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9th International ESTA Congress in Graz/Austria, 13 – 20 April, 1982

I myself had put all my ambition into this Jubilee Congress and worked, together with Fritz Händschke, Secretary of the Austrian Branch of ESTA, for two years to prepare for it.

I succeeded winning the Graz School of Music and Performing Arts (today’s University of Music) as co-organiser, which put me into the fortunate position that I had a secretariat at my disposal as well as a source of skilled artists to draw from. The idea was to involve the old- city centre of Graz with its concert halls and palaces. The more than 300 congress participants should always be kept on the go. The different venues were not far away from each other but not under one roof. We thought it to be a particularly fortunate coincidence that Joseph Haydn celebrated his 250th birthday, so that the idea suggested itself to make a trip to Eisenstadt and to the ancestral castle of the Esterhazy family in Fertöd (Hungary), I was especially pleased that the President of ASTA, Bauer le Roy, and the president of JASTA, Zenzo Matsumoto, honoured the Graz Congress by their presence.

The lectures:

Klaus Eichholz (A) “The Systematic Development of the Technique of ViolinPlaying from the Intermediate to the Advanced Level”
Eberhard Feltz (GDR) “A Critical Review of Instructions in Motion in Violin Pedagogy”
Nannie Jamieson (GB) “The Viola in the Light of History”
Ellen Kohlhaas (GDR) “Is Music Criticism the Enemy of the Musician? (An Attempt at Reaching some Understanding)”
Zenzo Matsumoto (J) “On the History of the Violin in Japan”
Jürgen Meyer (FRG) “J. Haydn, His Concert Halls – His Orchestras – His Symphonies”
Sonja Monosoff (USA) “‘The Importance of Old Music in Modern Violin Teaching “/td>
Judith Novak (H) “Hungarian Children in Elementary Violin Teaching with Practical Demonstrations”
Siegfried Palm (FRG) “Avant-garde Cello Techniques”
Max Rostal (CH/GB) “Problems in the Technique of Violin Playing”
Anneliese Seling (FRG) Bruno Steinschaden (A) “Teaching Beginners with Practical Examples”
Otto Strasser (A) “The Role of the Strings in the Orchestra”

The concert programme was a most varied one. Max Rostal and Wolfgang Schneiderhan played Bach’s Double Concerto, Siegfried Palm the Cello Concerto by Boris Blacher, which the composer had dedicated to him, Max Rostal the Violin Concerto in G minor by G. Tartini, which he had discovered himself, and Wolfgang Schneiderhan Mozart’s Violin Concerto A-major K219 at Stephaniensaal. In the same big concert hall we were able to listen to Austrian soloists Christos Polyzoides with the Concerto for Violin and Wind Orchestra with Drums by Kurt Weill, Thomas Riebl with the Viola Concerto by Ivan Eröd, and Ernst Kovacic with the Violin Concerto by Alban Berg. The Grand Orchestra of the University of Music was conducted by Milan Horvath. Young talents captured their audience at Minoritensaal.

In Eisenstadt we were able, after the lecture by Jürgen Meyer, to get an impression of the marvellous acoustics of the concert hall of Esterhazy Palace. In spite of the almost wintry temperatures the Alban Berg Quartet succeeded in “warming” us by rendering absolutely enchantingly Alban Berg’s “Lyrical Suite” and Haydn’s op. 77/1 in G major. In Fertöd in Hungary a string ensemble conducted by Albert Kocsis made more than up for the unpleasant customs formalities which were still common then…

Folk music was given its due as well with “Ausseer Bradlmusi” on the Schloßberg in Graz and with “Heanznquartett” in Eisenstadt at our farewell evening. Lásló Varvasovsky had arranged an exhibition with photographic and documentary material on “10 Years of ESTA” at Palais Attems, and eight of ESTA’s oldest member countries presented themselves in words and pictures in the programme book.

In the staterooms of Palais Saurau a sale’s exhibition was staged by the music shop Doblinger, and in another three rooms I myself displayed books and music and special “Violin Tutors for the Teaching Beginners” from five centuries. The conclusion which I drew personally was the conviction that the opportunity provided by the Congress of communicating with each other and of exchanging experiences and ideas was being more and more appreciated and contributed towards building contacts and forging friendships. So, today I think I can claim that ESTA is not a child anymore and is making great progress in developing itself further.

The General Meeting of the Delegates on 17 April, 1982.

For the first time Heidi Meyer-Küng was present as keeper of the minutes (as she had been two days before at the Meeting of the Central Committee).

In the report on the Association’s activities the major issue was again the difficult situation in Poland, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Iceland and Spain. ASTA president Bauer le Roy reported that ASTA had currently 47 Branches with approximately 5000 members and explained the management of finances, which works as follows: Each members pays $18.- directly to the headquarter, which in turn remits from this amount $5 each to every Branch. The organisation is headed by a paid Executive Director. The ASTA magazine, which appears quarter-annually and has a circulation of 6000, is in charge of a paid editor.

As always, the discussions about possible ways of paying the subscription within the national ESTA Branches was a long one. As no solution could be agreed upon, the matter was postponed until 1983 in Dresden.

Further international events:

According to the International Statues, the President serves for a tenure of three years and can be re-elected twice. Various bodies discussed who was to succeed Max Rostals. Moreover, structural changes were proposed.

On 6 November, 1982, the Central Committee, which met in Trossingen, worked out three proposals: Eduard Melkus (A), Yehudi Menuhin (GB) and Siegfried Palm (FRG). In December 1982 Max Rostal convened another meeting of the Central Committee in Basle, which, however, was not attended by Great Britain and Germany. Instead, delegates from Great Britain, Germany and Netherlands met on the same day and requested in writing that Yehudi Menuhin be elected for 1983 in Dresden. Furthermore, a paper on structural change was presented. The most important change was that the Central Committee should be composed of all Branch Presidents. While the position of the President as a figurehead was (o be maintained, the Branches should be assigned additional tasks and thus be more closely integrated into the international work. This should strengthen their activities and position. Max Rostal could not accept this proposal and resigned from his office as President prematurely on 7 December, 1982. What followed was my appointment as interim President. At the next meeting of the Central Committee in Zurich-Kloten we were confronted with another change: Our secretary, Mrs. Meyer-Küng, who had worked for ESTA for two years for an annual salary of SFR 8,000, gave notice. Fritz Händschke volunteered to carry out this function on an interim basis. Wolfgang U. Stettler, our Treasurer, too, offered to resign from his post.

The motion put forth by the Austrian Branch to confer to Max Rostal the title Honorary President at the General Meeting of the Delegates in Dresden was adopted unanimously. The structural changes resulting from the succession of the President and the graded subscription payments were discussed at great length. In view of the difficult unresolved problems it was agreed to allow for a longer period to prepare for these changes and to hold no elections in Dresden.

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