Photographer: Jeroen Oerlemans

prof. dr. J.J.E. (Julia) Kursell

  • Faculty of Humanities
    Capaciteitsgroep Muziekwetenschap
  • Visiting address
    Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16-18  
  • Postal address:
    Nieuwe Doelenstraat  16-18
    1012 CP  Amsterdam

Julia Kursell is professor and chair of the Institute of Musicology at the University of Amsterdam. She studied musicology, Slavic philology and comparative literature in Munich, Moscow and Los Angeles, and completed her doctoral studies at Munich University with a thesis on music in the early Russian Avant-Garde. Before coming to Amsterdam, she was assistant professor at the Slavic Department of Munich University, and research fellow at the Center for Literary and Cultural Studies, Berlin. From 2004 to 2011 she worked as research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, where she was a member of the research group “Experimentalization of Life”. In 2013, she received the Habilitation (professorial degree) in musicology and history of science from Technical University, Berlin, for her book Epistemologie des Hörens: Helmholtz' physiologische Grundlegung der Musiktheorie. Her research interests include 20th and 21st-century composition, the history of musicology and the relation between music and science. She is co-director of the UvA's Vossius Center for the History of Humanities and Sciences ( and a founding editor of the journal History of Humanities ( 


New Book

Epistemologie des Hörens: Helmholtz' physiologische Grundlegung der Musiktheorie (Paderborn: Fink, 2018)



Vossius Seminar "Towards a History of Music cognition", Nov 20, 2018, Artis-Bibliotheek

Conference "The Making of the Humanities VII", Nov 15-17, 2018, Amsterdam, CREA,

Workshop "Multi Media Composition with real time components", Sept 13-14, 2018, Amsterdam, with Bruno Bossis (Université Rennes 2) and others, co-funded by ASCA, ACHI, Université Rennes 2, and the Musicology division. 


Selected publications

2017 (ed. by Netzwerk "Hör-Wissen im Wandel" Wissensgeschichte des Hörens in der Moderne. Berlin: De Gruyter.

2015 (ed. with Rens Bod). Forum Session "The Humanities and the Sciences". Isis106 (2), 337-340.

2013 (ed. with Alexandra E. Hui and Myles W. Jackson). Music, Sound, and the Laboratory, From 1750 – 1980, Osiris 28, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

2009 (ed. with Pnina Avidar and Raviv Ganchrow). Immersed. Sound and Architecture. OASE Tijdschrift voor Architectuur / Journal for Architecture, vol. 78.




  • Kursell, J. J. E. (2018). Carl Stumpf and the Beginnings of Research in Musicality. In H. Honing (Ed.), The Origins of Musicality (pp. 323-346). Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
  • Kursell, J. (2018). Alexander Ellis’s Translation of Helmholtz’s Sensations of Tone. Isis, 109(2), 339-345. DOI: 10.1086/698239  [details] 


  • Kursell, J. (2017). Experimental Cylinders: Experiments in Music Psychology around 1900. Journal of Sonic Studies, 13. [details] 
  • Kursell, J. (2017). Fine-Tuning Philology: Helmholtz’s Investigation into Ancient Greek and Persian Scales. History of Humanities, 2(2), 345–359. DOI: 10.1086/693318  [details] 


  • Bod, R., Kursell, J., Maat, J., & Weststeijn, T. (2016). A New Field: History of Humanities. History of Humanities, 1(1), 1-8. DOI: 10.1086/685056  [details] 
  • Bod, R., Kursell, J., Maat, J., & Weststeijn, T. (2016). Going Global. History of Humanities, 1(2), 211-212. DOI: 10.1086/687970  [details] 
  • Kursell, J., & Schäfer, A. (2016). Microsound and Macrocosm: Gérard Grisey’s Explorations of Musical Sound and Space. In Y. Kaduri (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of sound and image in Western art (pp. 192-213). New York: Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199841547.013.18  [details] 


  • Bod, R., & Kursell, J. (2015). Introduction: The Humanities and the Sciences. Isis, 106(2), 337-340. DOI: 10.1086/681993  [details] 
  • Kursell, J. (2015). A third note: Helmholtz, Palestrina, and the Early History of Musicology. Isis, 106(2), 353-366. DOI: 10.1086/682003  [details] 


  • Kursell, J. (2013). Experiments on Tone Color in Music and Acoustics: Helmholtz, Schoenberg, and Klangfarbenmelodie. In A. Hui, J. Kursell, & M. W. Jackson (Eds.), Music, Sound, and the Laboratory From 1750 to 1980 (pp. 191-211). (Osiris; No. 28). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


  • Kursell, J. J. E. (2018). Epistemologie des Hörens: Helmholtz' physiologische Grundlegung der Musiktheorie. Paderborn: Wilhem Fink Verlag.
  • Kursell, J. J. E., & Schäfer, A. (2018). Elektronische Musik für Radios von John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen und Michael Snow. In U. Holl (Ed.), Radiophonic Cultures (Vol. 1, pp. 135-149). Heidelberg Berlin: Kehrer Verlag.


