archiv 1The archive at the Arnold Schönberg Center houses one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of materials on the life and work of one composer. Throughout the almost 60 years of his artistic life, the greater part of the documentation concerning Schönberg’s oeuvre remained in his possession; after his death, his heirs devoted themselves to keeping his estate intact/in private hands. The available holdings provide a unique overview of Schönberg’s work, thought and life.

Due to donations and purchases before and after Schönberg’s death, as well as bequeathed letters and other correspondence, much material has not come down to us through his estate and is strewn over the world in museums, archives and private collections; many of these items are available as copies or scans. Schönberg’s paintings in his estate owned by his heirs, the documentation in the possession of the publisher Universal Edition and other important items have now found their permanent home at the Center.

Occasionally, autographs are added to the collection by way of acquisition and donation; the Center’s library is aiming at completeness with regard to documentation on publications about Schönberg in all languages. Complementing the holdings are writings on the Vienna School, Schönberg’s contemporaries and the intellectual and cultural history of the 20th century, all relating to the collection’s central purpose. Furthermore, a wide-ranging compilation of sound recordings comprehensively preserves performances of the composer’s works ranging from 1922 to the present day, while the video collection features concerts, interviews and other documentary material.

The Center’s library is open at all times during hours of operation. Appointments are necessary for viewing archival material (see the usage instructions).

The Arnold Schönberg Center is striving to locate all sources that pertain to the work of Arnold Schönberg. If you are in possession of Schönberg-related material not included in our source catalogs, or have information regarding its whereabouts, we would be grateful if you contacted us.

Our archivists will be happy to assist you.



The Arnold Schönberg Center’s holdings consist of the composer’s estate, which forms the archive’s core inventory, as well as various special collections. A large number of databases, most of which already digitally linked, are available for research.

The works and sources catalog documents all sources directly connected with Schönberg’s musical oeuvre, including manuscripts, personal copies, score parts and text sources, taking into account those from the estate, other collections and archives; about 8,000 pages are already digitized and accessible via the database.

The text database comprises all writings from Schönberg’s estate and links them completely to digitized material and, in many cases, transcriptions. Special catalogs provide an overview of annotated books and periodicals from the estate.

The letters database contains all of Schönberg’s correspondence known at present; the Correspondence Estate at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. is already linked to digitized versions, with letters in the Schönberg Center archive being successively augmented.

The image archive has been structured as a comprehensive aggregate database to bring the archive’s diverse holdings into alignment. Currently, this includes photographs (mostly taken during Schönberg’s lifetime), teaching materials (particularly from his private tutoring in the U.S.A.), address cards filed until the 1940s, concert programs from his estate, personal documents (attestations, credentials, residence registrations, etc.), materials concerning the Society for private performances, as well as paintings and other artistic works.

The press archive contains all such items in his estate, with links to digitized versions as well as a constantly updated catalog of acquired items concerning Schönberg up to his death in 1951.

Apart from the estate, the special collections contain the most comprehensive holdings of documents relating to Schönberg: copies of documents from other institutions and original documents on loan, as well as donations or those gained at auctions. Digitized versions are allocated to the appropriate holdings catalogs; inventory lists provide an overview of the collections. 

The library comprises over 10,000 items on Schönberg and his milieu; apart from the library catalog, there are special lists of editions of scores and musical material from the estate and other items from Schönberg's library.

The discography consists of commercial recordings of Schönberg’s music made until 2009. Audio streams of selected historical recordings as well as voice recordings are available. The video collection is documented in a separate catalog.

For more information, please contact: archive{at}schoenberg.{at}

Regulations for Use

The aim of the Arnold Schönberg Center Foundation is to make Schönberg’s legacy accessible and available for critical studies and research by scholars, composers, musicians and the general public.

Admission to the Archive and Library is free. For a nominal fee to offset expenses, the ASC offers the user the most up-to-date conveniences in the areas of communication, data processing and reproductions.

Hours of admission: Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. The Archive and Library of the ASC are closed on legal holidays.

Materials of the collection are to be used only on the premises of the ASC. There is no lending policy.

Interested persons with more extensive research projects are requested to give advance notice of the beginning date and duration of their visit and to submit a short abstract of their research goals.

Each user of the Archive and Library must identify himself by means of registration in the Users’ Book and presentation of an official document (passport etc.), from which the page with photo ID will be copied for purposes of identification.

Before entrance to the areas of the Archive and Library, coats, umbrellas and bags are to be left in the lockers provided.

As a rule, archival materials will be presented in the form of copies, microfilms and microfiche. In exceptional cases, original documents from the Arnold Schönberg legacy (hereafter "originals") can be viewed, but only on the condition of advance application, upon signing of a user request form, and then exclusively in the specially designated "Manuscript Viewing Room" of the ASC.

The archivist of the ASC may deny permission to view originals or other archival materials of the ASC, depending on their state of preservation. The number of originals or other archival materials of the ASC to be presented to the user is left to the discretion of the archivist.

