Department History

The Department of Musicology at the University of Freiburg looks back on a long and varied history of historical music research. The institute was founded in 1920 with the appointment of Willibald Gurlitt to the newly created chair of musicology. The initial focus was on the study of composers and works of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. For Gurlitt, music research and music practice were inseparable, and so he set new standards for the performance of the music of the Middle Ages with the Collegium Musicum, which he founded. Together with the Ludwigsburg organ builder Walcker, he designed and built the "Praetorius organ" in 1921, based on information from Michael Praetorius' Organographia (1619). The much-praised and much-visited instrument became one of the decisive impulses of the "organ movement". However, the organ was destroyed during World War II and rebuilt in 1955, more historically consistent than its predecessor, in a medium-tone tuning. Gurlitt himself was stripped of his chair in 1937 because he was married to a Jewish woman, but he was able to continue publishing. He was appointed back to the chair in Freiburg in 1945 and taught there until his retirement in 1958, during which time he "revived" the journal Archiv für Musikwissenschaft, reissued the Riemann Music Dictionary, and began work on the Handwörterbuch der musikalischen Terminologie.

In 1961, Hans-Heinrich Eggebrecht succeeded Gurlitt as full professor. As editor and principal writer, Eggebrecht was instrumental in the creation and publication of the Handwörterbuch der musikalischen Terminologie (Hand Dictionary of Musical Terminology), which was not completed until 6 years after his death in 1999. His book Music in the Occident, published in 1991, is one of the most widely read and discussed introductory comprehensive accounts. Throughout his life, Eggebrecht concealed and covered up his role in World War II, especially his membership in the Field Gendarmerie Division 683, which was used to massacre over 5000 people from Simferopol in December 1941. Due to the intensive study of the question to what extent Eggebrecht was involved in these atrocities and to what extent his thinking was also influenced by National Socialism, which has only begun in recent years, his musicological work is being re-examined, historically contextualized and controversially discussed. The "Eggebrecht case" illustrates in a drastic way the ambivalences and ambiguities in dealing with one's own subject and institute history. This discussion is both an obligation and a challenge for our discipline.

Eggebrecht was succeeded by Hermann Danuser in 1988. During his "Freiburg period" he was co-editor of the journal Musiktheorie and, as successor to Carl Dahlhaus, editor of the Neues Handbuch der Musikwissenschaft. The focus of his research was the music of the 18th-20th centuries. After Hermann Danuser followed a call to the Humboldt University in Berlin in 1993, Christian Berger was appointed to the chair in Freiburg in 1995. He was significantly engaged in the music theory of the late Middle Ages, as well as the music of the 19th century. Together with Christoph Wolff he was since 2004 editor of the series Voces. Freiburger Beiträge zur Musikwissenschaft.