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Zeitschrift für vergleichende Musikwissenschaft

(Berlin, 1933-1935)

Prepared by Peter Sühring
Online only (2021)

The Zeitschrift für vergleichende Musikwissenschaft (Journal for Comparative Musicology, RIPM code ZVM) was published in Berlin as an organ of the Gesellschaft zur Erforschung der Musik des Orients (Society for the Study of the Music of the Orient). Founded in 1930, the society was renamed the Gesellschaft für vergleichende Musikwissenschaft (Society for Comparative Musicology) in 1934. During the first year (1933) the Zeitschrift was issued by Max Hesses Verlag and from 1934 by the publishing house of the Gesellschaft. As a result of the political situation in Germany, the Gesellschaft had to move its offices from Berlin to Washington D. C., USA in the course of the year 1935. Intended as a quarterly publication, in 1934 a double issue was published and in 1935 only two double issues appeared. The discontinuation was connected with the forced emigration of its principal collaborators and with a ban by the National Socialist rulers in Germany.

All issues of the three years show a consistent, simple and extremely clear structure: after a few long main contributions (described as essays in the table of contents) book reviews and an international bibliography of musicological literature followed. Sometimes a short section Mitteilungen (messages) is included. Regularly, there are supplements to the essays, including music examples or pictures; these are mostly paginated as hors texte and appear outside of the connected article. The initial connection to the Max Hesse publishing house in Berlin was abandoned after the first year. As a purely scientific organ, the magazine did not contain advertising or maintain any links with the music industry.

The Zeitschrift represents the first important pioneer achievements in the field of musical ethnology in Germany before it was suppressed by the national socialists who thereafter promoted a racist approach. Because of the historically unfavorable timing of the start of the publication, the journal could only appear for three years, still an astonishing achievement during the period of “Gleichschaltung” (switching), the elimination or cooption of the scientific organs by the National Socialists. Among the non-Jewish German authors it is striking that they still published the results of earlier research in the ZVM, while they had already moved in line with National Socialist science policy. (See Fritz Bose, Johann Wolfgang Schottländer and Marius Schneider below.) On the basis of the Society’s phonogram archive, founded by Carl Stumpf, the journal dealt with the analysis of field studies and sound recordings. Many articles include discussions with the active musicians and singers and the participation of non-German researchers in documentation and evaluation. The focus of research spanned North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, South America and the Far East. Emphasis was placed on the desire to maintain and analyze the last remnants of authentic music of native peoples, then still unaffected by European music, without applying European standards, in contrast with musical historiography in Europe. Resulting from international scholarly cooperation in this period, the journal also contains articles by Anglo-American and French authors in their original language. These contributions are also indexed and summarized in the RIPM index in their original language.

The content of articles was determined by reports, descriptions of sound recordings and their analysis. The evaluated experiences and references were based on local and regional studies in non-European countries, via direct contact with traditional musicians, who played according to often-ancient oral traditions. It also sought the penetration into non-urban village communities of native peoples not yet affected by Western civilization. Comparisons were made between North African-Arabian, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern instruments and musical practice. Almost every one of the field studies was provided with supplements, either transcriptions of sound recordings in European notation systems or illustrations of instruments, musicians and/or dancers.

Editor and Contributors

The ZMW was edited by Robert Lachmann in conjunction with Erich Moritz von Hornborstel and Johannes Wolf, the latter of which was also chairman of the Society for Comparative Musicology. Born in Berlin, 1892, died in Jerusalem in 1939, Lachmann was a student of Johannes Wolf at the University of Berlin, working as a librarian in the music department of the Prussian State Library and as a musicologist, conducting research trips to North Africa. As a Jew, he was prevented from further exercising his profession by the National Socialists after 1933 and emigrated to Palestine in April 1935, where he continued his musical studies of the orient at Hebrew University. The last issue of the Zeitschrift (the double issue 3/4 of 1935) had therefore to be published by Johannes Wolf. Lachmann was also one of the main authors in the ZMW but was unable to continue and finish his article on "Musiksysteme und Musikauffassung” (Music Systems and Music Conception), the first part of which was published in the first double edition of 1935. His articles and reviews mainly dealt with the non-Arab music of North Africa, but he also discussed the Indian instrument Vinā with the Indian musicologist Ananda K. Coomaraswamy.

Erich Moritz von Hornborstel (born in Vienna, 1877, died in Cambridge in 1935) studied natural sciences in Vienna and then became a pupil of and collaborator with Carl Stumpf during his projects in the field of tonal psychology and musical ethnology. Von Hornborstel directed the Berlin Phonogram archive. As his professorship at the University of Berlin was deprived of him by the National Socialists in 1933, he emigrated immediately to New York where he taught at the New School of Social Research. In ZVM, together with Lachmann, he wrote "Asian Parallels to Berber Music" and the "Indian Sound system at Bharata and its Origin." He was the main reporter of the Cairo Congress on Arabic Music in 1932 and wrote an appraisal of Stumpf's achievements in the field of musical ethnology on the occasion of his 85th birthday and a small history of the Berlin Phonogram archive. He also participated in the reviews column.

