Address of Welcome

Official address of welcome within the framework of the inauguration of the Swiss University Centre for Music Physiology, held by Prof. Dr. h.c. Daniel Fueter, head of the Conference of Swiss Universities of Music CSUM and director of the music department of the Zurich University of the Arts – May 9th, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is likely that you are well familiar with Henry Fielding’s statement: “Never go to the doctor without knowing what his favourite diagnosis is.” I trust doctors, for all those I know love music. I can count on their diagnosis that I should continue to make music, that this would also do me good and that it is a beautiful thing – even though they have not heard me play the piano, let alone have exposed themselves to my attempts at composing.

Why is this so? I base my statement on mere empirical method and, even worse, on my unverified personal statistics: Among no other profession can so many music amateurs, music connoisseurs and prodigies in two fields be counted than among doctors. And amongst musicians, hardly any profession than that of a medical doctor is being mentioned as the only viable alternative for professional activity, which could have been taken into account.

You will understand that this statistics also is slightly discomforting the moment I add that decades ago, musically far superior school colleagues, who have become successful doctors, left me at the mercy of a tormenting and self-destructive uncertainty regarding how much superior they would have actually been had they become musicians.

Despite my personal discomfort regarding this specific topic “Music and Medicine”, I would like to welcome you in the name of the Conference of Swiss Universities of Music and the Zurich University of the Arts (who is hosting this event) to the opening of the Swiss University Centre for Music Physiology.

I believe that within this centre my trust in the connection between music and medicine will take on shape in an ideal way. And here I can base my judgement on scientific facts: The studies conducted by Horst Hildebrandt at Swiss music universities have proven which beneficial effect a musicophysiological accompaniment can have within the context of music studies. You all are aware of the results of these studies.

Even today (and knowing he has heard such statements in overabundance) I cannot resist teasing my colleague: A doctor specialised in musicians’ medicine is the most sensible luxury a music college could allow itself. The number of short-notice cancellations before diploma recitals due to tendinitis has decreased significantly. There exist many other and better examples, but few are as “tangible” as this one.

But there is also a second trust connected to the foundation of the centre: The trust in the collaboration between the Swiss music colleges. Besides a great number of agreements, mutual attempts on the level of Swiss education policy, pragmatic co-operations, helpful transfer of know-how and spurring on the exchange of ideas, the centre is the result of collegial solidarity, which I would like to mention explicitly and thankfully in public. I thank my colleagues in the whole of Switzerland. With the foundation of the centre we are taking a next step from sensible luxury at single schools (I can’t keep myself back mentioning it) to a necessity during formation at Swiss music colleges.

I am glad to mention three personalities, who deserve special thanks and merit in their function as founding members of the centre: Johanna Gutzwiller from Lucerne, Irene Spirgi from Bern and my colleague I have mentioned, Horst Hildebrandt.

It is precisely the connection between music and medicine going beyond statistics (e.g. the holistic consideration of a human being, the meaning of empathy and – without it being meant esoterically – elements of inexplicability, magic or charisma, the being challenged by the here and now), which are of special relevance for the inclusion of musicophysiological research and practice at music colleges.

The practically orientated side of musical formation – through observation of a teacher at a certain distance as well as engaged collaboration with this role model, by noticing his knowledge and abilities, but also by assisting this person in collaboration (i.e. considering teaching and learning as an exchange of knowledge but also as a shared activity on the basis of course-books, oral or non-verbal communication and tradition) – this practical orientation describes, as far as I as a lay person might manage to describe it, the envisaged musicophysiological practice within the framework of a music college.

The focal points of the Swiss University Centre for Music Physiology will be both teaching and research. Individual consultations will constitute a significant element just as this will be the case for continuing education. For more detailed information, I would like to make you aware of the leaflets available here.

At the information stand, you would also have the possibility of getting to know Marina Sommacal, a fellow campaigner of Horst Hildebrandt for many years, as well of Elisabeth Danuser, head of the further education at the department of music and her member of staff, Martin Sonderegger. It is also them I would like to thank for all their support.

Musicophysiological coaching has become a must considering the increasing strain put on music students and professional musicians alike. Music students are urged to become strong and distinctive personalities under increasingly complicated circumstances. Fostering their mental and physical prerequisites is part of this process.

Due to the fact that music is non-conceptual (meaningful but silent like a landscape), one of its attributes is naturalness. Musical forms often suggest organic growth. Again and again, breath is being quoted as a reality and chiffre. And despite this, our main interest in the classical academic formation has been guided exclusively toward the technical mastery of the problems we are confronted with, however not the state of health and mind of performing musicians. The foundation of the Swiss University Centre for Music Physiology verifies the proof that we have evolved in our learning process.

It is nice that this celebratory inauguration coincides with the time when yet another cooperation has begun to flourish, namely with the European Chamber Music Academy, whose delegates I would like to welcome separately. The collaboration, not only in chamber music but also between art disciplines, subject areas and institutions, is reassuring.

Our national hero said: The strong is most powerful when alone. He needs to be contradicted. Brecht’s question about the cook accompanying the military campaign of Alexander the Great – or was it Caesar? – is more justified than ever. Clearly, I do not mean this in view of physiological concepts of nutrition, but in view of collaboration, of the ensemble, the interconnectivity in the most general of terms. As a beneficial example of such interconnectivity I would like to bring to your attention and express my gratitude towards the Schweizerische Musikforschende Gesellschaft, the Schweizerischer Musikpädagogischer Verband and the Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Musikmedizin for their excellent cooperation in favour of musicophysiology as a discipline.

Before passing on the word, I thank and congratulate all who have been involved in the preparation of today’s event, and would like to thank Prof. Dr. med. Christoph Wagner for his readiness to speak about the topic “Hand and Instrument”. It is thanks to his pioneering work that musicophysiology has become part of the music colleges in the German-speaking countries. I would like to thank you for your interest in the new centre and for your attention.