  • Kursell, J. J. E. (2017). Musikwissenschaft am Berliner Institut für Psychologie: Carl Stumpf und der Interferenzapparat. In W. Auhagen, W. Hirschmann, & T. Mäkelä (Eds.), Musikwissenschaft 1900-1930: Zur Institutionalisierung und Legitimierung einer jungen akademischen Disziplin (pp. 73-90). Hildesheim, Zürich, New York: Georg Olms Verlag.
  • Kursell, J. J. E. (2017). Notenlesen. In F. Balke, & R. Gaderer (Eds.), Medienphilologie: Konturen eines Paradigmas (pp. 172–195). Göttingen: Wallstein.
  • Kursell, J. (2017). Klangfarbe um 1850: Ein epistemischer Raum. In D. Morat (Ed.), Wissensgeschichte des Hörens in der Moderne (pp. 21-40). Berlin: De Gruyter. DOI: 10.1515/9783110523720-002  [details] 
  • Kursell, J. (2017). Mit dem Hören komponieren: Kombinationstöne in der Musik von Enno Poppe. Musik-Konzepte. Neue Folge, 175, 113–126.
  • Netzwerk "Hör-Wissen im Wandel", & Morat, D. (Ed.) (2017). Wissensgeschichte des Hörens in der Moderne. De Gruyter. DOI: 10.1515/9783110523720 


  • Kursell, J. (2016). Experimentalisierung des Hörens: Musik und Medien um 1900. In M. Saxer (Ed.), Spiel (mit) der Maschine: musikalische Medienpraxis in der Frühzeit von Phonographie, Reproduktionsklavier, Film und Radio (pp. 29-50). (Musik und Klangkultur; No. 11). Bielefeld: Transcript. DOI: 10.14361/9783839430361-003  [details] 


  • Kursell, J. (2014). Carl Stumpfs Versuche mit Unmusikalischen = Carl Stumpf's Experiments with the Nonmusical. Trajekte, 29, 43-47. [details] 
  • Kursell, J., Azzouni, S., Brandt, C., Gausemeier, B., Schmidgen, H., & Wittmann, B. (2014). Eine Naturgeschichte für das 21. Jahrhundert Hommage à / zu Ehren von / in Honor of Hans-Jörg Rheinberger. Berlin: Alpheus Verlag.


  • Hui, A., Kursell, J., & Jackson, M. W. (2013). Music, sound, and the laboratory from 1750 - 1980. (Osiris; No. 28). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.



  • Kursell, J. (2015). [Review of: V. Smyrek (2013) Die Geschichte des Tonmischpults: die technische Entwicklung der Mischpulte und der Wandel der medialen Produktionsverfahren im Tonstudio von den 1920er-Jahren bis heute]. Isis, 102(2), 491-492. DOI: 10.1086/682813  [details] 

Journal editor

  • Bod, L. W. M. (editor), Kursell, J. (editor), Maat, J. (editor) & Weststeijn, M. A. (editor) (2016-). History of Humanities (Journal).


  • Kursell, J. (participant) (13-9-2018 - 14-9-2018). Multi Media Composition with real time components, Amsterdam, Netherlands. The Workshop discussed databases for multi media composition with contributors from recognized centers in France (IRCAM), Switzerland (ZHdK) and the (…) (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
  • Holzapfel, A. (organiser), van Kranenburg, P. (organiser), Kursell, J. (organiser) & Volk, A. (organiser) (2017). Computational Ethnomusicology, Leiden, Netherlands. Understanding symbol systems like music or language is one of the great challenges of the humanities. Computational approaches are increasingly (…) (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
  • Dupré, S. G. M. (organiser), Harris, A. (organiser), Kursell, J. (organiser), Lulof, P. S. (organiser) & Stols-Witlox, M. J. N. (organiser) (2017). Lorentz Workshop Re-enactment, Replication, Reconstruction, Leiden, Netherlands. The workshop brings together specialists from the fields of art history, archaeology, conservation, musicology and anthropology. Its goals are to (…) (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
  • Stols-Witlox, M. (organiser), Lulof, P. S. (organiser), Dupré, S. G. M. (organiser), Kursell, J. J. E. (organiser) & Harris, A. (organiser) (12-6-2017 - 16-6-2017). Re-enactment, Replication, Reconstruction, Leiden, Netherlands. International workshop with the goals were to reflect on reconstruction, re-enactment and replication (RRR) practices across the fields of history of (…) (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
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