Since 2012, I worked on and published 450 pieces about Central or Eastern European culture, and I've written on classical music.
This site enlists a form of music and its well-rehearsed tropes to a larger and more ambitious objective: reflect on the capacity of Central Europe to act as intellectual re-enchanter as related to its position and mapping. If I insist in placing a phenomenon in a specific environment, whether in Georgian Dublin, Berlin, Budapest or during the Austrian modernism, it is because some greater cultural insight is obtained, I feel, instead of taking the same things as an apostrophe for an abstract “East” or “West.” A true global history, it seems to me, needs to engage in the study of in-between figures within a dissolving empire (or idea of Europe). This is perhaps more clear when one approaches a Mahler or a Freud, a “godless Jew,” as Peter Gay described him. But it still is the right question to ask in many more cases.
As I've suggested in the past, it is because of the idiosyncratic fractures of modern history in this region that the idea of late antiquity stretched from being primarily a chronological issue (when did Rome cease to exist and Byzantine history start) to a straightforward type of geopolitical radicalism (whose home is this, who owns submerged regions like Silesia or Wallachia).
What I mostly mean by my repeated efforts to put the German compound of Mittelosteuropa as indeed one 'central' design of Europe is not just a way to talk about the impact on empire. It is also an attempt to get leverage form some beautiful stories that at the level of major book reviews and journals in English have remained in the shadow. We hardly need the 13th article in a year on Henry James coming out of London or New York, but we could easily follow more leads on Thomas Bernhard, a Paracelsian pharmacist in Prague, or the audacity of a Greek spy moving from the Balkans into Reformation Saxony. By and large, and with some notable exceptions, even within a more academic sphere these topics occupy hold too marginalized a space; and, to be true, most journals do not easily give out the opportunity to write longer essays when it comes to reviews.
For all these reasons, I think it is right to trust Mozart's idea of alla turca, a dance that binds different lands and eras, as well as nonmetric, instrumental genres and vocal performances, to dress up my “humanist” pursuits and passions, demanding to escape the obsolete notions of ‘center’ and ‘periphery’ and asking to finally reverse charges in the politics of difference.