In Italia, presi dal commentare il risultato delle elezioni politiche, ci si è dimenticati di quelle presidenziali in Austria. Che è successo dall'altra parte delle Alpi?
in perenne oscillazione tra musica e scienza, la mia doppia vita
Sunday, October 23, 2022
Tempo di elezioni 2: risultati
Friday, September 30, 2022
Conference: Austria vs. Italy
After a long time (more than two years), I packed for some days off, not on vacation, but for attending an Austrian conference in Leoben. It was a strange feeling thinking of what I might need in a hotel. When I visit my parents in Italy, I don’t need many tools, almost everything is doubled at my parents’ place. Now, I need a pyjama, toot brush, etc. In addition, I had to take with me the hated poster tube.
Trustful to my (green) tradition, I travelled by train, enjoying the beautiful but slow moving landscape at Semmering. The hotel, close to the former Abbey Göss (and the Gösser Brewery), was lovely. From my window, I could see the river Mur and a large gold quarry in between dark green woods. Again in a hotel after so much time. The first night, I couldn’t sleep, not because I was excited or because the room was noisy, but because I wasn’t used anymore to change bed. I’m getting old.
|Historical town hall in Leoben|
The conference has been organized by the Austrian Geological Society (and the Austrian Mineralogical Society, as well) at the University of Leoben, a relatively young (since 1840) technical university. The organization was outstanding, the location was easily reachable and the lecture halls comfortable. Lunches and coffee breaks (starting with a morning coffee and sweets) were included in the registration fee and were provided by the local cafeteria. Not bad at all. Even though I skipped the overcrowded social dinner, I enjoyed much the icebreaker party, attended by just a few people. The quality of talks was quite high, there was room for opposite interpretations, without strong fights (Austrians are not Italian). Except for an entertaining public lecture, everything was in English. The University of Leoben hosts several international students, but it was also a pleasure to realize that I’m not the only non-German-speaking senior scientist (not a temporary student), who learned enough German to feel somehow integrated in the local geological community (well, actually, just being able to discuss some geological points, but still being considered a foreigner). The only two "negative" points were the arbitrary subdivision in sessions (more than one talk or poster ended up in the "wrong" session considering the audience and the topic), and the fact that the conference began on a Sunday quite early in the morning. A plus was the guided tour offered through the relatively small city center of Leoben. Very instructive. The biggest surprise was finding an Asian gate next to the university… even though there are no strong connections between Leoben and China. It is actually a spa.
|St. Barbara, protector of miners and geologists|
I loved speaking "geology" again, jumping between languages and topics. Even though the conference was only focused on terrestrial features, I met a colleague of mine employed in Leoben and we talked a bit about meteorites, too. Just the week before this conference, I had attended a workshop in Vienna organized by an Austrian professor emigrated in the UK and financed by the European Research Council. It was also amazing for the quality of the talks and the scientific exchanges. The online meetings offer a great opportunity, saving money and carbon emissions, but will never replace a conference in person, also accounting for the risk of an infection. Looking forward to the next in person meeting.
… I didn't have to waiting too long. The week after, I was in Italy for the Italian equivalent of the conference in Leoben. I travelled by train, this time too, but from Padova, instead of Vienna. Italian high-speed trains are indeed faster than Austrians, touching 300 km/h. Train vs. car: 1:0, but also against airplanes, considering the time lost at airports.
The conference took place in Turin, the first capital city of Italy (when Rome was still under the power of the Pope). Every stone there is dedicated to the "Risorgimento", the movement that led to the reunification of Italy under the "French" crown of Savoy, mostly against the Austrian empire in the NE and the Bourbon dynasty in the S, and the Pope in the central Italy. The second language, after Italian, is French, still spoken by many, as much as German is (was) the second language in my hometown. As always, when I attend a conference in Italy, I swear I won’t come another time… and every time, I attend another one. The final evaluation wasn’t that negative, though, so I made a list of plus and minus about the city and the conference.
|P.za Castello, Turin|
- Automatic subway (existing since years and very efficient)
- green areas in the city
- drinking fountains everywhere
- delicious cookies, chocolate (pralines, like in Brussels), and ice cream
- meeting again professors of mine and colleagues from the past
- amazing science in some cases, despite the lack of funding
- Public transit (bus and tram) and motor traffic
- conference schedule (practically from 8:30 to 7:30 pm with almost no break, but a large "nothing" between 12:30 pm and 3:30 pm)
- rooms disproportionated for the selected session, with several seats unusable because broken
- low accessibility (room at the third floor with no elevator, toilet in the basement, also without elevator, poster area ca. 1 km from the oral sessions and again with steps at the entrance)
- conference center in an almost red light district (it wasn’t, but some female "workers" were standing next to the conference center entrance also during the day)
- illogical conference program book (at least for a brain used to the German efficiency and logic…)
- last but not least.... the non-sustainable conference sponsor, which had a stand in the center of the poster area, playing music all the time, forcing us to shout in front of the posters to be heard.
