German Folk Song Archive

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Magazine building of the German Folksong Archive at Rosastraße 17 in Freiburg im Breisgau

The German Folk Song Archive was founded in 1914 and was integrated into the Center for Popular Culture and Music in February 2014, thus becoming part of the University of Freiburg . The traditional name Deutsches Volksliedarchiv has since been used to describe the extensive collections of folk songs , traditional and popular songs, which are being maintained and expanded in the newly created center and are freely accessible to the public. Before 2014, the German Folk Song Archive was an independent scientific research institute of the state of Baden-Württemberg in Freiburg im Breisgau .


The facility was founded in 1914 by the German scholar and folklorist John Meier (1864–1953).

The historical reason for setting up this archive was the need to collect folk songs, document them and publish them in a complete scholarly edition ( realized for the ballads between 1935 and 1996).

John Meier's folklore and Germanistic company was scientifically modern at the time, in particular the recourse to empirical methods (active collecting) that were still new at the time . However, it was grounded by national and popular educational efforts, so the cultural heritage of the ancestors should be restored to the people uprooted by modernity. Meier rejected contemporary light music ( operettas , hits ), but was nevertheless collected within the framework of the theory of the "popular art song". During the period of National Socialism and the Second World War , the German Folksong Archive continued its collecting, documentation and editing activities. Ideologically, the national and popular educational accents laid out in 1914 were strengthened, but Meier did not use racist or anti-Semitic tones. During the war efforts were made to incorporate the archive into the University of Freiburg, but this step was not taken.

After the founder of the archive died in 1953, the institute was taken over by the state of Baden-Württemberg as a research facility (with the collections and a specialist library). The legal basis was a donation agreement : Meier had given the state his scientific library and collections, while the institute building - Meier's former home - was purchased by the state of Baden-Württemberg and left to the archive until 2011.

Since the 1960s, the scientific spectrum has expanded, both in terms of the material base and in terms of research questions. In particular, the political song and the songwriting scene moved into the scientific focus. A new and comprehensive modernization was implemented in the 2000s, above all by incorporating contemporary musical culture and turning to media issues. At the same time, new publications were brought out: the two online-based lexica Historisch- Kritisches Liederlexikon (2005 ff.) And the Songlexikon . Encyclopedia of songs (2011 ff.). At the same time, the series Popular Culture and Music (edited by Michael Fischer and Nils Grosch) was re-established, supplementing and expanding the older series of folk song studies .

In 2010 the German Musical Archive (as a legally dependent unit of the German Folk Song Archive) was founded in order to provide a research basis for popular music theater ; his work is supported by a circle of friends and sponsors. An international pop music archive is under construction . In 2011 the institute was recognized by the German Research Foundation as an “outstanding research library” and the establishment of a “pop music archive” was financially supported.

At the turn of the year 2011/12, the research institute moved into new rooms with an area of ​​1,000 square meters (previously only 400 m² were available in the former home of Meiers) and new equipment in Rosastraße in Freiburg. These rooms have recently been supplemented by a separate external magazine.

Until 2014 it was formally a "subordinate authority of the state to the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts". In March 2014, the Ministry of Science decided to integrate the German Folk Song Archive into the University of Freiburg. As a center for popular culture and music, it continues its work in the field of popular music there .

Collections, Documentation and Library

The archive has extensive historical and current collections of material on popular songs and popular music, in particular around 250,000 song specimens, the core of which was collected through a collection campaign carried out in all German-speaking regions (1912 to 1930). 3,000 documents alone come from the First World War . Next to the center hosts a number of special collections, such as to soldiers' songs , the workers music culture or individual song media (song pamphlets , handwritten and printed song books ). There is now an extensive collection of records , around 20,000 singles with popular music and a unique library of music from the 19th century with around 10,000 items. The collections have been under monument protection since 2013 .

See also


  • Otto Holzapfel : The German Folk Song Archive Freiburg i. Br. Lang, Bern 1989.
  • Michael Fischer: pamphlet and folk song. On the history of the collection and holdings in the German Folksong Archive. In: Albrecht Classen, Michael Fischer, Nils Grosch (Hrsg.): Cultural and communication-historical change of the song in the 16th century. Münster 2012, pp. 57–71.
  • Michael Fischer: Reconstruction and Deconstruction. The edition “German folk songs with their melodies” (1935–1996) and the online publication “Popular and traditional songs. Historisch-Kritisches Liederlexikon ”(2005 ff.). In: Song and Popular Culture. Yearbook of the German Folksong Archive , 54 (2009), pp. 33–61.
  • Michael Fischer: 100 Years of the German Folk Song Archive - Foundation of the Center for Popular Culture and Music. In: Song and Popular Culture / Song and Popular Culture. Yearbook of the Center for Popular Culture and Music 59 (2014), pp. 9–18. Available online at: Digitalisat

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. On the history of the German Folk Song Archive up to 1945 cf. Otto Holzapfel: The German Folk Song Archive Freiburg i. Br. Bern 1989 (2nd edition 1993).
  2. Cf. on this: Waltraud Linder-Beroud: From written to oral? Investigations into the interdependence of individual poetry and collective song. Frankfurt 1989, pp. 59-71.
  3. See John Meier: Kunstlieder im Volksmunde. Materials and research. Halle 1906, reprinted Hildesheim 1976.
  4. On the first attempts at modernization in the late 1990s, cf. Otto Holzapfel: Oral tradition and literary studies. Münster 2002, pp. 85-92.
  5. On the more recent folk song debate in connection with the German Folk Song Archive, cf. Tilman Spreckelsen's contribution: Good people have songs. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Frankfurt, May 20, 2012, p. 57.
  6. On the recent development of the German Folksong Archive, cf. Otto Schneckenburger: "We are not a museum for folk songs". Now also with pop music and much larger: The German Folk Song Archive is on the move. In: Der Sonntag, Freiburg, February 26, 2012, p. 3.
  7. Julia Littmann: From the Villa to Modernity In:, Lokales, Freiburg, December 14, 2011 (December 20, 2011).
  8. Folk song archive : Old house in Silberbachstraße is sold , Julia Litmann, Badische Zeitung, March 2, 2012, accessed March 6, 2012.
  9. ^ Center for Popular Culture and Music. Retrieved August 2, 2014 .

Coordinates: 47 ° 59 ′ 54.1 ″  N , 7 ° 50 ′ 41.9 ″  E