Response to Walburga Litschauer‘s essay "Perspektiven der Schubert-Forschung in Österreich", (Österreichische Musikzeitschrift, 65, vol. 9, Vienna 2010, pp. 46-49)
Walburga Litschauer describes the disbanding of the Internationales Franz Schubert Institut (IFSI) incorrectly and incompletely. This is not surprising, since she herself was not involved in the activities of IFSI, nor did she make any effort to rescue it in the interest of Schubert research. It is not true that "after Hilmar's suspension[sic!] IFSI went economically downhill." After 1994 IFSI not only entered a period a great scholarly productivity resulting in many important articles in Die Brille, but it would have remained financially stable even after Hilmar's suspension as general secretary (owing to numerous violations of the society's regulations) in 2001, had not Hilmar – out of anger over his disempowerment – willfully cut IFSI's financial lifeline. Litschauer's description of events gives the impression that IFSI had negligently ammassed debts for printing costs with Hans Schneider, and that these debts would eventually prove fatal for the society. In fact Hilmar had contracted these debts in full awareness that Schneider (following a long tradition) would never claim payment as long as his friend Hilmar had any say in IFSI. When Hilmar dumped the Schubert Institut, he made sure that Schneider was no longer bound by their tacit agreement and that the IFSI would be buried under this debt. The "failure of IFSI" (as Litschauer puts it) was the failure of Ernst Hilmar, who had made so many enemies during his activities in Vienna, that his successors (who after great investment of labor and time, and even their own money, had to dissolve the society) had absolutely no chance to find sponsors for IFSI. We can only agree with Walburga Litschauer's remarks on the prospects of Schubert research in Austria. But her statement begs the following question: what has kept the Austrian Academy of Sciences from establishing "an international center for Schubert research" in Vienna so far? To claim that for 15 years the existence of IFSI has absolved the scholarly institutions of the Austrian State from their obligations towards Schubert scholarship, would truly be bold. Since Deutsch's Schubert-Dokumente and Schubert - Die Erinnerungen seiner Freunde no longer meet today's scholarly standards (a shortcoming that also applies to the Mozart-Dokumente), a new edition of these books is long overdue. Such a sophisticated project cannot be managed by a Viennese branch of the Schubert Gesellschaft in Tübingen. Following Otto Erich Deutsch's model, Schubert research must return to where it began: to Vienna. The ambition of public institutions to fund important Schubert research projects seem low however: an example is the Austrian Science Fund's rejection in 2008 of funding for an edition of the eminently important Spaun-Chronik. A new edition of Schubert documents will need scholars who (based on years of research) are truly familiar with the archives in Vienna. It seems doubtful that there is any actual intent to consult these experts. In a city where an artistically significant Schubert memorial (Innere Stadt, Renngasse 1) can be removed over night and stowed away in a cellar without any intervention of the authorities, and where the publication of this cultural outrage is suppressed as irrelevant by all newpapers— in a city of that kind the situation of Schubert research can hardly be favorable. And speaking of Schubert documents: the illustration on the minutes of the last meeting of the IFSI does not show a "register pertaining to Schubert's death" (as supposed by Litschauer), but an unpublished Schubert document from the holdings of the Vienna Magistrate, that Litschauer will not find in Deutsch's collection of documents.
See also: "Johann Strauss auf Irrfahrt" - Ein paar notwendige Anmerkungen
© Michael Lorenz 2011. The publication of this response was rejected by the ÖMZ for "lack of relevance"(!) and fear of provoking further replies. upwards