The Search for Medieval Music in Africa and Germany, 1891-1961: Scholars, Singers, Missionaries
by Anna Maria Busse Berger
University of Chicago Press, 2020
eISBN: 978-0-226-74048-5 | Cloth: 978-0-226-74034-8

ABOUT THIS BOOK | AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY | TOC
ABOUT THIS BOOK
This innovative book reassesses the history of musicology, unearthing the field’s twentieth-century German and global roots. In the process, Anna Maria Busse Berger exposes previously unseen historical relationships such as those between the modern rediscovery of medieval music, the rise of communal singing, and the ways in which African music intersected with missionary work in the German colonial period. Ultimately, Busse Berger offers a monumental new account of the early twentieth-century music culture in Germany and East Africa.

​The book unfolds in three parts. Busse Berger starts with the origins of comparative musicology circa 1900, when early proponents used ideas from comparative linguistics to test whether parallels could be drawn between nonwestern and medieval European music. She then turns to youth movements of the era—the Wandervogel, Jugendmusikbewegung, and Singbewegung—whose focus on joint music making influenced many musicologists. Finally, she considers case studies of Protestant and Catholic mission societies in what is now Tanzania, where missionaries—many of them musicologists and former youth-group members—extended the discipline via ethnographic research and a focus on local music and communities. In highlighting these long-overlooked transnational connections and the role of global music in early musicology, Busse Berger shapes a fresh conception of music scholarship during a pivotal part of the twentieth century.

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