Research with Third-Party Funding at the Department of Musicology and Performance Studies

Those who ask nowadays just where which research projects are at work within the spaces of the Department of Musicology and Performance Studies (IMI) may experience some occasional confusion: a full ten projects that rely on third-party funds are currently anchored at the IMI in addition to those research projects in which IMI staff members would be involved anyway. The current crop of projects ranges from large-scale work editions to the study of issues relating to music history and aesthetics in various eras and genres, gender and cultural studies research with an eye to music-related cultural transfers, basic research on music philosophy as it pertains to musical notation, and projects dealing with musical cultures of remembrance, and contemporary history in the media world. The diversity of these research themes is matched by that of the theoretical and methodological approaches being taken by a new, internationally networked generation of musicologists, all of which contributes to a research landscape at the IMI that is lively indeed.

A Place of Research in the National and International Contexts

The preconditions and formats involved in the project teams’ work are just as heterogeneous as are the respective contexts of their research, ranging from large, multi-phase FWF projects to targeted early-career researcher programmes and from Higher Education Structural Fund (Hochschulraumstrukturmittel-Programm) sponsoring to various third-party funding sources for individual project phases as well as internal research funding. This diversity entails that timeframes and financial resources, as well as opportunities to take advantage of third-party funding, likewise vary: the group of those who have succeeded in having projects approved includes IMI professors, the project heads themselves, and also doctoral candidates. In the process, the Department has established itself within both the national and the international university landscape as a place of research that profits significantly from the substantive and methodological diversity of its research approaches as well as from its immediate proximity to the arts themselves, thanks to which an interesting context for discussions has developed.

The Department’s wide variety of projects, methods, and modes of research financing offers a multitude of approaches to pondering ways in which to facilitate (and finance) third party-funded research. But it also gives cause to reflect upon the status of third party-funded research at the mdw and take a closer look at the conditions under which the involved researchers work.

Research Conditions: Exchange within Teams and International Networking

Alongside the Department’s qualification positions (i.e., those for PhD and habilitation candidates), it’s especially third party-funded projects that give researchers in their pre- and postdoc phases good opportunities to be involved in the life of the Department while at the same time working independently on their own research. Cornelia Szabó-Knotik, Dean of Research Programs at the mdw and project head, emphasises this based on her many years of experience: “The opportunity to work as part of a research team represents a special head start for early-career researchers. Not least because, as a rule, it more fully integrates them into their respective departments and involves them in exchange that’s relevant to their disciplines both with the project heads and—above all—with postdoctoral researchers.” What’s more, early-career researchers can profit from the academic networks upon which third party-funded projects draw: the DACH project Writing Music, to mention one example, is based at four locations in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland and also networked with numerous international colleagues. Carolin Ratzinger, a member of the Writing Music team, states that, “The exchange that arises with researchers and doctoral candidates from various (sub)disciplines and institutions as a result is a source of enormous academic and personal enrichment as well as quite a bit of motivation for one’s own research.” The aspect of the information and motivation that can be derived from working as part of research teams is also singled out as an advantage by Constanze Köhn, a team member in the project Transferprozesse in der Musikkultur Wiens, 1755–1780 [Cultural Transfer of Music in Vienna, 1755–1780]: “Working in a research group makes possible intense substantive exchange with researchers who work in similar thematic fields, from whose knowledge and experience one can reap especially great benefit as an early-career researcher.”

What Types of Careers Does Third-Party Funding Support?

To a certain extent, third-party research sponsors react directly to the conditions that govern various career stages. The WFW, for example, offers support specifically for women’s postdoc careers, with early- and late-phase categories. Andrea Horz obtained one of the hotly contested Elise Richter Project grants, via which she’ll be receiving support for the senior postdoc phase of her habilitation research project entitled Opera as Music-Analytical Object: “This research project,” says Horz, “is making it possible for me to write my habilitation dissertation, so it definitely represents an important building block for my further academic career.” For individuals with predoc positions at the University, it’s their PhD studies that stand in the foreground. And in light of their dense curricula, getting involved in research projects poses special challenges—but even here, stresses Constanze Köhn, the advantages weigh more heavily: “In my view, working on the team of a research project during one’s doctoral studies offers quite a few advantages that benefit both work on one’s own dissertation as well as one’s general professional qualifications: work on a project integrates you into a larger research context where the exchange with other academics can provide valuable impulses for your own work, and the institutional integration that this also entails affords you insights into the organisational processes that everyday university working life involves.”

For early-career researchers, it’s often transitional phases that end up being especially challenging. Particularly the final phase of one’s doctoral studies and the subsequent transition to the post-doc phase are viewed as a devilishly tricky academic bottleneck. Akiko Yamada’s solution was to develop a new research project—Mademoiselle Mozart—while still a PhD student, and this project is now being funded by both Plattform Gender_mdw and the Mariann Steegmann Foundation. Julia Ackermann, previously involved in the research project Transferprozesse in der Musikkultur Wiens and now part of the project Erinnerungsort Beethoven: Theater an der Wien [A Place with Memories of Beethoven: Theater an der Wien—trans.], sums it up as follows: “Earning one’s doctorate is often followed by an initial phase of professional reorientation, application-writing, or even just unemployment. That’s why I’m glad that I was able to get involved in this project directly afterwards—giving me the opportunity to contribute my professional experience from before my doctoral studies in addition to my expertise as an academic. And the part-time employment provided by this project also gives me the chance to pursue other projects on the side—like publishing articles, contemplating possible themes for further research grant applications, reworking my dissertation for publication, etc.”

How Can Ongoing Research be Connected with Teaching at the mdw?

