Music and the Order of the World from Antiquity to the 19th Century

An International and Interdisciplinary Conference

Lübeck, 13.-15.10.2022

Deadline: 30.04.2022

Conference Team:
Prof. Dr. Christine Blättler, Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel
Professor Mor Segev, University of South Florida
Prof. Dr. Christiane Tewinkel, Musikhochschule Lübeck

Keynote lecture (October 14) by
Prof. Dr. Marietta Auer, MA, LL.M., SJD (Harvard), Max-Planck-Institut für Rechtsgeschichte und Rechtstheorie

An interdisciplinary conference to be held in Lübeck in October 2022 will discuss the question of how music and order are related, with a special focus on the centuries spanning classical antiquity and the ‘long’ 19th century. This opens up a historical panorama that points to themes and questions concerning musical grammar and its interaction with processes of performing and listening to music, music-related taxonomies, and subversive processes set in motion by music. Indeed, the panorama in question also comprises references to ancient ideas of a musica mundana, which, while not sounding itself, finds a counterpart in mathematically describable proportions as well as in systematic observations of the relationship between planets and “spheres”. The Pythagoreans already recognized a meaningful order in the movements of the celestial bodies that possibly becomes manifest in sound. Socrates, in Plato’s Republic, granted harmonics an important place in philosophical education as a counterpart to astronomy, and Aristotle assumed that musical education is indispensable for citizens of the ideal polis and their proper character development.

Music is therefore part of a world that has been created from formless matter through determination and order, a world that promises security and orientation. Conversely, this world remains confronted with conflict and the danger of dissolving into chaos. But is (musical) disorder the rule and (musical) order the exception? To what extent does the individual musical work depend on the tension between order and disorder, and even more, is the ambivalence of order possibly a constitutive momentum for the musical work? Also, what is the significance of historical concepts of rule and irregularity? Why, for example, does the ancient concept of a musically ordered world experience a comeback around 1800, and to what extent can we consider the transition to non-tonal music a transition from disorder to order, or from order to disorder?

We are inviting contributions from (classical) philosophy, history of science, musicology, and all other related disciplines. We explicitly wish to encourage younger scholars to participate. Please email a German or English abstract (max. 500 words) as well as a short CV (max. 300 words) to by April 30, 2022. Conference languages are German and English. Costs for travel and accommodation will be partially or even fully covered. Notifications will be sent out by June 30, 2022.