The “Sound” of the Middle Ages – An Interview-Presentation


The online-magazine of Vienna University “uni:view” has published an interview with the team of the “Musical Life” research project (Musikleben des Spätmittelalters in der Region Österreich (1340-1520) / Musical Life of the late Middle Ages in the Austrian Region (1340-1520): Birgit Lodes, Reinhard Strohm and Marc Lewon answered the detailed questions of Petra Schiefer about the approach and aims of the research project. The resulting interview (in German) embellished with depictions and sound clips as well as an excursion to Reinhard Strohm’s Balzan Prize Award Ceremony can be found online with uni:view, here: Der “Sound” des Mittelalters.

Giogrio Napolitano hands over the Balzan Prize to Reinhard Strohm on the 14th of November 2012

Giorgio Napolitano hands over the Balzan Prize to Reinhard Strohm on the 14th of November 2012

Marc Lewon

The orange scarf is laid to rest… On the death of Ulrich Müller

Ulrich Müller (1940-2012)

We feel we need to start our blog on an important but sad note: Ulrich Müller, one of the great scholars and a unique personality in the humanities, passed away on October 14th, 2012, aged 71. Medieval German Philology and Linguistics was his primary field of expertise and he was one of the most knowledgeable and prolific experts on the Nibelungenlied, as well as the works of Neidhart and Oswald von Wolkenstein – this knowledge representing only the tip of an unfathomable intellectual iceberg. He contributed such a quantity of works and furthered the knowledge of medieval German literature in so many ways that trying to offer a list here could only fail. Such a list is, however, being prepared by the much more competent authorities at Salzburg, where he lived and worked.

Ulrich Müller as a young man with the original of Wolkenstein MS B

Ulrich Müller was one of those German scholars who did not fear the sight of musical notation and who always tried to promote an interdisciplinary approach to his field, boldly crossing borders and venturing into other hunting grounds. He always encouraged performers to bring to life and to the stage the pieces of literary and musical art that he loved so dearly. He never denied assistance or help, he always kept a positive frame of mind, and never reacted in a condescending way, no matter how silly a question might have been. He was a catalyst for projects in both the performing arts and in musicology, providing impetus to and studies and performances alike. His enthusiasm was legendary. And above all he was a friendly, cheerful, and inspiring personality who knew how to enjoy himself and the company of others.

We have lost a great man, and on a personal note I have lost a friend whom I had the honour of getting to know better and better in the past few years. I had hoped to enjoy his friendship or at least the knowledge of him being around for a few years longer. It was good to know that the world contained him and his orange scarf.

On behalf of the project-team, Marc Lewon

The day and mood of Müller’s funeral.

Musikleben des Spätmittelalters in der Region Österreich (1340-1520) / Musical Life of the late Middle Ages in the Austrian Region (1340-1520)

Reinhard Strohm, Birgit Lodes, Marc Lewon

Musical Life is a research project carried out at the Institute of Musicology, University of Vienna, by Prof. Birgit Lodes (University of Vienna) as research leader, Prof. em. Reinhard Strohm (University of Oxford) and cand. phil. Marc Lewon (University of Oxford).

The project is funded by the Austrian Research Foundation (Wissenschaftsfonds, FWF) and is running from November 1st, 2011 to May 1st, 2014. It explores the material and spiritual aspects of musical-cultural practice of the period 1340-1520 in the Habsburg territories and neighbouring areas. Results of the research will be published in the form of an interactive website with musical recordings, texts and images.

The three main researchers and several expert collaborators are responsible for writing the chapters, many of which will focus on important archival documents, musical sources and iconography. Several ensembles specialising in early music performance, co-ordinated by Marc Lewon, will contribute recordings. An international team of expert advisers is available for guidance.

For a full project description, see: Musical Life.

For enquiries, please contact

For a report on the project presentation with concerts by Ensemble Leones and Stimmwerck, including a picture gallery, see: Musik aus den Kindertagen der Universität