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Martin Stadtfeld

Pianist Martin StadtfeldHere's another young classical musician I would like to hear. He apparently made a recording of the Goldberg Variations last year, but I haven't heard it. (Neither has Jens.) I came across his name in an article (Bringing Bach to the MTV Generation, October 13) from the English-language service of Deutsche Welle, about how Martin Stadtfeld is the new hope of bringing younger listeners to classical music:

With his carefully disheveled crop of dark hair, elegant suits and soulful gaze, Martin Stadtfeld has the kind of heartthrob appeal that helped launch the careers of other young male artists such as America's Josh Groban or Canada's Michael Bublé. But whereas they've conquered international pop music charts with their operatic ballads and jazz covers, Stadtfeld's success has been in the realm of classical music. [...] His age had everything to do with his overnight rise to fame. Only the audacity of youth could propel a promising pianist to, at his own cost, import a special piano from Italy and rent studio time at a local radio station to record the formidable Goldberg Variations. And only the confidence of a young talent with nothing to lose would see the recording be sent, unsolicited, to the Berlin branch of Sony Music, unfazed by the fact that Sony's catalog already contains Glenn Gould's monumental recording.
Stadtfeld has a new CD out, they tell me, of Mozart concerti. He started a tour of German cities on Thursday, with an orchestra, all of this at just 25 years old. I know that some people at the Kennedy Center and WPAS read this blog, so I am officially putting in my request to bring Stadtfeld to Washington next season.


Mark Barry said...

Who does the hair of clasical musicians??? especially the young guys.

Charles T. Downey said...

In Stadtfeld's case, it looks his bed does his hair.

Anonymous said...

Jesus wept.

Is this what it's come to? We have to rely on a good looking men (and believe me, I have no problem with good looking men most of the time) to sell Bach? I guarantee you that if some "MTV generation" type buys that CD because they want to get in that gentleman's pants, most won't make it past the first ten minutes of it. Because *gasp* appreciating Bach takes WORK. It's a time consuming thing and it takes concentration and patience. Most of those people are no different than Beatlemaniacs.

I just finished reading a thing about the Melbourne Symphony's scheme for attracting the 18-35 demo. Shorter MSO: let's use S&M imagery in the ads and hope that kids buy tickets. Pathetic, utterly pathetic. From the link:

Sony wanted Stadtfeld to do for classical music what Josh Groban did for opera and Michael Bublé did for jazz -- attract a whole new target group to the genre.

I call: bullshit. I saw this happen with the 3 Tenors. I went to 3 different productions of Turandot during that time frame and I saw it happen at every performance so I knew who the "newbies" were: they were restles, talked, fell asleep etc. until Nessun Dorma at which point they went nuts (and 2 of the tenors were poor singers)--and then they went right back to fidgeting, sleeping etc.

So, Josh Groban singing opera arias in a manner that would embarrass a first year voice student is going to sell tickets to Puccini? Huh?

I'm utterly baffled by the idea that you're going to sell tickets to full-length operas when you've trained your audience to expect 3 minute chunks. Bizarre. Maybe it's just me, but I *love* the challenge of listening to something until I get it.

Why not just tell the truth? "This music will take time to appreciate and you'll have to work at it, but stay with it, it's great music and the rewards will be there if you're patient". I've taken friends to the symphony and opera and to a person they've complained that there was too much music to absorb (even though I gave them CD's to listen to get an idea). Um, that's not Mahler's fault, it theirs and their 3-minute pop song mentality (and I love pop and rock and dance music).

enjoying reaching audiences with his spontaneous approach to great classical works.

Um, what does *that* mean? He poses between movements? He dances around during orchestral introductions? He smiles at the front rows during cadenzas? Or does it mean he toys with line and structure and rubato and so forth (my guess)?

Nice eyebrows on Mr. Stadtfeld though.

jfl said...


i absolutely agree with you (and I think ionarts in general does, too - even if this post doesn't exactly scream that message) that cross-over does explicitly not draw new audiences into core classical repertoire. Groban and Amici and Opera Babes and (the worst of the worst:) Bond do, if anything, negative things to classical reputation. Those who enjoy these genre generally don't venture further out.

At least this kid plays straight Goldberg Variations... and on a piano, not the keyboard with electro-pop beats underneath it. And then of course we must not expect cultural class to emit from Deutsche Welle -- they are almost as bad as PBS.


Unknown said...

I attended a concert performance of Martin Stadtfeld on Thursday here in Kaiserslautern, Germany. He was one of the most talented and gifted young pianist that I have ever seen. What an incredible young man.
Billy Phillips