It’s not often that one gets to see a new university department founded. And for me, having witnessed the mdw’s enormous development in terms of early music since I began my studies, the founding of this particular department is something that’s very special. So much has happened in recent years: new teachers have been hired, the number of masterclasses, symposia, conferences, etc. has increased, and the new Historical Performance Practice degree programme has been set up. All this shows just how much enthusiasm and effort has been invested in an area that has a significant role to play—particularly in Vienna. When it comes to Vienna as a city of music, one thinks first and foremost of names like Mozart, Beethoven, and Mahler, but this city’s musical history reveals that there were an enormous number of illustrious musicians, composers, kapellmeisters, and other artists who worked and made waves in this city and whose fame has unfortunately faded over the centuries. It’s exciting to think about how some of the music we play at our university was heard for the first time 200 or 300 years ago in precisely these spaces. At the church of St. Ursula, for example, Carlo Agostino Badia—a “Viennese Vivaldi” of sorts—worked and regularly composed for the Ursuline convent at the end of the 17th century. And even so, the lion’s share of his music still lies buried and forgotten in the National Library, waiting to be discovered by us. As does the output of Richter, Caldara, Draghi, Ziani, and many others. When I first came to Vienna, I was a bit surprised to discover that early music played a far smaller role in the music scene here than I would’ve expected it to. Which is why I’m all the happier that our university has now taken such a visible and important step towards giving early music the attention that it deserves—thanks to which my colleagues now have the opportunity to earn professional qualifications in this field while future students will end up deciding in favour of our alma mater thanks to precisely this attractive opportunity.
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