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Sachs, Curt

Sachs, Curt

Sachs, Curt , eminent German musicologist; b. Berlin, June 29, 1881; d. N.Y., Feb. 5, 1959. While attending the Gymnasium in Berlin, he studied piano and composition with L. Schrattenholz and clarinet with Rausch. He entered the Univ. there, where he studied music history with Oskar Fleischer, and also art history (Ph.D., 1904). He was active as an art historian until 1909 while receiving instruction in musicology from Kretzschmar and Wolf; then devoted himself to musicology, specializing in the history of musical instruments. In 1919 he became director of Berlin’s Staatliche Instrumenten Sammlung; also taught at the Univ. of Berlin, the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik, and the Akademie für Kirchen- und Schulmusik. In 1933 he was compelled to leave Germany; went to Paris as chargé de mission at the Musée de l’Homme; was a visiting prof. at the Sorbonne. In 1937 he settled in the U.S.; was a prof. of music at N.Y.U. (1937–53); also was consultant to the N.Y. Public Library (1937–52), adjunct prof. at Columbia Univ. (from 1953), and president of the American Musicological Soc. (1949–50).


Musikgeschichte der Stadt Berlin bis zum Jahre 1800 (1908); Musik und Oper am kurbrandenburgischen Hof (1910); Reallexikon der Musikinstrumente (1913); Handbuch der Musikinstrumentenkunde (1920; second ed., 1930); Die Musikinstrumente des alten Ägyptens (1921); Katalog der Staatlichen Instrumentensammlung (1922); Das Klavier (1923); Die modernen Musikinstrumente (1923); Geist und Werden der Musikinstrumente (1929); Vergleichende Musikwissenschaft in ihren Grundzügen (1930); Eine Weltgeschichte des Tanzes (1933; Eng. tr., 1937); Les Instruments de musique de Madagascar (1938); The History of Musical Instruments (1940); The Rise of Music in the Ancient World (1943); ed. The Evolution of Piano Music (1944); The Commonwealth of Art (1946); Our Musical Heritage (1948; second ed., 1955); Rhythm and Tempo: A Study in Music History (1953).


G. Reese and R. Brandel, eds., The Commonwealth of Music, in Honor of C. S.(N.Y., 1965).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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