A summary of research

If it’s a blog, is it research? Does it count as scholarship? How does one make it count?
As I thought about these questions, it occurred to me to provide a summary (with links) of some of the research reported in my posts of the last couple years.

Chamber Music

I have argued for the importance of Robert Hausmann, especially with relation to Brahms’s chamber music, and have documented the interesting career of his relative Georg Hausmann, who was an active chamber musician in the first half of the 19th century.

It is a misconception that the Joachim Quartet did not tour very often; I have documented that they began giving concerts in other cities in 1881, that they gave more concerts in Britain than Berlin in their final years, and that they performed all the Beethoven Quartets in Rome, Paris, Vienna, Brussels, and London, Bonn during the period of 1903-1907.

The piano trio of Hochschule faculty members Barth, DeAhna/Wirth, and Hausmann had a chamber music series that ran from 1878 to 1907, almost 30 years. They were important in offering popular/cheap concerts of the mainstays of the chamber music repertoire. They helped popularize Brahms chamber works that were not just for strings.

The Joachim Quartet’s competition in Berlin was largely from other Joachim students who also formed quartets.


The honors conferred on Joachim, especially in Britain, were unprecedented for a violinist.

Joachim was an important force in Germany’s musical “museum culture” in that he participated unceasingly in fund raising for monuments, above all for Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Brahms.

Joachim consolidated power through his control of the Hochschule’s faculty, of the Mendelssohn Stipendium, and through his role with the Philharmonic orchestra. His students filled important positions in the Berlin Philharmonic and opera orchestra and were featured as soloists on the Philharmonic concerts. These players also had a major role in the orchestras in the US that were just being established.

There were strong connections between musicians in the US and Berlin, and the direction went both ways: not only were Americans getting their education in Europe, but Germans were going to the US for jobs as performers and as teachers in music schools.

Berlin concert life beyond the Joachim Quartet:

How to account for the great success and importance of musical life in Berlin? The Berlin Philharmonic’s popular concerts are not generally known about; I have documented them and have argued about why they were so successful.

They were just one of many venues and types of concert series in Berlin that were very affordable.

The musicians of the orchestras were overworked and poorly paid. There were writers and organizations that crusaded for better working conditions starting around 1900.

In the midst of all this success, there was a constant and growing fear of too much music. I have documented the sheer volume of concerts in a season, and also growth in other parameters, such as the length of a concert.

I have traced the appalling tradition in Berlin of three concertos on a concert to the 1890s, starting with virtuoso pianists trying to outdo each other.

And face powder!

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4 thoughts on “A summary of research

  1. Face powder!
    I think your blog is terrific! It is incredibly well-researched, accessible, and inspiring. I hope these kinds of projects become more common in the humanities; a blog can encourage public discourse and most importantly is available to people who might not have access to university libraries and scholarly journals but still care deeply about music history. I also appreciate that the posts are short digestible chunks; teaching three classes a semester makes keeping up with scholarship overwhelming, but I always have time to read your posts during lunch or while taking a writing break! Thank you Sanna!

    1. Yes, Brooke mentioned some things I did not, such as the “short digestible chunks.” That is so true. I can keep up with one page a week. I suspect one can also write one page a week. Speaking of teaching, I suspect this is also something one can get a class involved with to see scholarship unfolding in real time, so to speak. There are so many aspects to this which are just so good for our ailing fields…

  2. Yes, this is definitely research and it should definitely “count” in terms of promotion criteria in academia. But how to change the culture at institutions of higher learning in the USA? This is not just a question for musicology, but for the humanities broadly conceived (if I may include musicology among the humanities). I would have a lot to say about why your blog model would be important to emulate widely. For starters, your research and findings are instantly available for review and comment, rather than the 10+ years most projects require from initial conception, through research and writing, through to eventual publication. As the author, you also can benefit from instant response to your work, and you can potentially adjust your research criteria and methods while you are still on location. I’ll stop here, but I am very glad you posed the question at the start of this week’s posting.

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