Schäfer’s log, 2030


Excerpt from the opening speech of the 58th International Darmstadt Summer School


… when I look back over my time as head of the Darmstädter Ferienkurse, it is with no little pride that I think of our achievements. In my years here I oversaw the greatest change in the history of the courses: the great transition, as we call it now.

Few would have thought that the transition was already underway, already an unstoppable force fifteen, even twenty years ago. But it was, undeniably and implacably, taking place even then.


Of course it began with Rebhahn. Michael Rebhahn and his lectures, with their witty asides, their distancing irony. The people did not understand it then: some laughed, certainly, but they spoke quietly of how this was no tone in which to talk of new music – die ernste Musik. What was one to make of a man who said one thing and meant another? How could the German psyche begin to deal with the irony from within?


But the Rebhahn bug caught on, and little by little, more and more witticisms, dandyish fantasies and catty asides crept into the discourse. By 2020 the trickle of light-heartedness became a flood of full-blown mirth. During a particularly amusing concert an elderly and respected composer died in the aisles – some said it was laughter, others a particularly arresting use of the kazoo. 2022 saw the engagement of Lupo the Clown as composition teacher and leader of the highly successful ‘new music: large shoes’ project.


And we, the chosen few, who have passed through the ironic-curtain, lie naked and alive in a new world. The transition is complete; Rebhahn’s work is done. So it is with great pleasure, Lord Mayor and assembled guests, that I open the first fully-integrated Rebhahn festival for new music comedy, Darmstadt.


[Applause and cheering]


May it shape the destiny of new music comedy for the next thousand years!


[Applause, cheering, clown horns]

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By Neil Smith

Comment: By Michael Rebhahn (09.08.2014)

Dear Neil,

even though I am quite impressed by your vivid visions of the future, your little prophecy – or better: its origin – leaves me rather perplexed. So, perhaps you could help me out?

I would really be interested in your notion of my qualities as the Summer Course’s comedian, all the more as I have not been aware of them yet.

To avoid any vagueness, I would suggest to clarify your impression on the basis of my recent lecture. (The German original as well as the English translation of the text will be made available shortly on the Course’s website.)

So how about an Open Space debate at the beginning of next week?

I would be delighted (and afterwards hopefully enlightened, too).
Looking forward to hearing from you.

All the best,


Comment: By Neil Smith (11.08.2014)

Dear Michael,

Certainly! Though, I fear this article has been taken a little more critically than I intended.  This is, however, the danger of irony!

I have to go to Berlin Mon/Tues.  Perhaps Wednesday afternoon?  We could call it 'the place of irony in the discussion of new music'?




Comment: By Michael Rebhahn (12.08.2014)

Dear Neil,

good to hear from you.

unfortunately Wednesday will not work out for me.
What about Thursday, 4 p.m.? If that’s fine with you, I’m going to organize a room in the Open Space.


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