The choral life in the cities of Bern and Fribourg in the long nineteenth century

During the 19th century, a great number of music and choral societies were founded all over Europe, giving rise to a choral movement that fostered not only communal singing, but also patriotic feelings. In Switzerland, this movement involved numerous men’s choirs that had a strong liberal and patriotic character. This patriotism, however, could not be based on cultural, linguistic or ethnic unity, but called for the integration of the four cultures that make up Switzerland. With its songs and festivals, the Swiss choral movement became a crucial element in this integration process. Yet despite its significance, this movement remains largely ignored by recent scholarship. There is a lack of research on the movement as a whole and principally of specific knowledge about the choral life in different places. The cities of Bern and Fribourg for example have different languages, religions, and traditions. To what extent did their choral life differ from or resemble one another? 

By answering this question, CLEFNI aims to understand how choral activities influenced the social and political life in these cities and contributed to the development of a sense of national belonging between the cultures that make up Switzerland. The objective is to better understand the historical circumstances and the specific conditions that allowed multicultural understanding. CLEFNI will critically analyse sources in archives of 19th-century choral societies in terms of their musical, social, and political contexts, and of their gender dimensions. Findings will be discussed in view of existing research on the 19th-century choral movement, on musicology, and on related disciplines like sociology and history.

CLEFNI is conducted by Dr. Caiti Hauck at the Institute of Musicology of the University of Bern

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 833366.

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