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Patrick Becker

Dissertation project

Towards a “Musical Economy” of Socialism

This dissertation project deals with the relation between music and economy in so-called state socialism during the Cold War. The musical life of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria serves as a case study. The focus of the project lies on the differentiation of a musical discourse in the early post-war years by an appropriation of Soviet evaluation patterns, the constitution of tradition within the relative vacuum of a musical culture that sees itself confronted with the lack of a domestic classical music, and the reception of contemporary music theory in an international context. After the beginning of the Thaw in 1956, a “material discussion” breaks out that is primarily reflected in artist operas; finally, the period of late socialism appears as a crisis moment of the socialist musical life.

The project combines approaches of institutional and compositional history with discourse analytical methods and provides a significant broadening of current considerations in Cold War Studies by expanding the existing focus on the relationship between music and politics. The case study of music theatre in the People’s Republic of Bulgaria points to the interdependence of different forms of knowledge that do not only refer to the participation of music in socio-economical and political processes but refers to a music-specific knowledge. The view to mechanisms of canon constitution, marginalization, and compositional self-reflexion challenges both existing narratives of music historiography and the assumption of a necessarily technical constitution of art music during the 20th century.


Patrick Becker studied musicology, and German literature at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. As an awardee of the scholarship programme “Metropoles in Eastern Europe” of the German Academic Foundation and Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation, he conducted eight-months research stay in the Bulgarian capital Sofia in 2017/2018. He is a member of the editorial advisory council of the journal Positionen. Texte zur aktuellen Musik and supervises the editorial work of the Livestream-Project of “betont”, the label of the Berlin University of Arts. Research interests: history of music, music theory, and musicology (19th–20th century), music theatre, instrumental music, Cold War Studies.

His Master's thesis was awarded the Humboldt Prize 2019 on November 4th. More information


Please note: English translations are given in squared brackets.

Independent publications

“… näher ans Leben?” Volksmusik in der bulgarischen Nachkriegsavantgarde zwischen Prager Frühling und dem Zweiten Kongress des Komponistenverbands 1980 [“… closer to life?” Folk music and the Bulgarian Avant-Garde between Prague Spring and the Second Congress of the Composers‘ Union in 1980], Münster and New York, forthcoming.



“‘New Conceptualism’ and the Overcome of Postmodernism”, in: Old is New. The Presence of the Past in the Music of the Present, Lisbon, in peer-review.

“Institutionalized Exchange in the Contemporary Music Scene of the German Nations – Preliminaries and a Case-Study”, in: Ivana Medić and Patrick Žuk (eds.): Musical Legacies of State Socialism. Revisiting Narratives about Post-World War II Europe, New York and London, forthcoming.

“Otto Nebel’s Runic Fugues as multi-modal artworks between ‘musical poetry’, painting, and architecture”, in: Mirjana Veselinović-Hofman et al. (eds.): MUSIC / IMAGE: transpositions, translations, transformations…, Belgrade 2018 (Musicological Studies: Monographs, vol. 1), pp. 249–263.

“Darmstadt als Bauhütte: Historische und aktuelle Perspektiven auf die Internationalen Ferienkurse für Neue Musik” [Darmstadt as a masons‘ guild: Historical and current perspectives on the International Holiday Courses for New Music], in: Lithuanian Musicology 19 (2018), pp. 28–32.

“Contemporary Music Without Theory? Bulgaria’s Musicology and Its Relation tot he Bulgarian Avant-Garde in the First Three Decades of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria”, in: Bulgarian Musicology 42 (2018), issue No. 2, pp. 51–58.

“Ein Bild aus Bulgarien – Altes und Neues in der bulgarischen Avantgarde um 1970”, in: Kamelia Nikolova et al. (eds.): Пресичане на границите в изкуствата. Отвъд модерното и постмодерното [Crossing the Border in the Arts. Beyond the Modern and the Postmodern], Sofia 2018 (Art Studies Readings, vol. 14), pp. 118–127.

“Classic in Form, Formalist in Content? Konstantin Iliev’s Sonata Form and Dodecaphony in his Second Symphony” [Bulgarian as “Класическо по форма, формалистично по съдържание”? Сонатната форма и додекафонията на Константин Илиев във Втората му симфония], in: National Music Academy „Prof. Pancho Vladigerov“. Almanac 9 (2017), pp. 163–182 (Bulgarian original, pp. 183–202).

