About us

Some Information about the Klaus Kuhnke Archive Of Popular Music

The Klaus Kuhnke Archive is a reference archive open to members of the public who are interested in popular music, either as educators or as musicians, journalists, academics, collectors, etc. The archive holds, among others, the collections of Klaus Kuhnke, Manfred Miller, Peter Schulze and Ingolf Wachler (journalists mainly working for the radio, especially in the areas of the history of popular music and its contemporary forms).

You can find waltzes by Johann Strauss in the archive as well as the Sex Pistols, Tin Pan Alley pop as well as field recordings, there is Jazz, Blues, Folk, Rock, Soul, etc; anything outside classical musicology.

Our data base now contains some 100.000 records. You can search for titles, performers and authors. Periodicals and music magazines and also researchable on the internet, our stock of books is currently being recorded for inclusion in the data bank.

Klaus Kuhnke …

was one of the founders of the archive. He was born in 1944 in Rerik and grew up in Hamburg, where he later studied German and philosophy. From 1969 on he worked as an editor, as a radio and television journalist, as an author for the periodical Kunst und Gesellschaft, as co-author of the radio series Roll Over Beethoven (about the history of popular music with more than 100 episodes) and the television series Rock’n’Roll Music (10 episodes).

Klaus Kuhnke was one of the most intelligent and astute thinkers in the area of popular music. He abhorred talkativeness, either musical or journalistic, and he consistently exposed dullness in music and musical radio programmes.

Klaus Kuhnke died in 1988. This archive is part of his life.

Considering that

  • vast areas of musical creation were then neglected by both musicology and ethno-musicology
  • the social history and history of human ideas of popular music can only be assessed by considering the whole spectrum
  • the music industry is more interested in the economical exploitation of the music it produces than in its historical and academical assessment

Klaus Kuhnke, Manfred Miller and Peter Schulze in 1975 founded the Archive of Popular Music as a non-profit company, knowing very well that this should have been a public responsibility, but also knowing that public institutions acted no different than musicology and music industry. In addition to collecting, the archive also published the book Geschichte der Popmusik (Volume 1 – bis 1947), a comprehensive history of popular music, as well as the magazine Anschläge (7 editions) and some artist’s discographies. Between 1984 and 1989 four fulltime employees computerized the whole stock.

After Klaus Kuhnke’s death the remaining founders decided to rename the archive after their late friend and to change the economic basis of its organisation taking into account the public character of its work. In 1990 the city of Bremen became a partner in the non-profit limited company which runs this archive. This ensured the existence and the development of this archive. All kinds of funds and donations are still welcome, though.

In 1991 the Klaus Kuhnke Archive became an institute at the Bremen academy of arts and moved into their building in the city centre where it has been open to the wider public ever since. In December 1995 our database was made available for research on the world wide web.

1994: Willem Breuker is nominated honorary associate
1998: Richard Weize follows Klaus Kuhnke as associate

1998 the second volume of Geschichte der Popmusik is published as a book with 52 accompanying CDs