QUART – Quality of Arts


At the beginning of the twenty-first century, discussions about university rankings, musicians’ employability and rapidly changing music labour markets have become increasingly important for higher music education institutions. The research project QUART – Quality of Arts (QUART I – III) addresses these topics from a music sociological perspective and with a particular focus on social inequalities.

The qualitative studies QUART I and QUART II aim to deepen our understanding of how music conservatoires play a pivotal role in deciding which individuals gain access to the classical music profession, as they offer artistic training, alongside performance opportunities, generally seen as an indispensable prerequisite for entering the profession. Since 2015, we have been investigating the admission process, particularly the cultures of valuation at admission exams. Our research is informed by a constructivist perspective that considers musical performances and desirable personal qualities such as creativity, musicality and artistic personality not as 'facts', but rather as socially constructed and attributed within valuation processes embedded in specific social and local contexts. Consequently, artistic quality and creativity cannot comprehensively be explained from a composition or a musical performance; they are negotiated through the definition of criteria of valuation and the construction and attribution of value. In theoretical perspective, we draw upon the work of Luc Boltanski, Laurent Thévenot, Michèle Lamont and Antoine Hennion, among others. So far, our study is based on 40 in-depth interviews with teachers who teach an orchestral instrument, piano, voice, conducting or composition and participant observations of one-to-one teaching situations.

QUART III commenced at the end of 2016 and explores the study-to-work transitions and career trajectories of a younger generation of classically trained musicians in the context of neoliberalism. It builds on theoretical approaches to cultural work, which is broadly understood as work geared towards the production of aesthetic and symbolic-expressive commodities, and on critical analyses that describe jobs in the creative and cultural industries, including the classical music industry, as based on self-employment and freelance work and characterised by insecurity, poor working conditions and low labour protection. At the same time, we also draw upon recent scholarly attempts that aim to overcome the dichotomy of creative work as either self-exploitative and reproducing social inequalities or as a means of creative freedom and self-realisation. This project is based on 60 in-depth interviews with students and musicians who graduated from a conservatoire in the last 15 years.


Project Lead: Rosa Reitsamer

Researcher: Rainer Prokop




Online Lecture Series

Music, Sexual Harassment, Racism:
Continuities & Change

29 March – 14 June 2022

Organisers: Katharina Alexi, Rainer Prokop, Rosa Reitsamer

In cooperation with:
Working Group on Equal Opportunities (AKG) @ mdw
Administrative Department of Equality, Gender Studies and Diversity (GGD) @ mdw

Further Information

International Conference

Creative Identities in Transition:
Higher Music Education & Employability in the 21st Century

27 – 29 February 2020

mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna

Organisers: Rainer Prokop, Rosa Reitsamer

Further Information




Prokop, Rainer (forthcoming): Künstlerisch-kreative Arbeit im flexiblen Kapitalismus: Über die Karriere- und Lebensentwürfe junger klassischer Musiker*innen

Prokop, Rainer / Reitsamer, Rosa (eds.) (forthcoming): Higher Music Education and Employability in a Neoliberal World. London / New York: Bloomsbury

Reitsamer, Rosa / Prokop, Rainer (forthcoming): Wie klassische Musiker*innen gemacht werden




Prokop, Rainer / Reitsamer, Rosa (forthcoming): Transitions from Study to Work: Classically Trained Musicians in Austria, in: Prokop, Rainer / Reitsamer, Rosa (eds.): Higher Music Education and Employability in a Neoliberal World. London / New York: Bloomsbury

Reitsamer, Rosa / Prokop, Rainer (2022, forthcoming): Zur Bewertungskultur an Musikhochschulen, in: Diaz-Bone, Rainer / Schwegler, Guy (eds.): Musik und Konventionen: Qualitätslogiken, Strukturen und Prozesse in Musikwelten. Wiesbaden: VS Springer Verlag

Prokop, Rainer / Reitsamer, Rosa (2022, in print): The Role of Music Conservatoires in the Making of Classical Music Careers, in: Bull, Anna / Nooshin, Laudan / Scharff, Christina (eds.): Voices for Change in the Classical Music Profession: New Ideas for Tackling Inequalities and Exclusions. New York: Oxford University Press

Prokop, Rainer / Reitsamer, Rosa (2021): Der Habitus steht auf dem Prüfstand, in: Plateau – Magazin der Hochschule für Musik Trossingen, Winter 2020/21, S. 10-12 (Online)

Reitsamer, Rosa / Prokop, Rainer (2018): Zwischen Tradition und Innovation: Zur Bewertung musikalischer Leistungen an Kunsthochschulen, in: Szabó-Knotik, Cornelia / Mayer-Hirzberger, Anita (eds.): Anklaenge – Wiener Jahrbuch für Musikwissenschaft. Wien: Hollitzer Verlag, S. 161-175

