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The Birth of Musicology from the Spirit of Evolution: Ernst Haeckel's Entwicklungslehre as Central Component of Guido Adler's Methodology for Musicology

Breuer, Benjamin (2011) The Birth of Musicology from the Spirit of Evolution: Ernst Haeckel's Entwicklungslehre as Central Component of Guido Adler's Methodology for Musicology. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Between about 1860 and the first world war, musicology became an academic discipline, practiced by scholars and supported by the university infrastructure. The decisive methodological change that allowed for this transition from mostly private scholarship to "academicization" was the declared adoption of the scientific method, especially in German-language music research. Among other "music scientists" like Hermann von Helmholtz and Friedrich Chrysander, the Viennese musicologist Guido Adler (1855-1941) is particularly important because, in 1885, he codified the research methods of this new academic discipline in the article "Umfang, Methode und Ziel der Musikwissenschaft" (The Scope, Method, and Aim of Music Science). Adler's methodological proposals have shaped musicological research habits since, perhaps most famously by separating what he calls "historical" and "systematic" musicologies. While his painting musicology as a science—and therefore as worthy of inclusion in the academy—was successful, Adler's scientific inspiration for this methodological move has been obscured, partly because the later incarnations of his methodology—like style criticism—drew heavily on contemporary art history rather than on any model from the natural sciences.In this dissertation, I show that Adler's initial methodological stimulus derived from biology, and in that discipline from a restructuring of research methods in the wake of Charles Darwin's proposal of evolution by natural selection. Adler was aware of Darwin's achievements but his direct sources of biological information were popular and scholarly publications by the German biologist Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919). Copied passages from one of Haeckel's early articles are preserved in Adler's hand, he was friends with several of Haeckel's students, and—most importantly—his early methodology resembles strongly Haeckel's methodological suggestions for biology. Adler's early musicology was conceived in the spirit of evolution, which promised natural scientists an empirically valid way of reconstructing history by comparative, systematic study. This dissertation demonstrates on what biographical grounds and through which methodical conceits Adler transformed Haeckel's biology into a working model for musicological research.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLewis, Mary Slsm@pitt.eduLSM
Committee MemberYung, Bellbyun@pitt.eduBYUN
Committee MemberFranklin, Don Odof@pitt.eduDOF
Committee MemberLennox, James Gjglennox@pitt.eduJGLENNOX
Date: 6 June 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 30 March 2011
Approval Date: 6 June 2011
Submission Date: 16 April 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Music
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ernst Haeckel; evolution; Guido Adler; history of musicology; Musikwissenschaft
Other ID:, etd-04162011-061949
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:37
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:40


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