Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Musikwissenschaft

Master degree "Music, Sound, Performance"

Cooperational MA program of the FU Berlin and the HU Berlin




 MA Music, Sound, Performance 🖉


Are you fascinated by the performative dimensions of music? Are you open to unusual sounds and new, experimental music? Are you curious about sound art and sound installations? Are you interested in fields of cultural production such as music/sound curating, dramaturgy, and cultural management? Then the Master Music, Sound, Performance might be something for you.

Music as performance, whether musical theater, instrumental music, or sound installations, is the focus of the MA Music, Sound, Performance program. What are the historical premises of such musical performances or stagings? What aesthetic positions are taken? And how do music and sound or composers, performers and producers react to current social challenges or rethink them?

The MA program Music, Sound, Performance provides students interested in dynamic careers with an interdisciplinary education and orientation. Located in the Department of Musicology of the Freie Universität Berlin, and at the Institute of Musicology and Media Studies of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, this new MA program focuses on the study of music and sound as a performative phenomenon across cultural and historical traditions.

The program is deeply committed to interdisciplinary research, combining various perspectives on musical performance from the fields of history, theory, and practice. The teaching faculty is well versed in the current debates of disciplines such as Musicology and Theater Studies, as well as Media, Performance, Gender, and Postcolonial Studies. Students will have contact with the most prolific contemporary artists, curators, and dramaturgs through workshop-series and collaborative projects.

The Music, Sound, Performance MA program was created in response to a growing demand in the job market towards the professionalization of tasks such as curating music and sound. The teaching staff, together with associated researchers and artists are committed to developing research projects on music theater and performance in a global context, sound media, and music epistemologies.

Berlin’s vibrant music scene, with its myriad of musical institutions and its colorful freie Szene provides a rich field of inspiration.



 Hallmark of Research 🖉


The research interests of the academic and teaching staff of the Music, Sound, Performance MA program stretch from 19th century virtuosity in opera and concert to questions of physicality and gesture in music theatre up to digital sound art. Students will have first-hand contact with the most exciting research in lectures and seminars where instructors will share their most recent findings. This synergy between teaching and research aims at fostering critical thinking and investigating aesthetics of musical performance in multiple cultural, political-economic, geographical, and historical contexts. In addition to sharing their recent research findings, the teaching staff will introduce students to the most current scholarly debates on postcolonialism, media and gender studies, challenging the authority of concepts such as “modernism” or “art music.” This intellectual exercise will serve as an entry point to the analysis of very concrete examples of contemporary musical and cultural practices. Also considered are aspects of innovative (digital) music philology: How can the tendency towards the open form of an opera or performance be represented as a text or score without suggesting fixed work-likeness?

In addition to rethinking the shortcomings of musical modernism, other examples of related interests of the faculty of this MA program are aesthetic values of musical listening, its politics, and economies (who is allowed to listen how to what?), as well as the study of music epistemology, its networks and mediality (how knowledge about music is generated, for whom and in which form is it reproduced?).

Being able to think critically about music as a way of challenging (and changing) the world has been proven to be an essential skill in contemporary cultural and artistic institutions. Students interested in critical thinking and its applications will become part of a strong community of students, doctoral students, and instructors working together on exciting and innovative research projects at two leading universities that are committed to diversity and inclusion through their research.



 Structure of the Study Program 🖉


The two-year MA program Music, Sound, Performance offers students interested in a dynamic and interdisciplinary study of musical performative cultures a reflective training in both current and innovative musicological approaches.

In the first year, you will learn how to master foundational musicological skills that will enable you to study the networks of music performance and its myriad related activities such as promoting, composing, instrument building, performing, improvising, producing, listening, recording, remembering, systematizing, or canonizing.

Throughout your second year you will learn how to better apply these skills outside the university lecture and seminar rooms. To help you with the everyday life challenges of the music and cultural industries, this MA offers you space where you can design and try out your project ideas. You will have two modules specifically designed to accommodate the ongoing debates and practical challenges involved in music dramaturgy and curatorial practice. Both modules are taught together with external partners and equip you with the specific knowledge and skills required to operate as a musicologist within a cosmopolitan, and culturally diverse musical landscape.

