University of Calgary

Isabell Maria Woelfel

  • Sessional Instructor (ended on May 13, 2016)

Currently Teaching

Not currently teaching any courses.

Areas of Interest

My SSHRC-funded thesis project pursues the problems of translating literary texts arranged in a musical setting from the perspective of translation theory and the musical thought. My research explores the extent to which translation functions as an interpretation that changes an original piece of art, but also negotiates opportunities for sung music to function in "other" cultural settings. The purpose of my dissertation is to establish translation as a process that allows foreign listeners to engage with the relationship of music and text directly. 

I will test my hypothesis by conducting a case study of Arnold Schoenberg's vocal work Pierrot Lunaire (1912), which is the German adaption of a Belgian-French poetic text by the German author Otto Erich von Hartleben (1864-1905). Schoenberg demanded that Pierrot be recorded in English. My focus is the translation by Ingolf Dahl, written for a LA performance in 1944, which Schoenberg himself favored, as it preserved the German original in syntax and wording.



I hold an MA in German literature studies from the Heinrich-Heine University of Düsseldorf. After enrolling at the University of Calgary in 2009, the academic staff at the Department of GSEA encouraged me to apply for a special case PhD, and to pursue parts of my course work in the Department of Music. Today, I feel fortunate to have the support of two accomplished professors in the Department of GSEA and also in the Department of Music.


I am grateful to be able to focus on topics which fascinates me and to move toward my goals. Beside the opportunity to present my research at conferences and colloquia, I also appreciated the chance to get involved in the Department as a research and teaching assistant respectively.

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