History of KUG

In 1815, the Musikverein für Steiermark as it is known today, was founded as “Akademischer Musikverein” by 30 budding middle class graduates studying at the University of Graz which was run as a lyceum at that time. The statutes of this association, which have been revised several times in the meantime, stipulated concert and educational activities already in the year of its foundation: music education of young people in Styria was one of the main objectives of the association, first by sponsoring an already existing vocal school.


The Association School (1816 – 1939)

In 1816, the association announced to open its own vocal school: the vocal school of the “Akademischer Musikverein” in Graz began with education and, therefore, it is considered Austria’s oldest institute of musical education and nucleus of today’s University of Music and Performing Arts Graz.

In winter term 1818/19 first lessons were given in training classes (“schools”) for voice and wind instruments as stipulated in the first statutes of the association. After the establishment of the vocal school in 1818 the schools for woodwind and brass instruments were established in 1819 after successful selection of applicants announced in the “Wiener Zeitung” which is common practice still today. In March 1819 instrumental education was supplemented by a double bass class. Therefore, in the school year of 1819, 100 students, also known as “Zöglinge”, received free musical education at the “schools” of the Musikverein. Excellent students were given special rewards, as they are still today. Apart from rewards presented by the association other bonuses were given also by external sponsors.

The fact that Archduke Johann, brother of Habsburg Emperor Franz I at that time, accepted patronage of the Musikverein in 1819 emphasizes the social and pedagogical importance of this middle class association and gave a major impetus to the development of the association school during his 40 years of patronage. On May 25, 1859 the Musikverein commemorated its great benefactor and patron by performing Mozart’s “Requiem”: Archduke Johann died on May 11, 1859 in his city palace, Palais Meran, on Leonhardstraße 15, today headquarters of the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz.

Preserving, and even expanding and enhancing the music schools were and remained the “most favoured” goals of the “Steiermärkischer Musikverein” renamed in 1821 which considered itself as an institution for the entire territory of Styria then. In 1820, music director Franz Eduard Hysel opened the first violin school following the educational examples of the well established Conservatory of Paris. In the very same year (1820), the first lessons were given in the newly established violoncello school. A proposal made in 1822 to establish a so-called “vocal theatre school” did not win approval.

Financial shortages of the association had also negative effects on the association school later on: in lack of its own building the Musikverein held classes at primary school on Färbergasse 11, the so called “normal school” at that time. After 1831 the school for figured bass and chorale, central concern of the association already since 1819/20, was only offered to candidates of normal school (preparatory college for teachers, also for church music). For almost ten years there were no brass band music schools (1833 to 1842), and even double bass and cello schools could not be maintained continuously. Lessons in voice and violin schools, however, were never discontinued. Interventions by the imperial patron Archduke Johann ensured continuing financial support of the Musikverein by the Estates and, as a result, the survival of the association schools. Lessons were still given free of charge. In addition, the use of the association library (founded in 1861) was free of charge for members, as well.

In October 1862, new school regulations came into force for the association’s music schools. According to them, limits to the number of students to be admitted would have to be introduced for the first time ever, and a teacher conference would have to be held once a month, and teaching success would have to be assessed in annual exams, public performances and a final “concert of students”. The acquisition of theoretical knowledge was considered obligatory for “educated” musicians. The proposal made by the stadtholder’s office to nominate a board of examiners in Graz for music teachers in state schools and for private music teachers did not come into effect. Lessons could be started just after a positive probation period of four weeks and was fixed to 6 years. For the first time ever, a tuition fee had to be paid from 1869 on. In 1870, the first teacher for harmony and composition was hired: Ferdinand Heinrich Thieriot, one of the most respected composers, cellists and piano teachers in Hamburg who was also entrusted with the advertised office of artistic director of the association.
When the 60th anniversary of the association schools was celebrated at the end of term 1876, the number of students already increased to 267. Half of the total income of the Musikverein was already spent for the association’s music school.

The school examiners of the later years, Friedrich von Hausegger, musicologist from Graz, and composer Erich Wolfgang Degner, an experienced music teacher from Germany, later he became director of the Weimar Music School (today the University of Music “Franz Liszt”), extended the number of studies by executing a series of reforms: in March 1888 the first piano school was opened with Carl Osske from Weimar (owing to the great interest in winter term 1888/89 the number of schools was increased to five. At these schools not only Liszt’s student Karl Pohlig was a teacher but also four teacher trainers –  Amalia Deutsch, Marianne Augustin, Amelie von Kirchsberg and Sophie von Schmid-Schmidfelden). In addition, a conducting class, organ music and trombone were added to the syllabus, and theoretical education was deepened. Later on the enlarged program of studies allowed establishing an orchestra of students capable of playing major symphonic works in public. For the first time ever professional musicians were allowed to attend advanced training courses at the association’s music school. The idea of creating in Graz a “German Academy of Music” as per draft statutes worked out between 1884 and 1886 by the president of Musikverein, Dr. Ferdinand Bischoff, was no longer pursued.

