Congratulations, Dr. Dietmar Friesenegger

Fri, 10/23/2020

Congratulations to Dr. Dietmar Friesenegger for receiving the Ph.D. in musicology with an outstanding dissertation, Voices among Cultures in the Eastern European Borderlands: Music in Czernowitz (1862–1914). Dr. Friesenegger’s study investigates one the most diverse cities in the contested lands of Eastern Europe, exploring the role of music in cultural and social relations and the imprint this culture left on the city’s compositional legacy around 1900. Today a city in Ukraine (Chernivtsi), Czernowitz was until World War I on the perimeter of the Hapsburg Empire and boasted a vibrant mix of languages and religions. Making use of extensive archival research in eight countries, the dissertation explores a complex music culture that had been forgotten, erased, or rewritten in nationalizing histories. Dr. Friesenegger examines the biographies of musicians with ties to several cultures, their compositions in several languages, and their music for the houses of prayer of different denominations; he analyzes “supranational” music institutions as well as sectarian ones and their reach across political boundaries; and he reconstructs musical events aimed at cultural inclusiveness. This wide-ranging study connects several currents in recent musicological, ethnographic, and historical scholarship: microhistory (especially urban and regional studies); migration and multicultural identities; and peripheries and borderlands. In a typically imaginative and trenchant move, Dr. Friesenegger offers a critique of musical historiography, drawing attention to the politicization of music history, and investigating the role of music in nationalist ideologies.

Himself a lively and diverse presence in the music department during his years here, Dr. Friesenegger is a speaker of many languages, expert in and practitioner of many musics, and an outstanding teacher across a wide range of courses. Recipient of the department’s Don M. Randel Teaching and Research fellowship, he is a regular faculty member at the IES, Vienna. He is the founder of the prize-winning Mandyczewski Festival in Chernivtsi which brings to sounding life his archival discoveries, and his work has been published by, among others, Breitkopf & Härtel. Beyond Cornell, where he has been such a generous intellectual presence, Dr. Friesenegger has presented his work widely, including at the Annual Meeting of the American Musicological Society, the German Studies Association, and numerous conferences and festivals in Ukraine, Romania, and Austria.

Dietmar Friesenegger sitting