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Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 10 seconds

We did not inherit the earth from our forefathers, but we have borrowed it from our children. That means that we should not give the earth back in a worse state than we have received it. But we failed to fulfil this task in many respects such as environment, air, water, forest, and values of life. There is no lack of scientific progress and scientific knowledge. This can be sufficient to continue living and to survive. However, we feel insecure, all the more as we are about to lose the few roots we still have concerning the things we do not understand. Heisenberg says: „On the one hand, there are things on which one can agree, and on the other hand, those things which mean something to us.“ That means that science deals with the former, art expresses the latter.

This implies that art suggests and indicates something which is important and meaningful to us, something you cannot agree on by judging. Giving meaning to something means to me that we have to endow art, i.e. music, literature, and art as a whole, with meaning. Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker once said: „Art is creating form for the sake of form. “ And he dares to suppose that every perception of form as such causes happiness. He even goes so far as to say that there is a unity in the nature of form and happiness. Artistic work has its roots in the intuition, the subconcious, in the psyche, in feeling, and in fantasy, in the surreal, in artistically visionary and irrational things. The attempt of giving meaning to things in a traditional way has lost its total significance. People seek answers and a plan for life through the encounter with art. This means to me that man has to be addressed as an individual, who is enriched and changed, but also shaken by the encounter with the work of art. Let us make sure that art will not lose its sense in the collective consumption. Thus, the artist has to make sure that a work of art is understood by people. Works of art must not be performed or consumed like prefabricated patterns. We should not judge because of perfection but because of aspects such as message, spontaneity, giving meaning, and also enchantment. Shaping is the language of artist cognition. Man should be in the focus of our work.

On the one hand we invest everything now, we spare no expense. But how valuable are meaning and real joy to us? Shall we, who are survivors, only be robots, searching for our own advantage, being without orientation, being scared, without having something to hold us, to support us or to make us even fly sometimes like in „Und meine Seele spannte weit ihre Flügel aus“ (And my soul spread wide its wings) or for a few seconds „Glückes genug“ (Joy in abundance) like in Robert Schumann‘s „Kinderszenen“?

What is an artistic person in our world, in our time? And do we still find ourselves in the picture of the „listener in the dark“ (Ernst Barlach)? Do we still sing a theme on our way home from a concert, like in Thomas Mann‘s „Doktor Faustus“ and does the „dying child“ still sing its melody on its way home? Do we really question that art and music are indestructible features in ourselves and our lives in whatever form or shape? Or is it necessary to imagine the opposite first: A life without Mozart? Or a picture of the American Stevens which the Nobel Prize winner Manfred Eigen has included in his book „Perspectives of science“. Eigen paraphrases the picture with the following words: „Geniuses, a genetic heritage of mankind, which has been breathed into them by the Gods. Without the variety of outstanding achievements, our life would be dull and empty. “ This picture shows our earth as a bare hill, on which there is nothing but a few tins and bottles which have been thrown away. Simply a „life without Mozart“. We must not return our borrowed earth without Mozart and without art. It is all about tradition and conservation. We need no evidence for the fact that art moves and frees us, broadens us and makes us speak without using language. So art leaves us behind with something indestructible and – I stress that in particular – with joy. This is not about educational policy of survival – provided that the term policy is helpful in this context.

Art gives us incredibly many common grounds – such as the task to remove the immense lack of orientation, to set and find standards, to touch the question of mental health, to get to know burdens, to prevent disappointments, to know dangers, to have a sixth sense, to anticipate, to be able, to seek close cooperation with any possible personalities and institutions, to have time available – to communicate with other people, to admit weaknesses, to be man and to continue learning. – And when shall all that happen? What for, for whom and why? And this threefold question, the „what for“ is just not so easy to answer. – Actually, there is no answer to the question: What do we need art and music for in our lives? A musician or an artist does not necessarily have to be a „good man“. It is not true that music and art simply make us better people. There must be another reason. Though the release of emotions is a big part of the whole, it is only one part of it. The truth lies somewhere else, it is much more profound and cannot easily be proved. Heisenberg says: „It means something, it suggests something, it interprets. “ We cannot approach it any further. But this is what decisive moments of life are like, and there are very few of them. To have the possibility of experiencing them a few times in life is of immense importance. We are dealing here with a very delicate point – but that is what it is all about.

Prof. Matitjahu Kellig, July 1998
Translation Deborah Hafenstein