Art, Play, Labour: the Music Profession in Germany (1850–1960)


Germany is considered a lauded land of music: outstanding composers, celebrated performers and famous orchestras exert great international appeal. Since the 19th century, the foundation of this reputation has been the broad mass of musicians who sat in orchestra pits, played in ensembles for dances or provided the musical background in silent movie theatres. Martin Rempe traces their lives and working worlds, including their struggle for economic improvement and societal recognition. His detailed portrait of the profession ‘from below’ sheds new light on German musical life in the modern era.
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Martin Rempe, Ph.D. (2010), Humboldt University, Berlin, is a senior researcher at the University of Konstanz. He specializes in the social history of music and the history of European-African relations. Among many other publications, he has co-edited Musicking in Twentieth Century Europe: A Handbook (De Gruyter, 2021).
Preface to the English translation
List of Figures and Tables

Part 1: Lifeworlds in the Nineteenth Century

1 Wilhelm Wieprecht or On the Life of the Musician in the Sattelzeit
 1 Municipal Pipe Bands
 2 Municipal Theatre
 3 Court Orchestras
 4 Military Bands
 5 Musicians’ Lives in the Sattelzeit

2 The Discovery of the Social: Musicians’ Organizations between Art and Labour
 1 Liszt, Wagner and the Allgemeiner Deutscher Musikverein
 2 A Rendezvous with Hirsch and Schulze-Delitzsch
 3 The General German Musicians’ Union
 4 Putting the Class Struggle on Hold

3 Musicians’ Plight: Education and Everyday Working Life around 1900
 1 The Hell of Apprenticeship and Little Old Men Painting Pictures
 2 Hungry Dogs Make Good Hunters
 3 Versatile, Mobile, Flexible: Lifeworlds
 4 Sombart’s Insights

4 In a Different World: Women in Musical Life
 1 Role Models
 2 Pianomania
 3 Four Life Paths
 4 Born to Play

Part 2: Projects of Professionalization, 1890–1930

5 A Circuitous Route into the Bourgeoisie: Self-Civilizing and Lobbying
 1 Education Is Power
 2 Knowledge Production as an Aid to Self-Help
 3 Musicians’ Movement and Trade Unions
 4 Musicians as Workers: Social Legislation
 5 Social Democratic Terrorism: The Munich Orchestra Scandal
 6 Reconciliation of Interests and Municipalization
 7 David and Goliath: Against Military Competition
 8 Nietzsche’s Freak Show

6 War Profiteers: Musicians at the Front and at Home
 1 Privileges at the Front
 2 Limited and Unlimited Solidarity
 3 Good Prospects
 4 Essential to the War Effort: Orchestral Musicians
 5 Relative War Profits

7 Squabbling Professions: Musicians, Composers and Music Teachers
 1 Perspectives on a Unified Chamber of Musicians
 2 Turf Wars
 3 A Search for Lost Unity: The Musikergemeinschaft
 4 Vanity Fair

8 An Era of Experiments: New Media, Fashions and Musicians in the Cultural and Welfare State
 1 War and Peace: Continuities
 2 Musical Empire: The Cultural State
 3 Curse and Blessing: The Welfare State
 4 The Ephemeral Job Description of ‘Silent Film Musician’
 5 A Playground for Conductors and Composers: Radio
 6 Jazz, or the Emergence of Popular Music as an Independent Genre
 7 Emancipation in the Workplace
 8 Musicians for the ‘People’s Body’ (Volkskörper): Occupational Hygiene
 9 In the Middle of Society

Part 3: Crisis, Collapse, Continuities, 1930–1960

9 Neglected Muse: Nazi Music Policy
 1 Cutback Fever: The World Economic Crisis
 2 The Reich Chamber of Music: Right-Wing Staff …
 3 … and Left-Wing Reforms
 4 Exclusions: Jews and Opponents of the Regime
 5 Civil Decline …
 6 … and Remilitarization
 7 United in Discord: The Music of the Volksgemeinschaft
 8 Beyond Instrumentalization

10 Forced Migrations: Lifeworlds in Times of War and Violence
 1 Global Refugee Movements
 2 A Provincial Terminus: Exile in the United States
 3 Music as Avenue of Escape? Deportations
 4 Scattered by War
 5 Managing Lack in the Reich
 6 Twilight of the Musicians?

11 The Day of the Orchestral Musician: Ascent and Exit in West Germany
 1 Flourishing Musicians in a Time of Rubble
 2 Orchestral Revolution amid the Jobs Crisis
 3 Money, Money, Money: Wage Agreements and Royalties
 4 Winners and Losers
 5 At the Crossroads
Conclusion: Musicians’ Lives as Creative Work
Appendix: Statistics on the Music Profession in Germany
The book aims at historians, musicologists and cultural sociologists. It will attract interest of both students and academics and will be of relevance for every library, academic or non-academic, given a broader audience is addressed as well, including music lovers, practitioners, composers, and further members of the creative industries.
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