Wolfgang Laade Collection

Music of Man Archive

The Music of Man Archive is an extensive private collection built up from 1950 to around 1995. The core of the archive is the collection of approximately 45,000 sound recordings. In addition, there is a library consisting of about 13,000 volumes, a collection of about 1,000 instruments as well as videos and ethnographica. The collection includes Inuit songs next to Bach partitas, Hindu temple chants next to Roland Kaiser and Algerian Rai next to socialist collective compositions.

The Music of Man Archive was acquired by the Foundation of Lower Saxony in 2003 and donated on permanent loan to the Center for World Music in 2009 with the mission of making the collection accessible to the scientific public. The holdings that have been made accessible so far - 3,600 digitised and 27,000 scanned records as well as over 12,000 books in the collection - can be searched via the catalogue of the Common Library Network (GBV). For legal reasons, audio digitised records and scans can only be accessed at the Center for World Music.

Since August 2020, there has been a repository (digital archive) of the Music of Man Archive, created by the Joint Library Network in close cooperation with the CWM library.

Link to the catalogue

Further information - to the film


Wolfgang Laade was an ethnomusicologist and collector. His aim in collecting was to document musical forms of expression worldwide as comprehensively as possible in their embedding in larger socio-cultural contexts. In doing so, he deliberately did not follow the demarcation between non-Western and Western musical forms or between folk music, popular music and art music that is common in musicology. Rather, he tried to grasp music as a universal phenomenon in its culture-specific manifestations, independent of its origins or aesthetic issues. He researched endangered music cultures of indigenous population groups, for example in Lapland, Oceania, Sri Lanka, New Guinea, Taiwan and Zimbabwe. For his life's work, he was awarded the international prize in cultural anthropology, the Sigillo d'Oro Pitrè - Salomone Marino.