On Researching Music in the Tartu University



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Musical activities can be generally divided into five fields: music can be created, performed, listened to, researched and taught. During the 375 years of activity of the Tartu University (UT) its members have been active in every of these fields. Least of all music has been taught in the UT as a special subject of study and that is why music in the UT as a mainly educational establishment can seem to be marginal. But university is also a research establishment. And if one follows the recently more spread custom to divide musicology into five classes – music theory, music history, ethnomusicology and cognitive musicology – it can be firmly declared that in the UT one has practiced musicology from all aspects and up to the mark. The most well-known representative of music theory, and the most famous musicologist of the UT of all times is the professor of physics of the UT Arthur Joachim von Oettingen (1836-1920) whose work about dual harmony system (1866) is still significant in the occidental music theory. In the field of research created by him there have been done scholarly work in the UT afterwards as well. In the field of music history much has been done by the researcher of the library of UT, the organist of the church of the UT and the member of the the Learned Estonian Society Otto Freymuth (1892-1953). Thanks to him there are numerous old notes and valuable manuscripts in the funds of the library of the UT. In the library of UT his work is being successfully continued till now. In relation with the collecting of the Estonian folk tunes in the beginning of the 20th century initiated by the Estonian Students Society and being developed into the Estonian Folklore Archives in Tartu, ethnomusicology in the UT has long and representative traditions. Most of the noted Estonian ethnomusicologists are alumni of the UT. Directly folk tunes have been for a long time researched by the docent of the UT Udo Kolk (1927-1998). The first-rate names of cognitive musicology in the UT are the long-time lecturer of the chair of Russian language of the UT, now the professor of the Columbia University (NY), music semioticist and theorist Boris Gasparov, and the present professor of music of the UT, music psychologist and phoneticist, member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences Jaan Ross. By the members of the UT much has been written about music on the level of popular science, especially in the 1970ies and 1980ies. In the last fifteen years the amount of the theses more or less related with music written in the different faculties of the UT has been increased. Many later well-known music researchers are the alumni of the UT (e.g. Karl Leichter, Rudolf Põldmäe, Herbert Tampere, Ingrid Rüütel). In the present paper only those will be mentioned whose work has been recognized already at the time of their studies. Likewise there will be no mention of the important researchers whose object of investigation has been music in the UT but who have never been the members of the UT (e.g. Elmar Arro), or who have made the research work after leaving the membership of the UT (e.g. Juhan Aavik).