In the meantime, the Musikverein could dispose of its own building with a rehearsal room from term 1889/1890 on: the bank “Steiermärkische Sparkasse” acquired the building of the former second state grammar school on Griesgasse 26 and had it adapted to fit the needs of the Musikverein. The grammar school moved to a new building on Lichtenfelsgasse. Before, the Musikverein’s administration office had rented an office on Burggasse 9 at Palais Dietrichstein (also known as “Fraideneg’sches Haus”) where rehearsals could be held in its state hall. Concerts were given at Redoutensaal of the Theatre of Graz and at the Rittersaal of the Landhaus which houses today the provincial parliament of Styria. Since 1885 the Musikverein für Steiermark and the association’s music school had at their disposal the Stefaniensaal, the newly built concert hall of the Steiermärkische Sparkasse where public events could be held.

At the turn of the century, the number of students increased steadily (more than 400). Students did not only come from France or Russia. The excellent reputation of the Grazer Musikvereinsschule attracted also students from Turkey, Egypt or America as the School Reports’ statistics about nationality of students show. One of the students was the later opera singer at Hofoper and music teacher Amalie Materna from Styria who was trained here and was not only discovered by Richard Wagner for Bayreuth where she sang the first “Brünnhilde” and the first “Kundry” but she performed also at MET in New York in 1884 and 1885.
Special importance was attached also to the promotion of mobility of local students of the association: in 1901, the Graz born composer Heinrich von Herzogenberg, teacher of composition at the University of Music in Berlin established a grant for further violin studies in Berlin. A few years earlier, in 1873, a fund was established with the financial contribution out of the inheritance of the former student of the association and violin virtuoso Louis Eller. Its returns were supposed to promote further violin studies at music schools abroad, as well. Among the beneficiaries of this grant was the former student of the association’s music school, Marie Soldat-Roeger, in 1889 who, by recommendation of Johannes Brahms, was able to continue her studies with Joseph Joachim, director of the Königliche Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. This violin virtuoso from Graz very soon became well known in public, especially with her ladies string quartet established in 1887.

Owing to the reforms initiated by Erich Degner it was possible to convert the association’s music school into a renowned higher institute of education for professional musicians in compliance with the requirements of that time.

Between 1911 and 1931, Roderich von Mojsisovics, director of the Musikverein, continued successfully the pioneering work of his teacher of composition, Erich Degner. He established a seminar in theory of music and a new class for composition. For him, the fostering of Styrian history of music was a major task of the association. He held lectures about this subject and encouraged the publication of research results in the seminars of theory of music. Like his predecessor, he attached special importance to the appointment of excellent teachers and artists. In 1912, concert pianist Hugo Kroemer, renowned worldwide already at that time, was called in from the Conservatory of Gdansk to hold lectures at the Grazer Musikvereinsschule at which also the internationally acclaimed concert violinist Karl Krehahn had been teacher since term 1893/94.

During the administration of Mojsisovics all required preconditions were met so that the Provincial Government of Styria decided by decree of April 11, 1920 that the association’s music school would be entitled to use the title “Conservatory”.

As for the organisation of the final exams of the studies a fundamental change was made in 1923/24. Exams regarding the qualification of teachers at a certain level were separated from exams regarding artistic qualifications enabling candidates to perform in concerts, to compose or to conduct in public. Term 1925/26 saw the introduction of new two-year studies for the education of catholic church organists and of choir conductors, two-year studies for professional opera choir musicians, a two-year lecture of “aural training” and a preparatory course, characterized in the School Report of 1925/26 as “contemporary and appropriate”. In the framework of opera choir classes the first opera performance took place in term 1926/27: opera choir singers perform solos in public. In parts, this can be considered the start of the opera class which had been demanded by director Mojsisovics as early as in 1911.

At this time, almost 600 students were studying at the Grazer Musikvereinskonservatorium which, as place of training, started to take over also the concert activities of the association at that time. The main mission of the Musikverein was now the expansion of the conservatory. Despite the time of depression this task could be carried out successfully on account of the financial support provided in particular also by former students, like violin virtuoso Hugo Kortschak who had been teacher in the  United States since 1907.

