Riemann, Hugo

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Riemann, Hugo


(full name, Karl Wilhelm Julius Hugo Riemann). Born July 18, 1849, in Grossmehlra, near Sondershausen; died July 10, 1919, in Leipzig. German musicologist.

Riemann became a professor at the University of Leipzig in 1901. He founded the Institute of Musical Science (Collegium Musicum), of which he served as director from 1908, and the Staatliches Forschungsinstitut für Musikwissenschaft, which he directed from 1914.

Riemann’s work touched on every field of music theory, as well as the history of music, aesthetics, and criticism. In analyzing musical compositions he used natural scientific data to elucidate harmony, rhythm, form, and agogics. Riemann is associated with the development of functional theory in musicology. Drawing on J.-P. Rameau’s views, he worked out the functional relationship between chords.

Among Riemann’s many works are the Dictionary of Music (Musiklexikon, 1882), which has gone through 12 editions and has been translated into many languages, including Russian (1901), and the Handbook of the History of Music (vols. 1–5, 1901–13). Riemann enriched musicology with major theoretical conclusions. However, his contributions revealed the limitations of his positivist methodology, which often lacked a genuinely historical approach.

Riemann was an honorary member of the Academy of St. Cecilia in Rome (1887), the Royal Academy in Florence (1894), and the Royal Musical Association in London (1900). He also received an honorary doctorate in music from the University of Edinburgh (1899).


Mazel’, L. “Funktsional’naia shkola.” In I. Ryzhkin and L. Mazel’, Ocherki po istorii teoreticheskogo muzykoznaniia, fase. 1. Moscow. 1934.
Istoriia evropeiskogo iskusstvoznaniia, vol. 4, books 1–2: Vtoraia polovina XIX v.–nach. XX v. Moscow, 1969.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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