International Research
and Information Center on Jazz

Darmstadt – Germany‘s jazz capital (?)
Darmstadt is a city of just 140,000 inhabitants, much smaller than better known German jazz metropolises such as Berlin, Cologne or Munich. Yet Darmstadt is well known within the jazz world. The city‘s Jazzinstitut has earned a name for itself in Germany as well as among international musicians and researchers as a premier institution in the archiving, preservation, research and documentation of jazz and its evolution.

… international research and
information center on jazz

Welcome to JazzinstitutThe Jazzinstitut Darmstadt bridges scholarly and practical demands, regional and multi-cultural activities, as well as transnational scholarly discourses in order to support the music and the many people who keep it alive. The Jazzinstitut has also earned a reputation in the jazz world for its reliable services answering inquiries of any kind.

Archives and special collections

The Jazzinstitut Darmstadt holds Europe’s largest public research archive on jazz. Among its holdings are substantial donations and acquisitions from private collectors such as Joachim Ernst Berendt, Gerhard Conrad, Erwin Glier, Hanns E. Haehl, Arne Hauptmann, Hans Otto Jung, Evert „Ted“ Kaleveld, Peter Köhler, Wilhelm Liefland, Lukas M. Lindenmayer, Hans-Henning Rabe, Dietrich von Staden, the record label Free Music Production (FMP) and others.

Learn about the Jazz-IndexToday we hold thousands of books and more than 80,000 items of recorded music which include approximately 45,000 LPs, more than 15,000 CDs, an equivalent number of vinyl and schellack recordings (78 RPM records, EPs, and 10 inch records), as well as tapes, videos and DVDs. The periodical collection is one of the highlights of the archive. The collection is comprised of more than 1,000 periodical titles, which equal out to more than 55,000 individual issues of periodical material. It includes jazz periodicals from all over the world, some dated as far back as the early 1920’s. About 70 percent of the printed material has been entered into Jazz-Index, a computer based bibliographical tool used by researchers from all over the world. This service is available through the Jazzinstitut free-of-charge per e-mail request. The sheet music collection of the Jazzinstitut contains musical transcriptions, fake books, instrumental methods as well as some band
and orchestra scores.


During recent years we have been able to organize exhibitions making use of the many historical photographs, posters, rare private correspondence and notes found in our collection. „Jazz Changes“ exhibits the development of jazz from its origins to the present on eleven large sized panels. Other historical exhibitions and book projects document various local scenes like the one in Darmstadt or the development of jazz in the city of Frankfurt. The Jazzinstitut has also participated in an exhibition on record cover art in Valencia, Spain, an exhibition focusing on the electric guitar in modern music at the Kunsthalle in Vienna, Austria, and an exhibition on the cover art of Blue Note Records in Aalen, Germany.

... a meeting place for discoveries and musical exchange


Besides being a documentation center, the Jazzinstitut undertakes research projects of its own as well as in collaboration with other institutions. The Jazzinstitut initiated an oral history project on German jazz, and, together with Hessischer Rundfunk and the city of Frankfurt published an extensive book on the development of jazz in Frankfurt („Der Frankfurt Sound – Eine Stadt und ihre Jazzgeschichte[n]“) [Frankfurt Sound. A city and its jazz histories]. The Jazzinstitut is represented in international and national advisory boards, among them: the International Voting Panel for Jazz at Lincoln Center‘s Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame (New York), the Smithonian Institution‘s CD series "Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz“ (Washington, D.C.), the editors‘ board of University of Michigan Press‘ jazz book series, and the music advisory council of Goethe-Institut (for the German Ministery of Foreign Affairs). Together with several partners, the Jazzinstitut Darmstadt initiated a research project on European jazz history, which will lead to an English language book publication.

Darmstadt Jazzforum

The Darmstadt Jazzforum is a regular conference on jazz taking place every other year. A symposium brings together jazz researchers and musicians from all over the world to exchange opinions, experiences and papers and act as a forum for the public. An accompanying concert series explores the more musical aspects of the conference‘s topic. Since 1989 all conference papers are published in the book series „Darmstädter Beiträge zur Jazzforschung“.

Information center, events,
other activities …

The Jazzinstitut Darmstadt is not just a center for scholarly research; anybody interested in the music is welcome.Today, our most important means of communication is the internet. Our website provides one of the most extensive and comprehensive compilations of national and international jazz addresses to be found on the World Wide Web. Every other year the Jazzinstitut publishes „Wegweiser Jazz” [The Jazz Pathfinder], a directory of jazz clubs, venues, festivals, record labels, agencies, and media in Germany. The Jazzinstitut can be contacted for answers to all sorts of questions and inquiries from musicians, concert promoters, agents, researchers or just plain old music lovers. Our mission is to provide contacts, give information about public funding, answer „jazzological” inquiries and be active participants in the ongoing international discourses about the music, its mystic and its impact. Our staff always provides the most current and accurately researched information to the public.

