Photo: Mirjam Koch
Thomas Gansch, from St. Pölten in Austria, now based in Vienna, is a trumpet player and composer. He is best known for being one of the founding members of the internationally renowned brass septet Mnozil Brass, combining virtuoso playing with Python-esque humour, with whom he tours throughout most of the year. He is also involved in numerous freelance projects, including his own band Gansch and Roses. He usually performs an a self-designed trumpet, the Gansch Horn. He is considered one of the leading trumpet players of his generation.
Thomas is my first Conversation with Europe. His political postings on social media during the UK referendum campaign were one of the inspirations behind this project from the beginning.
1.Please tell me where you are from and where you currently live and work.
I am from Austria, i live in Vienna and work everywhere around the globe.
2. Which European languages can you speak?
German and English
3. Would you describe yourself as European? If so, is this part of your identity, or just a fact of geography?
I feel strong European roots.
4. When you think of the European Union, what is the first thing that comes into your mind?
Nationalists trying to undermine the concept of a Union
5. Do you feel that living and working in Europe (rather than simply your home country) has made a difference to your professional career? How?
Of course. Being a musician i take great advantage from open borders and that´s only one thing I like.
6. Do you feel as though the European Union is beneficial to the arts and creative industries?
I am a freelancer but i have seen many projects that would not have existed without EU funding.
7. Does Europe inspire you professionally or personally? If so, how?
Yes, I was very interested and I could not believe the outcome. I think it is a catastrophe for young English people to be overruled in such a referendum by a majority of older people who will not suffer the consequences of the Brexit in the long run. Besides that, I actually find it criminal to put the future of a country at stake with a simple yes/no question for a very complicated subject matter.
9. Do you think the EU helps maintain peace?
Yes, most certainly it helps maintain peace within Europe.
10. Do you feel as though you have a lot in common with people from European countries other than your own? Can you give examples?
Yes, culturally I see all of Europe as my home, not only the EU. Beside the German speaking countries’ culture, I have a strong desire for good food and wine that connects me to Italy, an admiration of dark humor that reaches towards England, and I love Russian composers.
11. Do you think it is good for the country where you live to be part of the European Union?
12. How would you feel about ‘ever closer union’ or a ‘United States of Europe’?
I would see this as the natural next step in our political development, but unfortunately at the moment it does´t look too good for this scenario.
13. Do you have a favourite place in Europe? If so, where is it and why do you love it?
There are many special places in Europe. The first that comes to my mind, that´s not in Austria would be Lissabon, an absolute beauty of a town.
14. Which European national stereotypes are true, in your experience?
The French don´t like to speak any other language than French; Germans are too stiff while Austrians are too lazy; Italians always complain; the Polish love Wodka (and so do the Finns) – the list could go on and on. I actually love stereotypes. As hard as you try to fight them, they pop up from time to time, just to prove that they were not completely made up.
15. Where is the best place in Europe to drink coffee? What would you order?
Italy for Espresso and Cappuccino, Austria for Melange and Einspänner
16. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Europe today?
To get all countries in the EU to work together and overcome the great challenges of our time, united instead of falling apart, which very easily could happen soon, if we do not act and take the European ideas back to the people and away from the large corporations and banks.
17. Name a place in Europe you have not visited, but would like to. Why?
I’ve been everywhere in Europe and I´d like to go to Malta again. It´s just a terrific place, the mixture of European and Arabian culture is extraordinary.
18. What do you think is the most significant moment in European history? Why?
The 20th century. Two world wars and the Union, rising from their ashes.
19. Are you hopeful for the future of Europe?
I´d like to be more hopeful than I am at the moment.