In summary, in Leoben, I appreciated the scientific contributions and the location, in Turin, I enjoyed the (also scientific) chats with colleagues and meeting again people from my past (not only professors, but also colleagues, some of which moved out of academia or the country, like myself). However, I'd prefer meeting Italian colleagues in the framework of a cooperation, rather than "investing" research money in an over expensive conference. On the other hand, I'll be happy to attend again Austrian conferences in the future.
Thursday, September 8, 2022
Tempo di elezioni
|Designed by Freepik|
Sunday, June 12, 2022
Fare musica fa bene
Dopo due anni di pandemia, in cui molti hanno abbandonato cori ed orchestre sia tra i professionisti sia tra gli amatori, la Baviera cerca di promuovere un ritorno alla musica. Il fare musica fa bene, al corpo ed allo spirito. Ecco i 9 motivi che BR-Klassik elenca per convincersi ad iniziare, ad ogni età (https://www.br-klassik.de/aktuell/news-kritik/musik-machen-neun-gruende-100.html) nella mia libera traduzione:
Musikkapelle am Oberauer Dorfplatz
(Oberau-Online, CC BY-NC 2.0.)
|Foto by Katholische Kirche Vorarlberg |
(CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.)
Saturday, May 14, 2022
The adventures of the rolling reed organ, part 2.
I've been waiting for good weather and the retirement of the neighbor to ask him (and his son) to help me bringing the reed organ to the house. A Sunday morning, they did it. I had some girdles from work to help carrying the instrument, but I didn't think of the furniture at the entrance. We had to disassemble a cabinet, before managing to take the reed organ in the living room. Here it is! It looks even higher and broader now. My father and I placed some wood under the fine wheels and my mom began to decorate the cover with objects (that I ask to remove...).
Finally in a warm room. I started playing and at the third piece, a sudden noise and the right pedal fell down effortless. What?! It took a while to open the instrument and check the damage. One of belts connecting the pedals with the vent mechanism had broken. Adriano, the reed organ guru, suggested how to repair (or better, replace) the broken belt. We tried to repair the broken part, but at bar 10 of the first try, it broke in another place. We had to replace both belts with new ones. After 110 years, it is almost "normal" that the hemp belt got rotten.
Finding suitable material for the belts was not that easy. I went to Vienna, spending four hours in trains, trams, and shops. What I found was a modern and expensive alternative, not what I was looking for. We applied it and is working. Fingers crossed that nothing else will get broken. There are for sure some issues, but I'll wait for an expert for a general cleaning and restoration. In the meantime, a stove has been installed in the room. The reed organ does not like a stranger anymore. The dark old wood has the only disadvantage of attracting dust incredibly fast, but this does not affect the sound.. I can continue experimenting the "inappropriate" repertoire!
Monday, March 21, 2022
The adventures of the rolling reed organ
My collection of musical instruments is expanding. In Italy, I left a digital organ and an East-Germany piano, bought by my parents during my school years, not mentioning the mandolin inherited from my grandfather and other small instruments. As soon as I moved abroad, 12 years ago, I bought a digital keyboard to practice at home. I also purchased two recorders and a mandolin in these years. Two years ago, after buying another digital organ for my viennese flat, I gave away the keyboard, hoping that it will help a friend to learn playing. Then, I had to think of the house on the mountains. I was looking for an instrument with a keyboard and that could possibly play without requiring electricity. The piano is too loud, too expensive for transportation and very sensitive to temperature and humidity. Then, a young organist met in Vienna suggested to go for a reed organ (Harmonium in German). I was skeptical at the beginning, I had played one in Brussels and I remember some from the time in Italy, but I was not quite impressed and such instruments are out of production since decades. I gave it a try, I learned something about the instrument from him and the internet, and I finally convinced myself that a kind of accordion but as large as a piano could be what I was looking for. I began to search for a second hand instrument on the internet.
I checked the second hand market website for Austria for months, but I was not convinced by any of the announcements. Then, I contacted the person selling an Estey, an American reed organ, because I had the feeling that the instrument had been taken care of. I went to check it and it looked in a good condition. Quite big, with a lot of stops, but with a warm and gentle sound. The owner was a very kind educated lady, who was not playing the organ anymore and wished that it was sold to someone able to play it further. Done, I take it.
