Established in 1965, the roles of the Institute as a scholarly institution encompass both research as well as teaching and are concentrated upon the fields of folk music research and ethnomusicology. In both content and scope, the concept of "folk music" is broadly conceived. The primary regional focus is upon Austria, however, in both research and teaching, all of Europe is considered as well as select cultures outside of Europe. The instruction of students is both theoretical and practical (see course offerings). Involvement among the international scholarly community is carried out through international symposium, lecture series and EU-networks.



Focuses of Research and Teaching



Focuses of Research and Teaching


History and theory of Austrian folk music in the European context.


Folk music and society


Typology of Austrian Folk music


Methodology of ethnomusicology and folk music research (field work, transcription and analysis)


Folk music instruments


Folk music and media


Music of minorities in Austria (Minority Archive)


Visual Folk Music


Albanian Music


Bosnian Music


Roma Music


Ethnomusicology of the Urban Area


Multipart Singing in Europe


Folk Music and Music Pedagogy


Folk Dance


The research areas of the Institute are, on one hand, represented in the activity of the permanent faculty and on the other, addressed in the form of research projects carried out by collaborators as well as the students.

Folk music and music pedagogy connect the topics of research with their instruction. In this manner, theoretical concepts can be developed and then practically implemented in courses. In these courses special emphasis is given to the use of the class material in the context of society and social life, the future music teachers should be able to make use of "folk music" in myriad ways in the places and contexts in which they will eventually be working.


Gewährsmann Rudolf Halper

Rudolf Halper, culture bearer, 1998
Photo: Lisl Waltner


Folk music research encompasses the history and theory of a unique musical form, termed "folk music," that where ever there's a musical "high art," functions as its foundation and evolves in the background. It is characterized by transmission without theory or written notation; is bound in everyday life; is practiced by amateurs; develops a specific instrumentation and special forms of melody, poetics, and polyphony; has a specific performance technique and tuning as well as performance practice. In the Institute, through musicological, sociological and the cultural studies [oder eher ethnologische?] methods, the phenomena of folk music (in both a narrow and broad sense), is researched in its historical development and in its contemporary life.

Instrumental folk music comprises the main research interest of Dr. Rudolf Pietsch and is pursued in studies of European folk music instruments and their specific performance styles as well as interpretation analysis. The investigation of current developments within the most varied "folk music styles" especially processes of transformation, are central to this work.


Apetloner Sängerinnen

Roland Mahr, Dr. Rudolf Pietsch, Apetloner singers and Rudolf Halper (left to right), 1999
Photo: Lisl Waltner


With the Institute since 1989, Music of minorities in Austria is the specialization of Associate Professor Dr. Ursula Hemetek. The approach to ethnomusicology at the Institute is closely related to the minority focus. This begins with the assumption is that nearly all music cultures of the world are represented in Austria, especially in the city of Vienna. For the goal of fostering an understanding among the students for the "musically foreign" many clear examples as well as representatives of the music culture are employed. Furthermore, the intercultural diversity that the students themselves represent is explicitly part of research and teaching. Faculty of the Institute belong to the principle international associations of ethnomusicology (ICTM, ESEM, SEM) and the Institute values greatly its role within this network.


It's indeed exciting to pursue scholarship at an arts university because it carried out with much creative excitement. Musicians are who everyday experiencing what it means to make music approach academic work with a very grounded and praxis-oriented outlook. However, we know how carefully one must deal with such a praxis-oriented approach in folk music. Thus we see the purpose of our Institute not merely to increase our knowledge of the subject of research, but, and above all, to begin with the task of fostering a critical dialogue with research and scholarship itself.