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Sunday, May 23, 2010


Interview with "Newton Schner Jr", "Lebensessennz" - 23 May 2010.

When would you say 'Lebenessenz', actually came into creation, was it something deeply planned out, or more an instant form of creative release, pressed to tape ?

Ah, that time! It was completely without plans. I remember I was alone at home and decided to improvise some melodies. My idea was just to create something to myself that night. Let’s say I was just guided by an impulse, but never imagined that “Lebensessenz” could really correspond to its etymological meaning: the essence of my life. I wrote a text about it, saying that I never was “a musician”. I never played in my childhood and never dreamt or felt any sensation or even attraction to music in old times. A curious story.

This is a fragment of the text:

“Differently of other composers, I started late. Not only this. Later and by myself. Even having a father which was musician,I followed my own recourses. And slowly, very slowly, I discovered myself with piano. And today there’s nor only one day I do not play it, when I’m at home. There’s no one occasion without asking someone who visits me: ‘Can I play for you a new composition of mine?’ (…) And as a result of indecision. And from the necessity to find something on which I could express myself on that young inquietude, I grow up as a composer”.

You were just 17' when you first started to create the actual project itself. Before this had you had any formal musical training, I see that art is strong within your family. Were you encouraged, or in hindsight using the music as a form of rebellion, almost a creative shout ?

I never had trainings, even in nowadays. I learned to play with an intention to create my own music. When people recommend me start to read sheets, I like the idea and get encouraged, but in the same time I say: “Ah, yes… Maybe one day!”. I know it would be better if I could read, but actually it’s not a strong problem for me. My priority is related with the instrument. While I can, I’ll keep creating. And I share with the same fidelity that I exposed answering an interview in 2007, with the same words: “I never will split-up the project having all the conditions [to create and] to record. If I split-up one day, it will be certainly because I am in prison (because it’s the destiny of many enemies of system, like Wagner was in his time), in a sanatorium (the same is valid… never forget that Heidegger, Hamsun and Pound were considered ‘mad’ because their thoughts, with the victory of Allies), in a hospital (life sometimes is so uncertain) or in a cemetery (if I die…). My music [represents] the steps of my life”.

It was quite interesting to see you asking this. My father does not showed any enthusiasm nor liked when I’ve started to play (in the true, I’ve played one or two times in my childhood, because my father wanted to be my own teacher), because in his eyes it was exactly how you’ve described: a rebellion. He was of the conception that could be even an aggression to “compose” without any classical degree or capacity. “You should learn ‘little ball’s music’”, he used to say – in the case, ironically he referred sheets as “little balls”. But with practice and principally feeling, I started to get better on piano – for me, it’s everything I really needed / need / will need. I had my own beginning. Many people refused to distribute my works in the old times. Maybe they were right. I remember that once Jorge Luis Borges said that his father said anything related with his own poems, and then Borges thought his father was right to give him the possibility “to commit the own mistakes”. So I’m really patient and I always think I’m just in the beginning, “committing my own mistakes”, even I’m with 1, 5 or 10 albums, I’ll understand when people say I need to get better and so on. Once more time, Rilke was right: "I learn it every day of my life, learn it with pain I am grateful for: patience is everything!"

Your first work "Einsamkeit, Hass und Dunkelheit sind meine Lebensessenz" (Solitude, Hate and Darkness are the essence of my life). It mentions that sadly this was lost, during a bout of insomnia, what can you actually remember of them. Did you ever sit down and try to re-create them ?

In true, it was a work I’ve done in the same process of my first demo. Honestly, I think it could be not necessary to record it again, because the melodies and musical structures were very different. The reader / listener can check by itself to understand what I’m talking about, comparing my first work with what I do on nowadays. If I were talented like Agnes Miegel, I could re-create like poems written in my childhood (I’ve a song about her “Frühe Gesichte”), but I am not and I my memory is also insufficient to such things.

