A project of ISME’s History Standing Committee
Guido d’Arezzo
Guidonian Hand
ISME Website History Standing Committee IHME Homepage GERMANY - Historical Overview   An Overview of Music Education in Germany (Part 1)  by Alexander J. Cvetko English translation by Bernd Clausen   German historiographies often refer to the endeavours of single individuals as well as to administrative decisions such as legislative reforms, curricula directives, school and examination regulations, and prescription of schoolbooks and other materials for music teaching. In the light of such diverse and heterogeneous educational practice over time, it is difficult to pinpoint the beginning of German music education, due to modern Germany having only comparatively recently developed from its former federal structure  into a unified nation.   A brief overview demonstrates the complexity of writing a history of German music education. The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation dating from about 1000 to 1806 (in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars) was no more than a large geographical and political patchwork whose demise was at the same time the starting point of German music education at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Therefore, the connection of elements between these political patchwork components represents first and foremost a common flow of Germanic ideas and later on of the German language. It was not until the merger of the Confederation of the Rhine (Rheinbund), the German Confederation (Deutscher Bund) and the North German Confederation (Nordbund) in 1871 into the German Empire (Deutsches Kaiserreich) that one can speak of German music education in terms of a national concept. This Reich came to a close when the First World War ended and emperor Wilhelm II abdicated and the Weimar Republic (1918–1933) was established. During this period, substantial reforms of German music education were undertaken, which have continued to have a lasting impact until now in the Federal Republic of Germany. Even an historical overview of German music education can not suffice without briefly mentioning the terminological problems that faced when translating concepts and language for presentation to an international audience. As some German scholars have previously pointed out, terms like Bildung, Musikpädagogik, Musikerziehung etc. cannot be simply translated as education or music education because they need to be understood as patterns of interpretation that carry their specific cultural and national meanings over time. However, this complex matter cannot be further discussed here, and so we will refer simply to music education, meaning the teaching and learning music in a systematic and intentional way that occurs in primary and secondary schools. Little is known about the musical instruction before the country was Christianied. During the period of Germanic paganism, epic singers, as guardians of the myths of the various tribes and representatives of the gods, transmitted their repertoire to the younger generation in order to create social stability and with it, traditions and social identity. The transition from the ancient Roman music education to the Early Middle Ages is marked by the conversion to Christianity of Augustine of Hippo (354–430) who, through his theories on music,  made reference to the positive effect of music in the life of mankind. It is also worth mentioning the reforms of Pope Gregory the Great in Rome (540–604) as well as the political reforms of Charlemagne (747/748–814), which attempted to standardize education as encyclopaedic knowledge and to promote the sciences. However, music education was essentially confined to  the monasteries as well as to cathedral and cathedral schools. It included liturgical singing, which was directed to serving the liturgical needs of the church. In addition, there were teaching on the mathematical laws of music following the ancient Roman concept of the quadrivium. However, we know little about the actual nature of music teaching. The rise of humanism as an educational movement in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries saw the use of the Guidonian hand as a methodical tool and contemporary written documents indicated its overall popularity in church-based educational contexts all over Central Europe. Although the Ars Musica style was evident from the beginning of the fourteenth century in practical and theoretical lessons in town, councillors’ and bourgeois schools, the reforms of Martin Luther (1483–1546) had a particularly strong effect from the beginning of the sixteenth century for the German speaking territories. Singing was no longer confined to the service of the church service in Lutheran communities, but music was seen as appealing to the heart (emotio) and developing the mind (ratio) in order to influence will and character, and thus music served an additional educative role. The focus on the ethical and moral dimension of music -- seenas a Zuchtmeister (taskmaster) – was intended to make people gentle, meek, modest and sensible. Hence the influence of Luther marks a milestone in the history of German music education by placing music firmly into the service of Protestant education, and at the same time renewing church music which may be identified as the starting point of modern music education. In the seventeenth century the Moravian philosopher, theologian and educator Johann Amos Comenius (1592–1670) advocated systematic music lessons in his many educational publications.. This led to significant reforms to education in general. Among the numerous philanthropists from the middle of the eighteenth to the middle of the nineteenth century, one of its most prominent figures in education was Johann Bernhard Basedow (1724–1790). He was active in Dessau and fought – like many of his brothers in arms – against the mental and physical restrictions imposed at the old grammar schools or Latin schools. Influenced by ideas from the Enlightenment, Basedow’s main goal was to improve the natural physical and mental abilities of children and – as a result –of society as well. Basedow laid down his thoughts in an extensive publication with the title Elementarwerk (Elementary Book) in which music played a vital part. At the end of this relatively short, but nevertheless influential, period,August Ludwig Hoppenstedt (1763–1830) published, in 1793, the first teaching material specifically for music called Lieder für Volksschulen (Songs for primary schools), which appeared in sixth editions until the the mid-nineteenth century and achieved considerable success in schools. From an historiographical perspective, the beginning of the nineteenth century is often seen as the foundation of German musical pedagogy because, from around 1810, there was a burgeoning of songbook publication. There were three factors that enabled this to occur.  