Helmut Kirchmeyer

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Helmut Kirchmeyer 2005 Helmut Kirchmeyer (2005).png
Helmut Kirchmeyer 2005

Helmut Franz Maria Kirchmeyer (born 30 June 1930 in Düsseldorf, Germany) is a German musicologist, philologist, and historian.



After grammar school he studied musicology, German literature and philosophy at the University of Cologne, where he presented what is probably the first thesis in Germany on a living composer, Igor Stravinsky, in 1954. [1] He then studied legal affairs, concentrating on medieval law and legal history, criminology and sociology in Cologne and church history at the University of Bonn.

Starting in 1947 he attended classes at the Robert-Schumann-Institut in Düsseldorf (whose director he became in 1972), Franzpeter Goebels (piano) and Jürg Baur (composition) were among his teachers, later Bernd Alois Zimmermann introduced him to instrumentation.

In 1982 he qualified as a university lecturer on musicology and musicological media studies at the University of Düsseldorf, he taught musicological bibliography and history at the Institut für Fachbibliographie in Cologne, and musicology at RWTH Aachen University, at the Rheinische Musikschule  [ de ] in Cologne, at the University and at the Robert Schumann Hochschule in Düsseldorf, at the latter he founded the first musicological institute at a German college of music, whose first head he became.

For years he worked as a critic; he worked for GEMA, edited the Instrumentenbau-Zeitschrift, developed programmes for the Westdeutscher Rundfunk. He founded the Düsseldorf College of Music. In 1962 he initiated and developed the record label and series on classic and contemporary German music WERGO, together with German art historian Werner Goldschmidt (1903–1975), [2] [3] hence the name: Wer[ner] Go[ldschmidt]. He also founded Ars Gregoriana, containing the largest documentation of Gregorian chant (more than 500 pieces on 33 LP/CD).

He supported contemporary music and was in touch with many contemporary composers. Herbert Eimert, the founder of the first electronic studio who died in 1972, bequeathed his letters (about 400) to him. [4] [5]

During his time at the Robert Schumann Hochschule, the Partika-Saal for orchestra rehearsals and chamber concerts was built there, which was awarded the title "exemplary artistic building". The crypt below it was decorated by Emil Schult, and Karlheinz Stockhausen composed the piece 50 Klangbilder as musical illustration of Schult's work. [6]

Private life

Helmut Kirchmeyer and his wife Eva in Darmstadt, 2005 Helmut and Eva Kirchmeyer.png
Helmut Kirchmeyer and his wife Eva in Darmstadt, 2005

Kirchmeyer married Eva Maria Berke in 1966. They have four children and five grandchildren. In 2020, Kirchmeyer and his wife established the Kirchmeyer Family Foundation that consists of a collection of non-European instruments, about 200 exhibits from Africa, Asia and Australia, that was put together by the Kirchmeyer family over the course of several decades and is now on display at the Ausbildungskorps der Bundeswehr [7] in Hilden.


Kirchmeyer has received the following medals and awards:

In 1992 Kirchmeyer was appointed Corresponding Member of the Saxonian Academy of Sciences in Leipzig, Germany. [11]


Kirchmeyer's studies are strongly influenced by bibliographical, legal and philological approaches, and by the thoughts of music ethnographer Marius Schneider  [ de ], Kant and Jaspers.

For the first time in German musicology, Kirchmeyer used newspapers and journals as sources for establishing what he calls "Situationsgeschichte", a mosaic picture of the past by combining contemporary evaluations of minute events with almost criminological assessment of their relative reliability. The thus established historical picture enables understanding of musical history as a sequence of minute historical-cultural situations and protects historical events as well as pieces of art from distorting (polemic or apologetic) approaches.

Kirchmeyer's books on Stravinsky (1958) and Wagner (1972) were highly successful. In the former he connected monographical and biographical elements to form a new type of "ergography", which in 2002 he systematically followed up in his bibliography of the works of Stravinsky. Since its publication, Kirchmeyer has been working on his documentary on Wagner criticism again and he has begun to write his memoirs.