By decree of the Federal Ministry of Education, the association conservatory was invested with public rights in 1934, first for one year, then for five years. School leaving exams of the private school were recognized as state exam (disallowed in 1938 like in case of all private schools). Apart from vocational training the Provincial Government of Styria entrusted the association conservatory in 1936 with the responsibility for the entire music education of amateurs in Styria. At that time, the director of the conservatory was Hermann von Schmeidel (1933 to 1945) who started to reorganize music education in Styria following the German model.


Provincial Music School, Provincial Conservatory (1939-1963)

Effective April 1, 1939 the conservatory was separated from the Musikverein and taken under the umbrella of the administration of the Province of Styria as “Steirische Landesmusikschule Graz”. The provincial music school was supposed to offer training for professional musicians (structured in five departments: orchestra, instrumental, voice, opera and conducting school), while the State University of Music Education in Graz Eggenberg after its opening in winter term 1939/40 was supposed to offer education for music teachers at secondary schools (“Institute of School Music”) and at music schools and for private music lessons (“Seminar for teachers and directors at music schools for the youth and the people and for private music teachers”). In addition, a four-semester course was established for folk and youth music directors. The Music School for the Youth and the People was opened in Graz on October 15, 1938 and took charge of the elementary music training of young people. For financial reasons it was merged with the Landesmusikschule in 1940 (Volks-Musikschule Graz).

As from 1939/49 the Musikverein für Steiermark was just used as concert office.

By decree of the Provincial Government of Styria, the Steirische Landesmusikschule was run with public funds as “Steiermärkisches Landeskonservatorium mit der Volks-Musikschule Graz” after 1945 while the State University in Eggenberg was dissolved. Günther Eisel, graduate of the former association conservatory became the first director of the Conservatory of the Province of Styria while the Provincial Government of Styria entrusted the director of the municipal music school in Kapfenberg, Erich Marckhl, with the office of director of the “minor” seminar of music education in 1948. Marckhl’s first attempt to establish a full course for school music in 1951 was not approved. In 1953, three classes were finally approved at the Conservatory of Graz while the final fourth class had to be done at the academy in Vienna. Opera school (opera drama class) continued to develop well when headed by Franz Mixa since 1938 (between 1952 and 1957 he was also director of the provincial conservatory). Multiple award winning opera singer and music teacher, Kammersängerin Hertha Töpper, is one of the best known discoveries of the opera school of Franz Mixa.

At the beginning of term 1958/59 the Steiermärkisches Landeskonservatorium was entrusted with school statutes by decree of the Provincial Government of Styria of April 28, 2009 (GZ. 6-372/I St 12/2-57) whose conditions and study regulations mainly conformed to the general regulations of a university of music with overall direction by a director, structuring in specialized groups presided by an elected head, participation of teacher trainers in the teacher conference, elaboration of new syllabi by specialized groups, standardized examinations. The mission of the conservatory, the so-called “training school” was to offer vocational training and advanced education to musicians and music teachers within the individual specialised groups. The target of the Volksmusikschule Graz was to offer elementary and preparatory education, the fostering of music for the youth and for amateurs. According to the particularities of the Austrian acts on schools of the art at that time the provincial institute was a private school under public law.
The last important step leading to the advancement of the Steiermärkisches Landeskonservatorium to a state academy was fulfilled by the approval to establish a full course for school music at the conservatory and a federal board of examiners for the teaching of music at secondary schools and teacher training institutes at the University of Graz (vice-president Erich Marckhl) by the Federal Ministry on May 29, 1961 (Zl. 62.606-5/61): the studies for future teachers of music were combined with a teacher training at Karl-Franzens-Universität in Graz.


The Academy / College/ University of Music and Performing Arts Graz  (as of 1963)

On June 1, 1963 this issue became federal. The Conservatory of the Province of Styria (without the Folk Music School Graz) became a federal institution, viz. the “Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Graz” (Amendment to the Act on Academies of the Arts 1962, Federal Law Gazette 190 of July 5, 1962). The organisation statutes of the Graz Academy came into force in November 1964. The first president was Erich Marckhl. In the so-called “Academy Contract” of June 1, 1963, concluded between the Federal Government and the Province of Styria, the former city palace of Archduke Johann, Palais Meran on Leonhardstraße 15 (without auxiliary buildings!), was under discussion to become the future headquarters, and financing issues were clarified. Until the final move to Palais Meran in term 1970/71 the president’s office and lecture rooms remained in the building of the former Landeskonservatorium on Nikolaigasse 2 (before Griesgasse 26).

The Volksmusikschule Graz carried on as a provincial music school and later on became the Johann-Joseph-Fux Conservatory Graz, Nikolaigasse 2.

