Head-to-Head: A Meeting of Inspired Minds
Singing like Germans: Black Musicians in the Land of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms
Please note that this event takes place at the Hospitalhof Stuttgart.
How have constructs of blackness and whiteness been created, maintained, or challenged via classical music? University of Michigan assistant professor and American Academy in Berlin fellow Kira Thurman explores this question by offering an insightful look at the history of black classical musicians in central Europe. She describes black–white encounters throughout the region, including the Fisk Jubilee Singers in nineteenth-century Germany, the Jazz Age of the 1920s and ’30s, and the “Black Venus” at the Bayreuth Festival of the postwar period. In doing so, Thurman provides an analysis of the tension between the supposedly transcendental power of classical music and the (trans)national conversations that have developed about who was permitted to perform it.
A classically trained pianist who grew up in Vienna, Kira Thurman, Assistant Professor of History and Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan, and current Anna-Maria Kellen Fellow of the American Academy in Berlin, will join renowned historian Jürgen Osterhammel, Chair of Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Konstanz, for a conversation about the interconnections among national identity, music, and expression. Their discussion will be moderated by Michael P. Steinberg, President of the American Academy in Berlin and an expert in the cultural history of music in Germany.
In cooperation with the Evangelisches Bildungszentrum Hospitalhof Stuttgart and the Deutsch-Amerikanisches Zentrum Stuttgart. The Head-to-Head series is generously supported by Dr. Dirk Ippen, Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, and Berthold Leibinger Stiftung GmbH.