The Team

Prof. Dr. Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann


Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics

ECR Role: Investigator

Grüneburgweg 14

60322 Frankfurt am Main


Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann is the director of the music department at the Max Planck institute for Empircal Aesthetics in Frankfurt/M. since 2013. After graduating in musicology and ancient Greek in 2002 at Freie Universität Berlin she worked at the institute for musicology at Zurich University. There, she gained her PhD in 2005 and her habilitation in 2009. In 2010, she was appointed professor for musicology at the Music university in Lübeck. In 2011, she got a professorship for historical anthropology of music and music sociology at Humboldt University Berlin.

Her research centers mainly around questions of historical, theoretical and empirical music aesthetics, music sociology and semantics.

Research Statement

Within my general research activities on music aesthetics – theoretically, historically and empirically – I am especially interested in the aesthetic experience of music, its dimensions, qualities and measurability.

I am focusing on the question what aspects of this experience are determined by the respective piece (and its acoustic, musical and aesthetic qualities), what by the recipient (his/her personality, experiences and attitudes) and what by the context in which the music is performed and listened to. The widest possible measurement of the experience of music in a series of experimentally varied but tightly controlled concerts will be a spectacular opportunity to investigate these questions.

I have a special interest in the (classical) concert because it constitutes a special context/ frame which is supposed to enable highly concentrated listening, aiming at an immersive and intense experience and deep comprehension. At the same time, ritualistic and restrictive behavioral patterns still reigning in concert halls seem to preclude the experiential potentials of the concert as an interactive live art. Concert variations which again release some of this potential might serve to verify this hypothesis.

These general topics can be channeled into the following concrete plans:

  • the development of a empirically supported model of the aesthetic experience of music in a concert
  • the identification and characterization of the specific experiential potentials of a concert
  • the examination of the role of attention as a facilitator of intense aesthetic experiences
  • the determination of the relationship between stimulus and frame for the aesthetic experience and evaluation
  • the concert’s quality as collective experience