Anna Maria Busse Berger
wins Lise Meitner Fellowship
Professor Anna Maria Busse Berger has been awarded a prestigious Lise Meitner Fellowship for a fifteen month residency in Vienna, Austria, in 2011–12. She will conduct research for a book entitled, Between Orality and Literacy: Music in the Moravian Missions, 1732–2009. In this project she will investigate the vibrant music traditions of German Moravians, traditions that were primarily based on singing and improvisation of chorales.
She hopes to explain how this music was transmitted and altered when missionaries converted the people they encountered during their travels around the world. Moravians used improvisation for religious purposes because they felt that only through the unpredictability of improvisation could they become close to the Holy Spirit. Among the questions this raises for Professor Busse Berger are the following: How did these improvised chorales fare when translated into different cultures? How were they adjusted during encounters with local rituals? And above all, what roles did memorization and improvisation play in the mission stations? During her residency in Vienna, Busse Berger intends to examine Moravian archives in Tanzania, where the archive holds lots of chorales in Nyakyusa translations, and also in Greenland.