“Павшее поколение: Сравнение музыкальной жизни и композиторского творчества в Великобритании периода Первой мировой войны и России периода Второй мировой войны” [The Fallen Generations: A Comparison of Musical Life and Composing in First World War Great Britian and Second World War Russia], aus dem Deutschen übersetzt von Roman A. Nasanov, in: Двадцатыйвек: Музыкавойныимира [The Twentieth Century: Music of War and Peace], Moscow 2016, pp. 348–360.

“Produktionsmodell Realismus. Gedanken zu Bernd Stegemanns Buch Lob des Realismus” [Realism as a model of production. Thoughts on Bernd Stegemann’s Book ], in: Positionen 108 (2016), S. 38/39.


Articles in encyclopedias and handbooks

In: Hanns Werner-Heister und Wolfgang Sparrer (Hgg.): Komponisten der Gegenwart, München 1992ff. 
Konstantin Iliev, submitted,Vasil Kazandžiev, submitted, Lazar Nikolov, submitted.


Reviews and varia (extracts)

“Musikfestivals im 20. und 21. Jahrhundert” [Music Festivals in the 20th and 21st Century], in: Wolfgang Deicke and Monika Sonntag (eds.): Abschlussberichte Q-Tutorien Wintersemester 2017/2018 [Q-Tutorials: Final Reports Winter Semester 2017/2018], Berlin, forthcoming.

“70 Jahre Musikwissenschaft in der Bulgarischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (9.–11. Februar 2018)” [70 Years of Musicology at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (9th to 11th of February, 2018], conference review, in: Die Musikforschung

, uploaded by the Gesellschaft für Musikforschung at the 17th of August, 2018, URL: (as of: 27th of August, 2018).

“Mathias Spahlinger: Weltbezüge” [Mathias Spahlinger: Commitment to the World], book review, in: Positionen 116 (2018), pp. 52/53.

“Bálint András Vargas Der Komponisten Mut und die Tyrannei des Geschmacks” [Bálint András Varga’s The Bravery of Composers and the Tyranny of Taste], book review, in: Die Tonkunst 44 (2017), pp. 63–65.

Interview with Ivanka Stoïanova and Rosica Draganova in Сутрешно кафе [Morning Café] of the Bulgarian radio station Classic FM in Sofia (Moderation: Radostina Uzunova), live-production at the 10th of February, 2018 at 10:00am (duration: 45 min).

“Musikleben und -wissenschaft in der Nachkriegszeit” [The Musical Life and Musicology of Post World War II Germany], book review, in: Positionen 111 (2017), pp. 51–53.

“Fritz Trümpi und Simon Obert (Hgg.), Musikkritik. Historische Zugänge und systematische Perspektiven (= Anklaenge. Wiener Jahrbuch für Musikwissenschaft)”, book review, in: Die Tonkunst 11 (2017), issue no. 2, pp. 235–237.

“Belgrad: Neusichtung sozialistischer Realismus” [Belgrade: A New Perspective on Socialist Realism], conference review, in: Positionen 108 (2016), pp. 58/59.

“Drei Fragen an 73 Komponisten” [Three Questions for 73 Composers], book review, in: Positionen 106 (2016), pp. 50/51.

Zerknotete Zeit [Knotted Time], libretto for the homonymous composition for violoncello, percussion and audio guide by Ehsan Khatibi (premiere: 30th of November, 2015 in Berlin).

“Thinking Together – Konferenz und Diskurs” [Thinking Together – Conference and Discourse], conference and festival review, in: Positionen 103 (2015), pp. 41/42.

“Max Reger, Symphonischer Prolog zu einer Tragödie op. 108 (1908)” [Max Reger, Symphonic Prologue to a Tragedy op. 108 (1908)], in: Landesjugendorchester NRW (ed.), Ausbruch. Umbruch. Facetten musikalischer Moderne um 1910 [Outbreak. Upheaval. Facets of Musical Modernity around 1910], programme book, Düsseldorf 2014, pp. 26–29.


Lectures and talks (extracts)

“The Three Seasons: Prague Spring, World Youth Summer, and ‘Sofia Autumn’ – The Anti-Event, the Avant-Garde, and the Beginning of the New Folklore Wave in Bulgaria”, BASEES (British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies) Study day of the Study Group for Russian and East European Music, Department of Music, University of Bristol, 9th of November, 2018.

