University of Rochester

Professor Wins International Book Award

October 23, 2007

Celia Applegate, author and University of Rochester professor, has received The DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) 2007 Book Prize from the German Studies Association for her book Bach in Berlin: Nation and Culture in Mendelssohn's Revival of the St. Matthew Passion.

The award honors an outstanding book on German language, literature, history, political science, or cultural studies published during the preceding two years. Applegate, an associate professor of history, published the book in 2005 with Cornell University Press.

In Bach in Berlin, Applegate examines the famous 1829 performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" as conducted by Felix Mendelssohn and the resulting notion that "recovering and performing Bach's music was somehow national work."

"St. Matthew Passion" is widely considered a master work with few peers, but it was forgotten by most when Bach died in 1750. When Mendelssohn revived the work nearly 80 years later in Berlin to an audience brimming with high society, it sparked an interest in reviving Bach's pieces and the concert was instantly legendary.

Applegate, who is also director of undergraduate studies for the history department, focuses her research on the culture, society, and politics of modern Germany, with particular interest in the history of nationalism and national identity. Her research has coupled music and German history before writing Bach in Berlin. In 2002, she co-edited the book Music and German National Identity with musicologist Pamela Potter of the University of Wisconsin at Madison School of Music.

In spring 2005, Applegate studied in the musicology department of the Eastman School of Music as a University of Rochester Bridging Fellow. The designation allows University faculty to take academic leave from their home departments to engage in new a research and collaborations in other departments at the University.

Applegate has earned several awards for teaching, including the University's Undergraduate Professor of the Year Award in 2004, and Goergen Distinguished Teaching Award in 1997.

The German Studies Association promotes the study of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland through an annual conference, a scholarly journal and a newsletter. The association is made up of scholars of German, Austrian, and Swiss history, literature, culture studies, political science, and economics from universities across the globe.

Applegate received $1,000 with the award. She is the second University professor to win the award since 2004. That year, Susan E. Gustafson, a professor of German, won the award with her 2002 book, Men Desiring Men: The Poetry of Same-Sex Identity and Desire in German Classicism.