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Mahler-Werfel Collection

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  • Alma Mahler, ca. 1899: Mahler-Werfel Papers, Box 102, item 25
    Alma Mahler, ca. 1899: Mahler-Werfel Papers, Box 102, item 25
  • Franz Werfel, Autograph Manuscript of "Der Weg der Verheißung," ca. 1934
    Franz Werfel, Autograph Manuscript of "Der Weg der Verheißung," ca. 1934

Born into a leading artistic family in Vienna, Alma Schindler, later Alma Mahler-Werfel (1879-1964), became a central figure in the artistic community of the Vienna Secession. She documented her encounters in an important group of diaries. She also studied music with Alexander Zemlinsky and composed songs for voice and piano (unpublished songs are in this collection). Alma Schindler married Gustav Mahler in 1902. She later married Walter Gropius, a marriage that ended in divorce. In 1929, she was married to novelist and playwright Franz Werfel, who was Jewish. They fled Austria for France in 1938; crossed the Pyrenees on foot; and emigrated to the United States in 1940.

The Mahler-Werfel Collection includes personal papers of Alma Mahler and Franz Werfel, memorabilia related to Gustav Mahler; research files; and a portion of the library of Alma and Franz Werfel. Images from the collection have been digitized.

Collection overview


The papers contain materials from all phases of the long and varied life of Alma Mahler, from handwritten diaries from her youth to musical compositions, as well as material pertaining to the literary work of Franz Werfel, including autograph manuscripts of most of his major prose, dramatic works, and poetry. The collection comprises 101 boxes of correspondence, writings, and memorabilia; 15 boxes of photographs; six boxes of audio recordings; and one box of oversized materials.

The correspondence in the collection includes some 1400 folders and over 1200 correspondents. The overwhelming majority of the letters date from after 1930 and, especially, after the exile of Alma Mahler and Franz Werfel from Austria, upon the Anschluss in 1938. Many earlier items were undoubtedly lost due to the circumstances of exile. Correspondents notably include Arnold Schoenberg, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Arthur Schnitzler, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Fritz von Unruh, and Thornton Wilder.

The collection includes only a few isolated original items related to Gustav Mahler: a poetic text (“Symphonisches Fragment”), several letters to Anna von Mildenburg dating to the mid-1890s, and two items addressed to Mahler from Prince Montenuovo in 1907.

Also included are 11 boxes of materials pertaining to Professor Adolf Klarmann’s research and writing on Werfel; to Werfel scholarship contributed by other researchers; and to Klarmann’s editorial work in producing the collected works of Werfel.

Information for researchers

Mahler-Werfel Papers (Ms. Coll. 575): 134 boxes. Researchers are strongly encouraged to consult the extensive biographical overview and collection description contained in this finding aid. Note: For a full listing of correspondence in the Mahler-Werfel Papers, researchers must search in the main online catalog, Franklin.

Related collections:

The Library of Alma Mahler and Franz Werfel: a portion of the book collections of Alma Mahler, Franz Werfel survives. These books were donated by Anna Mahler.

Related sites

Resources described in Franklin