What first inspired you to play 'piano', and actually create classical form's of music. I feel through certainly the imagery and feeling you give, your father alsmost is like a spiritual drive for you ?

As I said, I started to play moved by an impulse, but slowly it was connected to a sense of duty, of necessity. Only the true necessity made me a composer. A necessity to open myself to what could not be considered only an instrument, but an opened book of things that I don’t tell even to my best friends. A necessity to express my pain, a good or a bad day, a loss, the sensations after reading a good book, watching a good film, etc. On my newest album, there’s a song I made like automatically after back from the funeral of my father; another one, after back from the hospital, when my daughter was born.I apply myself in my work with the same principles the chosen old Hindu castes applied themselves through their biological specificities. In the case, I see my duty in writing and making music.

My father’s life is really an inspiration to me. I know I can be acting exactly like Mel Gibson, but it’s true: he was an example. Certainly he had his own mistakes, but in my view he represents this idea of devotional work: his duty was to cure. This was for what he was chosen. And I’m telling you honestly. Do not get my words as “words of a son”. Everywhere I go in my city and give my name, people – mostly old ones – like to ask or to start to talk: “Ah, Schner… I remember your father! When no one could cure me, your father saved me!”. When I was on his side on his last days, in his mind he was still working and trying to cure people. And he always kept his fidelity to medicine, until his last days. Because of his fidelity and courage to fight against the actual medicine system, he suffered boycotts, humiliations and many other things. He was really a great person and I’m glad I’m able to do just a bit of everything he really deserves, always trying to create things in his memory. I’m a follower of the concept that we can be immortal through the art.

Do you feel with 'your actual being' almost, wanting your fathers acceptance, or him to say well done son. Is 'Lebenessensz', well almost your soul in the form of music ?

That’s very subjective. But based on what his own friends said to me, I think he could be glad of what I’m doing, even I’m not reading his so recommended “little ball’s music” or better, the “holy” sheets.

Yes, Lebensessenz is really part of my soul, besides of what I [try] to write. Marquês de Maricá, a very important Brazilian writer once wrote his own epitaph: “Here rests the Maricá’s body. If you search his soul, you’ll see it on his books”. Art certainly is a synonym of immortality when its message is universal as well as immortal and there are many cases that after ten, fifty or thousands of years the soul of an artist can be discovered. So in this case, I’m lucky to see people giving
attention and value to what I do while I’m still alive – many others never had this privilege.

When creating the actual music itself, do you follow a particular method. Or plan out a set mood or research a particular
event,etc ?

As I’ve always learned by myself and played alone, my method is very particular. To compose a song is the same of a writer who wants to write his own vision of a theme: he wants to do by himself. There’s possibility to play together in a specific song, but the essence of what I do cannot be changed. Sometimes people like to “enter” in what I do and propose how and what should I make, but I must say: I have my own way and as Keating proposes on “Dead Poets Society”, I want to keep my own step and follow my own voice, even it’s harder. I accept suggestions with opened heart, but not interferences. The same would be valid for a writer. I cannot imagine someone trying to remove the existential crisis of a Dostoyevsky, saying: “Why don’t you try to write in other way?”.

About events, I’m starting to look for places to play. At the moment, I’ve played only one time and it was incredible, really incredible. I’m trying to send promos to many places and I really want to get opportunities to play and spread what I do. As I only heard good comments about my first event, I think I’m doing a good job. Opportunities to play are everything I want, because I really love what I do.

Have you ever placed, written lyrics within your creations, or worked with other musicians ?

Let’s say there’s a bridge between what I compose and what I write. There are things I am not able to create on keyboards and things I cannot describe with words. There’s completeness. But I also wrote things related with songs and texts. “Über die Brücke der Träume” (Over the bridge of dreams) and “Traum und Schuld” (Dream and guilt) were two songs I’ve composed in connection of my first written romance. The same is valid for other texts. If you ask me about any of my songs, I could describe you with details about the circumstances that I made them.