Research-led teaching is an oft-used buzzword these days. But frequently enough, the concept behind it ends up giving way to everyday reality and its curricular dictates. So in this context, as well, research projects provide direct impulses to take a few more risks and go out on a limb—as IMI lecturer Juri Giannini, who’s heading a seminar on musical notation together with Carolin Ratzinger and Elena Minetti this summer semester, emphasises: “In exchange with artists, some of whom are focussed on entirely different goals, we’re looking to experiment with research-led teaching—including with an eye to artistic research, but above all in an interdisciplinary manner and involving inter-institutional exchange.” Just how this can look in practice is also being experimented with by the project Erinnerungsort Beethoven: Theater an der Wien: there, research is being done together with PhD-students with regard to new sources on Viennese theatre life during the early 19th century that feature this theatre as a place of remembrance, as the place where Beethoven watched his Fidelio fail. As part of this project, the students will be preparing an exhibition that Theater an der Wien will show to mark the 200th anniversary of Beethoven’s death in 2020.

Cooperation: From Local to International

Cooperative arrangements represent a crucial factor in research projects’ successful conduct. It’s for this reason that all of the projects currently in progress at the IMI involve cooperation in a narrower or broader sense: cooperation that is disciplinary and interdisciplinary, regional, national or international, academic or non-academic, artistic, or otherwise defined. The cooperating partners here include the Austrian National Library, the Österreichische Mediathek [Austrian Mediatheque], the Phonogrammarchiv [phonographic archive] of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna’s Arnold Schönberg Center, international universities and research organisations, cultural institutions such as Theater an der Wien, and Viennese schools. In this context, a certain role is also played by the fact that cooperation with partners outside the university can make current research visible to broader circles of interested parties, as Julia Ackermann from the Erinnerungsort Beethoven project confirms: “In consultation with the involved cultural institutions and picking up on their own current projects, we develop various formats in which to present the results of our research work—which enables us to reach a broad audience.”

In order for research projects to run well, it’s necessary for the mdw to provide the necessary structures. And in this context, Therese Kaufmann (head of the mdw’s Office of Research Promotion) points out the relevance of providing support to a young generation of researchers: “In recent years, a number of projects and measures have been initiated and implemented in order to strengthen the support that’s available for research at the mdw. And it’s our impression that a certain dynamisation has taken place, from which particularly so-called “early-career” or “early-stage” researchers are now benefitting. This is especially important in light of how precisely those people who now stand at the beginning of their academic careers will end up determining the mdw’s profile as a research institution in the future.”

Research projects at IMI

Heinrich Schenker, Tagebücher 1915–1919: kommentierte Edition
Projektleitung: Marko Deisinger; Laufzeit: 2019–2022; Finanzierung: FWF
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Musical Crossroads. Transatlantic Cultural Exchange 1800–1950
Projektleitung: Melanie Unseld; Mitarbeiter_innen: Carola Bebermeier, Clemens Kreutzfeldt; Laufzeit: 2019–2021; Finanzierung: FWF
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Ludwig Senfl: New Edition of the Collected Works (New Senfl Edition) II
Motets for 6-8vv, Canons, Magnificat Settings, Mass Ordinaries
Projektleitung: Stefan Gasch; Mitarbeiter_innen: Scott L. Edwards, Sonja Tröster; Laufzeit: 2018–2021; Finanzierung: FWF
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Erinnerungsort Ludwig van Beethoven: Theater an der Wien
Projektleitung: Melanie Unseld; Mitarbeiterin: Julia Ackermann; Laufzeit: 2018–2020; Finanzierung: Stadt Wien/MA 7
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„Mademoiselle Mozart“ – Manga-Kultur – Biografie – Gender
Projektleitung: Melanie Unseld; Mitarbeiterin: Akiko Yamada; Laufzeit: 2017–2021; Finanzierung: Plattform Gender_mdw, Mariann Steegmann Foundation, IMI
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Opern als musikanalytischer Gegenstand (ca. 1750 bis 1861)
Projektleitung: Andrea Horz; Mitarbeiterin: Anna Maria Pudziow; Laufzeit: 2018–2021; Finanzierung: FWF (Elise-Richter-Programm)
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Telling Sounds – eine digitale Forschungsplattform zur Dokumentation und Aufarbeitung österreichischer Musiken-Geschichte auf der Basis audiovisueller Zeitzeug_innendokumente
Projektleitung: Cornelia Szabó-Knotik; Mitarbeiter_innen: Matej Santi, Elias Berner, Thomas Asanger (bis 2018), Peter Provaznik, Julia Jaklin; Laufzeit: 2017–2021; Finanzierung: BMWFW, mdw
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Wie klingt Österreich? Musik als Träger des Emotions-Managements politischer Bewegungen im „Musikland Österreich“
Projektleitung: Anita Mayer-Hirzberger, Cornelia Szabó-Knotik; Mitarbeiter_innen: Chanda VanderHart (bis 2018), David Scholl; Laufzeit: 2017–2019; Finanzierung: BKA, mdw
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Writing Music. Ikonische, performative, operative und materiale Aspekte musikalischer Notation(en); Standort Wien: Operativität
Projektleitung: Nikolaus Urbanek; Mitarbeiterinnen: Elena Minetti, Carolin Ratzinger; Laufzeit: 2018–2021; Finanzierung: DACH-Projekt (FWF, SNF, DFG)
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Transferprozesse in der Musikkultur Wiens, 1755–1780: Musikalienmarkt, Bearbeitungspraxis, neues Publikum
Projektleitung: Martin Eybl; Mitarbeiter_innen: Julia Ackermann (bis 2017), Christiane Hornbachner (bis 2017), Constanze Köhn, Marko Motnik (bis 2016), Sarah Schulmeister (bis 2017); Laufzeit: 2014–2020; Finanzierung: FWF Austrian Science Fund (2014–2018), mdw
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