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The Karl Weigl Papers

Call Number: MSS 73

Scope and Contents

The Karl Weigl Papers consist chiefly of manuscript music, published music, and correspondence, with smaller amounts of writings and notebooks, concert programs, clippings, photographs, recordings, and other materials. The bulk of the collection dates from Weigl's years in the United States, documenting his work as a teacher and composer during 1939-1949. Also present are papers concerning his career in Vienna, the Weigl family's emigration to the United States, and programs and reviews of performances of Weigl's music after his death in 1949 and through the 1980s. Annotations on much of the music in the collection document use by Vally Weigl and other musicians after Karl's death. Also present are papers of Vally Weigl concerning her life and work, her involvement with the Karl Weigl Memorial Fund, and efforts by her and other musicians to preserve Karl Weigl's memory and promote his music.


  • 1894-1986 (inclusive)


Language of Materials

Materials chiefly in German and English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to researchers by appointment. There are no restricted materials in the collection. Please contact the Special Collections staff to schedule an appointment. Some of the materials may be stored at the Library's off-campus shelving facility, so researchers should allow at least two business days to have the appropriate boxes paged.

Conditions Governing Use

The Papers of Karl Weigl are the physical property of the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library of Yale University. Copyrights belong to the composers and authors, or their legal heirs and assigns.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Karl Weigl Papers were established in the Music Library of Yale University by Etta Ruth Weigl and her sons Karl and Andrew in 1989-1993. Karl C. Weigl is President of the California-based Karl Weigl Foundation, and can be reached at (415) 526-2043 or


In 10 series as follows: I. Music. II. Correspondence. III. Writings. IV. Biographical Material. V. Programs and Publicity. VI. Reviews. VII. Photographs. VIII. Other Papers. IX. Vally Weigl Papers. X. Sound Recordings.


15 Linear Feet (31 boxes)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Music, correspondence and other papers, photographs, and additional materials by and about the Austrian-American composer Karl Weigl (1881-1949), as well as the papers of his wife, the composer Vally Weigl (1899-1982).

Biographical / Historical

Karl Weigl was born in Vienna on February 6, 1881. His father, Ludwig Weigl, was a bank officer and amateur musician, and his mother, Ella Gabriele Stein-Jeitteles, encouraged Karl's interest in music and arranged early composition studies with Alexander Zemlinsky. In 1902 Karl graduated with high honors from the Vienna Musikakademie, where he had studied composition with Robert Fuchs and piano with Anton Door. At the University of Vienna, Weigl studied musicology and philosophy with Guido Adler, earning a Ph.D. in 1904. His dissertation discussed the life and work of Emanuel Aloys Förster (1748-1823), an Austrian composer and contemporary of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. The same year, Weigl joined Zemlinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, and other composers in founding the Vereinigung schaffender Tonkünstler, a society formed for the promotion of new music in Vienna. The society's single season, 1904-1905, included performances of major works by Strauss, Zemlinsky, Schoenberg, and Mahler, as well as chamber music and songs of Viennese composers including Weigl. During 1904-1906, Weigl served as a rehearsal coach at the Vienna Hofoper, under Mahler's directorship. This position provided Weigl with an opportunity to work closely with Mahler and regularly observe him in rehearsal and performance.

Strongly influenced by composers such as Brahms, Wolf, and Mahler, Weigl's compositional style followed the late Romantic tradition. Mahler arranged performances of some of his works, including his String Sextet, premiered in Vienna in 1907 by the Rosé Quartet. In 1910 Weigl was awarded the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde's Beethoven Prize for his String Quartet #3, also performed by the Rosé Quartet. The same year, his Symphony no. 1 was premiered in Zurich, and he obtained a publishing contract with Universal-Edition. Weigl produced a large number of songs and choral works during this period, and he continued to compose prolifically in vocal genres throughout his life. In 1910 Weigl married singer Elsa Pazeller. The marriage ended in divorce in 1913, but Weigl maintained contact with their daughter Maria, born in 1911. He served in the Austrian Army during the First World War, spending 1916-1917 in Croatia. Much of Weigl's music was influenced by his strong pacifism and by his love of nature, particularly the Austrian Alps. The second movement of his Symphony no. 2, "Pro Defunctis," composed 1912-1922, is dedicated to the unknown soldiers of the First World War.

In 1921 Weigl married Valerie (Vally) Pick, a pianist and composer. Born in Vienna in 1899, Vally Pick had studied piano with Richard Robert and composition with Karl Weigl, and had attended the University of Vienna, where she studied musicology with Guido Adler and minored in philosophy and psychology. She taught as Richard Robert's assistant, at the University of Vienna's Musicological Institute, and privately in Vienna and Salzburg. Karl and Vally's son, Wolfgang Johannes, was born in 1926. Karl, who was Jewish, was baptized as a Protestant Christian the same year.