Yes, I’ve worked with other musicians, but it was not related with piano (I had many projects of different styles and played other instruments and even made vocals in some of them). Even in the time of bands, I kept my piano work as a very personal side. Once some people said: “Hmm… Only a piano? What an empty sound!”, but I really have no plans to play with anyone. Guest vocals or instruments in a specific song yes, but nothing more. One of my dreams is to write a song such as Niccolai Gedda did on “Porqoui me réveiller”, on which he wrote about Werther. If I could find someone to make a guest voice, certainly I could write a text and create my first and very particular Opera.

As you have grown older, do you find that you surprise yourself at times, and the music improves year by year ?

In the same time I look at myself and think: “Man, how the things have changed during these years!”, I’ve the sensation – perhaps it’s a perfectionist aspect – that I always need to get better. I can create a work exactly today and try to do my best, but tomorrow I’ll hear and think: “No… I think for now I can do better”. Jorge Luis Borges once said that he never saw again the books he wrote. More or less, the same is valid for me: I look at my past works with nostalgia, but try to concentrate myself in my own North, having the sensation I never made anything. It’s a bit strange, but in my view it’s positive. Nietzsche also once said that every of his books gave him a sensation of “goodbye”.

Who would you say are your strongest influences, and do you listen to other forms of music ?

Particularly I could say my strongest influences are not only related with music. No one composer inspired me so much as did the readings on “The sorrows of young Werther” of Goethe and “The robbers” of Schiller. My inspiration can be divided in three points: 1. Personal feelings and experiences; 2. Literature, movies, paintings, etc.; 3. Music. In the case of music, there are some few names of composers / projects / bands on which the reader will find a background of influence on my melodies, such as: Yann Tiersen, Chopin, Alcest, Wigrid, Philip Glass, Beethoven and many others. But honestly the process of creation is a bit curious, because I never had one strongest influence in terms of music. Once a friend sent me a Yann Tiersen song and I really identified myself with his work, the same is valid for Glass, but it never meant that I was one of these fanatics who really tried to copy them. I guess I heard less than 10 songs of Tiersen and just an album of Glass (The hourglass), but I know their importance for what I do. The same is valid for writers I like, such as Goethe or Thoreau – I never read all of their books, but I know exactly the points I really admire them and apply their values in my personal life. Certainly I listen to different forms of music. I’m completely moved by nostalgia, so it’s very common for me to listen to Abba, for example, feeling the same spirit of my childhood, sit down on piano and create melodies which have anything to do with Abba. There are three different categories of music I listen, in the case of inspiration: Classical, from the influence of my father ; let’s say “common music” made by bands or groups such as Roxette, Pink Floyd, Brandi Carlie, The cure, etc., from my mother’s side; and some few Melancholic Black Metal (“Black” related with darkness, not with a racial) bands just like Alcest, Wigrid, Gris, Drudkh, Burzum, on which I had a strong relation between 2001 and 2008.

If you could resurrect one famous composer from time, who would it be ?

Richard Wagner, with no one doubt. This is the first name in my mind. He was not a simple composer, but a complete composer:musician, persecuted revolutionary, true patriot, writer, hero, poet, mystic and why not a god, even his life was constantly full of difficulties which are very human, such as melancholy and economic problems. All these elements put him over the simple idea of musical creation.

I agree with the words of Ernst Newman: “Wagner was one of these dynamic personalities that after disappear, make the world be never the same of before”.

And with Wagner’s rise, we would see again the triumph of classical art over these obscure times on which “everything is art” or “art is relative”, where there’s no sensibility and you classify the agony of a hungry dog as “a beautiful expression of suffering”. A minister of propaganda in Germany said once: “The art without delicacy is like food for pigs”. I agree with him. And also with a rise of Wagner’s virtues, automatically some values of Schopenhauer’s philosophy could be more respected, such as his view on heroism, will, tragedy, health, etc.

