufhin als führender Körper der deutschen Musiklandschaft für voll halten?

    Ich nicht.

    Damit bewirken Sie genau das Gegenteil, von dem, wonach ich als Lehrer strebe: Respekt. Von Tradition, von Menschen, und von Kultur. Ihr Werbespruch ist weder anreißerisch noch angesagt: er ist einfach offensiv.
    Ich fordere Sie darauf, einen anderen Spruch zu finden. Wenn Sie es nicht tun, Sie unterhalten sich auf einem Niveau von Donald Trump. Ich glaube nicht, er sei Ihr Vorbild für Kultur.

    Mit freundlichen Grüßen

    Benjamin Gordon

    • Max Grimm says:

      The real Frechheit is the one die mit the deutschen language getrieben is. Scheinbar ist it impossible to keep die deutsche und die englische Sprache seperated from einander (the German marketing and advertising lot carry much of the blame).
      The thing that is literally getting f*cked is not “1Falt” but the German language.

  • sl says:

    Lots of nonsense. Some readers here comment without having any clue what this actually is about.
    What do the 6 points say?

    1. They want 350 million Euro for guaranteeing that EVERY child in Germany can get free music education in school, kindergarten, music schools etc.
    2. They demand fair pay and social security for all music professionals (artists, people working in music education etc.). In order to avoid vacancies in music education, they want to motivate more people to choose jobs dealing with music.
    3. They want to provide for better possibilities ( mainly financial help) in motivating and supporting amateur music societies in rural areas.
    4. They demand availability of high-speed internet for all people while enforcing more protection for copyright-owners.
    5.They demand funds of ca. 1 billion Euro for helping institutions in music education that are in urgent financial need (especially in rural areas).
    6.They underline the importance of adhering to the laws of the ‘Grundgesetz’ as ethical basis for communication and cooperation in Germany’s multicultural society. No financial cuts in research and education. In addition, they want 3 million Euro more for supporting music ‘that doesn’t belong to the mainstream’.

    That’s all.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Well, it is the nr 6 that attracts most of the attention because with that formulation a lot of damage can be done: multiculti, non-mainstream etc. But indeed, the other nrs are obviously good proposals.

    • David Osborne says:

      Thanks for the translation, but I don’t see any comments here that misinterpreted what this is about. Some are commenting on the weird choice of language, my point (and this has been alluded to in a number of other comments) having read and understood this document, focuses on important issues that it doesn’t address at all, and the lack of definition for terms that are likely to have a wide variety of interpretations depending on the personal views of the reader. Exhibit A:

      “they want 3 million Euro more for supporting music ‘that doesn’t belong to the mainstream’”.

      What mainstream would that be exactly?