1990 / TOBLACH
The 9th IGEB Congress in South Tyrol
Leon J. Bly, Stuttgart
The International Society for the Promotion and Investigation of Band Music held its Ninth Congress in Toblach, South Tyrol (Dobbiaco, Italy) between the 10th and the 15th of July 1990, and was an enjoyable mixture of scholarship, music, and social amenities. Toblach, which was the summer home of Gustav Mahler from 1908 to 1910, is one of the most beautiful and popular resort areas in the Dolomite Mountains, attracting skiers in the winter and mountain hikers in the summer.
The principal topic of the congress, which was held in cooperation with the Italian Radio Corporation, the South Tyrolian Arts Council, the South Tyrolian Band Society, and the Toblach Tourist Agency, was "Radio/Television and the Wind Band". A rather complete picture of the state of band music on radio and television in Central Europe could be drawn from the presentations given by several producers, including Josef Lanz from Tyrolian Radio, Arnold Blöchl from the Austrian Radio in Linz, Tomas Hancl from the Czechoslovakian Radio in Ostrava, Bernd Feifel and Rudolf Weikl from West German Radio, Kurt Brogli from Radio Zurich, and Jan Schut from Dutch Radio. In addition Wilhelm Baethge discussed the current situation in East Germany and Ervin Hartmann the situation in the Yugoslavian republic of Slovenia.
Although most of these countries have band programs on the radio, they are usually treated as popular or folk music programs and present very little serious band literature. The major exception is in the regularly aired. Although each of the producers felt that programs of serious band music should be promoted, the situation at the present time seems to be complicated by the fact that private radio stations are on the rise in Europe and are competing for listeners. Since the private radio stations program to the believed "wishes" of the majority of the listeners, the state run radio stations are being forced to follow suite. None of the countries has a regular band program on television, and most of the delegates to the Congress were in agreement that this area leaves much to be desired.
In conjunction with the main theme of the Congress, Robert Grechesky presented a talk on "Windworks", a series of 13 programs featuring serious works for wind bands and wind ensembles, which was presented on National Public Radio in the United States in 1981. Also as an adjunct to the main theme, David Whitwell discussed the BBC Wireless Military Band.
During an open recording session of the Nordrhein-Westfalen All-State Youth Wind Band for Radio Bolzano, Albert Häberling, who served for many years as the producer of band programs for Radio Zurich, demonstrated the technical considerations involved in making broadcast tapes for the radio.
In addition to those lectures and sessions dealing with the main topic of the Congress, a number of papers were read covering other areas of research. Jon Mitchell of Pittsburgh discussed some early recordings of the Hoist Suites for Military Band, and Felix Hauswirth from Basel commented on the first version of Holst's 2nd Suite in F Major. Caspar Becx, who has just completed a book on Henk Badings, discussed the band and wind orchestra music of Badings, and Steven Miller lectured on the symphonic wind ensemble music of Darius Milhaud.
Presentations concerning wind instruments were given by Gunther Joppig, curator at the munical museum in Munich, and Willy Kenz, who spoke on the place of the saxophone family in the wind band. Bernhard Habla delivered a lecture on the development of the various national band instrumentations in Europe during the Nineteenth Century. A paper on the various method books for the Kent Bugle was read by Friedrich Anzenberger of Vienna, and William Waterhouse of London talked about several leading Nineteenth Century wind instrument makers.
Historical papers were read by Clyde Shive, whose report dealt with wind music in Philadelphia during the first decades of the Nineteenth Century, and by Reinhold Nowotny, whose topic was Austrian militia bands. Gunther Antesberger reported on Wilhelm Viertler's Band, which consisted primarily of members of the Viertler family, and which played for country dances in Carinthia at the turn of the century. Karl Vigl gave a lecture on Hans Nagele, one of the pioneers on the state of research on Italian bandmasters who immigrated to the United States.
Christoph Schwingenstein reported on the status of the series of books documenting the bands in the German and Austrian states; unfortunately some of the first books in this fine series are already out of print. In addition, Friedrich Weyermüller, President of CISM, gave a talk on the usefulness of the band in rearing young people, and Prof. Dr. Manfred Büttner of Duisburg presented an introduction to Music Geography and its applications to research in the area of wind music. This relatively new discipline attempts to explain certain musical developments, especially in folk music, in terms of Geography.
