Roland Eberlein

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Roland Eberlein (born October 19, 1959 in Trossingen ) is a German musicologist .

Live and act

Eberlein studied musicology in Göttingen , Gießen and Cologne . He received his doctorate in 1988 , followed by his habilitation in 1996 . In 1994 he was a visiting professor at the University of Hamburg . After the Bologna reform came into force , he no longer sought a professorship. He has been a board member of the Walckerstiftung for organ research since 2005 and has been managing its business since 2011. In 2008 Eberlein founded Siebenquart Verlag, which specializes in scientific books on the musical instrument organ .

Today he works as a publisher, freelance scientist and lecturer at the University of Cologne . His research focuses on musical perception, the development of tonality and the history of the organ .

Roland Eberlein comes from the Silesian pastor family Eberlein as the great-grandson of Gerhard Eberlein (1858–1923). He is married to Jutta Eberlein geb. Schulz; they have two sons.

Scientific contributions

Eberlein initially dealt with experimental research into musical perception. In the course of his experiments, he came to the insight that pattern recognition plays an essential role in musical perception: Frequently recurring melodic twists and harmony sequences are stored as harmonic-melodic interval patterns in the course of musical experience in youth and henceforth recognized in newly sounding music. The recognition of patterns enables, on the one hand, the build-up of continuation expectations (e.g. with dissonances and sixth chords ) as well as the closing effect of cadences and, on the other hand, the perception of tones at octave intervals as harmonically equivalent.

Building on these insights, Eberlein described the development of the typical harmonic sequences of tonal music in the course of music history and tried to justify every single step of this development as part of a circular process: Whatever kind of musical practice forms the musical perception of the musician by the recurring musical Patterns are learned and thereby expectations of continuation are formed. Based on the resulting musical perception , rules of the theory of music are formulated. Generations or even centuries later, these rules can interact in completely unforeseen ways and profoundly change the musical practice that then exists. These changes in turn lead to a changed musical perception and new rules of the theory of music - and so on. This sphere of activity is influenced on the one hand by perceptual universals and on the other hand by intellectual history , i.e. the intellectual currents and tendencies present at a given point in time.

After the publication of the habilitation thesis The Development of Tonal Sound Syntax in 1994, Eberlein turned to organ history. His scientific work in this field is characterized by the attempt to combine the many individual findings that have been gained since around 1930 in countless research work on individual organ builders and the organ history of individual regions into an overall picture of the history of the organ. In organ circles, Eberlein became known in particular for his lexicon of organ registers, organ registers, their names and their history , which is regarded as a standard work, as well as for his history of the organ , the first comprehensive German-language account of the history of the organ from its beginnings to the present, which has been published in Has appeared in book form.

From 2004 onwards, Eberlein was one of the first to draw attention to the organ world in letters to the editor, lectures and numerous articles of the increasing aging of the organ audience, the dwindling interest of the younger generations in the organ and the resulting consequences: discontinuation of concert series, lack of young organists, neglect of Organs, decline of the organ workshops. Eberlein postulates the steadily growing gap between the traditional repertoire of organists, which has not changed for decades, and the musical preferences of broad strata of society, which have changed rapidly over the past few decades, as one of the main reasons for this development . He is therefore committed to adapting the organ repertoire to the changing musical tastes of our time.



  • Theories and experiments on the perception of musical sounds. Frankfurt / M. 1990.
  • Cadence Perception and Cadence History. A contribution to a grammar of music. Peter Lang, Frankfurt / M. 1992.
  • The emergence of tonal sound syntax. Peter Lang, Frankfurt / M. 1994.
  • Organ stops, their names and their history. Siebenquart, Cologne 2008.
  • My organ history treasure chest. Daniel Kunert Services, Unterlüß 2010.
  • The history of the organ. Siebenquart, Cologne 2011.


  • Ars antiqua: harmony and dating. In: Archives for Musicology . 43, 1986, pp. 1-16.
  • Premodal notation. In: Archiv für Musikwissenschaft 55, 1998, pp. 175–194.
  • Proportions in music of the 17th century, their meaning and execution. In: Archiv für Musikwissenschaft 56, 1999, pp. 29–51.
  • Social background of the ban on parallel fifths. In: Musikwissenschaft - Musikpraxis , Festschrift for Horst-Peter Hesse on his 65th birthday. Mueller-Speiser, Anif / Salzburg 2000, pp. 38-53.
  • About the origin of the covered organ stops. In: Ars Organi 49, 2001, no. 3, pp. 151-156.
  • The sif flute - the background of an inconspicuous organ register. In: Ars Organi 50, 2002, no. 3, pp. 146-150.
  • About the origin of the repeating mixtures. In: Ars Organi 51, 2003, no. 3, pp. 155-161.
  • Imagine the organ is playing and nobody goes there. On the situation of the organ in Germany at the beginning of the 21st century. In: Hermann J. Busch † and Roland Eberlein (eds.): The organ - who should play it, who wants to hear it? Report on the 11th Colloquium of the Walcker Foundation for Organ Science Research from 8th – 3rd November 2005 in Bremen. Walcker Foundation for Organ Research, 2012, pp. 7–27.
  • Make new out of old - make old out of new. Trends in register development 1920–40. In: Hermann J. Busch † and Roland Eberlein (eds.): Between post-romanticism and organ movement. Report on the twelfth colloquium of the Walcker Foundation for organ research from September 19-20, 2008 in Karlsruhe. Walcker Foundation for Organ Research, 2011, pp. 41–59.
  • Two cultures give and take - historical interrelationships between French and German organ building with regard to registers. In: Hermann J. Busch † and Roland Eberlein (eds.): German and French organ art and organ building art - divergences and convergences. Report on the thirteenth Colloquium of the Walcker Foundation for Organ Research from September 3rd to 4th, 2009 in Amsterdam. Walcker Foundation for Organ Research, 2012, pp. 7–21.
  • Popular music on the organ - a new trend? In: Roland Eberlein (ed.): Original and arrangement in organ music. Report on the fourteenth Colloquium of the Walcker Foundation for Organ Science Research on April 13-15. October 2011 in St. Florian / Linz. Walcker Foundation for Organ Research, 2011, pp. 22–35.


Notes and individual references

  1. Sarah Mund, Precarious Employment Conditions on Campus. Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger edition Tuesday, October 11, 2016, p. 19.
  3. ^ Book publications by Siebenquart Verlag., accessed on December 21, 2016 .
  4. ^ R. Eberlein, The emergence of tonal sound syntax , Peter Lang, Frankfurt / M. 1994, pp. 36-43.
  5. ^ R. Eberlein, The emergence of tonal sound syntax , Peter Lang, Frankfurt / M. 1994, pp. 326-348.
  6. A short version was published on the Internet, see
  7. Numerous articles by Eberlein on this topic can be found at and

Web links