Stanford music professor wins Humboldt Research Award for lifetime achievement

Photo of Karol Berger
Karol Berger (Photo by Steve Gladfelter)

Music Professor KAROL BERGER has received a 2014 Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The 60,000 Euro award enables a scholar to spend a year working at a research institute in Germany and collaborating with other experts in the field.

A scholar of Austro-German music, Berger intends to complete a long-term study of German composer Richard Wagner’s late music dramas. Berger plans to work with Wagner scholars, including leading German musicologist Professor Hermann Danuser at Humboldt University in Berlin.

The Humboldt Research Award recognizes lifetime achievement in research and selects scholars whose discoveries have significantly influenced their own discipline and whose research continues to produce notable achievements.

Berger’s research interests span the history of musical aesthetics and criticism and vocal polyphony from 1700 to 1900. His most recent book, Bach’s Cycle, Mozart’s Arrow: An Essay on the Origins of Musical Modernity, won the 2008 Weston Emerson Award of the Mozart Society of America.

Berger’s “field-shaping scholarship runs the gamut across seven centuries of music history from late medieval music theory to Wagnerian music drama,” noted Music Department colleague Professor STEPHEN HINTON, also an expert on modern German music and history.

“The richly deserved Humboldt award pays tribute not only to the remarkable range but also to the deep insight, both musical and philosophical, that characterize his work,” Hinton added.

A native of Poland, Berger has lived in the United States since 1968 and has taught at Stanford since 1982. He has received numerous fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Study and Conference Center and the Stanford Humanities Center.

In addition to his position as the Osgood Hooker Professor in Fine Arts in the Department of Music, Berger is also an affiliated researcher at the Europe Center and affiliated faculty with the Department of German Studies.

BY TANU WAKEFIELD, communications assistant for the Stanford Humanities Center