Christian Thorau

Musicology, University of Potsdam

Christian Thorau is professor of Musicology at the department for Music and Art at University of Potsdam. He studied at Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) and Technical University of Berlin. 2001/2022 he was Visiting Fellow at Harvard and Stanford University with a scholarship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Fellowships brought him to the National Humanities Center (USA) and the International Research Center for Cultural Studies (IFK) in Vienna. 2004-2010 he was professor of Music Theory at Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts, and in 2015 visiting professor at Duke University, North Carolina.

Christian Thorau is interested in the transformation of music listening under changing medial and cultural conditions. His research on the history of music listening encompasses works on the relationship between listening and tourism, norms of appreciation in middle class music culture as well as processes of popularization of musical knowledge (The Oxford Handbook of Music Listening in the 19th and 20th Century, Oxford University Press 2019, co-editor). In music theoretical perspectives he furthermore explores the foundations of musical analysis and the relationship between music and speech (Vom Klang zur Metapher. Perspektiven der musikalischen Analyse, Olms 2012).

During his HIAS fellowship Christian Thorau will work on the topic of science communication in the humanities and cultural studies using music as an example. The project will deal with forms, mediums, and methods of science communication in musicology trying to answer the question what “public science” or “public scholarship” can mean when applied to a field of aesthetic practice and experience. This encompasses not only communication of knowledge about music and music experience but also the role of music as a medium of science communication. Christian Thorau investigates transformation processes of knowledge in the field of music between academic knowledge production, pragmatic application to music listening, visualization and cultural appropriation.

His tandem partners are Matteo Nanni, professor for Historic Musicology at Universität Hamburg, and Jan Philipp Sprick, professor for Music Theory and president at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg.

Christian Thorau’s HIAS Fellowship is provided by the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and the federal and state funds acquired by Universität Hamburg in the framework of its Excellence Strategy.


Christian Thorau


Universität Hamburg


Matteo Nanni, professor for Historic Musicology, Universität Hamburg

Jan Philipp Sprick, professor for Music Theory and president at Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg