Germany offers a haven to Catalan musician

Maria Busqué decided to move to Berlin so that she could live off a musician's income, something she found almost impossible in Catalonia. This is a story from the new Catalan emigration.

CNA / Neus Pérez

March 2, 2011 10:13 PM

Berlin (ACN).- Life was never easy for musicians, especially those with a special love for classical music. In times of crises, things get even worse. Maria Busqué is a Catalan pianist who was unable to find a proper job in her home town near Barcelona. She decided to immigrate to Germany to find a better life. In Berlin, she is able to work on what she enjoys most: music. ‘I feel more appreciated here’, she confessed in an interview with the CNA. ‘In Germany I can live off music, while in Catalonia I couldn’t’, she said.

Busqué was planning to stay in Germany for only one or two years, but has now been living there for over five. She wants to live in Berlin for at least another three years where she feels her job is much better acknowledged. However, she would love to come back to Catalonia to apply all the experience and knowledge she is acquiring in Germany, where she has returned to university.

‘There are more resources for musicians in Germany than in other countries, and that’s why more foreigners come here to work and study before going back to their hometowns with all the new knowledge and experience’, she said. ‘That’s also my plan’, she added. Although Busqué aims to go back to Catalonia in the future, she recognises that there is a ‘smaller musical market’ in Spain than in Germany.

‘In Spain, when you say you’re a musician, the next question is "and what do you do?"', Busqué said. She urged people to see music as a profession and to value it as a career, not only as a hobby or something that people ‘like to do’. ‘Because you like playing music, they think you can do it without getting paid. But then, what should I live off?’, she argued.

In the beginning, it was difficult for Maria Busqué to adapt to a new city, a new country and a new language. However, she quickly found a job in the famous programme, ‘Tanzprojekt’, in the Berlin philharmonic. She thoroughly enjoyed the experience which she now annually returns to. This helped her to meet other self-employed musicians in Germany and she started to teach in some schools as well as privately.  

But it's not only work, that Busqué enjoys in Berlin. She's also a university student and is to become the first musician in Spain to complete a course in ‘Applied Musical Physiology'. This will enable her to teach other musicians innovative and unconventional methods, still unknown in Catalonia. ‘In Catalonia music is seen as a cultural activity, something to be consumed that provides entertainment to people. However, in Germany it is valued as a formative experience for every individual: music helps to develop very important capacities to move and to listen’, she explained.

Busqué is worried that the economic crisis would have a negative impact on funding for music. She said that cutting budgets for musical activities or schools would be a ‘bad idea’ as it is equivalent to ‘diminishing the education of future teachers’. The Catalan pianist regrets that music and culture are usually seen as a first target for cuts because people wrongly think that society ‘can survive with less of them’.