Introducing fall 2011 foreign correspondent, Garrett Johnson

Garrett Johnson is a student at Ohio University studying Music History & Literature and German. He is currently studying in Leipzig, Germany from October 2011-July 2012 (two semesters).

I’m studying musicology and German at the University of Leipzig with the generous support of the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). Here I’ll be beginning research for my master’s thesis on Dionysus, a 2010 opera by German composer Wolfgang Rihm, which is about the last ten years of Nietzsche’s life. My research involves studying the works of Nietzsche pertinent to Dionysus, as well as analyzing the work’s score.

The University of Leipzig exchange program with OHIO will give me the German cultural perspective on my research, as well as bettering my language skills, and making professional connections abroad. I’m very open to the possibility of doing my masters work abroad if I find that the environment is intellectually and socially stimulating. Since I arrived in Leipzig a week ago, I have already met people that share my interests, and plenty of people with diverse interests from all around the globe.

This program has also enabled me to travel to investigate my other research interests: namely to Zurich in September to study with composer and pianist Nik Bärtsch, about whom I am writing my senior thesis. There I made several professional as well as social connections, including a long list of phenomenal musicians and a Swiss publisher, which I am very excited to pursue further while I am in Europe.

Although I feel I have a strong grasp of the basics of music history, studying musicology in Germany (in German) is going to be extremely challenging. Often some of the more theoretical and academic concepts can be difficult to grasp in one’s mother tongue– a new environment and a relatively new language is going to demand the self-discipline to really dig deep. OHIO’s exchange program with the University of Leipzig is quite self-directed– there are no OHIO advisers to hold my hand, no American contacts with walk me through the bureaucratic processes at the University, the city’s citizen office, or even at the bank. Since arriving in Leipzig, these things have truly challenged my language comprehension and organizational skills.

I’m very excited to share my experiences abroad with the OHIO and internet communities. I tend to get quickly involved in musical and artistic circles, and I am really glad that I have this common language to fall back on with the communities here in Germany!

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