Anglo-Austrian Society and Anglo-Austrian Music Society Archive

Scope and Content

This archive contains the records of the Anglo-Austrian Society and Anglo-Austrian Music Society and their subsidiary bodies, the Anglo-Austrian Concert Agency Limited, Austrian Travel Ltd and Anglo-Austrian Tour Agency Ltd. The records include committee minutes, memoranda, correspondence, financial records, photographic material, newsletters and one-off publications by the AAS and AAMS, and other forms of publicity material such as leaflets and flyers.

Although the Anglo-Austrian Society and the Anglo-Austrian Music Society started out as separate bodies (and indeed, remained so until at least the point at which the archive was catalogued in 2019), for much of their history they were run from the same administrative office and by the same staff, and the records of their activities were, to some extent, merged into the same filing system. Some record series therefore consist of records relating to both societies, while others relate to one or the other of the societies alone.

The record series comprising records of both (and in some cases also the subsidiary) Anglo-Austrian bodies are: AAS/1, which contains records relating to the constitution and structure of the Anglo-Austrian group of organisations, including Memoranda and Articles of Association and related correspondence, particularly in relation to the incorporation of the AAS in 1958; AAS/4, containing annual reports and activities reports of the Anglo-Austrian and Anglo-Austrian Music Societies, some written by the Secretariat for the AAS Executive Committee, some by the Executive Committee for the AGM or the wider public; AAS/5, which contains both societies’ accounts and other financial records; AAS/6, containing copies of annual returns for the Register of Directors; AAS/15, which contains publicity material for the full range of activities carried out by the AAS and AAMS, from lectures to concerts to language courses; and finally, AAS/17, which contains direct mail communications such as newsletters.

The series relating to the internal mechanisms of solely the Anglo-Austrian Society and its sub-committees are: AAS/2 (minutes) and AAS/3 (correspondence), and the record series relating to activities primarily carried out by the Anglo-Austrian Society are: AAS/11 (Austrian Children Reception Committee and Children's Holiday Committee records); AAS/13 (the Spanish Riding School); AAS/14 (Special events and trips). Records of subventions by the Austrian government are in AAS/16 and records of property are in AAS/18. These are mentioned here because the AAS was the dominant organisation (the legal recipient of the subsidies and owner of the property), although it should be noted that AAMS made a substantial contribution to all costs.

The minutes and reports, correspondence and accounts of the Anglo-Austrian Music Society is AAS/7. There are unfortunately very few items of correspondence dating from approximately the first 20 years of the AAMS's existence, and the main source of information about the early history of the AAMS is the Executive Committee minutes in AAS/7/2. The records of concerts and tours organised by the AAMS (in some cases jointly organised with the AAS) are in AAS/12, with sub-series AAS/12/16 containing correspondence, contracts and publicity material relating to the tours by the Vienna Boys’ Choir from 1950.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Anglo-Austrian Society (until 1947 the Anglo-Austrian Democratic Society) was founded in 1944 by refugees from Nazi-occupied Austria who wanted to 'spread understanding of the importance of Austrian democracy for peace and progress', and to promote closer contact between British and Austrian democrats.

The focus of its initial work at the end of the Second World War was to provide relief to Austrians in general and to Austrian children in particular. In the post-war period the Society worked to promote cross-cultural links between the people of the United Kingdom and Austria by developing the knowledge of the British people about Austria, its people and culture, with the participation of Austrians resident in Britain. The Society was partly subsidised by the Austrian governments, and for some years after the War it was the main body to represent and promote Austrian culture in the UK. The Society is [in 2019] still active, running events for members and providing financial support through the Otto Harpner Fund for researchers from the UK wishing to travel to Austria.

The Anglo-Austrian Music Society was founded in London in the autumn of 1942 by a small group of Austrian refugee musicians and a few English friends led by Austrian refugee musician Ferdinand Rauter - initially as a means of surviving in exile, but also to promote the appreciation and understanding of Austrian music in Britain. They gave concerts throughout the war, and increasingly involved British musicians and British music. In 1946 the administration was merged with that of the Anglo-Austrian Society with Otto Harpner as Secretary of both societies, and visits to Britain by Austrian artists began. The Vienna State Opera came to Covent Garden in 1947, and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra first played in London for the Society in 1948. The Vienna Boys Choir visited almost every year from 1950 to 2000, and the Society commissioned Benjamin Britten to write the opera The Golden Vanity for the Choir. Harpner died in 1959 and his position as Secretary was taken by Walter Foster.