The Jazzinstitut established its own concert series in its intimate concert space built in the cave underneath its current residence. For a series entitled „JazzTalk“ we invite musicians for a regular concert followed by a public interview onstage highlighting their aesthetic ideals, influences, the troubles of working musicians and the directions in which they see the music moving. An annual workshop called „Jazz Conceptions“, organized together with the cultural center Bessunger Knabenschule, brings young musicians to Darmstadt for a week in order to work together with renowned teachers. On the last Friday of every month, musicians from all over the Frankfurt- Wiesbaden-Darmstadt region meet in the cozy arched brick cellar underneath the Institut‘s historical building for the Bessunger Jam Session.


In 1983 the city of Darmstadt acquired the private collection of well known German jazz critic and producer Joachim Ernst Berendt’s records, books, periodicals, photographs and much more. This and further material led to the exhibition „That’s Jazz. Der Sound des 20. Jahrhunderts“ [That‘s Jazz. The sound of the 20th Century] shown in 1988 at Darmstadt‘s Museum Mathildenhöhe and documented in an extensive catalogue which to this day is regarded as one of the most thorough and comprehensive books on the history of jazz. As the collection continued to grow, the city founded the Jazzinstitut Darmstadt to become an archive, a research center as well as a place to promote and enrich the German jazz scene with its own projects and regular events.

Noble location

The Jazzinstitut, founded in September 1990, was at first situated in three narrow rooms on the third floor of the „John-F.-Kennedy-Haus“ in Darmstadt. Seven years later, on October 3rd, 1997, the institute moved to its present home: the historic „Bessunger Kavaliershaus“. On three floors, the new location offers sufficient work space for visitors. A cellar underneath the archive has become a well utilized concert hall, and thus an ideal and practical counterpart to the theoretical world housed above. The „Bessunger Kavaliershaus“ has become a meeting point for jazz enthusiasts, musicians and researchers alike. A trumpetshaped weathervane on its roof and a sculpture of blues-harp-virtuoso Little Walter in front of the building make its current use visible to everyone. (if you want to learn more about our historic building ...)


The Jazzinstitut is a public archive, open to anybody. Hours are Monday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. During these hours visitors are invited to glance at the latest issues of about sixty different jazz periodicals from all over the world, listen to records (LPs and CDs) or obtain information on jazz events (jazz clubs, festivals, workshops) all over Germany. Aside from jazz they will also find information about related musical styles such as rhythm ‘n‘ blues, latin jazz, salsa as well as electronic and improvised music.

... staff

Our team: Arndt Weidler, Doris Schröder, Dr. Wolfram Knauer (Photo: Ralf Dombrowski)

Dr. Wolfram Knauer (director)

… studied musicology, English and American literature, art history and sociology and holds a Ph.D. from Kiel University. Under his direction, the Jazzinstitut Darmstadt has become a major information and research center frequented by researchers from all over the world. He had teaching appointments at several major German universities and is regularly invited to international conferences in Europe as well as the United States. He served on the international advisory board for both editions of „The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz“ (1988, 2001), is editor of several book series and member of the music advisory council of the Goethe Institut. In 2002 he was awarded the „Hessischer Jazz Preis“ by the state of Hesse for his achievements in establishing the Jazzinstitut Darmstadt as an internationally acclaimed information and research center on jazz.
contact: knauer [at]

Doris Schröder (documentation and exhibitions)

… studied art history at Frankfurt University and worked for the cultural department of the city of Ludwigshafen before joining the Jazzinstitut‘s staff in 1995. She is author of several books on historical architecture, has organized exhibitions and published responding exhibition catalogues on jazz subjects. Her expertise includes the graphic collection of the jazz archive, assistance in research, book, exhibition and documentation projects done with the help of the Jazzinstitut.
contact: schroeder [at]

Arndt Weidler (documentation, general inquiries and concert programming)

… studied sociology, political sciences and social psychology at Heidelberg and Mannheim University, his master thesis reflecting on the impact of blues and jazz on concert audience behavior. He worked as tour guide and stagehand for numerous American Blues bands, had his own agency promoting blues and jazz artists, organized concerts and festivals. Weidler has been co-founder and manager of a well known German blues and jazz club, „Muddy‘s Club“, and worked in off-airpromotion for several radio stations. He joined the staff of the Jazzinstitut in 1998, is responsible for much of the concert programming as well as for documentation and services concerning the current jazz and blues scene. Since 2005 Arndt Weidler is president of the German Jazz Meeting Association, too.
contact: weidler [at]