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Polyphonic and united

The Freiburger Forschungs- und Lehrzentrum Musik (Freiburg Research and Teaching Center for Music) has begun its work

Freiburg, Nov 07, 2019

Polyphonic and united

Photo: highwaystarz/

The new Freiburg Research and Teaching Center for Music is not yet located in its own building. Nevertheless, the center, or FZM for short, is already much more than just a concept: the first major congress was held in April 2019, and it officially started its work at the beginning of November. The FZM is a cooperation between the University of Freiburg and the Freiburg University of Music (HfM) and aims to provide students, teachers and researchers with a common umbrella for the study of music and making music.

How can both musical skills and a love for music be conveyed? One focus of the center is on music education. Photo: highwaystarz/

Nearly four years ago, the Baden-Württemberg State Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts initiated the establishment of five new state centers. The idea was to enhance the profiles of the state’s music colleges. One of these five state centers is today's FZM which Prof. Dr. Claudia Spahn helped develop. She is both the director of the Freiburg Institute for Musicians’ Medicine, which is a joint institution of the HfM, the Medical Faculty and the University Medical Center Freiburg - and Prorector for Research and International Relations at the University of Music. What makes the FZM so special is the fact that music-related teaching and research from both the University and the HfM have been brought together in one center in order to bundle existing competences and programs while allowing for research to be conducted across several disciplines. The plan is not only to network internally: “We want to distinguish ourselves as an internationally visible institute in research and teaching,” says Spahn.

Thinking beyond borders

The Freiburg location can be seen as an advantage here. The city has a comprehensive university, a college of music and a college of education - this combination is unique in Baden-Württemberg. The HfM and the University have long been linked by a traditionally strong musicology/music theory program, and the University also has the Center for Popular Culture and Music. Perhaps it was the breadth of this offering that inspired the participants a few years ago to think beyond the boundaries of their own institutions and to combine their strengths and ideas into a single proposal. The Ministry liked the concept. According to Spahn, Stuttgart truly appreciates efforts in which scientific institutions join forces. Although the FZM is a cooperation between two universities, it does not rule out other partners.

First programs to start in 2020

In terms of how the programs will be structured, the lecturers will stay put - at least physically. However, they will research and teach on behalf of the FZM parallel to their work at the University or the HfM. The center's core subjects have also already been defined. Its focus is on music theory, musicology, music physiology/musician medicine, music pedagogy and artistic research. And the students? Starting in the summer semester 2020, they will be able to study music theory, music physiology and ear training as minor subjects at the FZM, an offer that applies to students of both the HfM and the University. This is why it was designed for six semesters, and the ECTS points were also adjusted accordingly between the University and the HfM. Even those who are not studying music should be able to connect to the music culture with the courses offered. This kind of structure has long since become reality elsewhere, for example at Australian universities such as Sydney or Melbourne: “Students from archaeology or law also sit in on lectures on music psychology,” says Spahn.

And perhaps at some point the center will also become physically visible in the city. Something that the rectorates of both universities desire, says Claudia Spahn: “A laconic building would be beautiful.” A building that carries the living system from the inside out.

Stephanie Streif


Press release