While working with originals in the Manuscript Viewing Room, the user may have at his disposal only paper, pencil and notebook. Fountain pens, felt-tip or fiber-tip pens and other writing implements leaving indelible marks are prohibited in this room. An archivist of the ASC will be in charge.

The user understands that he is under the constant surveillance of cameras in the Library and Manuscript Viewing Room.

Originals must be handled with care and consideration. While working with originals, the user is obliged at all times to wear the protective gloves provided by the ASC.

Documents are to be left in the order in which they are found, even if this order is incorrect. Observations concerning incomplete or false information with regard to attribution or order will be welcomed.

The user is responsible for damages he may inflict upon materials from the Archive or Library of the ASC during his visit. In case of damage, he must bear the cost of replacement (books, articles etc.) or restoration.

Where legally admissible, reproductions of materials from the Archive and Library will be carried out exclusively by the archivist. The user agrees to use such copies only for his own research, or for purposes agreed upon in writing by the ASC, and neither to give them to nor permit their use by a third party. Self-contained partial collections of the ASC cannot be filmed or copied in their entirety.

For the publication of scholarly findings based upon the Arnold Schönberg legacy, the Foundation is to be cited as repository. The Library of the ASC is likewise to be presented a complimentary copy of the publication.

Documents from the Arnold Schönberg legacy may not be reproduced without written permission from the ASC. The user is obliged not to infringe upon the rights (in particular those concerning copyright and privacy) of the ASC, or of third parties that may be associated with the ASC. The ASC is not held accountable should the user violate these rights.

The ASC expressly binds the user of the Archive and Library to all rights of ownership and their application. Where appropriate, Users’ Regulations will be made available to users of the Archive and Library of the ASC and in turn will be acknowledged by them.

These Regulations for Use are subject to change without notice.

Approved by the board of directors of the Arnold Schönberg Center Foundation, Vienna, 16 March 1998

History of the archive

Arnold Schönberg’s legacy remained in the possession of his heirs after his death in 1951 and was administered by his widow Gertrud Schönberg until 1967. In the 70s, Schönberg’s heirs decided to make the collection available to the Arnold Schoenberg Institute of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where a modern archive was established along with a concert hall and an exhibition hall. That archive was open to the public until 1997. Leonard Stein, who had studied with Schönberg, was the director of the Institute. During its 25-year history, the Institute was consulted by thousands of researchers, artists, students and music-lovers. Between 1975 and 1993 the “Friends of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute” organized numerous activities at the Institute.

Towards the end of this period, the University of Southern California felt it could no longer fulfill the condition of Schönberg’s heirs that the Institute and archive be limited exclusively to research and studies about Arnold Schönberg, triggering off a legal battle between them and the University in 1996. Many cities, universities and private people were interested in giving the orphaned collection a new home: New York, Vienna, Berlin, Den Haag, Basel, Yale, Stanford, Harvard, Arizona and even in Los Angeles, the Getty Center and the University of California.

Vienna, as the city that Schönberg was born in and the birthplace and namesake of the Viennese School, was chosen: in early 1997, the Arnold Schönberg Center Privatstiftung was founded by the City of Vienna together with the Internationale Schönberg Gesellschaft. The purposes of the Foundation include establishing the Arnold Schönberg Archives (legacy) in Vienna, its maintenance and preservation, the education of the public with regard to Schönberg's interdisciplinary artistic influence, as well as teaching and publicizing Schönberg's contributions to music and other achievements. The purposes of the Foundation shall be achieved by making the Schönberg legacy accessible and available for scholarly study and research by scholars, composers, musicians, and the general public; regularly organizing exhibitions, concerts, and other events; holding symposia and conferences devoted to the life and work of Arnold Schönberg; exhibiting paintings and drawings by Arnold Schönberg which have been made available to the Foundation by their owners as a long-term loan.

After the collection had been moved from Los Angeles and the Schönberg Center had been opened in March 1998, the archive was made available to researchers, composers, musicians and the general public. The collection contains approximately 8,000 pages of musical manuscripts, 12,000 pages of text manuscripts, 3,500 historical photos as well as personal documents, diaries, concert programmes, his entire library (music, books and recordings) and a replica of Schönberg’s study in Los Angeles. Almost all of the original manuscripts and other Schönbergiana that are not a part of the collection are nevertheless available in copies or on microfilm at the Center. The Center’s reference library also offers visitors one of the most complete collections of literature concerning the (Second) Viennese School in the world.

In March 1997, as one of its founders, the International Schönberg Society deeds Arnold Schönberg’s residence in Mödling (1918-1925) to the newly founded Arnold Schönberg Center Private Foundation. The house, which is a living monument for the intellectual activity of Schönberg’s Viennese circle, contains a museum (open to the public since September 1999).

You can find more detailed information on the Arnold Schönberg Center’s history in the article: Therese Muxeneder, Ethik des Bewahrens (PDF)