A life for Schubert

Musicologist Walther Dürr dies at 85

On 6 January 2018 the musicologist Walther Dürr passed away unexpectedly in Tübingen. One of the shining lights of his profession, until the final days of his rich scholarly career he devoted himself above all to the music and life of Franz Schubert. Among other things he edited the 14-volume series of Schubert's songs for Bärenreiter's Neue Schubert-Ausgabe, the complete scholarly-critical edition of the composer's works. He thereby set new standards in the publication of this key area of Schubert's output.

Walther Dürr was born in Berlin on 27 April 1932. It was there that he began to study musicology, Germanic and Romance languages and literature in 1951. Later he switched to Tübingen University, where he completed his degree in 1956 with a dissertation on rhythm and metre in the Italian madrigal. From 1957 to 1962 he lectured on German language and literature at Bologna University, after which he functioned as assistant and reader at the international students' office of Tübingen University until 1965.

From 1965 to 1997 Walther Dürr was a full-time member of editorial board of the Neue Schubert-Ausgabe, which he continued to serve as a project manager even after his retirement (until spring 2013). In his final days he worked on a part-time basis as a member of the editorial board and as a volume editor. The central focus of his writings, and his occasional teaching appointments at the universities of Stuttgart, Freiburg and Berne and at Trossingen University of Music, was the relation between words and music. In 1977 he was made an honorary professor of Tübingen University.

With the death of Walther Dürr musicology has lost one of its towering figures, and the House of Bärenreiter a friend and sterling editor.