EVENT (Conf): Constructing Historiography of Music: The Formation of musicological Knowledge


Conference: Constructing Historiography of Music: The Formation of musicological Knowledge

Date: November 3-5, 2011
Conference Venue: Georg-August-University Goettingen, Germany
Organized by: Ph.D. Fellows of “Erinnerung – Wahrnehmung – Bedeutung. Musikwissenschaft als Geisteswissenschaft”, funded by the federal state of Lower Saxony at the Universities in Goettingen, Oldenburg and Osnabrueck together with the University of Music, Drama and Media Hannover.

Musicology describes, construes, evaluates and remembers music, thus generating knowledge about music. Through processes of study and specification Musicology forms its own contexts and scientific ideas. At this international conference, organized by a junior research group of Musicology in Lower Saxony/Germany, it is intended to look from different theoretical perspectives at specific moments in which the historiography of music is constructed, thereby analyzing the litigations of its emergence and exploring what constitutes or transforms a music-based knowledge.

The initial starting point of our inquiries is our observation that music history – like history in general – is not self-evident or uniquely defined. Its formation takes place in an interaction between individual, social and communicative perceptions or disparate attributions of meaning, as well as by classifying facts into existing and casually updated categories. Knowledge about music history therefore always occurs as a product of a specific present. It is based on a constructive recollection of the past and on the contingency of its change. However, this process of writing music history is not only influenced and generated by musicologists. A great variety of professions and different media partake in the production, realization and spreading of music-based knowledge.

For a long time, German Musicologist´s comprehension of historiography was shaped by Hegelian logic, historicism and holistic approaches – perspectives, which were criticized by postmodern, post-structuralist and constructivist theorists in various ways. Epistemological questions regarding the possibility of authoritative or objective knowledge, as well as questions concerning the constructive process of writing history took on a greater significance in science in the past years, but have only been marginally reflected by musicologists. Granted, it has become a standard procedure not only to reflect music itself, but to question its embeddedness into cultural contexts and its use within these contexts. However, in order to position Musicology in the ensemble of the Humanities through interdisciplinary exchange, it seems essential also to reflect on these philosophical theories and the theories of cultural studies with regard to their potential use for Musicology. Bearing all of this in mind, these theories have become imperative in underlining the constructiveness in the production and formation of knowledge and have long been a part of the sometimes controversial discourses in neighboring disciplines.

Accordingly, the first aim of the conference is to evaluate the theoretical and methodological backgrounds from neighboring disciplines in order to analyze their possible benefit for Musicology. Furthermore, we will address the “making”, the processuality and mechanisms of music historiography, by looking at examples of how music history was written: Its design, fictionalization, the creation of myths, its legitimization and its alleged consistency will be questioned and examined. Connecting these two approaches, we intend to promote an epistemological debate on the nexus between culture and the knowledge about music, as well as discussing questions regarding the specific epistemological formation of music history.

The conference will be held in German and English. All abstracts and a list of speakers can be found on our website. For further information please visit:


The Ph.D. fellowship “Erinnerung – Wahrnehmung – Bedeutung. Musikwissenschaft als Geisteswissenschaft“, accommodating Musicologists and funded by the federal state of Lower Saxony/Germany, is presently the only one of its kind in Germany. Fellowships currently holding the grant:

  • Sylvia Freydank and Christoph Dennerlein at the Georg-August-University in Goettingen

(Prof. Dr. Andreas Waczkat)

  • Lilli Mittner and Karina Seefeldt at the University of Music, Drama and Arts in Hannover

(Prof. Dr. Susanne Rode-Breymann)

  • Ina Knoth and Lisbeth Suhrcke at the Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg

(Prof. Dr. Melanie Unseld)

  • Sandra Danielczyk and Mathias Maschat at the University of Osnabrueck

(Prof. Dr. Dietrich Helms)

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