Selected bibliography



  • (Grundreihe 1–18: Einführung in den Gregorianischen Choral [Doppelplatte], Tractus, Graduale, Alleluia, Antiphon, Responsorium / Prozessionsgesänge, Introitus, Communio, Offertorium, Kyrie, Gloria, Credo / Kantillationen, Sanctus / Agnus Dei, Hymnus, Tropus, Sequenz, Reimoffizium, Litanei / Passion;
  • Supplementreihe I–XII: Martinsmesse, 3 Weihnachtsmessen [Dreierplatte], Stephanusmesse, Ostermesse, Pfingstmesse, Marienmesse, Totenmesse, Mariendonker Marien-Offizium [5 Platten: Erste Vesper / Komplet I, Matutin, Messe, Laudes / Mittagshore Sext, Zweite Vesper / Komplet II];
  • Appendixreihe A–C: Ergänzungsplatte Justus ut palma, Brautmesse, Friedensmesse) mit ausführlichem Begleit-, Noten-, Text- (lateinisch-deutsch) und Informationsmaterial, mit ausgewählten mittelalterlichen Quellentexten (lateinisch/griechisch-deutsch) und wissenschaftlichen Begleitaufsätzen (Schallplattenausgabe) bzw. viersprachigem (lateinisch, deutsch, französisch, englisch) Textheft (CD-Ausgabe), Motette Ursina Verlag Düsseldorf (Schallplattenausgabe 1985 bis 1995; CD-Ausgabe seit 1992ff.), see also: Winfried Schrammek: "Zur Ars gregoriana von Helmut Kirchmeyer", in Arbeitsblätter der Kommission für Kunstgeschichte, Literatur- und Musikwissenschaft der Sächsischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, Nr. 10.

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  1. Homepage von Prof. Dr. Helmut Kirchmeyer: "Lebenslauf" (Accessed 6 September 2012).
  2. Wendland, Ulrike (2 August 2011). "Goldschmidt, Werner". Biographisches Handbuch deutschsprachiger Kunsthistoriker im Exil (in German). Walter de Gruyter. pp. 219–220. ISBN   9783110965735.
  3. "Eine Menge Mut", Der Spiegel , 4 April 1966 (in German)
  4. Kirchmeyer, Helmut (1998). Kleine Monografie über Herbert Eimert. Stuttgart: Hirzel Verlag. ISBN   3777609250.
  5. Kirchmeyer, Helmut (2009). "Stockhausen's elektronische Messe nebst einem Vorspann unveröffentlicher Briefe aus seiner Pariser Zeit an Herbert Eimert". Archiv für Musikwissenschaft . 66: 234–59.
  6. [Helmut Kirchmeyer, Hans A. Hutmacher, Emil Schult, Karlheinz Stockhausen] (2011). Symbolik einer Krypta. Düsseldorf: Droste Verlag GmbH. ISBN   978-3-7700-1477-4.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. Homepage at https://www.bundeswehr.de/de/organisation/streitkraeftebasis/organisation/streitkraefteamt/zentrum-militaermusik-der-bundeswehr/ausbildungsmusikkorps-der-bundeswehr
  8. Melos/NZ für Musik (in German). Schott Music (Robert-Schumann-Gesellschaft). 1: 491. 1975.{{cite journal}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. "Bekanntgabe von Verleihungen des Verdienstordens der Bundesrepublik Deutschland – Das Verdienstkreuz am Bande" (PDF). Bundesanzeiger . Federal Minister of Justice (Germany). 38 (18): 987. 28 January 1986. ISSN   0344-7634.
  10. 1 2 3 4 Schulte, Hagen D. (August 2010). "Seiner Energie verdankt die Hochschule ihren Rang". Das Tor. 76. 8: 15.
  11. "Mitglieder seit der Gründung 1846". Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  12. Kirchmeyer, Helmut (1958). Igor Strawinsky – Zeitgeschichte im Persönlichkeitsbild. Regensburg: Gustav Bosse-Verlag. p. 792.
  13. Kirchmeyer, Helmut (1962). Liturgie am Scheideweg. Regensburg: Gustav Bosse Verlag. p. 62.
  14. "Ars Gregoriana". Disc Records and CDs. Motette Verlag.