Dr. Kurt Dorfmüller (28 April 1922 – 16 June 2017)

"RISM owes a great debt of gratitude to Herr Dorfmüller for his long-time service as a member of the Commission Mixte and as chair of his Advisory Research Committee." So wrote the then-president of the Association Internationales Quellenlexikon der Musik e.V., Harald Heckmann, in 1998.

The Advisory Research Committee, under Dorfmüller's leadership beginning in 1973, was concerned with planning and carrying out the project A/II: Music Manuscripts after 1600, for which the cataloging standards had to be determined. Dorfmüller was probably asked to join the Association during this time. In the Association's register, he is listed as a co-opted board member beginning in 1988. He was likely named to the Board of Directors three years previously, as the minutes from the Membership Meeting on 13 February 1988 suggest, after which he was again co-opted into the Board.

It must also be noted that he participated in the conception of a libretti project, although this never played out on an international level.

In 1998, Dorfmüller requested to give up his membership in the Association, and while doing so he gave an appraisal of series B. Afterwards, two volumes appeared under his aegis and several others had been prepared to such an extent that their publication was soon possible. Harald Heckmann showed his appreciation of him at the time: "Herr Dorfmüller played a large role in the conception of series A/II, which took its professional shape not least thanks to Dorfmüller's forward-thinking planning. More recently, he oversaw series B and in tireless negotiations with the authors about the details assured that the balance of the diverse series was preserved." In recognition of his service to RISM, he was made an honorary member of the Association.

Dorfmüller was head of the Music Department of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek and as such became responsible for the RISM working group in West Germany beginning in May 1963. This working group was the second-oldest RISM working group (after the first one, the French working group, was founded in Paris), having been founded in 1953 and which had been under the leadership of Hans Halm.

His unfailing commitment to the needs of the West German office first culminated in the foundation of the association RISM e.V. in Munich, the sponsoring organization of RISM in West Germany, on 20 June 1967. The presidency of the Association was even taken up by the director of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, an act that conveyed a deep bond between the project and the library and which lasted a long time. Dorfmüller was vice president from 1967 to 1969 and after that he served as secretary.

At the inaugural meeting of the pan-German RISM Association on 18 July 1991, Dorfmüller was elected president, a position he gave over to a representative from the Dresden office in 2000, and he remained for four additional years as the vice president before stepping down completely when he was already over 80 years old.

Kurt Dorfmüller was active in RISM for over 40 years and provided intensive support to the project, for which we are extremely grateful.

RISM and both of the sponsoring associations owe much to Dr. Dorfmüller. We will always cherish his memory.

Members of the Association Internationales Quellenlexikon der Musik e.V. have expressed their condolences upon hearing of the death of Kurt Dorfmüller:

Massimo Gentili Tedeschi (Italy): "He is really a part of our story, and a piece of our lives that goes away with him."

Elizabeth Giuliani (France): "Je m'associe au témoignage de Massimo pour exprimer mon émotion à cette nouvelle. Kurt Dorfmüller présidait la Commission de catalogage et m'y accueillit lors de mon premier "congrès annuel" de IAML à Salzbourg."

Catherine Massip (France): "La nouvelle de la disparition de Kurt Dormüller m'attriste profondément. Il a été parmi les toutes premières personnes à m'accueillir avec une grande bienveillance dans les congrès de l'AIBM à partir de 1977. J'avais la plus grande admiration pour ses travaux qui restent un modèle pour des générations de musicologues. La sagesse de ses jugements et son ouverture d'esprit étaient également une source d'inspiration. Avoir eu le privilège de le rencontrer fait partie de tout ce que le RISM a pu nourrir de rencontres et d'amitiés enrichissantes au fil des dernières décennies."

José Vicente González Valle (Spain): "Es tut mir sehr Leid vom Tod des guten Freundes Dr. Dorfmüller zu hören. Der liebe Gott sei mit ihm, dem guten Musikwissenschaftler und Menschen, der mild und gütig war."

Photograph by Juan Martin Koch.


Category: In memoriam

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