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History of the Department of Musicology

LMTA Department of Musicology was established in December 3, 2020, by the resolution of the LMTA Council by merging LMTA Departments of Music History (active in 1945-2020) and Music Theory (active in 1949-2020).  

Music theory and music history was the branches of musicology reflecting the musical traditions of Lithuania as historically linked to German and Russian musicology. The origins of Lithuanian musicology date back to the 17th and 18th centuries when music as a subject was taught at Vilnius University and when Professor Žygimantas Liauksminas (Sigismundus Lauxminus) and the university graduates N. Diletsky and W. Tylkowski wrote their theoretical works; when, in the beginning of the 19th century, J.D. Holland, a German composer and theorist, established and ran the Department of Musicology where composition was taught and the students learned to play musical instruments supervised by outstanding educators.

Rising interest in issues related to music began towards the end of the 19th century. Even during the period of the Lithuanian press ban, the first national Lithuanian newspaper Aušra, edited by Jonas Basanavičius and printed in Tilsit, published Lithuanian songs and wrote about collections of folk songs.

In the first half of the 20th century, alongside the formation of a professional Lithuanian music school, the first stirrings of professional musicology started to develop quickly thanks to input by the composers J. Naujalis, M. Petrauskas, Č. Sasnauskas, S. Šimkus, M. K. Čiurlionis, J. Gruodis, V. Jakubėnas, V. Bacevičius and others. Not only did these composers create music, they also wrote about issues surrounding musical life and music theory.

The background for the training of professional musicologists in Lithuania started to develop in 1933, following the establishment of the Kaunas Conservatoire, but it was only in 1949, after the merger of the Kaunas and Vilnius Conservatories and the foundation of the Lithuanian State Conservatory, that the Department of Music Theory as an independent department was established.

Research in the field of musicology mainly focused on studies of musical folklore, which took place in the Folklore Laboratory in 1948. A new impulse for research in musicology was prompted by the Theory Laboratory, established in 1964.

Academic staff of the Department of Music History in 1980 (c) LMTA

The Departments of Music History in both the Vilnius and Kaunas Conservatoires were established in 1945. In 1949, the merger of the conservatoires led to the establishment of the Conservatoire of Lithuania (now the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre), and the Department of Music History founded there were active until 2020. Alongside with the Department of Music Theory, the Department of Music History was the main venue in Lithuania for training highly skilled music scientists and educators in the fields of music history and theory. The teachers and graduates of the Department are involved in scientific work, employed in various scientific and educational institutions, institutions for the dissemination of music values, and music activity organisation and administration.

For a long time, the scientific interests of the Department of Music History were almost exclusively confined to Lithuanian music. It was in the 1960s that such a focus went beyond Lithuanian music and culture. In 1981, the doctoral candidate (PhD) degree council was established and operated until 1990. In 1992, doctoral studies were launched and the Department was entitled to grant doctoral and habilitated doctoral degrees.

Vytautas Landsbergis, a well-known Lithuanian politician, was for a long time an educator at the Department of Music History.

The teachers of the Department of Musicology contribute their work to the musical activity of Lithuania, participate in international conferences and write scientific papers, monographs, etc.

The trends of contemporary scientific research cover a fairly wide range of topics from church music, the national style, composers and studies of individual genres to complex theoretical and historical problems. The works of the teachers working at the Department have been published in the prestigious magazines Lietuvos muzikologija (Lithuanian Musicology), Menotyra (Art Studies) and others.