Music Master's degree

“Research and the ensemble performance of classical and romantic orchestras”

Open to young musicians at the start of their careers who wish to specialize in classical and romantic repertoires on period instruments.

Two complementary approaches contribute to obtaining the diploma awarded by the University of Poitiers:

  • the practice of period instruments, dispensed at the Abbaye aux Dames
  • research training carried out at the University of Poitiers
  • Degree : Master
  • Area : Humanities and social science
  • Focus areas : Civilisation, history, heritage, sources
  • Specialty : Music, research and ensemble performance
  • Duration of reference : 4 semesters/120 ECTS
Training takes two years and is held at the Abbaye aux Dames, la cité musicale, and the University of Poitiers.

Application requirements

Recruitment is open for violinists, violists, cellists, double bassists, flutists and bassoonists until August 28.

Applicants must meet one of the following criteria :

• hold a higher national professional musician’s diploma and a bachelor’s degree in music and/or musicology

• hold a bachelor’s degree in music interpretation (foreign university)

• hold a national music teacher’s diploma and a bachelor’s degree in music and/or musicology


Download the application file 2021

Interpretation test program :
  • 1 movement from the classical concerto of your choice
  • imposed music study
  • 3 orchestral excerpts to choose from the list

Send the complete application file and the recordings to or via the registration form below.

Training content

  • October 12th – 17th, mediation and chamber music session with Arnaud Guillou
  • November 29th – December 4th, Ocherstral music session conducted by Christophe Coin
  • February 2nd  – 7th , chamber music session focused on research
  • April 16th – 19th, exam session
  • May 17th – 24th, Ocherstral music session conducted Alessandro de Marchi


Concepts and tools (3 ECTS) – 18 hours

Research Methodology – Isabelle His, Hyacinthe Belliot

In these lessons, you will discover the different kinds of bibliographic tools that are used for musicological research, giving you access to different kinds of sources (primary and secondary), as well as various other documents; the structures of these works, their comparative organisation, the choices that governed their creation and the field they cover; the different parts of a research dissertation, the standards for bibliographical presentation, the phases of the drafting process, the reporting technique and the issue of plagiarism.

FORMS AND USES OF SCORES (6 ECTS) – 31hours Olivier Cullin, Isabelle His, Pascal Duc, Louise Bernard de Raymond, Nicolas Donin

In these classes, you will learn the different types of musical sources elaborated from the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 21st century: sources from published collections, institutional or individual sources and sources representative of the work of composers, musicians or editors. You will study the contexts in which these sources were elaborated in a cross-cutting way and find out their functions. This will reveal the close links between their different forms and uses. Emphasis will be placed on the way this critical approach to music scores enhances the field of interpretation.


  • Digital skills (3 ECTS) – 18 hours

Web edition (Lionel Fandeur) , music engraving course (Thomas Thiebaud)

  • Languages (3 ECTS) – 12 hours , English (Graeme Watson et Frédéric Cerf)


  • Instrumental tuition (4 ECTS) – 24 hours

12 hours of instrumental tuition with specialist professors who are recognised in their field and selected by students. Tuition is arranged between the professor and student, outside the courses held at the Abbaye aux Dames.

  • Chamber music (4 ECTS) – 20 hours
  • artistic diffusion and production (7 ECTS) – 42 hours


  • Concepts and tools (4 ECTS) – 18 hours Teaching focused in the second semester on the historiography of musicology, epistemology and methodology.
  • Professional insertion and mediation (2 ECTS) – 6hours, Institutions Discovery Day
  • Methodological support (3 ECTS) – 12hours


  • Digital skills (1 ECTS) – 6 hours (Lionel Fandeur, Thomas Thiébaud)
  • Languages (3 ECTS) – 12 hours, English : (Frédéric Cerf)

presentation day of dissertations (1 ECTS)


  • Instrumental practice (2 ECTS) – 12 hours
  • Chamber music (3 ECTS) – 20 hours
  • Solo recital and ensembles (4 ECTS)
  • artistic diffusion and production (6 ECTS) – 40 hours
  • study of treatises (3 ECTS) – 24hours Hilary Metzger and Pascal Dubreuil

Through the “Study of Treatises” seminar, you will undertake an in-depth reading of the main musical treatises of the classical and romantic periods, from the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th century (rhetoric, theoretical writings, instrument manuals). The approach will take into account the context of the various texts so you can distinguish the fundamental issues (the author’s culture, target audience(s), transmission of “academic” knowledge  or reflections on more specific practices, etc.) and hone your theoretical knowledge, which you will put into practice when playing your instrument(s).


