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Erich von Hornbostel

Party because his mother was a Jew. He moved rst

to Switzerland, then the United States, and nally to
Cambridge in England, where he worked on an archive
of non-European folk music recordings. He died there in

2 Contributions
Hornbostel did much work in the eld of
ethnomusicology, then usually referred to as comparative musicology. In 1906, he was in America to study
the music and psychology of the Pawnee people, Native
Americans in the state of Oklahoma; he had by that time
already studied the native music of Tunisia and of South
Sea Islanders.[2]
Hornbostels students include American composer Henry
Cowell. Hornbostel specializ in African and Asian music,
making many recordings and developing a system that
facilitated the transcription of non-Western music from
record to paper. He saw the musical tunings used by various cultural groups as an essential element in determinE. M. von Hornbostel
ing the character of their music, and did much work in
comparing dierent tunings. A lot of this work has been
Erich Moritz von Hornbostel (25 February 1877 28 criticized since, but in its time, this was a rarely explored
November 1935) was an Austrian ethnomusicologist and area. Hornbostel also argued that music should be a part
scholar of music. He is remembered for his pioneering of more general anthropological research.
work in the eld of ethnomusicology, and for the Sachs Hornbostel also contributed to the theory of binaural
Hornbostel system of musical instrument classication hearing, propose the theory of interaural time dierence
which he co-authored with Curt Sachs.
as the main cue, and developing sound localization de-

vices (for nding the directions to artillery, aircraft, submarines, etc.) for the German war eort during World
War I. With Max Wertheimer, he developed a directional
listening device that they referred to as the Wertbostel.[3]


Hornbostel was born in Vienna into a musical family.

The House of Hornbostel is a Saxon nobility. He studied the piano, harmony and counterpoint as a child, but
his PhD at the University of Vienna was in chemistry.
He moved to Berlin, where he fell under the inuence
of Carl Stumpf and worked with him on musical psychology and psychoacoustics. He was Stumpfs assistant at the Berlin Psychological Institute, and when the
archives of the Institute were used as the basis for the
Berliner Phonogramm-Archiv, he became its rst director in 1905. It was during his time there that he worked
with Curt Sachs to produce the SachsHornbostel system
of musical instrument classication (published 1914).

3 Selected works
Hornbostel, Erich M. von. 1910. ber vergleichende akustische und musikpsychologische Untersuchungen. Beitrge zur Akustik und Musikwissenschaft 5: 143-167
Stumpf, C. and E. v. Hornbostel. 1911. ber die
Bedeutung ethnologischer Untersuchungen fr die
Psychologie und sthetik der Tonkunst. Beitrge
zur Akustik und Musikwissenschaft 6: 102-115
Hornbostel, E. v.

In 1933, he was sacked from all his posts by the Nazi



ber ein akustisches

Kriterium fr Kulturzusammenhnge. Beitrge zur
Akustik und Musikwissenschaft 7: 1-20
Erich M. v. Hornbostel and Curt Sachs: Systematik
der Musikinstrumente. Ein Versuch. In: Zeitschrift
fr Ethnologie. Band 46, 1914, Heft 45, S. 553
Beobachtungen ber ein- und zweiohriges Hren.
In: Zeitschrift fr Psychologie und ihre Grenzwissenschaften. Band 4, 1923, S. 64114.


[1] Fritz Bose (1972), Hornbostel, Erich M. von, Neue

Deutsche Biographie (NDB) (in German), 9, Berlin:
Duncker & Humblot, pp. 633634
[2] James Mooney (1907). Anthropological Miscellanea.
American Anthropologist. American Anthropological Association. 9: 242. doi:10.1525/aa.1907.9.1.02a00240.
[3] Mitchell G. Ash (1998). Gestalt psychology in German
culture, 1890-1967: holism and the quest for objectivity.
Cambridge University Press. pp. 188190, 236238.
ISBN 978-0-521-64627-7.

External links
Short biography with links on digitized sources in
the Virtual Laboratory of the Max Planck Institute
for the History of Science


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