Death of pathfinding musicologist, 59

Death of pathfinding musicologist, 59


norman lebrecht

May 21, 2020

Professor Marion Saxer died on Monday in Frankfurt am Main at the age of 59.


  • Arthur says:

    Musicians I’m down with mourning. Musicologists not so much

  • Brettermeier says:

    “game theory”

    I had to look if there’s maybe a different meaning I’m unaware of, but I think you don’t mean game theory:

    • John Borstlap says:

      The difficulty with game theory is that it tries to cover the field of unforseen chance. The variables of chance are , however, so manyfold that attempts to apply the theory to economics or mass psychology never seem to really produce reliable results – although sometimes it does, by chance. In contemporary music and especially Klangkunst the theory has been attractive, given the absence of a theory about how the subconscious influences the outcome of a creative process.

      The only treatment of chance predictability that really appears to work, is the old Chinese book of the I Ching, which deals with synchronicity. But also that may be, of course, due to chance. Which is in this case a vindication of the book’s workings.

      In the last century, many new music practitioners were looking for a theoretical basis which could explain new works which fell completely outside musicological theory. It was felt that music without theory wasn’t really music, since Bach and Mozart could be explained so well.

  • Edgar Self says:

    John, in “Das Glasperlenspiel” Hermann Hesse’s Elder Brother, a sinophile living in a bamboo garden, consult the oracle of I Ching with the yarrow stalks for the young Magister Ludi, Joseph Knecht, who is studying with him.

    . there is also a Magister Musicae; a Catholic historian-monk modeled on Jakob Burkhardt; and talk and playing of old music. You undoubtedly know this.

    But there is also an ageing Magister Ludi named Thomas von der Trave whom Hesse kills off in his story. Trave is the river of Luebeck, setting of “Buddenbrooks” and birthplace of Hesse’s old friend Thomas Mann, who did not fail to recognise himself and gently chaff Hesse in a letter thanking him for the book, but not mentioning it until signing it “Thomas von der Trave”, which must have caused Hesse some anxiety.

    Hesse had lived in Montagnola, Switzerland, since WWI. “:Das Glasperlenspiel”, “The Glass Bead Game” or “Magister Ludi” in translation, was published in German in 1943 and won Hesse the Nobel Prize in 1946 for which Mann had repeatedly nominated him. Somewhat to Mann’s consternation, t has commonalties with “Doktor Faustus”, the musical novel Mann was writing at the same time, which conductor Alan Gilbert praised in a New York Times article. It appeared in 1948 in a beautiful English translation by Helen Lowe-Porter, Mann’s long-time Dolmetscherin.