  • Sources of musical performance (5 ECTS) – 15hours
  • Analysis workshop (4 ECTS) – 12hours (Gérard Bougeret)


  • Language (3 ECTS) – 12hours

B2 certification in a language other than the mother tongue to be provided at the end of the training.

  • Internship search and professional integration (3 ECTS) – 2hours + individual follow-up with Odile Pradem-Faure and Talia Bachir


  • Instrumental practice (3 ECTS) – 12hours
  • Chamber music (4 ECTS) – 20hours
  • artistic diffusion and production (6 ECTS) – 42hours
  • organology and lute-making (5 ECTS) – 24hours

The organology seminar uses the “Forschung toolbox” approach. It gives overviews of the different research projects of the Haute École des Arts de Berne (Berne School of Arts) and the manufacture of historical instruments, especially during the 19th century. Symposiums, which are also attended by students from Berne, are led and supervised by musicians, instrument makers, restorers and musicologists. The trainers will be Kai Köpp, Adrian v. Steiger, Daniel Allenbach and Andreas Schöni.


The student can spread out the year of M1 or M2 over two years, which requires full payment for two consecutive registrations. The educational managers then establish before the start of the training, in consultation with the student, a plan for the distribution of the different teaching units, which the student undertakes to respect and which constitutes a study contract.


A request for validation or direct access to the second year of the Master (M2) is possible if the student has already obtained another Masters degree. A committee made up of representatives of the University and the Abbaye aux Dames, la cité musicale or the pôle Aliénor then studies the student’s file: CV, explanatory letter, transcripts of diplomas (Master or Bachelor), discertation already written. If the request for direct access to M2 is accepted, it is advisable (with some exceptions) to spread the lessons over two years.


Les partenaires du parcours MRPE étant internationaux, il est admis que l’accès des étudiants y soit possible sans le niveau de français habituellement requis (B2). La réussite aux évaluations implique cependant que l’étudiant fasse le nécessaire pour atteindre le plus rapidement possible le niveau B2.

University courses are mainly given in French; some seminars or conferences may be in English. As the partners of the MRPE course are international, it is accepted that access for students is possible without the level of French usually required (B2). Successful assessment, however, implies that the student takes the necessary measures to reach level B2 as quickly as possible.


Fluency in a foreign language is required for graduation. The student must provide before the end of the training a B2 level certificate in a language other than his mother tongue. A certificate in French is admitted for foreign students.

Download the table of teaching units

Visit the university website


The annual cost of the master’s, 1,086 euros, covers :

  • the amount due to the Abbaye aux Dames for the instrumental music courses, a €600 contribution to accommodation/meal fees + a compulsory €16 membership fee for our association, for a total of €616,
  • the amount due to the University of Poitiers for theoretical seminars: €259.10 for a Master’s diploma, including tuition fees (€254) + preventive medicine (€5.10) + a €211 compulsory subscription to the student social security system, for a total of about €470.


Students are provided with meals and accommodation while taking instrumental music courses and performing public concerts (at Saintes and on trips).
Students must cover their own accommodation in Poitiers.


Several grants are awarded to students each year to allow them to participate in lessons, courses and seminars at the different teaching sites. If you wish to apply for a grant, please contact the administration of the Abbaye aux Dames.

Catherine Puig
Director of the Jeune Orchestre de l’Abbaye (JOA)

Catherine Puig began her musical studies of piano, viola and conducting in Nimes. The viola became her favourite instrument and she obtained her diploma in this discipline at the CNSM of Lyon. At this time she was a member of the European Community Youth Orchestra and had the opportunity to play under the direction of great conductors such as Claudio Abbado and Zubin Mehta. At the end of her studies, a meeting with Jean-Claude Malgoire allowed her to explore historically informed performance on period instruments. She then played with several groups including Mosaïques and Collegium Vocale before joining the Orchestre de Champs-Elysées at its creation. She participated in numerous recordings with the orchestra and with Philippe Herreweghe. Around this time she obtained her professor’s Vocational Certificate of viola. She also collaborated in the publishing of the Manuscript Rost with Fuzeau and Ricercare de Gabrielli with Billaudot. As conductor she has managed educational projects around Mozart’s  comic opera Bastien Bastienne (2008), Gounod’s  The Dove (2009), Grétry’s The  Speaking Picture (2010) and Mozart’s The goose of Cairo (2011). Her interest for teachning and her experience of historically informed performance come together at the Abbaye aux Dames in Saintes where she now heads the Jeune Orchestre de l’Abbaye training programme.


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