State Institute for Music Research

Glimpses of the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung



  • The Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung is the largest nonuniversity research center for musicology in Germany. It is dedicated to historical and theoretical reflection on music and making it accessible to a wider public.

    Diverse Research Activities

    The focuses of research at the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung (State Institute for Music Research, SIM) are interpretation research, historical music theory, the study of instruments, and sound research. The Institute produces and publishes the Bibliographie des Musikschrifttums (Bibliography of Music Literature). It is a continuous record of the literature on music published throughout the world. It is freely available on the Internet as BMS online.

    The Collection of Historical Instruments

    The Institute’s Musikinstrumenten-Museum (Museum of Musical Instruments) owns around three thousand musical instruments for European art music, dating from the sixteenth to the twenty-first century. A good eight hundred of these instruments are on view in the permanent exhibition. Its diversity makes the collections one of the most representative in the world. With this museum, the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung has the ideal forum for diverse events, from scholarly symposia by way of lecture concerts with early music on historical instruments from the collection to sound installations.

    The Institute’s Several Predecessor Institutions since the Late Nineteenth Century

    The roots of the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung extend back to the late nineteenth century. In 1888 the Sammlung Alter Musikinstrumente (Collection of Early Music Instruments) was founded at the Königliche akademische Hochschule für Musik (Royal Academy for Music). In 1918 the Fürstliches Institut für Musikwissenschaftliche Forschung (Princely Institute for Musicological Research) in Bückeburg was founded. These two institutions were merged in 1935 as the Staatliches Institut für deutsche Musikforschung in Berlin.

    The Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung has been part of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) since 1962. The Institute and its Musikinstrumenten-Museum have been housed at the Kulturforum right next to the Philharmonie in a building constructed for that purpose.

    The Director of the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung: Dr. Thomas Ertelt

    Thomas Ertelt studied musicology and German at the Freie Universität Berlin. In 1989 he received his PhD with a dissertation on Alban Berg’s opera Lulu. His research focuses are the music of the Second Viennese School and the history of music theory. From 1992 onwards, Thomas Ertelt was director of the Historical Department of the Staatliche Institut für Musikforschung. He became the Institute’s Director in 2002. He is editor of “Geschichte der Musiktheorie”, “Briefwechsel der Wiener Schule”, and the series “Klang und Begriff”.

  • Location of the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung