Herbert Eimert

Herbert Eimert (8 April 1897 – 15 December 1972) was a German music theorist, musicologist, journalist, music critic, editor, radio producer, and composer.


Herbert Eimert was born in Bad Kreuznach. He studied music theory and composition from 1919–1924 at the Cologne Musikhochschule with Hermann Abendroth, Franz Bölsche, and August von Othegraven. In 1924, while still a student, he published an Atonale Musiklehre (Atonal Music Theory Text) which, together with a twelve-tone string quartet composed for the end-of-term examination concert, led to an altercation with Bölsche, who withdrew the quartet from the program and expelled Eimert from his composition class (Anon. n.d.).

In 1924, he began studies in musicology at the University of Cologne with Ernst Bücken, Willi Kahl, and Georg Kinsky, and read philosophy with Max Scheler (a pupil of Husserl) and Nicolai Hartmann. He attained his doctorate in 1931 with a dissertation titled Musikalische Formstrukturen im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert. Versuch einer Formbeschreibung (Musical Form Structures in the 17th and 18th Century. Attempt at a Description of Form).


From 1927 until 1933 he was employed at the Cologne Radio and wrote for music magazines such as Melos and the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. In 1930 he became a music critic for the Kölner Stadtanzeiger, and from 1935 until 1945 worked as an editor at the Kölnische Zeitung.

After the war, he became in 1945 the first salaried staff member of the Cologne Radio (NWDR), administered by the British occupation forces. In 1947 he took over the NWDR Department of Cultural Reporting, and in 1948 initiated the Musikalische Nachtprogramme (late-night music programs), which he directed until 1965 (Wilson 2001). In 1951, Eimert and Werner Meyer-Eppler persuaded the director of NWDR, Hanns Hartmann, to create a Studio for Electronic Music, which Eimert directed until 1962. This became the most influential studio in the world during the 1950s and 1960s, with composers such as Michael von Biel, Konrad Boehmer, Herbert Brün, Jean-Claude Éloy, Péter Eötvös, Franco Evangelisti, Luc Ferrari, Johannes Fritsch, Rolf Gehlhaar, Karel Goeyvaerts, Hermann Heiss, York Höller, Maki Ishii, David C. Johnson, Mauricio Kagel, Gottfried Michael Koenig, Petr Kotik, Włodzimierz Kotoński, Ernst Krenek, Ladislav Kupkovič, György Ligeti, Mesías Maiguashca, Bo Nilsson, Henri Pousseur, Roger Smalley, Karlheinz Stockhausen (who succeeded Eimert as director), Dimitri Terzakis, Iannis Xenakis, and Bernd Alois Zimmermann working there (Morawska-Büngeler 1988, 103–108, et passim). Cornelius Cardew also worked there in 1958 (Custodis 2004, 110 n244).

In 1950 he published the Lehrbuch zur Zwölftonmusik, which became one of the best-known introductory texts on Schoenbergian twelve-tone technique, and was translated into Italian, Spanish, and Hungarian. From 1955 until 1962 he edited in conjunction with Karlheinz Stockhausen the influential journal Die Reihe. His book Grundlagen der musikalischen Reihentechnik appeared in 1964. From 1951 until 1957 he lectured at the Darmstadt International Vacation Courses for New Music. In 1965 he became Professor at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne and directed their studio for electronic music until 1971 (Wilson 2001). Together with Hans Ulrich Humpert, his successor at the electronic studio of the Musikhochschule, he worked on the Lexikon der elektronischen Musik (Dictionary of Electronic Music). Just short of completing the manuscript, Eimert died on 15 December 1972 in Düsseldorf.

Compositions (selective list)

Principal writings


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