Sixty years have passed since Erwin Panofksy wrote of the revolutionary “decompartmentalization” of learning that characterized the Renaissance – when the walls separating the cloistered medieval worlds of theory and practice came tumbling down and the arts, music, philosophy, literature, and technological achievement were permitted to flow into one another. Writing from the interdisciplinary Shangri-la of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Panofsky underscored the pivotal role of institutions as “transmission belts” in overcoming these medieval boundaries, in creating a space for exploring fields beyond the purview of one’s own area of specialization.
The 2010–2011 academic year promises to be an especially exciting one at the Hans Arnhold Center, not least because of a superb new addition to our leadership team: Pamela Rosenberg. She assumed the newly created position of Dean of Fellows and Programs this month, taking on responsibility for public programs as well as the intensification of the Academy’s Fellows’ participation in the academic, cultural, and political life of Berlin. After an extraordinary career in music and theater on both sides of the Atlantic – from the creative crucible of the Staatsoper Stuttgart, where she was Co-General Director for almost a decade, to the San Francisco Opera, where as General Director she introduced American audiences to some of the most thrilling avant-garde productions of the early millennium – Rosenberg returns to her solid base in the humanities.
Rosenberg’s transformation of the San Francisco Opera famously included an end to the compartmentalization of a company, whose connections to the academic and intellectual worlds had become frayed. She forged an alliance with the University of California at Berkeley, where she had once studied music and Russian history, initiating symposia on Messiaen and Berlioz. From the Berlin Philharmonic to the San Francisco Opera, Pamela Rosenberg has always successfully found ways to extend the eternal truths and pedagogical potential of music beyond the concert hall.
Decompartmentalization is the guiding ethos at the Academy’s Hans Arnhold Center, where the experience of excellence in different disciplinary domains serves as a precondition for innovation. I greatly look forward to working with Pamela Rosenberg and this year’s outstanding class of fellows as we move forward with the Academy’s mission of fostering the unique cultural, social, political, and historical links of both sides on the Atlantic.Gary Smith