With the Act on the Organisation of Colleges of the Arts of 1970 the academy was transformed into the College of Music and Performing Arts in Graz. The presidential constitution without a certain field of autonomy and without elected academic authority was in effect until then but, as a consequence of this transformation, it was replaced by the rectorial constitution in force at universities. It came into effect on May 18, 1971 through the election of Friedrich Korcak to the first rector of the College of Music and Performing Arts in Graz.
After Friedrich Korcak who served a second four-year term, Otto Kolleritsch became rector in 1979 (until 1987) who was elected rector again after the term of rector Sebastian Benda (1987-1991) and remained in office for several terms until 2007.

Since the time when the Act on the Organisation of Colleges of the Arts has come into force in 1983 the College of Music and Performing Arts has the right to award an academic title to graduates from all degree programs, viz. “Magister / Magistra artium”. Beforehand, the college was entitled to do so since 1974 just for graduates from the fields of study “Music Education” and “Instrumental Music Education” for teachers at secondary schools.

Effective January 15, 1986 the study plan to obtain a doctorate in philosophy (Dr.phil.) and natural science (Dr.rer.nat.) came into force. This study plan was passed by an interuniversity study commission of the University of Graz (faculty of philosophy and science) and of the College of Music and Performing Arts in Graz. This was also when the right to confer doctor degrees as per the 1983 Act on Studies at Colleges of the Arts came into force.

On June 21, 1991 the first solemn doctoral degree ceremony took place at the College of Music and Performing Arts in Graz.

With the beginning of term 1998/99 the six Austrian Colleges of the Arts were transformed to universities. After the Federal Act on the Organisation of Universities of the Arts (KUOG ’98) has come into effect on October 1, 1998, the “College of Music and Performing Arts in Graz” is now called “University of Music and Performing Arts Graz”, KUG for short (University of the Arts Graz). The transformation into a university gave reason to celebrate a party on September 30, 1998 under the motto “Discharge into University”.

As a consequence of the university reforms in 1993 (UOG ’93 for scientific universities) and in 1998 (KUOG ’98 for universities of the arts) every university in Austria is entitled to adopt its own statutes on account of its autonomy. In term 1999/2000 the university council - the supreme council of the University of the Arts Graz which was constituted on June 22, 1999 - fixed the mission and reorganisation of the University of the Arts Graz on the basis of the statutes established by it. The number of university council members – 18 representatives of the curia of professors, 9 representatives of the curia of the non-professorial teaching staff, 9 student representatives and, for the first time, 2 representatives of the curia of administrators – was fixed by the “old” general council of the College of Music and Performing Arts in Graz on March 9, 1999. In the course of term 1999/2000 the 17 new institute conferences and the 11 study commissions were elected and constituted on the basis of these statutes. On June 7, 2000, O.Univ.Prof. Dr. Otto Kolleritsch, the only candidate suggested by the university council to the university assembly, was elected first rector in compliance with KUOG for a term of four years. The KUOG 1998 came into force on October 1, 2000.

KUOG created also the possibility to habilitate at universities of the arts. The first habilitation procedure at a university of the arts in Austria was accomplished in 2002 at KUG. Owing to an amendment to the University Studies Act all studies of the arts were integrated in the law on university studies as of August 1, 1998 after the Act on Studies at Colleges of the Arts adopted in 1983 orientated itself on the general University Studies Act to a quite large extent. New for universities of the arts are the reduction of the length of studies (as a rule minimum duration was reduced from 16 to 12 semesters), the combination of fields of studies, and the increased integration of artistic and educational studies.

For interuniversity studies (doctoral study of philosophy and natural science, diploma studies of electrical engineering / audio engineering) and for the diploma studies of music education and instrumental music education study plans were approved as per October 1, 2001 in accordance with UniStG. The study plans for bachelor and master studies of conducting, catholic and protestant church music, composition and theory of music as well as for the diploma studies of stage design followed as per October 1, 2002 while the study plans for the bachelor and master studies of instrumental, instrumental (vocal) teaching, jazz and voice as well as the diploma studies of performing arts followed as per October 1, 2003. On October 1, 2006 the study plans for the interuniversity bachelor and master studies of musicology came into force. In June 2007, the study group for fields of studies was set up for the doctorate of the arts (Dr. artium) to be established anew.

