CLEFNI – The choral life in the cities of Bern and Fribourg in the long nineteenth century

During the 19th century, a great number of music and choral societies were founded all over Europe, giving rise to a choral movement that fostered not only communal singing, but also patriotic feelings. In Switzerland, this movement involved numerous men’s choirs that had a strong liberal and patriotic character. This patriotism, however, could not be based on cultural, linguistic or ethnic unity, but called for the integration of the four cultures that make up Switzerland. With its songs and festivals, the Swiss choral movement became a crucial element in this integration process. Yet despite its significance, this movement remains largely ignored by recent scholarship. There is a lack of research on the movement as a whole and principally of specific knowledge about the choral life in different places. The cities of Bern and Fribourg for example have different languages, religions and traditions. To what extent did their choral life differ from or resemble one another? By answering this question, CLEFNI aims to understand how choral activities influenced the social and political life in these cities and contributed to the integration of the Swiss peoples. The objective is to better understand the historical circumstances and the specific conditions that allowed integration and multicultural understanding. CLEFNI will critically analyse sources in archives of 19th-century choral societies in terms of their musical, social and political contexts and of their gender dimensions. Findings will then be discussed in view of existing research on the 19th-century choral movement, on musicology and on related disciplines like sociology and history.

Commencement Date / Completion DateSeptember 2019 - August 2022
Contributors Dr Caiti Hauck (Principle Investigator)
Funders [69] Historisches Institut, Universität Bern
Publications Hauck, Caiti (8 July 2019). Choral repertoire and Swiss national identity in the nineteenth century: Bern and Fribourg in comparison and contrast (Unpublished). In: International Musicological Society Intercongressional Symposium "Agency and Identity in Music". Lucerne, CH. 7 - 10 July 2019.

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