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The choral life in the cities of Bern and Fribourg in the long nineteenth century


During the 19th century, several music and choral societies arose in Europe, giving rise to a choral movement that fostered not only communal singing, but also patriotic feelings. In Switzerland, this movement involved several men’s choirs that had a strong liberal and patriotic character. This patriotism, however, could not be based on cultural, linguistic or ethnic unity, but called for the integration of the four cultures that make up Switzerland. With its songs and festivals, the Swiss choral movement became a crucial element in this integration process. Yet despite its significance, this movement remains largely ignored by recent scholarship. There is a lack of research on the movement as a whole and principally of specific knowledge about the choral life in different places. The cities of Bern and Fribourg for example have different languages, religions and traditions. To what extent did their choral life differ from or resemble one another? By answering this question, CLEFNI aims to understand how choral activities influenced the social and political life in these cities and contributed to the integration of the Swiss peoples. The objective is to better understand the historical circumstances and the specific conditions that allowed integration and multicultural understanding. CLEFNI is designed as an archival research and will critically analyse sources in archives of 19th-century choral societies in terms of their musical, social and political contexts and of their gender dimensions. Findings will then be discussed in view of existing research on the 19th-century choral movement, on musicology and on related disciplines like sociology and history. Considering that multicultural understanding continues to be a challenge in Europe, CLEFNI’s value goes beyond the Swiss borders, providing new knowledge that contributes to understanding how cultural movements like choral singing may lead to multicultural understanding and integration of cultural minorities.

Field of science

  • /humanities/philosophy, ethics and religion/religion
  • /humanities/history and archaeology/history
  • /social sciences/sociology
  • /humanities/languages and literature/languages - general
  • /social sciences/media and communications/library science
  • /humanities/arts/art history/musicology
  • /social sciences/media and communications/library science/archives

Call for proposal

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Funding Scheme

MSCA-IF-EF-CAR - CAR – Career Restart panel


Hochschulstrasse 6
3012 Bern
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 304 724,16