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Friedemann Pestel (Freiburg) will give the lecture "‘Classical’ Music – ‘German’ Music – ‘World’ Music? On the Multiple Meanings of Global Musical Mobility in the 20th Century" in the Utrecht/Amsterdam Seminar Global Intellectual History.

Detail Summary
Date 22 October 2020
Engraving from Vincent Levinus's 1715


During the 20th century, travelling symphony orchestras shaped cultural relations around the globe. The Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras assumed principal roles for the globalisation of musical life. Understanding music as a ‘travelling concept’, this paper uses the lens of orchestral ‘world practices’ (Jürgen Osterhammel) to unpack the various meanings ‘classical’, ‘European’, ‘Western’, or ‘German’ music took in different world regions. Discussing the cases of Latin America, Japan, China, and Israel, this paper links prevalent ideas of music in these regions to the political, social, and cultural driving forces of musical mobility. Rather than approaching music as a ‘universal language’ promoting the ‘understanding between peoples’, it proposes to reconsider musical globalisation in the light of cultural nation-building, migration, ideological uses, and memory. The remarkable continuity of orchestral performances and musical repertoires throughout the 20th century was linked to highly divergent local and regional appropriations while, at the same time, they broadened and substantiated the global presence of ‘classical music’.

Friedemann Pestel is lecturer in Modern European History at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. He was a visiting fellow at the German Historical Institutes in Paris and London and the Universities of Vienna and Bordeaux. In 2020/21 he holds a junior fellowship at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies. His research interests and publications cover the French and Haitian Revolutions, political migration in the Age of Revolutions, conceptual history, the history of classical musical life, and memory studies. He is currently working on a global history of orchestral touring in the 20th century


TBA (Amsterdam and online)

About the Seminar

The Utrecht/Amsterdam Seminar Global Intellectual History is a platform for researchers from different faculties and departments at the University of Amsterdam and Utrecht University who are working in the field of intellectual history and related disciplines. These include, among others, the history of historical, legal and political thought, conceptual history, the social and cultural history of ideas, as well as research at the intersection between intellectual history, institutions, politics, and practices.

Worldwide, intellectual history is moving into new, exciting directions. Tapping into new source materials, covering longer stretches of time, dealing with broader geographical spaces, making comparisons and drawing connections on a global scale, as well as combining established and new (digital) methods, both young and up-coming as well as established experts are in search for new answers – and perhaps more importantly – new questions. The Utrecht/Amsterdam Seminar Global Intellectual History contributes to this development by providing a venue for presenting and discussing frontline research.