History of the Institute

Director of Institute


History of the Institute

It's the magic of music.
It is also an instrument,
to forget the world
and understand it.

Daniel Barenboim

The Kurt-Singer-Institute for Music Physiology and Musician's Health (KSI) was founded in 2002 at the University of the Arts Berlin (UdK) and the Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin (HfM).

Name patron is the Jewish physician and musicologist Kurt Singer, who headed a medical counselling centre at the Musikhochschule in Berlin from 1923 to 1932. This makes him the successor of surgeon Moritz Katzenstein. In addition, he held a teaching position for musicians’ diseases. He was released from his duties with the seizure of power by the Nazis and died in Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1944. The musicians’ medicine specialist Prof. Dr. med. Dipl. Mus. Alexander Schmidt has headed the institute since 2014.

In East Berlin/GDR, the medical care of musicians, dancers and artists was provided in the ambulatory Berlin stages, including examinations of their performance and fitness. In addition to a directly responsible company doctor, orthopaedic surgeons, ENT specialists, ophthalmologists and dentists also worked there. The singers were examined in the Phoniatric Department of the University Clinic for ENT-Medicine of the Charité.

Prof. Dr. med. Christoph Wagner, one of the pioneers of music physiology, founded the "Institut für experimentelle Musikpädagogik" (Institute for Experimental Music Pedagogy) in 1974 as the first institute of this kind in Germany and Europe. His work was intended to clarify the relationship between music physiology and musical practice. From 1979 it was called the "Institut für Musikphysiologie" (Institute for Music Physiology).

The Berlin Institute is, beside the institutes in Hanover an Dresden, the third of the institutes for music physiology founded in Germany. With its name, it is reminiscent of Kurt Singer and his concern to give the health of musicians an important place in music education.

From 1987 to 1990, Dr. Hartmut Puls established the Department of Physioprophylaxis at the Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin, which was promoted by the first elected rector after the political turnaround, the pianist Professor Annerose Schmidt, as an elective compulsory part of the studies. As a result, the university was the first in Germany in which a movement subject became an obligatory part of the training of musicians.

Even before the foundation of the institute in 1996, a consulting session for musicians in and outside the university was set up at the former High School of Arts Berlin.

At the Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin the subject "Physioprophylaxis" (Dr. Hartmut Puls) was integrated into the curriculum as a sports therapeutic prevention offer.

In May 2002 the present institute was founded in cooperation between the University of the Arts Berlin (UdK) and the Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin (HfM).

    K. Singer

Kurt Bernhard Singer

* 11.10.1885, Berent (West Prussia)
† 07.02.1944, Ghetto Theresienstadt

Founding members were Prof. Dr. med. Helmut Möller (Director), Prof. Heide Görtz (Deputy Director), Prof. Dr. Ulrich Mahlert, Alexandra Müller, Prof. Markus Nyikos, Grazyna Przbylska-Angermann, Prof. Dr. Herbert Wiedemann (UdK), Prof. Kristin Guttenberg and Dr. Hartmut Puls (HfM). The establishment of such an inter-university institute was largely due to the dean of the former UdK Prof. Dr. Patrick Dinslage and the rector of the HfM Prof. Christhard Gössling.

The KSI bundled the various courses that had existed up to then and extended the range of courses to include medical / music-physiological counselling and support for music students, research into preventive measures and the management and supervision of the continuing vocational training course "Music Physiology in Artistic Everyday Life".

Since 2010, the KSI has been put on a broader basis on the initiative of Rector Prof. Weigle, the provisional head of the KSI Prof. Guttenberg and Alexandra Müller, and the Department of Audiology and Phoniatrics of the Charité under Prof. Dr. med. Manfred Gross, by including musicians’ medicine in a cooperation agreement with the Charité.

Prof. Dr. med. Tadeus Nawka, took over the provisional leadership in 2012 until 2014 Prof. Dr. med. Dipl. Mus. Alexander Schmidt was appointed.

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