Berlin, musical and culinary

by Artist Development Fellow

Maxwell Phillips ’15, a resident of Leverett House concentrating in Music and Germanic Languages and Literatures, was awarded an Artist Development Fellowship—sponsored by the Office for the Arts at Harvard and the Office for the Arts at Harvard (OFA)/Office of Postgraduate and National Fellowships—to study composition in Berlin, Germany. He participated in weekly lessons and master classes, culminating in the completion of a new work. Max is a member of the Harvard Composers Association, Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, Brattle Street Chamber Players, and Dunster House Opera Society. During the 2013-14 academic year, he will serve as the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra’s Assistant Conductor. He hopes to pursue a career as a professional musician and composer. Max filed this post from Germany on July 17.

"Juten Tach" aus Berlin! Today is my last day in Germany, and I am as sad to leave this beautiful city as I am excited to be on my way to Italy and Austria.

On Wednesday evening my new piece for horn and piano was performed in the Neue Synagoge, a beautiful building in Berlin's historic Mitte. The performance was a great success, and in many ways emblematic of my experience in Berlin. We were very lucky to have a large and diverse audience made up of students, composers, and Berliners of all ages and many nationalities. This premiere, alongside performances of works for various brass instruments and piano by my fellow students, was the culmination of six weeks of hard work and study with Juilliard Professor Samuel Adler, an American composer, teacher and author.

Professor Adler's course, part of the Freie Universität Berlin’s program "FUBiS," brought together fourteen composers from the U.S., Europe and Asia to exchange ideas, share works, and create music. Seeing the wide range of styles and approaches adopted by young composers from across the globe has been a wonderful experience; I have learned in equal measure about music, familiar and unfamiliar cultures, and myself.

But enough about music—because Berlin is one of the most exhilaratingly delicious places in the world, here’s a short guide to finding some of the city’s many culinary treasures.

Food is the most important thing about any city, and Berlin is full of amazing and inexpensive delicacies. For Kaffee und Kuchen (the traditional German afternoon refreshment) try Kaffee am Meer or any of the other numerous cafes lining Bergmannstrasse in Kreuzberg. For brunch, Cafe Einstein Stammtisch on Kurfürstendamm is a must (beware the snobbish Viennese style service), or Cafe Manstein in Charlottenburg (beautiful location). For the adventurous, Cafe Rix is a hidden gem in an old ballroom (Saalbau) in Neukölln (right next to U-bahnhof Karl Marx Straße), a little far afield but some of the best food in Berlin and very affordable. Go in the evening for dinner and the fancy coffee drinks with whipped cream (Sahne) and different liqueurs; former Artist Development Fellowship recipient Zach Sheets ’13 recommends the gnocchi.

Just south of U-bahnhof Nollendorfplatz you can find a charming chocolate shop, Winterfeldt Schokoladen (Goltzstrasse). The truffles are amazing, and the shop has a great selection of German and imported bar chocolate. Having saved the most important thing for last, check out Madang on Geneisenaustraße in Kreuzberg to satisfy that indefatigable craving for Korean cuisine (make a reservation, especially on weekends). Avoid the better-advertised, overpriced, and generally mediocre Kimchi Princess.

[Caption: Max Phillips (third from right) and fellow participants of the Freie Universität Berlin summer music program.]