Leslie Adelson, director of Cornell’s Institute for German Cultural Studies, offered words of welcome at the beginning of “Keyboard Culture in 18th-Century Berlin and the German Sense of History,” a conference and concert festival held March 10-13 to inaugurate Cornell’s new baroque organ.
This organ, said Adelson, is “both an extraordinary instrument for musical performance and an equally extraordinary catalyst for intellectual inquiry across the disciplines – History really does come alive in this remarkable project, and it calls to each of us in different and myriad ways.
“For the study of German culture I can tell you that it offers a treasure trove of insights into the science and technology of artisanal craft, the development and phenomenology of a nation’s musical taste, the importance of German feet and pedals for sound cultures in Europe, urban losses in 20th-century warfare, and even the global value of sustainable forest in a country where live oak has symbolic value too. The new baroque organ that now offers each of us an inspiring and moving musical experience also opens a very large window onto early modern and modern German cultures and the many intellectual instruments available to study them.
“More than this, I would say, Cornell’s new baroque organ is a vivid example of what human endeavor at its best can be. The extraordinary collective accomplishment we are here to celebrate today is a unique gift to all of us from many uniquely gifted individuals from our own backyard, so to speak, and from around the world. Their inspired international collaboration over several years bequeaths to us a whole far greater than the sum of its truly exceptional parts. To Cornell’s new baroque organ I thus say “well come!”
“And to all those who have lent their extraordinary skills and personal dedication to the realization of this project, I say “thank you” for a work of art expertly and generously done. To my colleague [professor of music] Annette Richards, an incomparable phenomenon in her own right, one whose far-seeing vision, creative wisdom, and countless hours of hard work have made this all possible and shown us what heights can be achieved when great gifts resonate together, I can only extend the kind of very special thanks for which words will never suffice.”