Johannes Wolf (born in Berlin in 1869, died 1947 in Munich) was a medieval researcher, a professor at the University of Berlin, a librarian, the head of the Department of Ancient Music, and the Director of the Department of Music of the Prussian State Library. His interests and research also focused on the field of musical ethnology. When his Jewish pupils and colleagues were dismissed and persecuted, he saw this with discomfort but did not pass into open resistance. At the beginning he tried to fill the torn gaps in the staff of the society and the journal, but then surrendered to the power relations established by the National Socialists and after his retirement in 1934 he retired to private life. He accepted outwardly that the racial question had gained the upper hand in the official musicology, but he regretted the loss of the personnel and tried secretly to keep in touch with his emigrated colleagues. For the ZVM he wrote the prospectus took part in the book reviews column.

Curt Sachs (born in Berlin, 1881, died 1959 in New York). A dance theorist, antiquarian researcher and instrument collector, Sachs was professor at Berlin University and head of the Berlin instrument museum. Owing to his Jewish heritage, he was forced to emigrate to Paris in 1933. He wrote about the music of the Moroccans in the first volume of 1933 and published a prologue to a history of instrumental music in the third issue 1933.

Leo Hajek (born in Prague, 1887, died in Haifa 1975) was the head of the Viennese phonogram archive from 1928 and emigrated to the USA in 1939 where he was able to carry on research on his field of phonetics. For the ZVM, he wrote a history of the Viennese phonogram archive.

Helmut Ritter (born Gütersloh 1892, died in Oberursel 1971), was independent and lived, researched and taught for decades in Istanbul, even during the period of National Socialism which he strictly rejected. For the ZVM, he wrote in 1933 a longer essay entitled "The Dancing of the Dervish."

The following are non-Jewish students and collaborators of Wolf and Hornborstel. All attempted to work in the German Reich in the academic institutions controlled by the National Socialists.

Fritz Bose (1906-75), developed an ambitious program of ethnological research on a biological and racial basis and entered into an offensive struggle for leadership positions within the National Socialist-oriented science program. In ZVM, he published a multi-part summary of his research on the music of Uitoto.

Marius Schneider (1903-82). In 1933 Schneider worked on the phonogram archive, but from 1939-43 he was a member of the High Command of the German Armed Forces. In 1944 he moved to Spain to teach at the University of Barcelona and completed his academic career after 1945 as professor for music ethnology at the University of Cologne. For the ZVM he wrote on about the application of abstract principles of extra-European polyphony and on "vocal systems" in the "Application of tonality circle theory to the music of oriental high cultures".

Johann Wolfgang Schottländer (1905-43). A Carl-Friedrich-Zelter researcher and editor, Schottländer was researched music in Greek antiquity. The results of his ancient Greek studies, which were later financed by Himmler's SS, were still regarded as valuable and pioneering after 1945. In the 1930s and 1940s he also worked in the field of film and electronic music in the sense of national socialist propaganda. For the ZVM, he wrote of Hellas in the context of Schneider's essay on "The application of tonality circle theory to the music of oriental high cultures and antiquity".

Edwin von der Nüll (1905-45) wrote only as a reviewer in the ZVM. After 1933 he sequestered himself in music journalism, supported the young Herbert von Karajan, wrote music articles for the German “Wehrmacht” and their soldiers and fell in the battles during the last weeks of the Second World War.

A number of foreign authors were also involved:

Great Britain and the United States: A. H. Fox Strangways from London („East and West“, about similarities and differences between the ideas of art and artist in Europe and in the East); Helen H. Roberts from Yale University, and her collaborator Lincoln Thompson („The pattern phenomenon in primitive music“, „The re-recording of wax-cylinders“ and reviews);Edwin G. Burrows („Polynesian part-singing“).

France: Alexis Chottin from Rabat in Morocco („Instruments, musique et danse Chleuhs“, „La Pratique du chant chez les musiciens marocains“, „’Yâ asafâ’ [’Hélas’], une chanson populaire très importante dans les traditions hispano-mauresques du Maghreb“), Prosper Ricard (two reports: from Cairo 1932 about Arabian music, and „Le VIIIe Congres de l’Institut des Hautes Études Marocaines“), L. Humbert-Lavergne („La Musique à travers la vie laotienne“ avec des examples musicales), J. Herscher-Clément („Chants d’Abyssinie“) and M. Humbert-Sauvageot („Quelques aspects de la vie et de la musique dahoméennes“).

Elsewhere: Zekāī Dede (as translator of Turkish songs), Mesut Djemil (a reporter from the Cairo Congress about Arabian music in 1932); also Béla Bartók was among the rapporteurs on the Cairo Congress.

This RIPM index was based on a copy from Sibley Musical Library, Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester.