Musicology Events

The Musicology Department sponsors two series of presentations:

  • The Colloquium series offers talks by current faculty and graduate students.
  • The Symposium series presents prominent guest speakers from other institutions.

Both series are open to the Eastman community. All events take place on Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. in NSL 404 (Sibley Library seminar room) unless otherwise noted.


MUY Symposium Speakers Fall 2016

15 September 2016

Arne Spohr, Bowling Green  University
“Privileged Dependency: The Legal and Social Position of Black Court Trumpeters in 17th-Century Germany”

Spohr, Arne Bowling GreenBy the end of the 17th century, many large and medium-sized courts in the Holy Roman Empire employed Black trumpeters and drummers, using them for both ceremonial and military purposes. Particularly their legal and social position within the court hierarchy and German society as a whole has been debated among historians. According to a frequently held view, Black musicians, who had been bought on the international slave market and who had been sent as ‘gifts’ to princely patrons, were considered free citizens and were fully integrated in German society, once they had entered court service. In the case of Black trumpeters, their membership in the Imperial Trumpeters’ Guild (requiring proof of free birth) is usually cited as an argument for their free legal status.

In my paper I am going to complicate this view from the perspective of music sociology, by building on Lars E. Laubhold’s recent critical research on this guild, calling into question its legally binding character, and, particularly, by closely examining the lives of two Black trumpeters, Christian Real (born ca. 1640, active at the Württemberg court) and Christian Gottlieb (died 1690, active in Schleswig-Holstein) as case studies. As my study of these little-known, yet well-documented careers seeks to demonstrate, the legal and social status of Black musicians was far more fragile than that of their white colleagues. I will illustrate how this fragility becomes particularly apparent whenever they moved out of the courtly sphere, in which they were privileged and protected.



MUY Symposium Speakers Spring 2017

30 March 2017

Jane Bernstein, Tufts University
Title TBA

Bersten, Jane Tufts


13 April 2017

James Davies, University of California Berkeley
Title TBA

Davies, James Berkeley


20 April 2017

Peter Schmelz, Arizona State University
Title TBA