William van Geest conducts dissertation research in Germany

October 31, 2019
William van Geest

Over the summer, I had the privilege of spending seven weeks in Germany, researching for my dissertation. I spent most of this time in Berlin, but also spent a week in Leipzig and several days in Dresden. As the history that I present in my dissertation (entitled "The Chorale in American Music Theory: A Genealogy") begins in 18th-century Germany, it was important to examine materials pertaining to the various figures involved in this history.

The main Berlin institution in which I researched was the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Preußischer Kulturbesitz: Musikabteilung mit Mendelssohn-Archiv), where I examined a range of documents pertaining to Johann Philipp Kirnberger, Carl Friedrich Christian Fasch, Carl Friedrich Zelter, and Bernhard Klein; but I also paid visits to the Musikabteilung of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin on Potsdamer Straße and the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung.

The main site of my research in Leipzig was the Bach-Archiv, which houses documents from the estate of Ernst Friedrich Richter; but I also spent time at the Leipziger Stadtbibliothek, where I examined materials pertaining to Carl Ferdinand Becker. Finally, in Dresden, I visited the archives of the Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, which holds another trove of archival materials pertaining to Richter. In addition to the valuable light that examining these materials shed on my dissertation, visiting these institutions afforded me invaluable opportunities to discuss my research with archivists, librarians, and other researchers.

My research was supported by a Summer Research and Internship Grant from the Center for European Studies, as well as a Presidential Graduate Fellowship from the Rackham Graduate School. See below for some footage from my sejour.

—William van Geest

Pictures: Click to enlarge and view captions...