Lily Hirsch

Graduation Year: 
Lily Hirsch

Since defending her musicology dissertation in 2006, Lily Hirsch's academic career has rocketed skyward through her research and teaching experiences. In 2008 Hirsch received a publication contract through the University of Michigan Press for her book, Hitler's Jewish Orchestra: Musical Politics in the Berlin Jewish Culture League. With this historical review of the Jewish Culture League (Jüdischer Kulturbund), a Nazi institution permitting and circumscribing music performance among Jewish people from 1933 to 1941, Hirsch interrogates the "varied responses to anti-Semitism during the Nazi era, Nazi ideology, and, more broadly, the contested process of imagining Jewish music." Her work challenges national categories of music and musicians while giving witness to the League's political, cultural and historical effects under National Socialist rule.

Hirsch's excavations into the League's history have helped her shape relationships with organizations like World ORT, the world's largest Jewish education and vocational training non-governmental organization. For World ORT's "Music during the Holocaust" website, Hirsch has contributed biographical synopses on German-Jewish musicians like Kurt Singer. Similarly, Hirsch is providing biographical summaries for the University of Hamburg's "Lexikon verfolgter Musiker und Musikerinnen der NS-Zeit," an on-line music dictionary focused on Nazi-era musicians (ed. Claudia Maurer Zenck and Peter Peterson). She has shared her research at national meetings of the American Musicological Society and Society for Ethnomusicology. Most recently she presented findings on the League at a conference supported by the International Centre for Suppressed Music and the University of London (England). Hirsch diversifies her scholarship with probes into the uses of classical music to control youth behavior in Australia, Canada, Britain and the U.S. (published in the Journal of Popular Music Studies, December 2007).

In her second year as Visiting Assistant Professor at Cleveland State University, Hirsch teaches undergraduate and graduate courses, including seminars on music and German politics, and nationalism. While a Duke graduate student, Hirsch received research support from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Historical Institute. With the DAAD fellowship, Hirsch took advantage of archival materials at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, conducted research interviews, and experienced the city in which the Jüdischer Kulturbund was instituted. Since completing her degree Hirsch has received funding from the Leo Baeck Institute, specifically, a Career Development Fellowship for scholars in the early stages of their careers. Hirsch appreciates that her work allows (and even requires) her to engage with disciplines like cultural anthropology, history, and religious and German studies. When she's not steeped in archival adventures, class preparations or writing projects, Hirsch enjoys running ("often but not well," she claims), painting ("again not well"), and making desserts ("...the real reason I run..."). Hirsch's quick wit provides balance for her demanding schedule as well as the weighty matters surrounding her research on music in Nazi Germany.