Press release 2021/139 from

Axel Körner has accepted his appointment as Professor of Modern Cultural and Intellectual History at the Faculty of History, Art and Area Studies at Leipzig University. He will join Leipzig from University College London, assuming his new position from 1 October 2021. He received an ERC Advanced Investigator Grant award from the European Research Council for his frontier research on the role of opera in the Habsburg Monarchy.

Over the coming years, Professor Axel Körner’s research will focus on his ERC project. In the longer term, he will work on different areas of European cultural and intellectual history in its transnational and global dimensions.

Commenting on his appointment, Professor Körner says: “After a career of more than thirty years in different parts of Europe and the US, I am enthusiastic about returning to Germany. Ilook forward to contributing my experience to the excellent research structures at Leipzig University and making an impact on teaching. Leipzig offers excellent conditions for my interdisciplinary work. The University’s Departments of History and Musicology are in an exciting period of new beginnings. This, in conjunction with the research cluster based at ReCentGlobe, offers me ideal working conditions.”

In recognition of his academic excellence and his research project on ”"Imperial politics of opera in Habsburg Europe”, Körner received one of the European Research Council’s most highly endowed research awards this year, the ERC Advanced Investigator Grant. “With a team of six, we will examine the politics of opera in the Habsburg Empire between the Congress of Vienna and the outbreak of World War One, focusing primarily on cultural exchanges between the monarchy’s crown lands and its nationalities. Considering local, regional, and imperial identities, the project challenges traditional narratives that see nineteenth-century opera and music primarily as instruments of political nationalism,” Körner says of his project.

ERC Advanced Grants are awarded to top scientists for their outstanding scientific research. They receive up to 2.5 million euros in funding for a period of five years. “For this last ERC call under Horizon 2020, over 200 researchers will be funded to follow their scientific instinct and dreams,” said ERC President Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon. Due to a great increase in demand, only eight per cent of candidates were successful. Currently, six scientists from Leipzig University are being supported by different ERC grants.

In the winter semester 2020/21, Professor Axel Körner had been awarded the Leibniz Visiting Professorship at Leipzig University, during which he offered a lecture course in English at the Department of History, as well as working closely with the University’s Global Studies and Musicology departments, and taking advantage of its excellent libraries for his research. Previous visiting professorships have taken Körner to the Institute for Advanced Study Princeton, the École Normale Supérieure Paris, and the Remarque Institute of New York University.

His main research interest is cultural history and the history of political thought in Europe from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, with an emphasis on the history of Italy, France and Central Europe, as well as their transnational and transatlantic connections. In the field of opera and music history, he has explored Italian Wagnerism, Beethoven, Meyerbeer, Rossini, Verdi and the institutions of music theatre. After a Maîtrise d’Histoire in Lyon, he earned his doctorate at the European University Institute in Florence, before joining University College London (UCL) in 1996, where he has been Professor of Modern History since 2012. Körner was also the founding director of the UCL Centre for Transnational History.

He has published over sixty book chapters and essays in international journals, as well as monographs on the history of the labour movement and on Italian cultural policy, in addition to numerous edited collections. His book America in Italy. The United States in the Political Thought and Imagination of the Risorgimento, 1763-1865 (Princeton, 2017) won the American Historical Association’s Helen & Howard Marraro Prize.