Prof. Dr. Reinhard Strohm
Prof. Dr. Laurenz Lütteken

The Balzan Prize 2012 in musicology

The International Balzan Foundation (Milan/Zurich) each year awards four scientific prizes to scholars of various disciplines worldwide. The Foundation also awards prizes for outstanding contributions to international reconciliation and peace. In 2012, one of the four scientific prizes was awarded to Reinhard Strohm, Emeritus Professor of Music at Oxford University, for his work in Music History. Half of the prize (CHF 375,000) is to be spent on a new research programme chosen by the award-winner, which must support research of mid-career academics in the chosen field.

The Programme

In collaboration with six university departments of musicology, the award-winner has designed a programme entitled “Towards a global history of music”. This research programme is carried out in the academic years 2013-2016 by the faculties/departments of music/musicology at the following universities:
Humboldt University, Berlin
The Hebrew University, Jerusalem
King’s College, University of London
University of Oxford
University of Vienna
University of Zurich.

The programme director, Professor Reinhard Strohm, and the deputy director, Professor Laurenz Lütteken, are supported by a Steering Committee mainly representing the Music Departments of these universities. The programme also has an Advisory Board consisting of international specialists of musicology and ethnomusicology.

The Research Question

Towards a global history of music aims to promote post-European historical thinking. The programme is not intended to create a global history by itself, but to explore, through assembled case studies, parameters and terminologies that are suitable to describe a history of many different voices.

The idea of a global history of music may be traced back to enlightenment forerunners and has been reiterated in the 1970s by the music historian Leo Treitler, among others. The present situation in various branches of western musicology is characterised by specialisation – on European music history on the one hand, on ethnological or sociological fieldwork on the other. Research on specific musical cultures sometimes lacks comparative outreach or is insufficiently reflected in the wider discipline. The historical depth of other civilisations is often underrated by western scholarship, and a concern for the world’s musical past, shared with non-western speakers, is rarely visible.
Postcolonial critique has challenged the West's self-ascribed position at the heart of world history. In the light of this challenge, how might a historical understanding of western music in the world proceed? How should it position, or justify itself? Who might be authorised to speak for, or against, it? What would 'western music' look like in an account of music history that aspired to be truly global?

Research Visitorships

The programme will support, over the course of the three academic years 2013-2016, twelve researchers in musicology or ethnomusicology at an intermediate stage of their academic careers (post-doctorates but not yet full professors with tenure) for short-term research visitorships. These visitorships are not appointments by or at the respective universities. The present round of applications is aimed to create visitorships for the academic year 2013-2014; applications for a later year will also be accepted, but may not be decided until later.

Applications should be sent to:
Prof. Dr. Reinhard Strohm, Balzan Research Programme, Faculty of Music, St Aldate’s, GB-Oxford OX1 1DB,

Mrs Marie-Alice Frappat, Balzan Research Coordinator, Faculty of Music, St Aldate’s, GB-Oxford OX1 1DB,
Prof. Dr. Laurenz Lütteken, Musikwissenschaftliches Institut, Universität Zürich, Florhofgasse 11, CH-8001 Zürich,