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German music historian and early music specialist.

Career Summary

A pupil of Hugo Riemann and Arnold Schering, Gurlitt completed his doctorate on Praetorius in 1914, served in World War I and was taken prisoner by the French in 1918. From 1919 until retirement in 1958 he taught at Freiburg University, although removed from office by the Nazis 1937-45 because his wife was Jewish.

In 1920, he was made Director of the newly-founded Musikwissenschafliches Institut at Freiburg. From 1922, as Director of the Freiburg collegium musicum he gave the earliest performances in Germany of medieval music. He wrote widely on late medieval, renaissance, and baroque topics and was one of the pioneers of the early history of the organ (Orgelbewegung), and edited music by Binchois, Buxtehude, and Praetorius.

Gurlitt's interest lay in music history "from a style-psychological point of view": he developed a theory of "sonic style" (Klangstil) whereby a given style or sound-ideal determined the characteristics of a period or repertory.

Correspondence with Schenker

There is one postcard of 1918 from Gurlitt to Schenker (OJ 11/30).


  • MGG
  • NGDM2
  • Potter, Pamela, Most German of the Arts (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998)

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