The program includes the following thematic emphases:

1st Semester: Introduction to musical performance theory and research, aesthetics of music performance, and methodologies of music research.

2nd Semester: Historiography, historicity, and music dramaturgy

3rd Semester: Music, sound, arts, media and curatorial practice, and research practice (colloquium)

4th Semester: Thesis



 Inspiring Context 🖉


A central benefit of studying in a higher education institution is the access to an exclusive network of scholars, artists, and curators who will help you starting your professional career. Our academic staff’s wide network of national and international contacts enables you to conduct research in Germany and other countries. We encourage you to expand your cultural horizons and support your experiences abroad through the university’s general commitment to the internationalization of students via the Erasmus program. Our departments will help you in establishing contacts with national and international leading institutions in the field of musicology; and we will support you in finding a suitable internship as part of the practical modules of the MA program Music, Sound, Performance.

At the Freie Universität Berlin, students will have the unique opportunity to be part of a vibrant and diverse student body and academic staff of the related disciplines of theater, film, and dance studies. The Department of Musicology at the Institute of Musicology and Media Studies at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin focuses on the phenomena of performance and music theatre in all conceivable forms. Its special quality lies in the fact that, in addition to Historical Musicology, it also includes Transcultural Musicology, Systematic Musicology and Popular Music Studies.

And last but not least, Berlin is one of the most vibrant places in the world regarding contemporary music theater, sound art, and interdisciplinary performance. In Berlin, music theater is not only performed in opera houses, but also curated in festivals, museums, and other institutions. As a vast, cosmopolitan, and diverse city, historically, Berlin has been the stage of continuous negotiations of performative spaces. Music, in its multiple cultural manifestations, has been performed in private and public institutions, on top of rubble and in bunkers, in private apartments or in public parks.



 After Graduation ... 🖉


You will possess a thorough knowledge of the field of musicology.

You will be able to bridge musicological research with artistic practice.

You will have acquired sophisticated knowledge of a research specialism either within the field of musicology, and/or an interdisciplinary subject.

You will know current trends in music and sound-related dramaturgical and curational studies and be able to relate them to broader societal questions.

You will have a profound knowledge of national and international musical infrastructure as well as funding institutions and be able to apply this knowledge in your day-to-day work.



 Career Prospects 🖉


The interdisciplinary approach of the MA program Music, Sound, Performance offers students a vital edge in rapidly changing professions. In an increasingly digital and global world, employers in the cultural and artistic areas value the intellectual dexterity that is necessary to adapt to the challenges that digitization and globalization bring to the fore.

This MA program qualifies students for jobs specializing in music, sound and musical performance in opera houses, festivals, concert halls, theaters, museums and other cultural institutions. Students who graduate from this program will also be qualified to pursue professions in the areas of cultural communication and management, journalism and cultural management, production and communication, radio, television, the Internet, the music industry, archives and publishing houses (e.g. as curators, music mediators, dramaturges, cultural managers, editors, critics) as well as for academic or artistic-scientific doctoral studies.

Cooperation with partners from the music field throughout the program will help you to establish contacts for internships and future job possibilities throughout your studies.



 Requirements for Enrollment 🖉


In order to qualify for enrollment in the MA program Music, Sound, Performance it is required that students acquired a minimum of 20 credit points in Musicology or Musicology-related courses throughout their BA studies.



Classes are taught in English and German. Term papers can also be written in both English or in German. For enrollment, a C1 diploma in the German language is necessary.



Students from abroad can apply for funding via the DAAD, Fulbright or the Deutschlandstipendium.



The program starts in the winter semester 2023/24. The enrollment period runs from 15 April to 31 May. Applications are to be submitted exclusively via the application portal of the FU Berlin:



 Further Information / Contact 🖉


If you have any questions about the program, please contact


Online Info Events

13 February 2023, 7 pm

14 March 2023, 6 pm

26 April 2023, 6 pm (in English)

15 May 2023, 6 pm

Registration via