Martha Sprigge is a historical musicologist whose research examines musical expressions of mourning, grief, and loss in Germany and Eastern Europe from 1945 to the present day. She is interested in how composers, performers, and audiences used music as an alternative to language in forming responses to the immense political, cultural, and individual upheavals induced by World War II and the Cold War. Dr. Sprigge is currently writing a book about musical mourning in the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany), where the ruling communist party tightly monitored public memory of the national past. Rather than view East German commemorative music as state-sponsored propaganda, Dr. Sprigge uncovers the multiple meanings of this vast repertoire to assert a place for music in the mourning process, and a place for mourning within the commemorative culture of the former East German state. An essay related to this project, titled “Hanns Eisler’s Funeral and Cultures of Commemoration in the German Democratic Republic,” appeared recently in Classical Music in the German Democratic Republic: Production and Reception (edited by Kyle Frackman and Larson Powell).
Dr. Sprigge holds a PhD in music history and theory from the University of Chicago (2013) and a Bachelor of Music from the University of Toronto (2006). Her research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies (Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2012–13), the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (Sawyer Seminar Fellowship, 2011–12), and the American Musicological Society (Jan LaRue Travel Fund, 2011). Additionally, she was awarded the Stuart Tave Teaching Fellowship for course design at the University of Chicago (2012). Before joining the faculty at UCSB, she held a postdoctoral fellowship in the University of Michigan’s Society of Fellows, where she was cross-appointed in the Department of German and the School of Music.