50th Anniversary of the Death of Otto Erich Deutsch

Otto Erich Deutsch (1883-1967), who died 50 years ago today, shares a common destiny with Ludwig von Köchel (1800-1877) and Anthony van Hoboken (1887-1983): he is remembered largely thanks to a thematic catalog. Even more connects Deutsch with Hoboken: from 1926 to 1935 Deutsch was the librarian of Hoboken's music collection.

But first things first. Music played at most an indirect role at the beginning of Deutsch's career. After studying art history and literature, he worked as an art critic and was employed at the Institute of Art at the University of Vienna, where he focused on the Viennese Biedermeier period. His first publication, Schubert-Brevier (1905), was dedicated to the composer that would occupy the center of his scholarly research for the rest of his life. In 1913-1914 he wrote his acclaimed biography Franz Schubert: Die Dokumente seines Lebens und Schaffens.

To escape prosecution by the National Socialists on account of his Jewish faith, Deutsch emigrated to England in 1939 and became a citizen in 1947. During his time in England, he and Donald R. Wakeling published Schubert: Thematic Catalogue of All His Works in Chronological Order (1951), simply known today as the "Deutsch catalog."

Deutsch appears in many ways to be inseparable from Franz Schubert, as seen for example in his function as honorary president of the International Schubert Society, which was founded in 1963. But it is worth bearing in mind that Deutsch also wrote over 100 additional publications about composers including Beethoven, Händel, Haydn, and Mozart.

In RISM, Deutsch is of course most visible thanks to his Schubert catalog: it is cited in nearly 1,600 Schubert sources. His Music Publishers’ Numbers: A Selection of 40 Dated Lists, 1710–1900 (London: Aslib, 1946; published as an expanded edition in German in 1961) is another valuable resource for RISM in dating printed music.

Image: Otto Erich Deutsch circa 1928, from the Radio Wien program guide of 26 March 1928, p. 23, via Wikidata.

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