2013 - Historical and Contemporary Modes of Musical Listening. International Symposium

Historical and Contemporary Modes of Musical Listening

Challenges for New Methodological Approaches  in Musicology and Music Theory

Symposium of the Department of Historical Musicology and Music Theory in collaboration with the Centre for Gender Studies 

Kunstuniversität Graz: Florentinersaal (Symposium)
MUMUTH Probesaal; Mariahilferkirche (concerts)

January 17–19, 2013

programme information [Deutsch/Englisch] [pdf]

Folder - programme overview [pdf]


Peter Ablinger (Berlin) 
Anna Maria Busse Berger (Davis, USA) 
Bruno Gingras (Wien) 
Wolfgang Gratzer (Salzburg)
Dieter Gutknecht (Köln)
Ruth Herbert (Oxford)
Martin Kaltenecker (Paris)
Robert Klugseder (Wien)
Rainer Nonnenmann (Köln)
Ulrich Mosch (Basel)
Marion Saxer (Lübeck)
Christiane Tewinkel (Berlin)
Christian Thorau (Potsdam)
Hansjakob Ziemer (Berlin)

Klaus Aringer (Graz)
Stefan Engels (Graz)
Clemens Gadenstätter (Graz)
Klaus Lang (Graz)
Franz Karl Praßl (Graz)
Christian Utz (Graz)


I. Musikalisches Hören im Kontext von Ideengeschichte, musikalischer Praxis und Theorie | Musical Listening in the Context of the History of Ideas, Musical Practice, and Music Theory
II. Kompositorische Intention und perzeptuelle Interpretation: Synergien und Konflikte | Compositional Intention and Perceptual Interpretation: Synergies and Conflicts
III. Aura, Identität, Zeitwahrnehmung: Hören im Kontext vielfältiger Lebenswelten | Aura, Identity, Perception of Time: Listening in the Context of Diverse Lifeworlds
IV. Zum Wandel des Hörens im Medienzeitalter: Mediale Räume und Rezeptionssituationen | Changes of Listening in the Media Age: Medial Spaces and Situated Reception


Thu, Jan 17, 2013, 8 pm (Mariahilfer Kirche)

works by Peter Ablinger and Klaus Lang
Cantica de terra aliena - Gregorianische Gesänge

Choralschola des Instituts für Kirchenmusik und Orgel, Grazer Choralschola
conductor: Franz Karl Praßl
Klaus Lang, Aleksej Vylegzhanin, organ
students of the master programme „Performance Practice of Contemporary Music“

Fri, Jan 18, 2013, 8 pm  (MUMUTH Proberaum): Dialog zwischen neuer und alter Musik

works by Mathias Spahlinger, Guillaume Dufay, Brian Ferneyhough, Christopher Tye, Carlo Gesualdo, Salvatore Sciarrino

Pirio Kalinowska, alto
Jarmila Paclová, harpsichord
Studiochor der KUG
Blockflötenconsort der KUG (conductor: Michael Hell)
students of the master programme „Performance Practice of Contemporary Music“ (conductor: Milia Radivojevic)
szene instrumental (conductor: Wolfgang Hattinger)


The history of musical listening has been a key aspect of music-related cultural studies since the 1990s. It has also been focus of an "aural ecology" which has increasingly found acceptance internationally, as documented, for example, by the acoustic city developmental programme "Linzer Charta", instigated by the European Capital of Culture Linz in 2009. In the field of historical research James Johnson's groundbreaking study Listening in Paris. A Cultural History (1996) paved the way for a number of exemplary historical-oriented case studies on listening traditions and practices. The complexity and diversity of challenges posed by this kind of research requires an interdisciplinary approach that takes into account aspects of psychology, sociology as well as the historicity and social constructedness of musical listening, the relationship between musical structure and listening experience (as mediated, among others, by music theory), the impact of sound space and location, media, and technological reproduction, and, finally, the field of tension between conventional listening expectation and historical performance - a field in which historically informed performance practice has profoundly influenced and changed our understanding of "old music". This multiplicity of approaches and challenges makes the topic of the symposium an ideal area of methodological reflection. Grounded in music theory as well as in historical and systematic musicology, this topic provokes a number of social and political questions that can also be seen as a promising field where music-related research can connect to more general aspects of cultural and social life.

In musicology, phenomena of musical listening have often been approached through research on music-related reception and effect aesthetics. Necessarily this kind of research was primarily based on indirect sources such as concert or book reviews, reports on musical life of various European musical centres etc. - a situation that allowed at best for a rudimentary systematic of the phenomenon of musical listening. This approach is historically limited to the past 200 years, as a critical reception of musical works does not occur regularly before the nineteenth century. The history of music theory therefore acquired an important role in reconstructing listening modes of earlier centuries, although historical theoretical treatises rarely touch upon this topic explicitly.

Relying on these sources usually implies neglecting oral and improvisational practices as well as the "lifeworld" of the respective epochs and the deep impact that local conventions in society, culture, and mentality had on the perception of music. The situatedness of auditory perception in general and musical listening in particular therefore requires a multi-disciplinary research which goes beyond established historical methods. It requires methods grasping the steadily changing situations of listening in historical and contemporary societies (as, for example, accentuated by projects in the field of site-specific composition and sound art such as Peter Ablinger's City Opera, Graz 2003), virtual spaces of listening, or wide-spread contemporary listening modes such as "absorption" (Ruth Herbert).

It follows that the symposium will also raise the question which aspects of musical listening are culturally formatted and to what degree musical globalization has diversified or, in turn, homogenized listening modes and behaviour. Today, mediatisation and globalization seem to interact in producing a de-centred, delocalized, disembodied type of listening, while the emphasis many art music composers since several decades have placed on the experience of presence and immediacy, on the bodily and auratic experience of sound, has established a counter model. Surely, this opposition, again, has to be challenged, and the symposium thus not least aims at connecting contemporary discourse on musical listening to historical research.

kindly supported by Land Steiermark, Abteilung 3 Wissenschaft und Forschung and by the City of Graz, Bürgermeisteramt.



Music Theory / Music Analysis University of Music Graz, Austria