The forerunner of today's Detmold University of Music was the Nordwestdeutsche Musikakademie, founded in 1946. As an 'academy', it was originally set up as an institution in the province of Westphalia, the then Free State of Lippe, and the City of Detmold.

Alongside composer Wilhelm Maler and celebrated cellist Hans Münch-Holland (see photo), other founders include pianist Conrad Hansen, the Oeynhausen lawyer and notary Franz Ley, and Richard Moes, the mayor of the City of Detmold, who had a particular affinity for the arts. Beginning with the original string academy, each of these men contributed in different ways to the genesis of the Detmold University of Music as we know it today.

There was, however, a second stage in its development, which took the following course: On 26th June 1944 pianist Conrad Hansen performed an evening of Beethoven at the 'Ameide' Society House. This took place on the suggestion of Fritz Müller, the son of a furniture manufacturer from the Lippe region, and the Bad Oeynhausen lawyer Franz Ley, who was of Jewish origin. Ley was pursued by the Nazis and found refuge in Müller's lamp factory, 'TEMDE'. The 'Lippische Landeskonservatorium für Musik' was named as the concert promoter for that evening. Subsequently Conrad Hansen enjoyed friendly ties with the Müller household. An acquaintance with his colleague Dr.-Eng. Erich Thienhaus, who had significantly developed the technique of recording music onto audiotape, led Müller to offer his business premises to house the sensitive and valuable equipment in his colleague's possession, which until the end of 1944 had been stored in Berlin. This sowed the seed for the first training centre for sound engineers, the present-day Erich Thienhaus Institute. The Prussian finance minister of the time, Dr. Hermann Höpker-Aschoff, immediately pledged the start-up capital of 100,000 Reichsmark, thus securing the financial basis of the academy. The Lippe state contributed 20,000 Reichsmark and the City of Detmold 8,000. Rudolf Amelunxen, the first state president of North-Rhine-Westphalia, later described the Nordwestdeutsche Musikakademie as a 'wedding gift from North-Rhine-Westphalia to the State of Lippe' in his speech at its festive inauguration on 25th/26th January 1947. Lippe State having just previously been assimilated into the new federal state of North-Rhine-Westphalia, the Nordwestdeutsche Musikakademie became an official establishment of the North-Rhine-Westphalia state.

Further bibliographical references (in German) regarding the history of Detmold University of Music:

  • Richard Müller-Dombois: Die Gründung der Nordwestdeutschen Musikakademie, in: Sonderveröffentlichungen des Naturwissenschaftlichen und Historischen Vereins für das Land Lippe (Bd. 27). Detmold 1977.
  • Gerhard Peters: Das Fürstliche Palais in Detmold. Architektur und Geschichte 17.00 bis 1950. Detmold 1984. 
  • Dr. Thomas Dann: Neues Palais Detmold, in: Lippische Kulturlandschaften. Detmold 2010.