Amazing Experiences Abroad: Studying at the Franz Schubert

The University of Alberta and the Franz-Schubert-Institut in Baden bei Wien, Austria, celebrate a partnership dedicated to cultivating artistic excellence in the performance of a great musical genre that is both highly challenging and internationally admired.

08 November 2010

The University of Alberta and the?Franz-Schubert-Institut in Baden bei Wien, Austria,?celebrate a?partnership dedicated to cultivating artistic excellence in the performance of a great musical genre that is both highly challenging and internationally admired.

This past summer, the Department of Music proudly sent three?graduate students to The Franz Schubert for an intensive summer study program.

The?Franz Schubert Insititut has long offered advanced students of voice and piano in one of the world?s richest study experiences in the German Lied. That musical genre - settings of German lyric poetry for voice and piano - thrived in the nineteenth century, when powerful voices with new visions of nature, intitiated by the genius of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and carried on by his Romantic successors, were transformed into music through the genius of composers such as Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Hugo Wolf, and above all Franz Schubert.

Viktoria Rieswich-Dapp, DMus, Piano Performance

"I had the great opportunity to participate in the master course for Poetry and Performance of the German Lied in Baden bei Wien. The intense five-week structure included master classes with the finest international musicians, coachings with a great and very caring faculty, participants from all over the world, concerts in historic locations such as the rooms in which Beethoven composed his 9th Symphony, which, together with the highly inspiring environment of Baden bei Wien, made for a truly unforgettable experience.

I am extremely grateful to have had this experience that allowed me to reach a new level of appreciation for this genre and a new understanding of the intrinsic connection of music and text as a?singer and pianist. I never felt as strongly connected to this genre and my love for this music reached a depth that at times I felt no longer solely as a pianist but as singer, conductor, dancer and pianist at the same time.

Together with the impulses from the masterclasses and Deen Larsen's daily poetry seminars, it was also the broad range of expertise of the coaches (besides pianists and singers the master courses also included actors and diction coaches) that helped each performer to develop his or her artistry by focusing on individual needs. This development could be felt in the various concerts and culminated in the sold-out final concert at the Zentrum f?r Interkulturelle Begegnung in Baden. I highly recommend this course and I hope that many more musicians can share this intense and rewarding experience!"

Sandra Joy Friesen, DMus, Piano Performance

"The intensive five-week study ?Poetry and Performance of the German Lied? at the Franz-Schubert-Institute in Baden-bei-Wien, Austria fulfilled all my expectations. The instruction was by the foremost artists, singers and interpreters in the field of 19th-century art song and poetry.

The focus for singer and pianist was equal with four Piano Masters (Julius Drake, Rudolf Jansen, Wolfram Rieger and Helmut Deutsch) and four Vocal Masters (Wolfgang Holzmair, Robert Holl, Barbara Bonney and Elly Ameling) giving the daily public Master classes.?The level of detailed instruction from the Masters was extraordinary, heightening our artistry and technique for collaborative work.

Our performances were significant experiences. We presented an opening concert in the first week, a closing concert on the final day, and two concerts in the grand hall of the Heiligenkreuz Abby near Baden-bei-Wien. The most memorable concert was the one we performed at the Beethoven Haus ? the house where Beethoven lived and composed for a period of his life and wrote the great 9th Symphony. As a pianist, I was given the opportunity to perform on an 18th-century forte-piano that Beethoven himself played, an extremely rare occasion as this instrument is kept under close protection and only those pianists from the Franz Schubert Institut are allowed to perform on it once each summer. Another meaningful event was singing Mozart?s Ave Verum Corpus in the very same cathedral (St. Stephen?s) for which Mozart composed this famous choral piece. The organist from the cathedral conducted the rehearsals and informal performance. These were extraordinary ?once-in-a-lifetime? experiences for musicians who recognize and appreciate the greatness of these composers.

The focus on 19th-century poetry and literature in this program was an inspiring and resourceful introduction to this form of artistry not usually associated with piano music study. It was important to learn about the connection between poetry and music, and how this can influence performance. In total, I gained a far deeper appreciation for the significance of 19th-century poetry and literature and believe this education will be of lasting value for my ongoing performing and university teaching career."

Jacques Arsenault, MMus, Voice

"The five weeks I spent studying at the Franz-Schubert-Institut in Baden bei Wien, Austria were an amazing though surreal experience. As an Acadian musician from Prince Edward Island, it felt?as though?I had descended into an entirely different world. The level of musicianship and artistry was so high and we as students were truly immersed in a wholly encouraging and supportive environment. Not only was it an absolute pleasure to learn from some of the finest teachers and performers in the genre but it was also a pleasure?to share this experience among friends. Add to this lots of delicious food (mainly pork, dumplings, and ice cream), cheap local wine and apricot liqueur, the chance to perform in the house where Beethoven wrote the 9th Symphony, and you've got yourself a pretty fantastic summer!"