Weigl gained increasing recognition for his music during the 1920s-30s. In 1922, he was awarded a prize by the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia for a choral work titled Hymn. In 1924, he was awarded the Prize of the City of Vienna for his cantata Weltfeier, published in vocal score by B. Schotts Söhne the same year. Several of Weigl's orchestral works were performed by the Vienna Philharmonic. Performances of other works included his Piano Concerto, by Ignaz Friedman; String Quartet no. 5, by the Busch Quartet, and Five Songs for Soprano and String Quartet, by Elisabeth Schumann and the Rosé Quartet. Weigl also established a career as an educator. He began teaching music theory at the Vienna Conservatory in 1918, was awarded the title of Professor by the Austrian government in 1928, and in 1929 succeeded Hans Gál as Professor of Musicology at the University of Vienna. Weigl attracted a large number of students, including many English and American students whom he taught during summer courses in Salzburg. Notable Weigl students include Ernst Bacon, Hanns Eisler, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Erich Zeisl, Kurt Adler, Frederic Waldman, Charles Rosen, Roman Totenberg, Alice Ehlers, Henriette Michelson, and Daniel Sternberg.

Because of his Jewish background and socialist views, Weigl lost his teaching positions, the right to perform his music publicly, and nearly his life when a Nazi government was established in Austria in 1938. Karl and Vally pursued plans for emigration by contacting musicians outside of Europe, former American and English students, and Quaker and other American organizations. Through the efforts of Ira Hirschmann, founder of the New Friends of Music Orchestra in New York, Karl, Vally, and Wolfgang Johannes were able to emigrate to the United States. The Weigl family arrived in New York City on October 9, 1938, on board the SS Statendam with other emigrants including Kurt Adler and Emmanuel Feuermann. Weigl's daughter Maria and her husband Gerhart Piers arrived in the United States in 1939.

Unknown in the United States, Karl and Vally Weigl struggled to obtain employment in difficult wartime circumstances shared by other artist emigrants. Karl initially worked as a research assistant to Carlton Sprague Smith at the New York Public Library and then held a series of temporary teaching positions at the New York Philharmonic Training and Scholarship Program, 1939-1944; the Hartt School of Music, 1941-1942; Brooklyn College, 1943-1945; the New England Conservatory, 1945-1948; the American Theater Wing, 1946-1949; and the Philadelphia Musical Academy, 1948-1949. Vally taught privately, at a Quaker school in Pennsylvania, and in New York at the Institute for Avocational Music, 1939-1943, and the American Theater Wing, 1947-1958. Karl and Vally also performed, sometimes as duo pianists. Wolfgang Johannes, who changed his name to John, attended a Quaker school and later studied at Columbia University, where he graduated with an engineering degree in 1946. Karl, Vally, and John became American citizens in 1943.

Weigl continued to compose in the United States, producing orchestral music, chamber music, songs, and choral works. While some of these works were performed and published, much of Weigl's older music remained unperformed in the United States, and many of his later works, including his last two symphonies and last three string quartets, were never played during his lifetime. Though still based in New York City, both Karl and Vally spent some summers in the MacDowell Colony in Peterboro, New Hampshire, and they made trips to visit their children. Maria Piers, a psychologist, and her husband Gerhart, a physician, settled in Chicago. John Weigl married Etta Ruth Hoskins in 1946 and completed a Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley.

Karl Weigl died in New York City on August 11, 1949. Following Karl's death, Vally Weigl devoted much energy to promotion of his memory and performance of his music. In 1966, the Karl Weigl Memorial Fund was established through the efforts of Vally, Ira Hirschmann, Frederic Waldman, Kurt Adler, and other Weigl students and colleagues. The Fund supported performance and recording of Weigl's music, notably including a 1968 performance of his Symphony no. 5, "Apocalyptic," by Leopold Stokowski and the American Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall. Administration of the Karl Weigl Memorial Fund was transferred to Indiana University in 1979. Other funds supporting performance and recording of Weigl's music were established at Baylor University, the Eastman School of Music, and the Aspen Music Festival. Vally Weigl preserved Karl's papers, music manuscripts, and published music through a bequest to John and Etta Ruth Weigl and donations to the New York Public Library, the Moldenhauer Archive, the Fleischer Collection, and the Sibley Library of the Eastman School of Music.

Vally Weigl continued to teach and compose. In the 1950s, she began pursuing an interest in music therapy. After earning an M.A. from Columbia University in 1955, she served as Chief Music Therapist at the New York Medical College, taught at the Roosevelt Cerebral Palsy School, Long Island, and directed research projects at Mt. Sinai Hospital and the Home for the Jewish Aged in New York City. In 1964, she was appointed chairman of the Friends' Arts For World Unity Committee. She made donations from her manuscripts to the Moldenhauer Archive and the University of Wyoming, and in 1982 she established a Vally Weigl Performance and Recording Fund at the College of Charleston, South Carolina. Vally Weigl died in New York City on December 25, 1982. John Weigl, who had worked as a research manager for the Xerox Corporation in Webster, New York, died on August 1, 1982. Following Vally's death, "The Music of Karl Weigl (1881-1949): A Catalog," edited by Stephen Davison, was published with the support of the Weigl family and funding from an endowment established by Vally Weigl. The Karl Weigl Papers were donated to the Yale Music Library in 1989-1993 by Etta Ruth Weigl and her sons Karl and Andrew.

Register to The Karl Weigl Papers
Edited Full Draft
Compiled by Karen Spicher2001
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared According To Local Music Library Descriptive Practices
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Gilmore Music Library Repository

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