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Dr. Christoph Müller-Oberhäuser

source: privat



+49 (0)30 3185 2314

Fasanenstrasse 1 B, room 305, D-10623 Berlin

Short CV

Christoph Müller-Oberhäuser studied music and history at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln and at the University of Cologne. In January 2020 he finished his PhD project on the history of choral competitions in 19th-century Germany. During his studies he was awarded scholarships by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne. His PhD project was funded by the German Research Foundation.

After completing his PhD he held a position as research assistant in a project on musical picture postcards at Osnabrück University. Since October 2020 he has been teaching and conducting research at the Berlin University of the Arts. His main interests are the social and cultural history of music with a special focus on the 19th and 20th centuries, the history of music in the Rhineland, the history of musical competitions, men’s studies and the relationship between music and photography. In his current research project he is investigating representations of contemporary history on European opera stages in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Publications and Papers

(A) Publications (selection)

2022Chorwettbewerbe in Deutschland zwischen 1841 und 1914. Traditionen - Praktiken - Wertdiskurse (= BzAfMw 86), Stuttgart 2022.
2021„Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven einer Erforschung musikbezogener Konkurrenzen“, in: Die Tonkunst 15 (2021), S. 248–260 [in cooperation with Tobias Werron].
2016„Musizieren für den Dombau. Musiker und Männergesangvereine im Dienste der Domvollendung (1842–1880)“, in: Kölner Domblatt 81 (2016), S. 121–155.
2016Die Musikaliensammlung Leibl. Neukatalogisierung der Musikalien der Kölner Domkapelle des 19. Jahrhunderts auf der Grundlage des Katalogs von Gottfried Göller (= Libelli Rhenani, Bd. 66), Köln 2016 [in cooperation with Stefan Klösges].
2015„… zur Verherrlichung des Festes …“ Die Musik beim Kölner Dombaufest 1848 (= Libelli Rhenani, Bd. 65), Köln 2015.


(B) Conference papers (selection)   

2023'Un-German events? - German Choirs and International Choral Competitions in the 19th Century", International Conference "Competition & Music", Berlin, 8–10 June 2023.
2022„Musikalische Grüße aus dem malerischen Irland - Michael W. Balfes Killarney auf der Bildpostkarte“, Conference „Hören und Sehen. Konzert-Symposium für Susanne Fontaine zum 60. Geburtstag“, Berlin, 15/16 July 2022.
2021„Zwischen Kunst und Geschichtsschreibung: Überlegungen zum Musiktheater mit zeitgeschichtlicher Thematik“, International Conference „(Un)Populäres Musiktheater! Patriotismus auf der Bühne 1789–1830“, Cologne, 12 February 2021.
2019„Zwischen künstlerischem Anspruch und Volksliedideal – Zur Geschichte der Chorwettbewerbe in Deutschland zwischen 1841 und 1914“, Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Musikforschung, Paderborn/Detmold, 23–26 September 2019.
2019„Hegemoniale Männlichkeit im Bild – Zur (Selbst-)Darstellung von Männergesangvereinen auf Postkarten um 1900“, Workshop „Klingende Bildkörper. Performanzen von Musik und Geschlecht in visuellen Kulturen“, Cologne, 25/26 April 2019.
2017„Musikbezogene Leistungsvergleiche im 19. Jahrhundert im deutschsprachigen Raum“, Workshop „Historische Soziologie des Rankings“, Bielefeld, 23 October 2017.
2016„‚Musikalisches Getöse im Hause Gottes!‘ Ergebnisse und Erkenntnisse aus der Neukatalogisierung der Musikaliensammlung Leibl“, 7. Handschriftensymposium in der Erzbischöflichen Diözesan- und Dombibliothek, Cologne, 26 November 2016.

Current Research Projects


(1) Contemporary history on European opera stages (1945–2000)

Since the 1980s topics of contemporary history have increasingly found their way onto the opera stage. This is true first of all for the US (e.g. with the operas of John Adams) and somewhat later also for Europe. In my postdoc project I will first trace the social and political conditions under which events of contemporary history could be presented on stage. Second, on the basis of a corpus of music theatre works I will examine how the concrete transformation of (real) events into stage action and above all into music was realised by different composers/librettists/directors. Third, the question of the acceptance of this type of opera in Europe is addressed. The focus of my research is on operas in which real public life personalities are shown as protagonists on stage. One important focus of my research is the search for 'new' heroes and heroines. In the last winter term (2022/23) a lecture series on the figure of the hero/heroine in music took place at the Berlin University of the Arts (LIVE Talk "Musical Heroes"), organised by my colleagues Susanne Heiter, Dorothea Hilzinger and myself. A thematic issue of the journal Die Tonkunst (02/2024) is currently being prepared in connection with this lecture series.


(2) Music & Competition

Competition and contests are regarded as extremely ambivalent in the field of music. On the one hand it is hard to imagine contemporary musical life and the biographies of many musicians without them. On the other hand they often meet with rejection even among those involved and are regarded as inappropriate for the artistic field. This raises the question of what is specific about competition in the field of music (e.g. in comparison to the field of sport) and how, from an historical perspective, this paradoxical situation has come about. In the winter term 2021/22 an online lecture series on this topic was held at the Berlin University of the Arts (LIVE Talk "Music & Competition"). This was followed by an international conference on "Competition & Music" from 8th to 10th June 2023, organised by Tobias Werron (Bielefeld University) and myself. Following on from the lecture series and the conference a publication edited by Tobias Werron, Lisa McCormick (Edinburgh) and myself is being planned.


(3) Music on picture postcards

In the last two decades picture postcards have been discovered in many disciplines as an interesting and relevant source especially for the period around 1900. This is also true for musicology. In connection with my former work at the University of Osnabrück in the project "Das visuelle Wissen von der Musik zwischen Deutschem Kaiserreich und Zweitem Weltkrieg" (directed by Dietrich Helms), I am interested in picture postcards with references to Irish music, the question of the significance of picture postcards for the dissemination of ideas of a musical canon, as well as in references to the medium itself in compositions and (pop) songs. As a result of the project a volume edited by Dietrich Helms, Jan Lehmann and myself with the title "Musik per Post" is in preparation and will be published by Böhlau-Verlag, Vienna, in late 2023/early 2024.