The Development of the Austrian Jazz Scene and Its Identity 1960-1980

  • Christa Bruckner-Haring University of Music and Performing Arts Graz


In Austria, a country steeped in music history and famous for composers such as Mozart, Haydn, and Bruckner, jazz was quick to earn a place in the cultural landscape. After World War II, important jazz scenes rapidly evolved in Vienna and Graz and, particularly from the 1960s onwards, grew into a strong and independent national jazz scene. Its musicians and ensembles focussed on developing their own characteristics and styles. This article examines primary aspects of the jazz scene during these formative years, such as the series of amateur jazz festivals held in the 1960s, Friedrich Gulda's commitment to jazz, Graz as a jazz centre and the institutionalisation of jazz at the Academy of Music in Graz in 1965, the role of the Austrian broadcasting network (ORF), and the impact of the Vienna Art Orchestra. In addition to archival records and musicological and journalistic texts, interviews conducted with members of different parts of the jazz scene offer important insights into the development of jazz during this period (with musicians, ensembles, educators and researchers, festival and venue organisers, agencies and policy makers, members of the media). This article offers an overview of pertinent aspects of the Austrian jazz scene between 1960 and 1980, revealing opinions about the influence of these aspects on the formation of Austrian jazz identity.

Author Biography

Christa Bruckner-Haring, University of Music and Performing Arts Graz
Christa Bruckner-Haring obtained her PhD in Musicology at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz (KUG) with a specialisation in jazz and popular music research; her doctoral dissertation on Gonzalo Rubalcaba's musical style was published as Gonzalo Rubalcaba und die kubanische Musik (Graz: ADEVA, 2015). She has worked as a researcher at the KUG Institute for Jazz Research since 2008, and in 2009 she was also a visiting scholar at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. From 2010 to 2013 she was an associate on the HERA-funded research project Rhythm Changes: Jazz Cultures and European Identities. Since 2016, Bruckner-Haring is Deputy Director of the Graz Institute for Jazz Research and co-editor of the Institute's publication series Jazzforschung/Jazz Research, Beiträge zur Jazzforschung/Studies in Jazz Research, and Jazz Research News. Bruckner-Haring's research focuses primarily on musical transcription, jazz and popular music analysis—particularly of American and Cuban music—and jazz cultures in Europe. She is internationally active as a lecturer; her work has appeared in such publications as Jazzforschung/Jazz Research, Jazz Research Journal, The Cultural Politics of Jazz Collectives: This Is Our Music, Beiträge zur Popularmusikforschung, Anklänge: Wiener Jahrbuch für Musikwissenschaft and the encyclopaedia MGG.
How to Cite
Bruckner-Haring, C. (2017). The Development of the Austrian Jazz Scene and Its Identity 1960-1980. European Journal of Musicology, 16(1), 136–157.