Hornbostel, Erich Moritz von

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HORNBOSTEL, ERICH MORITZ VON (1877–1935), musicologist. The son of a gentile father and the singer Helene Marcus, Hornbostel was born in Vienna, and worked with Carl Strumpf at the Psychological Institute in Berlin. In 1906 he went to the United States to study the music and psychology of the American Indians, and the same year became director of the Berlin Phonogram Archives. He was appointed professor in 1917 and from 1923 taught at Berlin University. Dismissed in 1933, he first became lecturer at the New School for Social Research in New York and in 1934 settled in England. Hornbostel was one of the founders of ethnomusicology (then called "comparative musicology") and, through his pioneering syntheses of what had until then been separate disciplines, a major influence on the formation of modern musicology.

Hornbostel's regional researches included studies of the music of China, Japan, India, and the Pacific and of American Indian cultures. Particularly important among the subjects of his many studies are those dealing with the cross-cultural implications of tuning systems, folk polyphonies, and the psychology of musical perception. In 1914 he published, together with Curt *Sachs, the "Systematik der Musikinstrumente" (reissued in English as "Classification of Musical Instruments" in the Galpin Society Journal, 14 (1961), 3–29), which has remained the basic classification system for the study of the musical instruments of the world.


mgg, s.v., Ethnomusicology (19593), index; B. Nettl, Theory and Method in Ethnomusicology (1964), index.