Nazi-looted cultural property

Klassik Stiftung Weimar restitutes Liszt manuscripts to heirs in Argentina

The Klassik Stiftung Weimar has closed another case of cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution: Two manuscripts of music by Franz Liszt have been restituted, the Foundation announced. Until 1937, the manuscripts belonged to Emma Frankenbacher, a citizen of Jewish origin, whose legal successor the Foundation was able to locate in Argentina.

The mu­sic manuscripts are, on the one hand, a score copy of his 1st Pi­ano Con­cer­to in E-flat ma­jor, ex­ten­sive­ly re­vised by Liszt. Pi­ano Con­cer­to in E-flat ma­jor. It is con­sid­ered to be the fi­nal ver­sion of the com­po­si­tion and served as the en­grav­ing for the first print­ing. The sec­ond manuscript, a copy of the "Fes­tlied zu Schillers Jubelfeier," con­tains a per­son­al ded­i­ca­tion by Liszt.

Em­ma Franken­bach­er, born in 1875, was liv­ing in Nurem­berg when she of­fered the mu­sic manuscripts for sale at the end of 1937. At that time, the per­se­cu­tion of the Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion in Ger­many had in­ten­si­fied con­sid­er­ably, and many of those per­se­cut­ed were forced to sell their pos­ses­sions. The Goethe Na­tion­al Mu­se­um, now part of the Klas­sik Stiftung Weimar, ac­quired Em­ma Franken­bach­er's manuscripts for a to­tal of 150 Re­ichs­mark. First they were kept in the Liszt Mu­se­um, lat­er they were trans­ferred to the Liszt hold­ings of the Goethe and Schiller Archives. Em­ma Franken­bach­er was de­port­ed to There­sien­stadt in 1942, where she died short­ly there­after. Her daugh­ter and her hus­band had pre­vi­ous­ly man­aged to es­cape to Ar­genti­na.

As part of its sys­tem­at­ic prove­nance re­search, the Klas­sik Stiftung Weimar iden­ti­fied the two mu­sic manuscripts as cul­tur­al prop­er­ty seized by the Nazis. The search for heirs, how­ev­er, pre­sent­ed a chal­lenge. Franken­bach­er's daugh­ter Elis­a­beth Zim­mer had no chil­dren of her own. It took ex­ten­sive re­search to es­tab­lish con­tact with the heirs in Ar­genti­na, Elis­a­beth's cousin and his fam­i­ly.

In Jan­uary 2021, the Klas­sik Stiftung Weimar signed an agree­ment with the heirs on the resti­tu­tion of the au­to­graphs. Due to the im­por­tance of the works for the foun­da­tion, both par­ties agreed on a re­pur­chase. Thus, the mu­sic manuscripts can now be legal­ly pre­served in the Goethe and Schiller Archive. The pur­chase was made pos­si­ble by funds from the Thuringian State Chan­cellery and the sup­port of the Friends of the Goethe and Schiller Archive.
Since 2010, the Klas­sik Stiftung has been sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly check­ing its hold­ings for cul­tur­al prop­er­ty seized as a re­sult of Nazi per­se­cu­tion.

More in­for­ma­tion is avail­able in a blog post by the Klas­sik Stiftung Weimar.