It was most gratifying to be able to observe at this conference the excellent state of band research and the international status that IGEB has obtained. That won not only reflected in the excellent scholarship presented, but in the fact that Prof. Dr. Christoph H. Mahling, President of the International Musicological Society, was present for the whole conference and even chaired one of the sessions.
These scholarly sessions were set in an ambience of concerts and receptions. In addition to the town bands of Toblach and Algund, which played respectively for the opening and closing ceremonies, the Nordrhein-Westfalen All-State Youth Wind Band under the direction of Reinhold Rogg presented three excellent concerts and premiered seven compositions by Tyrolian composers.
A most moving experience as far as this writer is concerned was the premiere of Echos by Albert Mayr (b 1943) on the property of Gustav Mahler's summer home. This minimal music, which consists of but one phrase, was played by the band members spaced alone and in groups around the countryside roughly in the form of a lozenge. The director simply indicates approximate beginning and concluding points for the performers, who freely play the phrase as many times as needed. From its beginning with a solo performer at one end of the lozenge to its conclusion by another solo player at the other end, the landscape reverberated ("echoed") with music.
It was most impressive to be able to hear so many new works for band from composers of this relatively small geographical area. With the exception of the well constructed, Post-Romantic Sonata festiva concertante "Nun danket alle Gott" by Peter Hölzl (b. 1920) all of the compositions heard could be broadly classified as Neue Musik. Perspektive III by Felix Resch (b. 1957) is a very powerful and impressive work. and Trauermusik, which has been written by Heinrich Unterhofer (b. 1958) in memory of his father, is a very emotional and moving composition. Unfortunately the concert hall where the final concert by the Nordrhein-Westfalen All-State Youth Wind Band took place was less than ideal, and the performances of Elegische Ballade für Blasorchester und konzertierende Harfe by Albert Kircher (b. 1950), Wagner-Moment by Hubert Stuppner (b. 1944), Monument Musical für Hörnerquartett und Blasorchester by Karl H. Vigl (b. 1939), and the Concertino für Blasorchester mit Klavier und Harfe by Günther Andergassen (b. 1930) suffered from this, although the audience's response to the works by Vigl and Andergassen was most positive.
During the Congress several compositions were also performed for the first time in Italy, including Alfred Reed's Praise Jerusalem, Kees Schoonenbeek's Fantasia super "L'home arme", and William Schaefer's new arrangement of a Serenata by Johann Joseph Fux for two trumpets and band. Ernst Pepping's Kleine Serenade received its first performance since its premiere at the Donaueschingen Festival in 1926 in a new edition by Wolfgang Suppan.
In addition to the band concerts, the wind quintett "Divertiment" from Bolzano and the Bolzano Horn Ensemble presented a concert of chamber music on Tuesday evening. This concert, which included works by Jacques Ibert, Milos Vacek, Bernhard Weber and Eugene Bozza, also contained two works for wind quintet by Tyrolian composers: Seven Variations on Samuel Scheidt's "Ei du feiner Reiter" by Herbert Paulmichl (b. 1935) and the premiere performance of "Frisch voran...!", a parody on a military parade, by Herbert Grassl (b. 1948).
There was also displays by a number of publishers from Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands for the delegates to visit at the conference centre. An excursion to the Augustinian monastery at Wiesen near Sterzing proved very popular, as did the bounteous receptions given by the Governor, the President of CISM, the Toblach Tourist Agency, the Tyrolian Minister of Culture, and the Tyrolian Minister of Tourism.
At the General Meeting of the Society at the conclusion of the Congress, the General Secretary reported that Volume 11 of ALTA MUSICA, The Band Works of Gustav Hoist by Jon C. Mitchell, has been sent to all members of the Society. Volume 12 (Bernhard Habla's Besetzung und Instrumentation im deutschen und österreichischen Blasorchester seit dem 19. Jahrhundert) has been sent also to all members and volume 13 (Armin Suppan's Marsch-Repertorium Teil 2) is in the process of being printed and should be sent to all members by the end of the year. The lectures presented at the Congress will be included in Volume 14. The President announced that in response to an invitation from Czechoslovakian Radio the next IGEB Congress will take place in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia in 1992.
[Mitteilungsblatt, 1990/3, November]