Classical composer throughout time, always seem to be either eccentric, or suffer great tragedies, or be political. Do you think there is a key ingredient to the great composers ?

Yes, it’s valid for Wagner and even for myself (please, I’m not trying to compare myself with Wagner, but just using an example of a common situation). After situations I lived, I simply wrote songs like automatically. From the 1st work to the 4th, I’ve created everything in the same time I was writing, under the effect of personal circumstances. But still today sometimes I record songs with an improvised form, emerged from a specific moment. All these moments I live are like defiance to me, saying: “Let’s see how deep your relation with music is. Can you create now, huh!? If you can, express yourself on this situation!”. On “Letters to a young poet”, Rilke share the same idea: "...ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write?".

As a newcomer to you works, which one album would you say purchase, and which one LP, would you say is the best ?

I recommend you the works that I made after “Der Abend des Abschieds” (2005). They are: “Le besoin perpetuel” (2006), “Das Drama der Einsamkeit” (2006), “Die Räuber“ (2007), "Die letzten Momente von Werther" (2007), "Introspective Fragments II" (2008), "Tu, deorum hominumque tyranne, Amor" (2008) and "Leben und Kunst" (2009).

The best is always the last one. If your favorite book is "The sorrows of young Werther", no doubts that "Die letzten Momente von Werther" could be your favorite. The same would be valid for “Leben und Kunst” if you want to have a journey in the life of my father or “Tu, deorum hominumque tyranne, Amor!” on my own life emerged in personal experiences and a journey on Schopenhauer’s “Love’s Metaphysic”. I could say that after "Le besoin perpetuel", the things are going quite similar. All the works have an own essence, but slowly in some points I'm getting better in what I do, for example in techniques and structures of melodies. The essence still the same.

How have you found moving from native 'Europe', to 'Brazil'. this must of come as quiet a cultural shock. Do you think it has has a strong effect on your musical creations, and the initial sound ?

I’m sorry to say, but I do not move myself from Europe to Brazil. I was born in Brazil and until today I never felt the air of divine Mother Europe, because of questions related with opportunities and so on. Anyway, Europe lives in my heart (as I do with many other parts of world, but in the case of Europe there’s a difference: my ancestry is completely European, so “the blood calls”) – this is the most important - and also there’s even a lost part of European spirit where I live. To give you an example, there are many studies of European communities in Brazil that are keeping dialects which were completely disappeared from Europe.

In true, there’s a strong effect in what I do by the fact of having Europe in my heart. Not only as a continent, but as a spirit. It could be more specific for Germany. I created songs and albums about its history, about its places and cultures, under the inspiration of many composers, painters and writers, but never touched my foots there. So, my relation with Europe and with Germany is also part of my romanticism – naturally, part of my inspiration.

People could say: “Come on! What a joke! How could someone write these things without even visited Germany?”. But I think romanticism like mine – even if it sounds a bit stupid for many people – is much more positive than the invasion of Europe and Germany, when people with bad intentions are trying to impose cultural and religious values, robbing, selling bodies and drugs and fighting for the dissolution of all the nationalisms everywhere.

How have you found living in 'Brazil' itself. Plus how have you found the musical scene there to be like ?

It’s really complex to “introduce” yourself about Brazil because of its vastness. First of all, forget the idea of what you usually watch on television. It’s false and does not represent Brazil. I live in a region which was mostly colonized by Europeans and its values and contributions are on practically everywhere: architecture, culinary, religion, etc. These European immigrants were substitutes of African slaves, when England and its Industrial Revolution imposed to Brazil the idea of Abolition. From both sides – mother and father -, my ancestors had a very poor life working on field.

