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Curt Sachs (Conductor, Musicologist)

Born: June 29, 1881 - Berlin, Germany
Died: February 5, 1959 - New York, New York, USA

The eminent German musicologist; Curt [Kurt] Sach, while attending the Gymnasium in Berlin, studied piano and composition with L. Schrattenholz and clarinet with Rausch. He entered the University of Berlin, where he studied music history with Oskar Fleischer, and also art history (Ph.D., 1904). He was active as an art historian until 1909 while receiving instruction in musicology from Hermann Kretzschmar and Wolf.

Curt Sachs then devoted himself to musicology, specializing in the history of musical instruments. In 1919 he became director of Berlin's Staatliche Instrumenten Sammlung. He also taught at the University of Berlin, the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik, and the Akademie für Kirchen- und Schulmusik. In 1933 he was compelled to leave Germany; went to Paris as charge de mission at the Musee de I'Homme; was a visiting professor at the Sorbonne. In 1937 he settled in the USA; was a professor of music at New York University from 1937 to 1953. He also was consultant to the New York Public Library from 1937 to 1952, adjunct professor at Columbia University from 1953, and president of the American Musicological Society in 1949-1950.


Musikgeschichte der Stadt Berlin bis zum Jahre 1800 (1908)
Musik und Oper am kurbrandenburgischen Hof (1910)
Reallexikon der Musikinstrumente (1913)
Handbuch der Musikinstrumentenkunde (1920; 2nd edition, 1930)
Die Musikinstrumente des alten Ägyptens (1921)
Katalog der Staatlichen Instrumentensammlung (1922)
Das Klavier (1923)
Die modernen Musikinstrumente (1923)
Geist und Werden der Musikinstrumente (1929)
Vergleichende Musikwissenschaft in ihren Grundzügen (1930)
Eine Weltgeschichte des Tanzes (1933; English translation, 1937)
Les Instruments de musique de Madagascar (1938)
The History of Musical Instruments (1940)
The Rise of Music in the Ancient World (1943)
editor: The Evolution of Piano Music (1944)
The Commonwealth of Art (1946)
Our Musical Heritage (1948; 2nd edition, 1955)
Rhythm and Tempo: A Study in Music History (953)


Source: Bakerís Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (November 2007)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Paul Sacher

Artistic Director

Suite from BWV 65

Curt Sachs


BWV 65, BWV 189

Links to other Sites



G. Reese and R. Brandel, editors: The Commonwealth of Music, in Honorof Curt Sachs (New York, 1965).

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