On October 1, 2002 the Federal Act on the Organisation of Universities and their Studies (University Act 2002 – UG 2002) came into force except for the part related to the law on university studies. The UG 2002 came into full effect at all Austrian universities and universities of the arts on January 1, 2004. This was also the date when the part related to the law on university studies came into force. With the UG 2002 the universities became a legal person under public law with full legal capacity. UG 2002 caused the complete reorganisation of the laws of organizations, of the laws on university studies and of laws governing employment issues, and brought about budgetary responsibility. The managing body in accordance with UG 2002 are the university council, the rector’s office, the rector and the senate. The university council of the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz was set up on March 20, 2003 and consisted of 5 members and was chaired by Ao.Univ.Prof. Dr. Willibald Plessas. Other members for a term of office of five years are: Prof. Dr. Dieter Glawischnig, Hans Martschin, Mag. Katharina Cortolezis-Schlager (replaced by DDr. Reingard Rauch in 2006).

On May 9, 2003, em.O.Univ.Prof. Dr. Otto Kolleritsch was elected first rector in accordance with UG 2002. The new rector’s office of KUG consisted of the rector and of three vice-rectors (Hofrat Dr. Hermann Becke, Ao.Univ.Prof. Dr. Renate Bozic and Ao.Univ.Prof. Mag. Mag. Dr. Georg Schulz), and took office on October 1, 2003. The term of office is four years. Senate elections took place in October 2003 while the elections of the study commission to be established in compliance with UG 2002 took place in November 2003. Also the statutes to be established anew according to UG 2002 passed in December 2003 and came into effect as per January 1, 2004. In May 2004 the final organization plan of KUG replaced the temporary organization plan valid since January 2004. In October 2006, a new senate was elected. Its term of office is three years and began in November 2006, and so did the three-year term of office of the newly elected study commission.

On March 10, 2007, Ao.Univ.Prof. Mag. Mag. Dr. Georg Schulz was elected rector for the next four years of office by the University Council of KUG (October 1, 2007 to September 30, 2011). The new vice-rectors elected by the University Council on May 21, 2007 were Mag. Doris Carstensen (Vice-rector for Quality Management, Personal Development, Gender Mainstreaming), O.Univ.Prof. Dipl.Ing. Mag. Dr. Robert Höldrich (Vice-rector for Arts and Science), Univ.Prof. Mag. Eike Straub (Vice-rector for teaching). On March 20, 2008 the term of office of five years of KUG’s newly elected University Council began. In its constituent session on April 22, 2008 DDr. Reingard Rauch was elected chairperson. Other members were: Dr. Georg Casper, tit.Univ.Prof. Dr. Manfred Straka, Mag. Ute Riedler-Lindthaler and O.Univ.Prof. Erwin Ortner who was rector of the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna between 1996 and 2002.

The busy building activities of the last few decades were finished in August 2008 for the time being. This date marked also a highlight: the House of Music and Music Drama on Lichtenfelsgasse, MUMUTH for short. After two and a half years of construction, (ground-breaking ceremony on March 7, 2006) this building will be opened to KUG as a place of education. According to schedule, the official inauguration will take place on March 1, 2009 with Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” and a “Soirée for Otto Kolleritsch”. Since the first year of studies in 1963/64 top priority for space requirement planning was attached to a building for classrooms offering also “concert halls” as the idea was. This was a central concern to all rectors ever since, starting from the first president Erich Marckhl (1963-1971) up to long-term rector Otto Kolleritsch (1979-1987, 1991-2007) in particular. For the construction of a building for classrooms the first rector, Friedrich Korcak, succeeded in 1976 in acquiring real estate on Brandhofgasse neighbouring the main building of Palais Meran. The first building, also known as “Neubau”, was designed by the Viennese architect Klaus Musil and was opened in 1993 (Neubau II, university library, completed in 2000). For the required halls no appropriate location could be found until then. By acquiring and remodelling the former stables belonging to the Palais Meran, rector Otto Kolleritsch found a temporary solution in 1986 to establish the so-called “Theater im Palais”, T.i.P. for short.
Thanks to the painstaking efforts of rector Otto Kolleritsch it was possible to construct finally an extension building on the area of the former Palais Meran on the site of a tax office building erected in 1957 on Lichtenfelsgasse. This was the extension which, for decades, had been sought for to enable KUG students to go public, and which provides the appropriate framework: MUMUTH. The design by Dutch architect Ben van Berkel was the winning project of an international competition held in 1998.
Since 2007 the former cavalry barracks on Leonhardstraße 82 located in the vicinity of the main building of Palais Meran on Leonhardstraße 15 has complemented the university campus.

In Oberschützen in Southern Burgenland, a branch of the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Graz at that time was set up in 1965 under President Erich Marckhl. This branch in Oberschützen has its own head, course and exam guiding service and library. Together with the cultural centre of Oberschützen it is located at the Kultur- und Hochschulzentrum Oberschützen established in 1984. Since KUOG 1998 has come into effect, this branch has been integrated in the new organizational structure as an individual institute, Institute 12.