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Archive of photographic images (negatives; photostatic prints at original size) of "the most important manuscripts of the great composers," housed in the Music Department of the Austrian National Library from 1927, located at Vienna I, Augustinerbastei 6, and donated to that Library in 1957.

Its full original name was "Archiv für Photogramme musikalischer Meisterhandschriften" (Archive for Photographic Images of Musical Master Manuscripts), but was customarily abbreviated to "Photogrammarchiv" or to "Meister-Archiv" (Master Archive).

Purpose of the Archive

The primary purpose of the Photogrammarchiv was to place on public record the original autograph intentions of composers as a bulwark against faulty and wilfully altered editions. The Photogrammarchiv was to be accessible to scholars and devotees of music for study.

The value of the Photogrammarchiv was enhanced by the fact that the original manuscripts of many of its photographic copies were lost or destroyed during World War II.

History of the Archive

The archive was founded in August 1927 (NGDM2) and launched publicly in November of that year in the form of an "Appeal" (Aufruf) issued by a curatorial board comprising Anthony van Hoboken, Heinrich Schenker, and Robert Haas (Director of the Music Division), and officially opened on November 25, 1928 (vC 21). The archive was assembled by Anthony van Hoboken at the instigation of his teacher, Heinrich Schenker. Its secretary in the 1930s was Julius Ritter von Kromer, with whom Schenker corresponded. Its initial target repertory comprised: "the most important works of J. S. Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin, as well as of Domenico Scarlatti, C. P. E. Bach, Brahms and perhaps also of François Couperin." Already by 1934, the collection numbered over 30,000 pages. The "Appeal" was directed at public and private collections, individual collectors, and antiquarian dealers to make the manuscripts in their possession available for photography.

Schenker's Rationale

From early in his career, Schenker upheld the consultation of autograph manuscripts and early editions as essential not only for the editing of a work but also for its study and analysis. His study-editions of the Chromatic Fantasy & Fugue of J. S. Bach and the late piano sonatas of Beethoven are exemplary of this principle. His belief in the need for a photographic archive long predates the founding of the Photogrammarchiv; alluding to the sound archives founded by Sigmund Exner at the Austrian Academy Sciences in Vienna in 1899, and perhaps also that founded by Carl Stumpf in Berlin in 1900, for ethnographic materials, both called "Phonogrammarchiv," Schenker wrote a memorandum to the Austrian Ministry of Culture on July 19, 1913 stating: ... that it is high time to preserve the originals from destruction, and to take official action [to this end]. If there are sound archives [Phonogrammarchive] in the academies of sciences or arts that preserve those things worthy of being remembered, why not archives of autographs? (letter to Emil Hertzka: WSLB 167, p.9)

Correspondence with Schenker

Correspondence between Schenker and the Photogrammarchiv and its officials is preserved at OJ 9/10, also at OJ 11/32 and OC A/294 (Haas), OJ 11/54 and OJ 89 (Hoboken), OJ 12/24, OC 30/64 and 119, OC A/293 (Kromer), and there are numerous references to it in Schenker's other correspondence.


  • NGMD2: "Hoboken"; "Libraries: Berlin, Vienna"; "Sound Archives: History, Europe-Austria"
  • Oswald Jonas, "Schenker's Editorial Work and the Vienna Photostat Archive," Appendix B of Das Wesen des musikalischen Kunstwerks: Einführung in die Lehre Heinrich Schenkers (Vienna; Saturn-Verlag, 1934; Eng. trans. John Rothgeb, New York: Longman, 1982, repr. Musicalia Press, 2006)

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