The problem of nowadays in Brazil is like in everywhere: the idea to convert a “positive multiculturalism” in a negative one.What I consider as positive or negative? Well, in my region there were ethnics of everywhere. People really learned one with each other in many aspects. My father, for example, a descendant of Germans from Russia, became a great Doctor also because of what he learned with native Indians – and my grandfather teach them to play violin. Old people here – with European heritage or not – usually can speak some words in European dialects in the same time they can speak few words in native Indian tongues. This is the positive side. But on nowadays, the idea of an international government is trying to promote the dissolution of specificities through a “democratic” and silent imposition. Here in Brazil, they defend that you really must follow this or that culture, because it’s “a must”. One example is related with race. The Marxists helped this international government to convert race in a “social construction”. In the same time they really fight against everyone who tries to say that there’s a strong euro-Brazilian community with many contributions (and that should be respected as a part of here), they try to apply Hobsbawm’s theories and say that there’s no identity and “everything was created by a bourgeoisie” and so on; but in the same time, they are the same defending Indians and negroes, saying that they are the true Brazilians and that “they must be proud of their race”. The dance of a Ukrainian here is a “creation of bourgeoisie”, but an afro dance is “completely Brazilian and must be followed by everyone”. Not against their dances. I really think they deserve to keep their culture. But the result is that people are losing their identities and trying to follow like robots “what is right” for the system. Recently it was celebrated here the 100 years of Japanese immigration. What the television showed? Japanese playing an afro dance, like if saying: “This is the ‘good Japanese’… Someone who biologically, culturally and religiously does not have anything to do with Africa, but because he’s here, he tries to forget everything and accept this silent cultural imposition and absence of your true identity”. People should understand that if Brazil is a multicultural place, automatically it does not mean that we’re an African country or that we’ve “the second Africa”. No. In true, we are everything we want to be, because of the so many communities and ethnics we have here. We can be Africa, but we can be Europe, Asia or everywhere. I want to be honest and not be confused by interpretations of people who could call me “racist” and so on: I am in favor of all the cultures here. In the same time I am not glad seeking Polish-Brazilians losing their identity, I have tears in my eyes seeking native Indians praying for Christ and accepting “humanitarian” impositions (like related with Eugenics, when the native Indians should keep their Spartan spirit which is part of their essence). People here should see as richness all what we have here and not to accept these impositions. People should see that we can learn with others and in the same time being what we are, keeping our identities. But well, as I said, it’s a complex subject and it’s not my intention to expose everything I think about it,because it’s not the appropriate space.

The musical scene here is like a new universe for me. I was emerged in underground scene for years. With classical music is completely different.There are good and bad points on this, but I’m getting closerto my pretensions as someone who really loves to play and create.

Where's the best place to purchase your releases, and have you found interest outside of 'Europe' ?

I think in Germany there are some distros with my works, such as Dunkelheit Produktionen: www.dunkelheit-produktionen.de Internet broke all the barriers and I’ve got some listeners of many places. I remember when I sold all my discography to a friend in Japan. There are many listeners in Mexico, United States, Brazil, Chile, Russia, Germany, etc. and indeed I’m really glad. Honestly, my music always open to myself new opportunities to know more about different cultures. Someone on Mexico discovers my music and then I start to talk about my interests on archaeological registers of Mexico; someone in United States gives me opportunities to talk about Emerson or Thoreau, and so on. And other point with a strong meaning for me is to know the human behind the listener. The listener for me is as important as the music I make, like when the Nietzsche’s Zarathustra talks about the objective of a sun. I really knew very special people through this bridge called music.

Lastly Id like to thank you for your time, and to finally ask you what can we expect from you in 2010 ?

Thank you very much for your attention, your great questions and your patience. You know, it’s my sin to take a long time to answer your interview, but I really waited a good moment to sit down and write it slowly.

In 2010, certainly it will be recorded and released a new album after “Leben und Kunst”. Perhaps another one, but I don’t know how my conditions will be. About events, I’ll be carried by the wind. I know I’ve one event to play on this year and perhaps to play on a German restaurant and in a fest in German cologne. The things are just beginning for me related with events.

I wish you all the best with your work!

People who are interested in what I do, are always certainly welcome to take a look at my website or too write me:


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