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Unexpected Wittgensteiniana in an archival collection

Familienerinnerungen by Hermine WittgensteinFamilienerinnerungen by Hermine WittgensteinSometimes you can find unusual items in unusual places. Alexander Waugh's new book "The House of Wittgenstein" brings the Wittgenstein family and their legacy to the forefront of attention. Apart from this publication, scholars can now investigate a little-known source in the Music Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

A few years ago we received a gift of the working and personal papers of the eminent music theorist and professor, Felix Salzer. Salzer (1904-1986) was a student of the noted music theorist Heinrich Schenker (1868-1935). The papers (call number JPB 07-1) contain not only Salzer's numerous analyses and writings, but also some of Schenker's unpublished analyses. It's an archival collection that contains a wealth of information for students of music theory and music history.

Wittgenstein BriefeWittgenstein BriefeBut that's not all. Salzer was a grandson of the famous industrialist Karl Wittgenstein (Salzer's mother was Wittgenstein's daughter Helene). As such, he was intimately connected to other relatives, including philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and pianist Paul Wittgenstein. (The Music Division has long had several music manuscripts that once belonged to Paul Wittgenstein, including a handful of works composed by Johannes Brahms.) Among the items in the Felix Salzer Papers are 3 bound books of photocopies of correspondence, dated 1913-1922, to and from various Wittgenstein relatives. (The originals are in the Österreischische Nationalbibliothek).

Hermine Wittgenstein signatureHermine Wittgenstein signatureAdditionally, during the height of World War II, Hermine Wittgenstein (1874-1950) wrote a family history and memoir for her family, Familienerinnerungen ("Family Recollections"; an image of the title page heads this blog post). Her signature is in the front, dated June 1944 (a few additional pages at the end are dated 1948 and 1949). As this memoir was intended only for family, very few institutions have access to it. 

This cache of Wittgenstein materials (Salzer himself called them "Wittgensteiniana") is a reminder to always be on the lookout for unusual items within archival collections. You may not realize the treasures that can be found!



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