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The History of the School

Charlottenstraße 55 (2002 - photo: Jens Hübner)
Königlicher Marstall (Royal Stables) and Palace Fountain

The history of the Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin is intimately bound up with the political situation of Berlin and its development. After the founding of the GDR, the sole music academy in Berlin – along with all of its conservatories – was situated in the western part of the city. In 1949, the Ministry of Education resolved to establish a new music academy in the eastern sector of the city. The school, known as the “Deutsche Hochschule für Musik“ (German Academy for Music), located on Wilhelmstraße in Berlin-Mitte, was inaugurated on October 1, 1950. It has borne its current name, the “Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin,“ since 1964.

The school's founding director was the musicologist Georg Knepler. The inaugural faculty brought together notable artists, scholars, and teachers such as Rudolf Wagner-Régeny and Hanns Eisler (composition), Helmut Koch (conducting), Helma Prechter and Arno Schellenberg (voice), Carl Adolf Martienssen and Grete Herwig (piano), Bernhard Günther (cello), Werner Buchholz (viola), Ewald Koch (clarinet), Wilhelm Martens and Gustav Havemann (violin), the latter with a fraught political past dating from the National Socialist era.

In the course of German Reunification, the school was taken over by the Federal State of Berlin. It is one of the state-supported academies of the Federal State of Berlin, and is subject to the State Chancellery – Education and Research.

In 1955, the school became one of the first European academies to introduce advanced training in opera and music theater direction with the program in Direction. Founded in 2002 was the Kurt Singer Institute for Music Physiology and Musicians’ Health. This was followed in 2003 by establishment of klangzeitort, the Institute for New Music, and in 2005 by the establishment of the Jazz Institute Berlin (JIB). These three entities cooperate closely with the Universität der Künste/University of the Arts Berlin.

In 1987, the Hanns Eisler School moved into rooms in the current main building, located at Charlottenstraße 55 am Gendarmenmarkt. Inaugurated as a second location in 2005 was the Neuer Marstall, with its prominent location at Schloßplatz, situated on Museumsinsel – directly in the vicinity of the Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss, currently under construction.

Musikgymnasium Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
Inaugurated on September 1, 1950, and hence coinciding with the foundation of the Hanns Eisler School, was the “Berufsvollschule für Musik“ (Vocational School for Music) in Berlin, devoted to the promotion of young musical talent. In 1965, it was converted into the “Spezialschule für Musik“ (Special School for Music) and attached directly to the Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin in order to foster the intensive  and constructive advancement of gifted young musicians. The school has been called the “Musikgymnasium Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach“ since 1991.

Rectors of the School
Prof. Dr. Georg Knepler (1950-1959)
Prof. Eberhard Rebling (1959-1971)
Prof. Dieter Zechlin (1971-1982)
Prof. Olaf Koch (1982-1986)
Prof. Erhard Ragwitz (1986-1989)
Prof. Ruth Zechlin (1990)
Prof. Annerose Schmidt (1990-1995)
Prof. Christoph Poppen (1995-2000)
Prof. Christhard Gössling (2000-2008)
Prof. Jörg-Peter Weigle (2008-2012, Temporary Rector April - September 2014)
Prof. Stefan Willich (2012–2014)
Prof. Birgitta Wollenweber (September 2014 - May 2015 Vice Rector, Temporary, charged with the tasks of Rector)
Prof. Robert Ehrlich (since October 2015)