The History of the SIMPK and its Predecessor Institutions

The project “The History of the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung and its Predecessor Institutions” was conceived and carried out by the Musicological Documentation Department and funded by Germany’s Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media. Its purpose was to organize archival records relevant to the history of the institute from 1888 to 1945 – that is, from the establishment of the Musikinstrumentenmuseum (Museum of Musical Instruments) at the Königliche Akademische Hochschule für Musik (Royal Academy of Music), through the founding of the Fürstliches Institut für musikwissenschaftliche Forschung zu Bückeburg (Royal Institute for Musicological Research in Bückeburg), and to the closure of the Staatliches Institut für deutsche Musikforschung (State Institute for German Music Research) at the end of the Second World War. With this project, the SIMPK is helping to write the history of musicology in the first half of the twentieth century.

Source materials, handling and digitization

For the most part, the archival materials consist of administrative records from the predecessor institutions of the SIMPK and the correspondence that directors and executive offices of those institutions exchanged with artists and academics in the fields of music and musicology, staff working at libraries and museums, people involved in making musical instruments and private individuals. The SIMPK archives also contain other materials of various types and provenances that give further insight into the interests and pursuits of the institutions involved. The SIMPK acquired these historical records in 1992 when documents were returned to it from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Berlin State Library). There are significant gaps, however, as a result of files being moved during the Second World War and the subsequent retention of records by the Soviet Union. In many cases, the surviving documents had been removed from their original contexts. Over the course of the project, they were collated using the most recent versions whenever possible, neatly organized in groups and subgroups and then made searchable and retrievable. The few original filing systems that had been preserved served as points of reference in this process. Between July 15, 2013, and December 31, 2014, the archival records of the predecessor institutions of the SIMPK were examined, catalogued and digitized. Priority was given to the institute’s own records, but documents from other sources, such as the Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archives), the Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Secret State Archives) and the Niedersächsisches Landesarchiv (State Archives of Lower Saxony) were also processed. These records were digitized largely during the first half of 2014 and are gradually being incorporated into the digital collection of the project “The History of the SIMPK and its Predecessor Institutions.” This collection has exactly the same organizational structure as the physical archives. Users can browse through it according to predefined criteria such as provenance or subject matter or use the search filter to find specific items. It is also searchable via the Kalliope database.


The results of the project were also presented in the form of an exhibition curated by the project director, Falk Hartwig. Titled Heading Towards the Idyll – The Foundation of the Bückeburg Royal Institute for Musicology, it was part of a program of events and exhibitions commemorating the outbreak of the First World War (“1914. Awakening. World Breakup”) and was held at the Museum of Musical Instruments from November 2014 to April 2015.

Directly to the resources

Project information

Project team
Falk Hartwig M.A., Lars Bannatz (Archive employee), Norbert Lippold (Archive employee)

Project duration
July 2013 to December 2014


Carsten Schmidt

Head Librarian and Head of the Division for Musicological Documentation

+49 30 254 81 140