Singing Like Germans: Black Musicians in the Land of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms

Product Details
$32.95  $30.64
Cornell University Press
Publish Date
7.7 X 9.2 X 1.1 inches | 1.3 pounds

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About the Author

Kira Thurman is Associate Professor of History, German Studies, and Musicology at the University of Michigan. A classically trained pianist who grew up in Vienna, Austria, she is also a founder of the website


Singing Like Germans is a superb piece of historical research enlivened by its author's deep fascination with her subject matter. This book will be fascinating to a wide body of readers who are interested in classical music, German history, and African American history.

-- "New York Journal of Books"

Thurman's exacting research, synthesizing a kaleidoscope of source material, paints a rich portrait of Black classical music-making in Europe spanning well over a century. Filled with compelling accounts of the contradictions inherent in classical music's universalist claims, Singing Like Germans demonstrates that the lives of Black classical musicians cannot be reduced to a narrative of struggle.

-- "Boston Review"

Sometimes, a book comes along that completely breaks new ground--a total eye-opener. And that's the book called Singing Like Germans. It's meticulously researched, but the writing style goes down like water. Most importantly, it uncovers a story of people and a performance practice and rebuilds an unknown period in music history.

-- "NPR"

In Singing Like Germans, the historian Kira Thurman adds a new dimension to the story by focusing on African American classical musicians who studied, performed, or settled in German-speaking Europe, offering valuable insights into how Germans viewed these Black artists.

-- "New York Review of Books"

We love history like this that explores how people reinforced or challenged racial identities in specific circumstances.

-- "East Bay Booksellers, Oakland, CA"

Thurman's study of Black musicians is an indispensable and foundational achievment. Thurman's work represents a monumental and necessary step towards rewritng the history of German music.

-- "Monatshefte"

With Singing Like Germans, Thurman joins Naomi Adele André, author of Black Opera, at the vanguard of cultural histories reexamining musical production and consumption through the lens of critical race theory.

-- "Los Angeles Review of Books"