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Virtuosos: Masters of their craft or soulless acrobats?
A discussion with Rainer Wagner

In Germany, “Tüchtigkeit” (skillfullness acquired by hard, honest work) is a virtue. But what about the Latin (virtus) or Italian (virtuoso) equivalents? A virtuoso is understood to be a master of his craft. But how come the word “virtuoso” can transport both a positive and a negative connotation? When have we shifted our perception of the virtuoso-concept, turning a once-appreciated mastery into something suspected to be a mere technical display that lets true art and virtue fall by the wayside?

Does the imagination of a composer propel the performer forward, or does the repertory of possibilities that has been expanded by the virtuoso pose ever-growing challenges to the composer? Who is the proverbial chicken here, and who the egg?

These questions will be discussed when a musicologist, a pedagogue, and a virtuoso of words meet journalist Rainer Wagner at the auditorium.

Host: Rainer Wagner (former culture editor of the ›Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung‹)
Podium: Dr. Eike Christian Hirsch (author and journalist) | Dr. Christine Hoppe (musicologist, Georg August University Göttingen)


Rainer Wagner

Rainer Wagner was born in 1948 in Bamberg and studied musicology, theater studies and German studies in Erlangen. He started his career with a traineeship position at the Deutsche Journalistenschule in Munich. Afterward, he worked as a freelancer for radio stations, daily newspapers and a number of specialized journals. In 1978, he began working at the ›Hannoverschen Allgemeinen Zeitung‹. For the next 35 years, he shaped the newspaper’s coverage of arts and culture in his position as culture reporter, culture editor, and music editor. Additionally, he was a member of the board of trustees of the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media for six years.

As a journalist, Rainer Wagner has accompanied the ›Joseph Joachim International Violin Competition Hannover‹ from the very beginning. In 2009 and 2012, he was a member and the speaker of the Jury of Critics.