University of Hamburg gets EUR 1.45 million for cultural research

German Research Foundation (DFG) funds research into silent film music and history of Hamburg Kunsthalle
31 July 2023
Logo der Uni Hamburg im Frühling

The University of Hamburg has secured EUR 1.45 million in funds from the German Research Foundation (DFG) for two projects launching in the Faculty of Cultural Studies. A project, managed by musicologist Prof. Dr. Oliver Huck, will explore the genesis of silent film music up to 1918 and its impact on contemporary film music. The research has received EUR 750,000 in funds. A second research project, managed by the art historians Prof. Dr. Iris Wenderholm from the University of Hamburg and Dr. Ute Haug from the Hamburger Kunsthalle, into the political appropriation of the Hamburg Kunsthalle between 1933 and 1969 has received some EUR 700,000.

Research into dramaturgy of silent film music

Silent films screened in cinemas were accompanied by music composed especially for the movie. However, the scores of the music have received little attention in research so far. Huck will take a closer look at scores and films in archives across Germany, Italy, France and the United States beginning in April 2024 until 2029. "Film music was the most powerful new music genre in the 20th century," he pointed out. But silent film music differs from modern film music and represents an independent level of narrative in the dramaturgy. Yet, the musical dramaturgy of silent films may have had an impact on contemporary film music. 

Political appropriation of Hamburger Kunsthalle

The second project will focus on the city's influence on the art collection and its political appropriation. To this end, Wenderholm and Haug will investigate the museum's activities in various sub-projects covering the National Socialist takeover to the period of occupation and the establishment of the Bonn Republic. "As the city's leading art museum, the Hamburger Kunsthalle had a special political significance due to its embeddedness in regional and national networks," said Wenderholm. Research in Paris, Los Angeles and into the archives at the Kunsthalle and the German Foreign Office, will examine the influence of these networks on the museum's activities and its collection from autumn 2023 through 2026, said Haug.