Changing mdw

200 years of the mdw viewed through a scholarly lens

“Changing mdw”, a research initiative encompassing the projects Bilder-Welten / Gedächtnisort mdw [Worlds of Images / The mdw as a Place of Memories] and Bi-Musikalität [Bi-Musicality], deals with the mdw’s history and present in the most diverse contexts: in terms of “internal views” and “outward effects”, in terms of identities’ construction and transformation, and in terms of the diversity of musical styles that serve to characterise both the institution as a whole and the individuals involved with it.

The mdw as a Place of Memories

200 Years of the mdw – an opportunity to approach our institution’s history with a critical gaze.

History has always been written in a largely “top-down” manner. Especially on festive occasions, there exists a tendency to write history in a way that is representative and places the celebrant’s merits firmly in the foreground. The self-perception thereby created serves to consolidate the kind of positive image that comes in handy for advertising.

But the mdw’s history has been shaped by numerous individuals: by students and instructors, by administrative personnel, and by people of differing geographic origins, social backgrounds, and cultural heritages. As a manifestation of notions concerning cultural ideals, the mdw has served and continues to serve as a surface onto which various notions, desires, and yearnings are projected.

These diverse images and approaches are to be made visible as part of the scholarly project “Bilder-Welten/Gedächtnisort mdw”, which will be presented to mark the university’s bicentennial year of 2017. The starting point for this is embodied by the individuals in the past and present who were or are engaged in active interplay with the mdw and have thus also helped to determine and shape this institution’s self-understanding.

Their differing (musical) socialisations, personal perspectives, values, and ideas, as well as their experiences and interactions at and with the mdw, will be recorded in the form of interviews and ego-documents. A further topic of this survey will be the symbolic meanings, identities, and aesthetic and social images conveyed by contemporary witnesses.

Such case studies will place the mdw in the context of social and cultural history as an institution of cultural education and culture creation.

Project coordination:

ao. Cornelia Szabó-Knotik
Tel.: +43 1 71155-3500



The Department of Folk Music Research and Ethnomusicology is likewise using these celebrations as an opportunity to take a closer look at the present-day mdw as a social entity and creative realm for students, instructors, administrative personnel, and individuals with various backgrounds, musical socialisations, and cultural values as part of the research project “Bi-/Multimusikalität” [Bi-/Multi-musicality]. These personalities are of crucial significance to shaping and representing the mdw.

Around 47% of the mdw’s current students and 19% of its instructive and administrative personnel come from foreign countries. In a globalised world, communication between individuals of differing cultural origins is of the utmost significance, and its facilitation must be of special concern to an internationally renowned arts university.

The terms “bi-musicality” and “multi-musicality” describe the ability to articulate oneself in several musical languages and styles. They represent a direct approach to presenting the musical diversity that could be practiced and taught at the mdw at the highest level of quality. The individual transcendence of boundaries and traversing of the most varied ideational realms gives rise to facets that, taken as a whole, portray the mdw’s transcultural nature. In this regard, bi- and multi-musicality represent an instrument with which to make transcultural processes visible. The term “transculturality”, on the other hand, has to do with a form of creative work that is capable of building bridges between different forms of musical expression.

The research project Bi-/Multimusikalität serves to render visible and audible the diversity and transcultural potential of central personalities at today’s mdw as part of the bicentennial scholarly initiative “Changing mdw”.


Project coordination:

ao. Ursula Hemetek
Tel.: +43 1 71155-4211