IES Abroad: You discovered a passion for piano performance while at Dickinson College, and you took a chance applying for entry into one of the top music schools in Vienna. What did you learn about musicology and piano performance as a student in Vienna?
William (Bill) Kinderman (BK): My junior year abroad with IES Abroad became an indispensable stage of my training. I had the opportunity of studying piano in the concert division of the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna alongside my stimulating IES Abroad courses, and my first piano recital was held through IES Abroad in the Palais Kinsky, where Beethoven had also played. My intellectual engagement with music and philosophy and history was developed through my stay in Austria.
IES Abroad: You did something unique in academia when you decided to teach both music performance and continue to research and write about the work of Ludwig Van Beethoven. How did you create this new career path for yourself and do you find that you’ve inspired others to develop a similar one?
BK: My fundamental qualification for university teaching was obtaining a PhD in music at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), following my studies at Dickinson, in Vienna and also at Yale. But encouraged by my piano studies with Dieter Weber in Vienna, I resolved to continue to perform alongside my activities in research and scholarship. This orientation has gone against the widespread specialization of the music field, in which performance and scholarship are unfortunately usually separated. But my approach eventually proved fruitful, and in my current role at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), I blend both activities, theory and practice, research and performance.
IES Abroad: Your most recent book, “Beethoven: A Political Artist in Revolutionary Times”, illustrates the power of performance art to respond and reflect the political climate of the day. Do you think that musical performance artists today have a similar impact and do you think some of them will be remembered 250 years from now?
BK: Yes, I think some of them will be remembered well into the future, but not in the same way as Beethoven, who stood at a crucial juncture point between Enlightenment and Romanticism, stimulated as he was to remain true to the idealistic principles of the French Revolution even when these principles had been tragically betrayed in political practice.
IES Abroad: What advice would you give to students planning to study abroad in Austria as soon as it is possible to do so?
BK: To seize this opportunity! Follow your dreams and visions, endeavor to learn other languages, imbibe other cultures, absorb passionately the best ideas from different nations and traditions!
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