Over the years the Anglo-Austrian Music Society has sponsored appearances by many famous artists besides Britten, including Elisabeth Schumann, Kathleen Ferrier, Richard Tauber, Bruno Walter, Clemens Kraus, Myra Hess, Josef Krips and Peter Pears. There have been many concerts and debut recitals by young Austrian musicians - starting in 1949 with the young Friedrich Gulda and continuing through the years with Paul Badura-Skoda, Joerg Demus, Ingrid Haebler, Irmgard Seefried, Wolfgang Schneiderhan, Heinz Medjimorec, Heinrich Schiff, the Alban Berg Quartet, The Haydn Trio, Edita Gruberova, Ernst Kovacic, Thomas Riebl and Stefan Vladar amongst many others.


AAS/1 Constitution and structure of the Anglo-Austrian Society, Anglo-Austrian Music Society and subsidiary bodies

AAS/2 Minutes of the Anglo-Austrian Society Executive Committee, sub-committees and AGM

AAS/3 Anglo-Austrian Society correspondence and related administrative records

AAS/4 Anglo-Austrian Society and Anglo-Austrian Music Society annual and activities reports (internal and public)

AAS/5 Accounts and other financial records of the Anglo-Austrian Society, the Anglo-Austrian Music Society and subsidiary societies

AAS/6 Anglo-Austrian Society and Anglo-Austrian Music Society Register of Directors annual returns

AAS/7 Minutes and reports, correspondence and accounts of the Anglo-Austrian Music Society

AAS/8 Anglo-Austrian Concert Agency Register of members, Director's meeting minutes and annual accounts.

AAS/9 Anglo-Austrian Tourist Agency Register of members, Director's meeting minutes and annual accounts.

AAS/10 Austria Travel Limited Register of members, Director's meeting minutes and annual accounts.

AAS/11 Austrian Children Reception Committee and Children's Holiday Committee records

AAS/12 Anglo-Austrian Music Society Concerts and musical tours, including VBC

AAS/13 Spanish Riding School records

AAS/14 Special events and trips

AAS/15 Publicity material for all Anglo-Austrian Society and Anglo-Austrian Music Society activities

AAS/16 Subventions

AAS/17 Communications with members and direct mailings

AAS/18 Property

AAS/19 Partner organisations

AAS/20 Staffing

AAS/21 Records relating to Austrian political controversies over Kurt Waldheim and Walter Reder

AAS/22 Miscellaneous

Access Information

Most files in this archive are open for research though some files are closed in compliance with the Data Protection Act. See file-level descriptions for such instances.

48 hours' notice must be given before a research visit with precise details of files to be ordered.

Acquisition Information

The first deposit of around 30 boxes came from the Anglo-Austrian Society in 2006 via the Wiener Library. Further deposits were made in 2009 and 2016 with the help of Charmian Brinson of the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies.


This archive forms one of the Exile Studies collections acquired through the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies at the Institute for Modern Languages Research.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued online (click on the "contains" icon below). A pdf copy is attached to this description.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be made subject to the condition of the original. Copying must be undertaken by the Special Collections Reading Room staff, who will need a minimum of 48 hours to process requests.

The Anglo-Austrian Society and Anglo-Austrian Music Society retain the copyright of work created by them, but the University has the right to license the material for use on behalf of the Societies. Where copyright does not belong to the Anglo-Austrian Society or Anglo-Austrian Music Society, responsibility for gaining permission to use such material rests with the user.

Appraisal Information

Not selected for the archive (October 2018): duplicates; records of limited archival value (eg insurance documents relating to SRS tours); copy of AAS Easter A-Level German Course 8-10 April 1999: Grammar Revision with Exercises; c. 30 magazines, newsletters, brochures and other publications containing adverts mainly for the 1997 performances by the Spanish Riding School in the UK from 1995-1997, deposited 2009 (November 2018); 100s of slides provided by the SRS for marketing tours in the UK.

Geographical Names