Music and the City
Traditions and Perspectives of Urban Music Cultures
Gesellschaft für Musikforschung, 14th International Congress
Institute of Musicology, University of Leipzig
Under the patronage of the Prime Minister of the Free State of Saxony Stanislaw Tillich
Leipzig, 28th September - 3rd October 2008
Music as a performance art is closely tied to social structures and especially to urban environments. Vienna, Paris, Prague, Kolkatta and Leipzig have been praised as “music cities” due to their prominent musical traditions. Less prominent places, too, offer a rich musical life which reflects and actively articulates the diversity, interaction and conflicts of its social, confessional and ethnic groups. Yet assessments of the musical life of cities have primarily been addressed either from the viewpoint of high culture or within the somewhat inappropriate frame of regional history. The congress will highlight interactions between urbanity and music. By focusing on the cultural diversity of urban musics, it aims to explore the nexus between music and cultural identity with respect to urban space and forms of living, to institutions, traditions and to urban perspectives for the future. Drawing on a musicological and interdisciplinary dialogue, congress participants will discuss methodological tools able to capture the effects of music on urban areas in historical and comparative perspective.
After the XIII. International Congress of the Gesellschaft für Musikforschung 2004 in Weimar looked at the connection of music and cultural identity from an interdisciplinary perspective, this subsequent congress wants to examine the power of music regarding identity and life in urban areas and their music traditions and to confront it with a fact-oriented stocktaking of existing music cultures in the city.
The city of Leipzig is particularly appropriate as place for a congress like this, since it enjoys the reputation of a „music city“ with long and multilayered traditions, that are merged into a very specific profile of a metropolis that operated as a fair and book trade center while beeing an integral component of the Principality, respectively the Free State of Saxony for centuries.
Here the Protestant tradition of cantors like Johann Sebastian Bach found an exemplary culmination; here the modern symphony concert was established in the early 19th Century; here Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy created a conservatorium, which became the model of urban music training centres not subsidized by the state. In the 19th Century, Leipzig was considered the world capital of music publishing houses and magazines and from here substantial impulses went out to the foundation of modern music research, in particular by Hugo Riemann, who established the Institute of Musicology at the University of Leipzig 100 years ago.