Happy for the decision, I had to find a way to carry the organ to the country side. Many (more or less) professional companies asked quite a lot of money, even more than the price of the instrument, and many friends' car was too small to fit the instrument. Finally, I found a Romanian guy, who offered to help for a reasonable price. It was complicated to fix a day compatible with my, his and the owner's agenda, but we manage it.
A couple of weeks after, I had time to check carefully the instrument. I am not able (yet) to perform a real restoration, but I wanted to check all the parts, repairing the wooden pieces that got damaged during the transportation and cleaning the interior of the instrument. Everything went fine. I could find the original label and thank to the young Italian organist I found out that the reed organ was manufactured in the USA in 1912. The instrument is 110 years old!!! It was then imported in Austria and survived two world wars (hopefully, it will not have to experience also a third one...). Unbelievable, despite the adventures, the intonation is still good and all the stops work.
|Mozart Krapfen for Carnival|
The next chapter of the story will be carrying the instrument in the house and starting playing with friends and other instruments. I'll keep the blog updated. Make music, not war!
Saturday, March 12, 2022
Fast forward - guerra
Due anni di pandemia, siamo tutti frustrati e stanchi. Ormai le notizie dei contagi che almeno in Austria continuano a battere ogni record non ci sconvolgono più. È passata l'idea della "Durchseuchung", ossia che tutti più o meno si facciano la malattia, chi può con la "protezione" del vaccino, che sembra funzioni nel limitare i decorsi gravi. Hanno riaperto tutto e tolto i controlli (tranne in alcuni settori ed a Vienna). In questa atmosfera di rassegnazione è arrivata la mazzata successiva, una guerra a due passi che minaccia di diventare mondiale e di decretare la distruzione totale dell'Europa, se non dell'intera umanità. Sinceramente, temevo che dopo la pandemia sarebbe arrivata una crisi economica tale da scatenare un conflitto armato, ma credevo (o speravo) che sarebbero passati anni, come nel secolo scorso. Invece no, in questa società che vive tutto in fretta, che si nutre di video di pochi secondi e che non ha più l'attenzione di leggere un libro, anche gli eventi storici si susseguono accelerati, come i cambiamenti climatici. Abbiamo fretta di arrivare alla fine?
|Dove porta questa strada? Camminare nella nebbia.|
Questa sete di andare avanti porta pure a giudizi affrettati, a verità comode cui credere, senza porsi degli interrogativi. Ah no, quelli che prima non volevano il vaccino perché "chissà cosa c'è dentro" ora invece dubitano delle notizie al TG. In certi casi... hanno ragione. In Italia si punta alla spettacolarizzazione del dolore per avere audience, senza pensare agli effetti che questo possa avere sul pubblico più sensibile e già usurato dal bollettino quotidiano di morti e contagi causa pandemia. Senza contare che l'indigestioni di immagini drammatiche porta alla desensibilizzazione, per cui poi non ci farà più effetto nulla. A mio modesto parere ci dobbiamo rassegnare anche in questo caso che la "verità" non si saprà mai e anche se si sapesse, non avremmo gli strumenti per valutarla, come concluderanno gli storici tra cento anni, analizzando le vicende attuali. Sempre sperando che tra cento anni ci sia ancora qualcuno sulla Terra e sia in grado di farlo.
Ora, invece di accanirsi con il nemico di turno (identificato a tratti anche col parente o l'ex-amico che la pensa in modo diverso), rimbocchiamoci le maniche e diamoci da fare, affinché questa voglia di mandare avanti il film a velocità quadrupla ci porti pure ad un lieto fine quanto prima.
1. Aiutiamo come possiamo chi ha bisogno, sempre, non solo adesso, dai profughi ai discriminati.
2. Promuoviamo la pace ed il dialogo. Non con le armi o alimentando il fuoco delle discussioni e delle accuse reciproche. A partire dal posto di lavoro. Discutere è salutare, litigare o al contrario mettere la testa nella sabbia no.
3. Pensiamo anche al nostro benessere psicologico. Proteggiamoci dal flusso di brutte notizie, magari passando alla radio, ove non ci sono immagini se non nella nostra testa. Godiamoci l'imminente arrivo della primavera come possiamo. Investiamo del tempo in progetti a lungo termine. Fate musica!
Passerà anche questa? Non possiamo saperlo. Da due anni viviamo lo stress di non poter sapere cosa accadrà l'indomani. Non lo abbiamo mai saputo, ma ci eravamo illusi di poterlo prevedere. L'unica verità che dobbiamo accettare è proprio questa.