“Ästhetik als Doktrin, Ästhetik als System. Die ‚Institution‘ Sozialistischer Realismus und seine Institutionen – Ansichten aus dem Archiv” [Aesthetics as Doctrine, Aesthetics as System. The “Institution” of Socialist Realism and its Institutions – Impressions from the Archive], 31st Symposium of the DVSM e. V. (Dachverbands der Studierenden der Musikwissenschaft e. V.) „Music and Aesthetics – Old Questions, New Perspectives“, Department for Musicology and Media Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 8th of November, 2018.

“‘Absolute Polyphonie’ und ‘reiner Stil’. Ausprägungen der bulgarischen Avantgarde am Beispiel von Konstantin Ilievs Zweiter Symphonie (1951)” [“Absolute Polyphony” and “Pure Style”. Manifestations of the Bulgarian Avant-Garde through the Example of Konstantin Iliev’s Second Symphony (1951)], 18th Annual Congress of the GMTH (Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie) “Counterpoint – die-hard or essential? Continuities and Changes of a Compositional Discipline”, Hochschule für Künste Bremen, 5th of October, 2018.

“Auf der Suche nach der absoluten Polyphonie. Konstantin Ilievs Zweite Symphonie für Bläser, Schlagwerk, Harfe und Klavier (1951)” [In Search of Absolute Polyphony. Konstantin Iliev’s Second Symphony for winds, percussion, harp, and piano (1951)], guest lecture, Colloquium of the Department for Historical Musicology, Universität Hamburg, 11th of April, 2018.

“Contemporary Music without Theory? Bulgaria’s Musicology and Its Relation to the Bulgarian Avant-Garde 1944–1974”, Scientific Conference „Bulgarian Musicology in Retrospect and in Perspective (70 years of Musical Studies at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences)“, Sector „Music“, Institute of Art Studies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, 11th of February, 2018.

The Living Icons – The Old and the New in Bulgaria’s Avant-Garde during the 1960s”, International Conference „Art Readings 2017. New Art Module: Crossing Borders“, Institute of Art Studies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, 4th of April, 2017.

“‘New Conceptualism’ and the Overcome of Postmodernism”, International Conference „Old is New. The Presence of the Past in the Music of the Present“, Centro de Estudos de Sociologia i Estética Musical, Lisbon, 24th of November, 2016.

“Reception of Contemporary Music by Right- and Left-wing Political Movements during Weimar Republic”, International Conference „Music Criticism 1900–1950“, Institut d’Estudis Catalans, Barcelona, 19th of October, 2016.

“Otto Nebel’s Runic Fugues as multi-modal artworks between ‘musical poetry’ and painting”, 13th International Conference of the Department of Musicology, Faculty of Music, University of Belgrade, Serbia, 14th of October, 2016.

“Does contemporary music need virtuosity?”, Interdisciplinary Symposium “Virtuosity”, Franz-Liszt-Music Academy, Budapest, 5th of March, 2016.

“Die Automatisierung des Salons”, International Bilingual Conference “The European Salon: Salon Music in the 19th Century”, Music Department, University of Maynooth, Ireland, 4th of October, 2015.

“Institutionalised cultural exchange in the contemporary music scene of the German nations 1961–1992”, Conference “Musical Legacies of State Socialism: Revisiting Narratives about Post-World War II Europe”, Institute of Musicology, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Art, Belgrade, 25th of September, 2015.

“Synchronization of movement and gestural communication in Jazz improvisation” (in cooperation with Lisa Krüger), International Conference of Students of Systematic Musicology (SysMus15), Leipzig, Germany, 18th of September, 2015.

“The fallen generations – A comparison of musical life and composing in First World War Britain and Second World War Russia”, International Conference “20th Century. Music of War and Peace”, Tchaikowsky-Conservatory, Moscow, 24th of April, 2015.

“The Opera Experience – Applying a Multimodal Theory of Music Performance”, posterpresentation, Joint International Workshop “Mathemusical Conversations. Mathematics and Computation in Music Performance and Composition”, Institute for Mathematical Sciences, National University of Singapore and Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, Singapore, 13th to 15th of February, 2015.