Schola Cantorum Basiliensis

The Schola Cantorum Basiliensis as a place to study

The Schola Cantorum Basiliensis - ‘Hochschule’ for Early Music (SCB) - is a unique forum for professional training in the field of Early Music. Furthermore, it is a center for research in historical music practise, and at the same time responsible for organizing a variety of public concerts. The instructors as well as the students come from many different countries of the world, guaranteeing a lively, stimulating, multilingual and multinational climate.

The SCB was founded in 1933 by Paul Sacher (1906-1999) as a private institute for teaching and research (‘Lehr und Forschungsinstitut’) in the field of Early Music. Two of the original instructors had a shaping influence on the development of the SCB - the cellist and gambist August Wenzinger (1905-1996) and the violinist and music pedagogue Ina Lohr (1903-1983). In 1954 the SCB, the ‘Musikschule der Stadt Basel’ (musical training for amateurs) and the ‘Konservatorium’ (professional school ) were united to become the ‘Musik-Akademie der Stadt Basel’. Paul Sacher remained Director until 1969. In 1999 the SCB received the title ‘Hochschule für Alte Musik’, and in 2008 it was integrated into the group of professional institutions of higher learning known as University of Applied Sciences and Arts FHNW (Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz FHNW). 

One distinctive feature of the SCB is the division of responsibility in two areas:

  • The ‘Musikschule der SCB’ (music school for amateurs) is dedicated to the training of amateurs from Basel and environs, adults as well as children, according to the  principles of ‘Hausmusik’ (music-making in the home), which was an important element of the school in it earliest phase.

  • The ‘Hochschule für Alte Musik’ (Professional school for Early Music) trains professional musicians in voice and historical instruments. This aspect was incorporated at the Schola’s beginnings by August Wenzinger, who for decades directed the internationally-active ‘Konzertgruppe der SCB’.


Basel was chosen to be the city of the Roman Catholic Council which took place from 1431-1449. It became a prominent center for Humanism: among others, the painters Hans Holbein the younger and Urs Graf settled here. The publishing business played an important role: Erasmus of Rotterdam and other humanist scholars came to this liberal city and had their works published here. Members of the Amerbach family left important music manuscripts with repertory of the period around 1500. In 1501 the city joined the Federation. In 1529 the Reformation reached Basel. The Mayor of Basel, Johann Rudolf Wettstein (1594-1666) was able to maintain a neutral position for Basel and the Swiss cantons during the Thirty Years’ War. In the peace negotiations of 1648 he was able to effect a definitive separation of Switzerland from Germany.
Boasting a well-maintained central part of the city, largely buildings of the late Middle Ages, Basel is on Swiss territory but contingent to both France and Germany: the ‘Dreiländereck’, ‘corner of the three countries’, is the point where they converge. It has the oldest University in Switzerland (founded 1460) as well as the oldest Conservatory in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, the ‘Hochschule für Musik’, formerly called ‘Konservatorium’, founded in 1905. A high point in the life of the city is the three-day ‘Fasnacht’ at the beginning of Lent, in which music for fifes and drums plays a significant role.
Basel has always been an important city for business, still reflected by the many trade shows which take place here. Modern Basel is also distinguished by being home to large international chemical and pharmaceutical firms (Novartis, Roche), as well as by its unusually rich cultural offerings, in music as well as the visual arts.

Further information about the city under: