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Music in Vienna

16 January 2013

Professor David Wyn Jones, Head of the School of Music at Cardiff, has been awarded a Major Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust to research a long overdue, alternative approach to the history of music in Vienna.

The image of Vienna as a musical city is a familiar one and it has long been associated with many of the most significant developments in Western music. Long-standing institutions such as the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna Boys' Choir ensure that this image of a musical city is undimmed today.

In spite of this, no authoritative history of music in Vienna exists. Understanding of Vienna as a musical city is, instead, largely derived from biographies of major composers who worked there, often patchy or misleading in detail. Now, funding of more than £80,000 will allow Professor Jones to work on an alternative approach to the history of music in the Austrian capital.

'Vienna and the Culture of Music: 1700, 1800, 1900', due to be published by Boydell & Brewer in 2016, is intended to appeal to a wide cultural-historical readership and will be populated by emperors, princes, performers, conductors, writers and scholars, as well as composers.

The work will focus on three different epochs in Viennese music history. Broadly described as 'Imperial and Royal', 'Aristocratic' and 'Bourgeois', they point to the very different relationship between music and society that existed in the times.

Professor Jones said: "Writing a history of music in Vienna is something I've wanted to do for a long time but I was initially daunted by the more obvious approach of a narrative beginning in the Middle Ages and ending with the onset of the Second World War, partly because such a survey could only ever be superficial in its coverage.

"At Cardiff, we take pride in our links between research and teaching and it was whilst teaching a module on the history of music in Vienna for an interdisciplinary MA (Music, Culture and Politics) that I alighted on the slice history approach, the study of the three epochs a century apart. This provided a robust framework for the study of music and society in each period and enabled striking contrasts and continuities between them to emerge."

The funding will allow Professor Jones to take research leave to work on the volume and visit Vienna to study targeted primary sources in the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, the archive of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, the Wien Bibliothek and elsewhere.

The Leverhulme Trust's Major Research Fellowships enable well-established researchers in the Humanities and Social Sciences to devote themselves to a single research project of outstanding originality and significance. Competition is high and successful candidates represent a wide range of exceptionally distinguished researchers.

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