The birthday of Eva Rieger – musician, musicologist and feminist

by Anja Weinberger

She always writes about others – now it should be the other way round.

Eva Rieger celebrates her 81st birthday on 21.11.2021! Congratulations!

She is clearly one of the women of the first hour when it comes to feminist musicology. As early as 1981, her book “Frau, Musik und Männerherrschaft” (Women, Music and Male Domination) was published, which even then made it clear that women were systematically excluded in music, art and musicology.

For a long time – perhaps until today – her elaborately researched and dazzlingly written texts were perceived as too negative and largely ignored by the, of course, mainly male peer body. What a waste.

For Eva Rieger has networked widely, is always well informed even in marginal areas and has been unjustly dubbed a “man-hater”. She was just as entitled to them, the men, being locked into a role stereotype as women of the respective epochs. She researched fundamentals and observed attentively, trying to form a more just perspective for the future from this.

And so she tirelessly demands that women be given the opportunity to be able and allowed to express themselves adequately and equally.

Eva Rieger (2010), © Hans Hablützel • CC BY-SA 3.0 de; Link: zur Lizenz

Eva Rieger was born in Great Britain and came to Germany at the age of 12, where she completed her Abitur. She then worked as an archivist in the sound archive of RIAS Berlin. During this time, the young woman studied clarinet at the Berlin Conservatory and passed the final exam. At the age of 27, she finally began studying school music and English. Afterwards Eva Rieger stayed in Berlin as a research assistant at the Hochschule für Musik and at the same time studied music – and educational science at the TU. In 1976 she completed her doctorate under Prof. Dr. Carl Dahlhaus and Prof. Dr. Gerhard Kirchner. She then worked for two years as a study assistant before going to the University of Osnabrück. Shortly afterwards, she was appointed Academic Councillor at the Department of Education at Göttingen University – a busy and successful time. Later she taught in Hildesheim.

From 1980 to 1989 she was a member of the editorial board of the “Zeitschrift für Musikpädagogik” (Journal for Music Education) and in 1981 was elected 2nd chairperson of the “International Working Group Women and Music”. She took part in numerous conferences and seminars that radiated all over the world. From 1991 to 2000 she was professor of historical musicology with a focus on the “social history of music” at the University of Bremen.

Her books have been published in Germany and many other countries; she has lectured at various universities in Europe and the USA and is a member of the editorial board of several journals.

The “Archiv Frau und Musik” and the “Internationale Arbeitskreis Frau und Musik e. V.” (International Working Group for Women and Music) in Frankfurt are hardly imaginable without Eva Rieger; women like Barbara Heller, Siegrid Ernst, Luise F. Pusch and Elke Mascha Blankenburg are among her companions, as is Renate Matthei, founder of the publishing house “Furore”, which only publishes music by women.

From 2001, together with Mariann Steegmann and Freia Hoffmann, she founded the Sophie Drinker Institute in Bremen and in 2006, at the Hanover University of Music and Drama, the research centre “Music and Gender” together with Prof. Beatrix Borchard, Prof. Susanne Rode – Breymann and Prof. Annette Kreutziger – Herr.

Unfortunately, I have only ever experienced Prof. Dr. Eva Rieger from a distance, but even then she radiates an enormous presence, always seems to be approachable and always strives to solve problems that arise.

Eva Rieger has lived in Vaduz since 2000, actually retired, but only actually.

Literature used

Martina Bick (2020): Eva Rieger, in: Digitales Deutsches Frauenarchiv; URL:; Zuletzt besucht am: 18.11.2021

Freia Hoffmann, Jane Bowers, Ruth Heckmann (Hrsg.): Frauen- und Männerbilder in der Musik. Festschrift für Eva Rieger zum 60. Geburtstag. Oldenburg 2000

Eva Rieger: Frau, Musik und Männerherrschaft. Zum Ausschluß der Frau aus der deutschen Musikpädagogik, Musikwissenschaft und Musikausübung. Berlin 1981 (Ullstein) (2. Auflage mit neuer Einleitung: Furore, Kassel 1988)

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