Thursday, December 3rd, was a fabulous day for the German section at Denison University’s Modern Languages Department! The wunderbar string quartet Ethel joined the German social coffee hour to discuss and show via example the influence of revolutionary Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg on the avant-garde and contemporary composers – including Ethel! Students were enthralled.
Evan Woodnorth and Hannah Doermann lead the weekly Kaffeeklatsch, which invites students from all courses and levels of German to join in for conversation and German coffee. Every Thursday during common hour, they discuss contemporary issues such as the refugee crisis in Europe to pop and alternative German music to important historic events. Hannah, who is a native of Bonn, Germany has been co-conducting German KK since her freshman year at Denison and Evan, a native of Minnesota, who is practically linguistically and culturally near-native German after spending a year living in the country right after high school, when he had been awarded the coveted Congress-Bundestag scholarship, has been contributing very creatively to KK for the past year now. Together, they’ve made a great team!
On average, Kaffeeklatsch has a student turnout of about 20 students each week in the Foresman Lounge on the third floor of Fellows Hall, but with Ethel visiting we had to move to a larger space than our regular gathering place – almost all students from all courses as well as students interested in “all things German” came to the social hour, about 100 students. All visitors enjoyed German chocolates, ginger breads, and the famous German Stollen with Jacobs Kaffee throughout the event.
The event was introduced by German student Melodie Petra Faur who presented an informative introduction to Schoenberg’s life and work in German so engagingly that the language barrier for non-German speakers was reduced to a minimum – the music itself made up for the rest! [arnold schönberg]
Beautiful cello artist Dorothy gave a very insightful introduction to the importance on Schoenberg on the American avant-garde and Ralph shared his own experiences with Schoenberg’s genius in his development as a musician from his teenage years. Corin and Kip rounded off the influence of Schoenberg on their own artistic development .. until we ran out of time.
Arnold Schönberg’s work and significance as a major cultural figure was a topic in the advanced German course 311, a writing course and survey of 20th century German/Austrian/Swiss writers and artists. For students to get an in-depth exploration of his work with highly recognized musicians such as Ethel is a treat very few college students get to enjoy in such an intimate and close setting.
I would like to whole-heartedly thank Mike Morris Sr., Director of the Denison Vail Series, and Ching-Chu Hu, Chair of the Denison Music Department, for making this event possible for our German students and faculty (Gary Baker, Gabriele Dillmann, Jeffrey Frazier). Furthermore, I owe much gratitude to Tim, Denison’s amazing photographer, and Jamie Hale from University Communications for taking and then sharing the photographs below with me for this blog. But most of all a heartfelt Dankeschön to Ethel: Dorothy, Ralph (aka Frank), Kip and Corin!!