A German musicologist and with Erich Moritz von Hornbostel, co-author of the Hornbostel-Sachs system of musical instrument classification. Curt Sachs was born in Berlin on June 29, 1881 and a student of piano, music theory and composition. He received a doctorate on the history of art from Berlin University in 1904, but his career as an art historian soon shifted to music. He was put in charge of a large collection of musical instruments when he was appointed director of the Staatliche Instrumentensammlung. As he undertook to reorganize and restore the collection, he began his work as an organologist. His work with Erich Moritz von Hornbostel remains the most widely used system of classification by ethnomusicologists and organologists.
In 1933, he lost his position because the Nazi Party discovered that he was a Jew. He left Berlin, living in Paris, before moving to New York City where he taught at New York University from 1937 to 1953. He died on February 5, 1959 in New York City.
See also Hornbostel-Sachs; Erich Moritz von Hornbostel; Organology.