Orbituary to Prof. em. Dr. Claus Thomas (1924-2022)
Deeply saddened, we announce the passing of our Honorary Member Prof. Dr. Claus Thomas.
Recital by Claus Thomas at the Symposium 2020, Hohnhurst, Germany. © Helge Thomas
Our highly esteemed founding and honorary member, Professor em. Dr. Claus Thomas passed away after a long disease one day before Christmas, on December 23, 2022.
Inspired by the conviction that the perceptiveness of the human senses is an indispensable basis for the realisation of the deeper meaning of human life, his advice and support have been among the strongest impulses since the foundation of the International Society for Polyaesthetic Education, which he himself co-founded in 1982.
As much as health difficulties increasingly affected our honorary member, Claus Thomas firmly held on to the mediation and further development of 'polyaisthesis'. When we held the symposium at his home in 2020, he was one of the most active participants.
Now we are confronted with a painful caesura. We may evoke his sonorous voice from memory as if it were physically present. But we will have to understand, a long meritorious life on earth has completed. To honour what his work gave us over decades will become possible as soon as the veil of sadness will lift.
First of all, we express our sympathy with all the mourners, with his wife Ute, who has been associated with our society since the beginning, who mourns the loss of her husband after years of tireless care, and with their children and their families. We thank them for supporting her husband and father over a long time to be able to participate actively in the artistic events he longed for. May they all, as well as the members of our polyaesthetic community, be comforted that an often restless soul has now found peace after sorrowful times.
Our appreciative thankfulness will fill our thoughts more and more as we commemorate Claus Thomas' so extensive oeuvre and as we trace his life's footsteps.
Professor Claus Thomas was emeritus professor at the State University of Music and the University of Freiburg. In addition to teaching speech training, music pedagogy and acting as well as therapeutic approaches to pedagogy, his meritorious leadership of the "Studiobühne" is particularly remembered. Since 1965, Claus Thomas has worked together with Wolfgang Roscher both artistically and academically. Together they founded the International Society for Polyaesthetic Education [IGPE] in 1982, whose vice-president he was until 1996 and since 2007 its honorary member. Together with his wife, he staged and designed many significant stage contributions to the symposia as well as a large number of pioneering contributions in the publications of the IGPE and far beyond. Previously, Claus Thomas had already been a cooperator of Carl Orff. From then on, Orff's works were as much a part of Claus Thomas' repertoire of recitations as those of the important classics of German literature such as Hölderlin, Rilke, Morgenstern, etc. As a lecturer at the University Mozarteum Salzburg, he worked at the Carl Orff Institute and was awarded the Medal of Merit of the University Mozarteum. His work was above all interdisciplinary and comprehensively polyaesthetic. Due to his studies in paediatrics, he masterfully knew how to transform therapeutic contents into artistic, music-therapeutic and perceptual-physiological applications. Francis of Assisi's "Sonnengesang" (Canticle of the Sun), created with mainly young people with disabilities, is only one of the unforgettable milestones in Claus Thomas' polyaesthetic-pedagogical work. On his 90th birthday, he was awarded the German Federal Cross of Merit on ribbon for his comprehensive, interdisciplinary life's work.
Even with health difficulties, his appreciative correspondence with me as a representative of the International Society for Polyaesthetic Education continued until late autumn. It was also testimony to a very deep personal friendship, the loss of which is very painful.
In honourable respect and thankfulness,
president of IGPE
on behalf of all members of the International Society for Polyaesthetic Education
Orbituary to Prof. Dr. Paolo J. Knill
Paolo Knill, founder of the European Graduate School (EGS), based in Saas Fee, Valais, and teaching and performing worldwide, was not only associated as a member of the International Society for Polyaesthetic Education for many years. He constantly emphasised that polyaesthetics was one of the theoretical foundations of the "expressive arts"-theory he developed.
In September 2020, Paolo Knill passed away at the age of 89.
Since my first meeting with Paolo in Innsbruck in 1980, the exchange of ideas and experiences enriched both sides, personally and institutionally. I am delighted to be involved in the process of reappraising his artistic and scientific oeuvre. This will hopefully reveal the milestones of these encounters once again.
The original therapeutic approach developed into an artistical-expressive educational programme addressing the human being in all its sensitivities. This in turn found its way into the work of some of our members.
We express our sincere condolences to his wife Margo, his family and the large team of the European Graduate School. The personal relationship with Margo Knill and Barbara Hielscher-Witte, who is a member of our Expert Council and is a lecturer at the EGS, may continue the cooperation that has grown so well. This makes us particularly grateful, as it will enable us to keep alive Paolo Knill's oeuvre. And for myself to be thankful for a friendship that has lasted for decades.
Obituary to Dr. Christian Allesch (1951-2022)
It deeply saddens us to report the passing away of our founding member, Prof. Dr. Christian G. Allesch on 4.4. of this year.
There was no one in the International Society for Polyesthetic Education who was not remarkably impressed by his expertise and commitment. To many he was an always interested, reliable colleague for decades. On all common occasions, he was like the heart of discussions about aesthetic education, as the picture of the Expert Colloquium 2018 shows him, second from right, 2 days after moving into the new location in Salzburg. Mourning for that personal loss and great gratitude for his extensive contribution move our hearts. Please feel free to read our obituary (in German):