Award of Excellence for Anna Barbara Kastelewicz

Awards & Successes
Award of Excellence 2023 für Anna Barbara Kastelewicz | © BMBWF / elephant and porcelain GmbH / Gerald Mayer-Rohrmoser

Anna Barbara Kastelewicz, a graduate of the Department of Musicology at the Mozarteum University, was recently honoured with the Award of Excellence for her dissertation on "Music, culture and cultural activities in the special camps of the Soviet occupying power 1945 - 1950 in the Soviet Occupation Zone and the GDR". Congratulations!

Anna Barbara Kastelewicz, BMus PhD

Certified orchestral musician
Certified instrumental pedagogue

The "Award of Excellence" from the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research has honoured the best dissertations at universities every year since 2008. In 2023, Martin Polaschek, Federal Minister of Education, Science and Research, presented the award, endowed with 3,000 euros each, to 39 doctoral students from 21 universities in Austria.

In her dissertation (supervised by Wolfgang Gratzer and the historian Alexander von Plato), Anna Barbara Kastelewicz deals with music in the penal camps of the GDR: after the end of the Second World War in 1945, the Soviet occupying power set up ten prison camps in Germany on the territory of its occupation zone (SBZ), which later became the GDR, which it labelled "special camps". The prison conditions were inhumane, with around 30% of the prisoners dying of hunger and secondary diseases. The prisoners felt the worst about the main objective of the camps, "the total isolation" of the prisoners and the ban on any activity, especially mental activity. Hardly anything was known about the existence of the camps; in the GDR they were a taboo subject. Following the disclosure of some of the files of the Soviet secret service NKVD in the period after the "fall of communism" in 1989/1990, academic research into the system of these camps, their aims and foundations began. At the time this work was begun, there were no studies on the subject of music and cultural activities in the special camps - an area of experience that had a decisive influence on the everyday lives of the prisoners in these camps. This work fills this gap by using the available material from relevant archives in Germany and Moscow as well as privately owned reports, sheet music and other documents, supplemented by interviews with contemporary witnesses. For the first time, a complete overview of all ten Soviet special camps on the subject of "music, culture and cultural activities" is provided, with a detailed examination of the cross-camp and camp-specific phenomena while simultaneously placing them in their respective historical context.

Violinist Anna Barbara Kastelewicz studied for a PhD at the Mozarteum University, specialising in musicology, and was supervised by Wolfgang Gratzer. She works as a soloist, chamber musician and concertmaster. Her engagements on the baroque violin and modern violin have taken her to Europe, Asia and South America. Her repertoire ranges from Renaissance to modern, including musicals and jazz. She has made recordings for radio, television and discs. She has also founded two project orchestras and directed the Lüneburg Heath Music Festival from 2007 to 2013. She works as a lecturer at music universities and devotes herself intensively to musicology with the edition and interpretation of contemporary composers.