Annual Report 1999

Orpheus Trust: Annual Report 1999

In 1999, research and documentation were given top priority. The results of these research activities have been made available to the general public and serve as the basis for the Trust’s ongoing activities of performing forgotten music, providing information and bringing together individuals and institutions interested in the field.

• The entries in the Orpheus Trust Database giving information on the biographies of exiled and persecuted musicians have almost doubled compared to the previous year and now include 3,250 musicians (compared to 1,900 at the beginning of 1999). The music database has increased to 5,500 works (compared to 4,100 at the beginning of 1999).
• Cataloguing and archiving of the Fritz Spielmann estate have already begun.
• The Fritz Spielmann Fund provided 4 project grants in 1999.
• 21 Orpheus Trust productions and co-productions were organised, acquainting the public with the life and work of over 100 musicians.
• On May 19, 1999, Primavera Gruber, together with the initiators of the ‘Verlorene Nachbarschaft’ Project (Lost Neighbourhood’), received the Friedrich Torberg Award of the Vienna Jewish Community. A book about this project, 'Verlorene Nachbarschaft. Die Wiener Synagoge in der Neudeggergasse. Ein Mikrokosmos und seine Geschichte', edited by Käthe Kratz, Karin Schön, Hubert Gaisbauer and Hans Litsauer, has been published.
• Members have increased to 246 in 1999.

1. Research and documentation

Orpheus Trust Database
Our application for funding a research project was rejected by the Federal Ministry of Science and Transport. As this project is a very urgent one, with time running out fast, we ahd to work without any remuneration. Primavera Gruber conducted 40 oral history interviews in New York, London, Italy, and Vienna and examined several archives and estates. The 1937/38 Vienna Directory of Residents yielded important information and was used to enlarge the musicians’ database, which now contains 3,250 persons. The number of works contained in the music database has increased to 5,500. The Trust has further material on over 10,000 additional works, which could not be processed due to the extreme shortage of staff.

The chapter 'Flüchtige Klänge. Erster Versuch einer Topographie', written by Primavera Gruber, is part of the volume ‘Verlorene Nachbarschaft, edited by the initiators of the project of the same name. It is the result of extensive research and presents an introductory overview of musicians exiled and persecuted during the Nazi regime. However, much further research is necessary to complement this presentation.

Fritz Spielmann's musical estate
An application for funding the cataloguing and archiving of the contents of the Fritz Spielmann estate was only responded to at the end of December by the Science Department of the City of Vienna, granting 50% of the amount originally asked for in March 1999. Nevertheless, Mag. Dr. Regina Thumser has already started work.

Fritz Spielmann Fund
In 1999, the Fritz Spielmann Fund,established by Spielmann’s cousins Moshe H. Jahoda and Walter Mark Gregory together with the Cultural Department of the City of Vienna (total amount 1998 ATS 200.000;--) provided the following small project grants:
• To Gerlinde Illich – to meet travel expenses for research in San Francisco and New York for her master’s thesis ‘Zur Rezeptionsgeschichte der Werke Karl Weigls 1920-1938’ (‘On the reception history of Karl Weigl’s works 1920-1938’)
• To Joshua Horowitz – to support the CD production ‘Budowitz – Khassenen On A Kale’ (‘Wedding without a bride’)
• To Kyung Boon Lee – to contribute towards the printing costs for the publication of her Ph.D. dissertation ‘Literatur and Musik im Exil. Hanns Eislers dodekaphone Kantaten’ (‘Literature and music in exile. Hanns Eisler’s dodecaphonic cantatas’), Peter Lang, New York.
• To Primavera Gruber – for accommodation at the YMCA, while doing interviews in New York.

2. Information services and information exchange

In 1999, the Orpheus Trust continued to provide information to individuals and institutions interested in the field as well as to promote the exchange of information between them. Thus, the annual newsletter containing the names of 150 conductors, soloists and ensembles who include the works of ‘exiled composers’ in their repertoire and are in contact with the Orpheus Trust was sent to 450 concert organisers in German-speaking countries. More than 150 inquiries concerning musicians and musical works were answered by the Orpheus Trust. Such inquiries were made by institutions (for example, by the Vienna Literaturhaus about the Otto Janowitz estate, New York), by researchers (e.g, by Reinhard Kapp on Peter Stadlen), by concert organisers (e.g. by Benno Schnatz, IME, about composers from Galicia), by performing artists and other people interested in the subject (for example, by the Lagergemeinschaft Buchenwald about the descendants of Fritz Löhner-Beda), and by the media (by APA, about the the passing away of Ernest Gold). There were also requests for loans from the Orpheus Trust ( the Austrian Exilbibliothek)), for recordings (for example, by conductor Johannes Kalitzke recordings of Jakob Gilboa and Richard Hoffmann) and music scores . The Orpheus Trust also sent relevant information to individuals and institutions on its own initiative. Numerous contacts were made with émigré musicians and their families.

3. Orpheus Trust Productions and Co-productions

Although performance activities had to be reduced due to the extreme shortage of staff, there were nevertheless twenty-one cultural events organised by the Orpheus Trust alone or in collaboration with others. ‘Musica reanimata’ in Berlin invited Primavera Gruber as a speaker as did the International Johann Strauss Congress. Other events included the Hanns Eisler Exhibition with its associated events; ‘Musik im Exil’ (‘Music in Exile’), a series of lectures at the Vienna Literaturhaus; a programme of workshops and concerts commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of the composer Karl Weigl; a new version of the Jimmy Berg Evening with Lena Rothstein, a repeat of the Fritz Spielmann Gala; and at the Vienna Konzerthaus, the ‘Musikfest for Norbert Brainin’, an evening celebrating Norbert Brainin, who received the ‘Goldene Verdienstzeichen’ of the City of Vienna, awarded to him by suggestion of the Orpheus Trust.

4. Financial Situation

The 1999 annual budget (excluding the Fritz Spielmann Fund) amounted to approximately
1 million ATS, of which 80% (790,000 ATS) were project grants from the City of Vienna and the State Secretary for the Arts. Although numerous émigré artists as well as members of the Orpheus Trust sent petitions recommending financial funding of the Trust on a regular basis, this was not granted.. Furthermore, no financial assistance was given to support the Trust’s research activities and information services, which meant that the transcriptions of the audio-taped interviews or necessary purchases had to be financed with private means. At the end of 1999, the Orpheus Trust had 246 members and friends. Their membership fees and donations, which amounted to 84,500 ATS paid for the office rent, telephone, fax and researchers’ travel expenses. The remaining amount came in the form of repayments or 1998 back-payments, sales of concert tickets, books and CDs, and contributions from co-organisers. Undoubtedly, the financial situation and, consequently, the extreme shortage of staff (Primavera Gruber was only assisted by Elfriede Hitter, who worked on a part-time basis of 13 hours a week) affected the many and varied activities of the Orpheus Trust. It is to be hoped that this situation will improve in 2000.