Ludwig Pesch

Ludwig Pesch is best known as musicologist and educator. Trained as flautist in the “Carnatic” music tradition of South India, he loves playing in personalized settings, in a manner critically acclaimed as “an eloquent demonstration of the universal fact that music transcends cultural and linguistic barriers” (Indian Express); “captivating and chaste rendition …  a golden link with the West.” (Another Garland: A Biographical Dictionary of Carnatic Composers and Musicians; Chennai, 1993). “Pesch created melodies that reached one’s heart” (Eindhovens Dagblad, The Netherlands). – More reviews >>

Interested in “other” ways of teaching and sharing music, he studied South Indian music at Kalakshetra (Diploma and Post-Diploma courses) after serving as church organist and studying music and musicology in Freiburg (Germany). He specialized in bamboo flute under the guidance of his Indian teacher Ramachandra Shastry (1906-92), an adherent to the personalized gurukula system of teaching with whom he performed on many occasions.

He was commissioned to write the The Oxford Illustrated Companion to South Indian Classical Music: “The realisation of the sheer beauty of unadulterated sound will open many more doors also for Carnatic music. … Not surprising the Amsterdam-based Pesch is a known musicologist today, with a number of publications to his credit. Perhaps that is why Oxford University Press thought it fit to ask him, rather than an Indian scholar, to pen ‘The Oxford Illustrated Companion to South Indian Classical Music’. … Pesch is certainly a teacher at heart. But his teaching is not only for the specialised or the academics.” – Anjana Rajan in Harmony! (The Hindu “Friday Review”, 13 November 2009)

“The most thorough study of Carnatic music is by Ludwig Pesch.” – Historian of religions and musicologist Guy L. Beck in Hinduism and Music (2014, Oxford Handbooks Online)

For the distance education department of Lüneburg University he developed two online courses (one in English and another in German), winning acclaim among students and peers alike: “a fantastic resource …  inspirational”; other participants liked it for being “great fun for those of us who have not taken lessons in Karnatic music”; an Indian student’s unsolicited testimonial reads:  “As someone who did not have an opportunity to learn the rudiments of Carnatic music, I highly value this course.” –

In 2006-7 he taught at the Bern University of the Arts Switzerland based on a HKB research project, “Sam, Reflection, Gathering Together!” –

“In recognition of his outstanding contribution to the spread of knowledge about India’s spirit and life”, he was awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Rabindranath Tagore Cultural Award.


In collaboration with the Royal Tropical Museum Amsterdam and Architectenbureau Jowa ( he developed “India Inspiration”, an exhibition highlighting the inspiration derived from India in the West, and aspects of migration from India that are relevant for Dutch society (2007-17).

Find a copy of the The Oxford Illustrated Companion to South Indian Classical Music by Ludwig Pesch

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