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“Making Musicological Connections in Hamburg” by Ivan Ćurković (University of Zagreb)

My STSM (Short-Term Scientific Mission) allowed me to connect with an exciting team of musicologists in Hamburg. I chose the Department for Historical Musicology in Hamburg as the destination for my short-term scientific mission for multiple reasons. After having considered an application to a country whose official language I did not speak and whose culture of early music research was entirely unfamiliar, in the end I decided to focus on German-speaking lands due to the fact that I had done my PhD in Germany and thus had better ideas about how musicology operated there. I also wanted to get to know a musicological department with a high number of researchers at all levels of the academic hierarchy and a breadth of early music topics investigated, including some more marginalised ones that do not necessarily reflect my own research specialization.

My host Oliver Huck organised meetings with nine members of staff involved in early music research: professors Oliver Huck, Ivana Rentsch and Matteo Nanni, postdoctoral researchers Janine Droese, Maryam Haiawi, Ina Knoth and Juliane Pöche, and doctoral students Paloma León Villágra and Christoph Weyer. I visited the opening of the exhibition Hamburg’s Written Treasures: New Questions to Old Manuscripts, a result of efforts by the research unit Understanding Written Artefacts. I also participated at the forum for doctoral and MA students organised in cooperation with the Department of musicology at the University of Kiel and much enjoyed the lengthy discussions that followed the papers, as well as barbecuing together with the colleagues over a few beers afterwards.

The North German Kolloquium, 5 July 2023, Institute for Historical Musicology, University of Hamburg: Kathrin Kirsch (Kiel), Matteo Nanni (Hamburg), Siegfried Oechsle (Kiel), Oliver Huck (Hamburg), Manuel Becker (Hamburg), Ivan Ćurković (Zagreb), Christoph Weyer (Hamburg)

In order to prepare for the STSM, I studied the list of publications by my contacts in Hamburg and looked up the titles in the Institute’s library, but interviewing the researchers themselves provided the most valuable part of the STSM. Along with going through the detailed questionnaire devised in line with the Action objectives, my interlocutors also spontaneously elaborated on their research projects, in particular on the organizational intricacies of the three well-funded interdisciplinary research units the Institute is involved in (Understanding Written Artefacts, Spiritual Intermediality in the Early Modern Period and Interconfessionality in the Early Modern Period). While it is evident that investigation of late medieval music and the music of the early modern period with a particular focus on Reformation and Counter- Reformation in the German-speaking lands has a strong emphasis in Hamburg, the research is carried out in particularly innovative ways..

Ivan Ćurković at the Library of the Institute for Historical Musicology, University of Hamburg, in preparation for his STSM interviews

For instance, I had the privilege of being given a guided tour of the laboratory of the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures where I was shown – among others – technical equipment that enables multispectral imaging, a method of working with palimpsest manuscripts that recovers faded layers. The project musica angelica et consociatio hominum cum angelis investigates the imitation of angelic music in the late Middle Ages and early modern period, while other projects explore the interaction of media (music, literature, and drama) as part of a symbolic communication between the heavenly and the mundane in different eras. The project Digital music edition: open work form in the 17 th century has only just begun, but the preparatory work of selecting a large sample of 17 th -century German sources that exist in different variants and are characterised by flexibility in performance practice, especially the realization of basso continuo, has already been carried out by students. The end result of this project seems no less fantastical than the aforementioned multispectral imaging: software that helps to aid performers to make the most historically informed choices in line with the musical forces available to them!

Multispectral imaging at the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures

Ivan Ćurković (Zagreb) and Janine Droese (Hamburg), in the middle, with two co-workers of the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures

An important aspect of the Hamburg Institute that attests the high status of early music research is its interconnectedness with other disciplines of the humanities in common research units and projects. This is of great importance for source-oriented early music research and creates an environment where all research expenses can be covered. Furthermore, the projects are distinguished by a high level of inclusivity when it comes to both doctoral and MA students.

Last but not least, Hamburg is a vibrant, dynamic city that provides a plethora of intellectual stimuli, and not exclusively for early music research. My gratitude goes to everybody in COST Action EarlyMuse who made this STSM possible and I hope that younger researchers especially will take advantage of these marvelous opportunities.