Mourning for Michael Uhde

9. January 2024
Prof. Michael Uhde

Mourning for Michael Uhde (1953–2024)

It is with great sadness that we have to announce that our colleague and teacher Prof. Michael Uhde died of an insidious illness on 8 January 2024 at the age of 70. As a pianist, teacher and long-standing Vice-Rector, as an elected member of the University Council and in many other functions, Michael Uhde played a decisive role in shaping the Karlsruhe University of Music for decades, representing it both internally and externally in an impressive manner. Chamber music was just as important to him as soloist training. He taught his students that brilliant playing technique was a necessary but not sufficient basis for artistic development, but that it was more important to listen to oneself while playing, to sense the arc of tension and to understand the changing interaction of rehearsing and performing as a holistic experience. He mentored generations of pianists with the aim of conveying an understanding of culture, as he himself exemplified, and led them to successful graduation.

However, Michael Uhde was also a person who was called upon when it came to advancing the organisation of the university. His greatest achievement in this area was the implementation of the Bologna Process guidelines, which were laid down in university policy. The move away from Diplom and Magister degree programmes and the extremely challenging task of setting the course for the establishment of Bachelor's and Master's degree programmes in the absence of previous experience was successful in Karlsruhe primarily because Michael Uhde made his energy available with unflagging commitment. He also had a beneficial effect in his department, as head of study commissions and, more recently, as an internal member of the University Council. The selection and supervision of concert grand pianos was just as close to his heart as the scholarship system and the continuation of DAAD contacts. Together with his colleagues, he expanded the existing connections to Brazil, where he was repeatedly drawn to.

The special thing about a conversation with Michael Uhde was that it was characterised by approachability, curiosity and humour. He was communicative, listened attentively and asked questions. In his free time, he researched in archives, wrote academic essays and explored the repertoire of Brazilian chamber music, not without the ulterior motive of performing the finds on occasion. He knew he had the ideal companions in his own family, who were extremely close to him both artistically and personally. He organised the estate of his father, the pianist and music educator Jürgen Uhde, and looked for ways to transfer the traditional idea of Hausmusik into his own time.

Michael Uhde was a positive, cheerful and approachable personality, and so it is particularly painful to have to admit that all his joie de vivre was not enough to withstand the destructive force of the illness that plagued him. The Karlsruhe University of Music is deeply indebted to Michael Uhde. It will miss him greatly.

Prof Dr Matthias Wiegandt, Rector
Daniela Schneider, Chancellor
Prof Roberto Domingos, Vice Rector
Prof Dr Peter Overbeck, Vice-Rector
Prof Dr Christoph Seibert, Vice Rector

Karlsruhe, 9 January 2024