Encounters with Mario Gerteis are both great fun and interesting. This is something that the music library has come to appreciate on the strength of its close contact with the music editor and journalist. Mario Gerteis has donated his entire collection of audio material, arguably one of the most comprehensive accumulations of classical music gramophone records and CDs in private hands. The items are still with him, since our premises are simply unable to accommodate them all. A courier collects the items requested on a weekly basis. This is a fabulous gift, and it is accompanied by a selection of valuable composers' letters, which are kept in the safe of the Lucerne Central and University Library (ZHB).
The private letters of the well-informed music critic – shed light on the «business» side of the composers' lives, but they also reveal a treasure trove rich in well-founded knowledge and anecdotes sourced from the glittering world of artists and concerts. Mario Gerteis has experienced and, in his innumerable reviews, commented on – in depth and at times caustically – the passions and vices of classical music. In case you were wondering, he has been plying his trade as a critic for over fifty years. On leaving school he was already cutting his teeth as a cub reporter in the local news and film sections of the Luzerner Tagblatt newspaper. He followed that with a stint at the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and Luzerner Neuste Nachrichten newspapers, then later spent 20 years as culture editor at the Tages-Anzeiger Zürich (1978 - 1998). Mario Gerteis’ activities included journalistic assignments and broadcasting. He is now a freelance writer for various daily newspapers and trade journals.
Faced with this cornucopia of experience and related stories arising out of conversations, it is hardly surprising to find oneself spending longer than envisaged browsing through the collection over a cup of coffee in the library. You always want to hear more! In response, Mario Gerteis was kind enough to spend the last three years writing a monthly web column – an insider's account of the music scene. The series, titled «From the life of a music critic», has now ended. It is being compiled and will appear in book form with the addition of earlier commentaries on the Musikfestwochen series of festivals.