Firstly, as a result of the French Enlightenment (which culminated in the French Revolution), a new self-perception of the citizen emerged in the German-speaking world. If art music had so far only been heard at princely courts and in the church, music was now available to the ordinary citizen. With the end of the Napoleonic Wars and a rising middle class, concert halls were opened, composers such as Beethoven were now self-employed, citizens paid for entrance to concerts, and bought music instruments for their music-making at home (Hausmusik) during the relative peaceful of the Biedermeier period. Music education in Germany became institutionalized through the establishment of music schools or conservatoires.  For example, a school for wind instruments was built in 1800 by Franz Wilhelm Tausch (1762–1817). The upsurge in education and the emerging idea of ​​the nation-state resulted in an enhanced role for the individual citizen. In addition to this new self-perception of the aspiring bourgeoisie, there were political reforms in Prussia, in line with French models, that prevented a possible revolution in Germany. These changes also led to a reform of the education system, which was undertaken by Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767–1835). With reforms to both the political and educational systems, school singing was revived and was now included in many school programs and published curricula.  The second factor was about a more progressive view of education influenced by ideas from the Age of Enlightenment. In addition to Humboldt 's reforms, Friedrich Schiller' s (1759–1805) aesthetics, Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s (1749–1832) utopian idea of ​​a pedagogic province, Johann Gottfried Herder’s (1744–1803) views on Volkstum (folklore) and humanity, and most influentially the writings of the Swiss educator Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746–1827) on primary school pedagogy, all of which resulted in a growing interest in a systematic approach to teaching. Pestalozzi’s principles were incorporated into a method of vocal music teaching developed by Michael Traugott Pfeiffer (1771–1849) and then in 1810 by Hans Georg Nägeli (1773–1836) in a singing manual called Gesangbildungslehre (manual for vocal formation). This book would later be regarded as the most prominent initiative in the history of German music education. The composer and conductor Carl Friedrich Zelter (1758–1832), who was in contact with Goethe and Schiller, was a strong and influential advocate of singing, especially in elementary schools. As director of the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin (Choral Society Berlin) and later as professor of the Akademie der Künste (Academy of Arts), he not only devoted his work – together with Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy – to the revival of Bach’s music and other early composers, but also advocated that singing lessons should be mandatory because vocal music supported instrumental music.   The third and final factor was the developing ideas in musical aesthetics during the nineteenth century, which were attributed to the principle of expression of one’s individual emotions and leaving behind the Baroque doctrine of the affections. While the singing manual of Pfeiffer and Nägeli was often criticized for its overly complex and rigid course of instruction (e.g. by Zelter), Bernhard Christoph Ludwig Natorp (1774–1846) succeeded in simplifying the systematic approach of 1810 in his book Anleitung zur Unterweisung im Singen für Lehrer in Volksschulen (Instruction manual for singing for teachers in primary schools), published 1813, to the extent that school practice can actually benefit from it. In successive decades of the nineteenth century, numerous singing manuals were published by different authors. However, the nineteenth century was characterized by a search of the optimal method for vocal music teaching. The Trier-born Joseph Mainzer (1801–1851), for example, was largely inspired by French belief in absolute-pitchsolmisation, whereas Agnes Hundoegger (1858–1927) from Hannover wrote her guide for the relative tonika-do methodology. Finally, Carl Eitz (1848–1924) from the German city of Eisleben developed an absolute-pitch system built on solmisation syllables that formed another alternative to relative-pitch solmisation methods In Germany. The contest over the best method for teaching singing continued during the first third of the twentieth century.   Political developments during the nineteenth century also included contested approaches.  After the European reorganization during the Congress of Vienna (1814/1815),there was repression of the growing demands for democracy by the March revolutionists in 1848 and even at the Frankfurt National Assembly. The repression of democracy by the state also had an effect on the school system. Thus, in the Stiehl Regulative from 1854, pupils were required to be educated in loyalty to the church and to the state. So-called material education (materiale Bildung) -- meaning the knowledge that is based on facts -- was favoured by Humboldt's distinctly formal education, which focused on a high degree of content learning and memorizing – which also applied to singing lessons. Only after the formation of a national unity government during the German empire, with the King of Prussia as emperor at the head, was the Imperial Chancellor Otto von Bismarck (1815–1898) able to introduce less rigid Falkian regulations in 1872. At the end of the cultural struggle between the state and the church, however, the rigid regulations were re-introduced, so that the conservative approach to school education persisted.  Another major turning point in the history of German music education was, at least from today's point of view, the visit of the English school music inspector John Pyke Hullah (1812–1884). He commenced his inspection tour of the Continent in 1878 with the objective of assessing what he assumed to be the superior musical abilities of German children. However, he failed to find evidence of  the “Land of Music” as Bernarr Rainbow (1967) described it. His report to the British Parliament, rather than praising German music education, was to criticise the comparatively poor state of English music teaching.  He argued that both German and English music education were only in such a poor state because they had not been sufficiently supported by the respective governments. He also sought to link the quality of teaching with the method of teaching sight-singign, because the poor condition of the latter was in his view the reason for the poor music teaching in Europe generally. When back in England his less-than-favourable evaluation of European music education had unintended consequences, especially in Prussia. The Berlin professor of musicology, Hermann Kretzschmar (1848–1924), published the main parts of Hullah’s report in the magazine Die Grenzboten. It received a broad acceptance and triggered the first reforms in singing lessons (Singeunterricht) in schools and later, what was called music lessons (Musikunterricht) in schools. ISME Website History Standing Committee IHME Homepage Copyright © 2014 History Standing Committee, International Society for Music Education (ISME) [ Go to Part 2 ] [ Go to Part 2 ]