Reitsamer, Rosa / Prokop, Rainer (2017): Klassische MusikerInnen als professionelle EmotionsmanagerInnen / Classical Musicians as Professional Emotion Managers, in: mdw-Magazin, Mai/Juni 2017, S. 61-63 (Online)




Reitsamer, Rosa / Prokop, Rainer: Racialisation Processes: The Case of Western Art Music @ Online Symposium Music and Racism in Europe, organised by the Research Association Suoni, Finland, 21.10. – 23.10.2021

Reitsamer, Rosa / Prokop, Rainer: „Die Rolle von Musikhochschulen in der Herstellung von klassischen Musiker*innen“ @ Workshop „Intersektionale Perspektiven auf Kunst- / Musiksoziologie“, mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Austria, 13.11. – 14.11.2020

Reitsamer, Rosa: Power Relations in Higher Music Education (Keynote) @ Online Conference Not Ready to Make Nice. Macht und Bedrohung im Kontext populärer Musik 30. Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Popularmusikforschung, Popakademie Baden-Württemberg (in cooperation with Leuphana University Lüneburg), Germany, 25.9. – 26.9.2020

Prokop, Rainer: Transitions from Study to Work of Classically Trained Musicians @ International Conference Creative Identities in Transition: Higher Music Education & Employability in the 21st Century, mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Austria, 27.2. – 29.2.2020

Reitsamer, Rosa: Intersectional Perspectives on Classical Music Education @ International Symposium Musica Femina, Central European University Budapest, Hungary, 8.1. – 9.1.2020

Prokop, Rainer: Careers of Classically Trained Musicians @ Conference „isaScience: Just P(l)ay! Music as Labour, Hotel Marienhof, Reichenau an der Rax, Austria, 7.8. – 11.8.2019

Prokop, Rainer: Position Statement @ Study Day / Round Table Discussion „Cultural Imperialism and the New 'Yellow Peril' in Western Classical Music“, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK, 10.6.2019

Reitsamer, Rosa: Top oder Flop? Ein empirischer Beitrag zur Bewertung musikalischer Leistungen an Hochschulen @ Symposium Was ist die Kunst an der Musik? Fragen für die künstlerische Bildung an Musikhochschulen und den musikalischen Nachwuchs, Radialsystem V, Berlin, Germany, 28.3.2019

Prokop, Rainer: Intersectional Perspectives on Classical Music Education @ Journée d´études La fabrique des inégalités au cœur des formations artistiques / Study Day The Making of Social Inequalities in Artistic Education, Université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès, France, 6.2.2018

Reitsamer, Rosa / Prokop, Rainer: „Wie ein Fisch im Wasser – Zur Bewertungspraxis von Lehrenden an Musikuniversitäten“ @ „Kulturen der Bewertung“ – Tagung in Kooperation zwischen dem Arbeitskreis „Soziologie des (Be)Wertens“ der DGS-Sektion Wissenssoziologie und der DGS-Sektion Kultursoziologie, University of Cologne / Fritz Thyssen Foundation, Germany, 9.11. – 10.11.2017

Reitsamer, Rosa / Prokop, Rainer: „Musicians as Professional Emotion Managers“ @ Conference „isaScience: Motion – Emotion – Movement“, Sporthotel Semmering, Semmering / Reichenau an der Rax, Austria, 11.8. – 15.8.2017

Reitsamer, Rosa / Prokop, Rainer: „Wie ein Fisch im Wasser: Zur Bewertung der musikalischen Leistungen von Studierenden an der mdw“ – presentation of the study QUART II, mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Austria, 25.1.2017




Workshop „Welcher Unterschied macht einen Unterschied? Lehren und Bewerten in der künstlerischen Lehre an der mdw“, Center of Further Education, mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Austria, 4.4.2022

Course Lead: Ulrike Mayer, Rainer Prokop, Rosa Reitsamer

Further Information




QUART @ Ö1-Radiokolleg Von Stars und Diven in der Opernwelt“, 30.3.2022 (Online)

Media presence of the Creative Identities in Transition conference @ Radio Ö1 and ORF Science: 'MeToo' in der klassischen Musik, 28.2.2020 (Online)

Preview of the Creative Identities in Transition conference @ APA – Austria Presse Agentur: Großer Umbruch: Konferenz zu Arbeitsmarkt und Ausbildung von Musikern, published by Vienna Online, Telekurier Online Medien, Salzburger Nachrichten (Online), Tiroler Tageszeitung, Vorarlberger Nachrichten etc., 26.2.2020

QUART @ VAN Magazin #213: Kunst und Wertung – Über die Bewertung künstlerischer Prüfungen an Musikhochschulen, 17.7.2019 (Online)

QUART @ Augustin 486 – 07/2019, S. 28-29: Der Lohn macht die Musik (Online)

QUART @ Radio Ö1 and ORF Science: Wie man gut musiziert“, 3.2.2017 (Online)