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Addenda to the Joseph Braunstein Collection

Identifier: AR 25848

Scope and Contents

The collection holds private as well as professional correspondence of Joseph Braunstein. The letters were mostly written in the 1990s, with some exceptions from the 1930s and 1940s. The letters of this collection mostly cover everyday topics, such as birthdays, vacations, and details on music. Yet one of the letters in the collection seems exceptional as it was written by the First Private Secretary of Pope Pius XI.

Additionally, the collection holds several documents and publications about “Alpenverein Donauland”, such as its 1921 constitution (Satzung). Also included are documents about the aryanization of the “Deutscher Alpenverein”, as is a pamphlet by Braunstein titled “The political and military importance of the Deutscher Alpenverein: a contribution to the problem of re-education in Germany.”.

The collection also includes many pictures of Braunstein, his wife, family members and friends. Most of the pictures in the collection depict Braunstein’s many travels to Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Spain, Greece, France, and the Alps in general. These travel pictures also depict Alpine landscapes and mountains that Braunstein had climbed.

The collection further holds several of Braunstein’s published works on Beethoven’s music. Some of Braunstein’s research also concerned Beethoven’s relationship to the Alps as well as Beethoven’s complicated relationship to the Jewish people in his lifetime. Also included are interviews with Braunstein on his life story, as well as on his professional career.

The collection additionally holds some official documents on Emma Braunstein (née Gross) and her sister Hildegard Gross.


  • 1892-1996


Language of Materials

The collection is in German, English, Latin and Italian.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact: Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011 email:

Biographical / Historical

Joseph Braunstein was born into a middleclass family in Vienna, Austria in 1892. Learning how to play the violin from a very young age, Braunstein started his studies in classical music at the University of Vienna shortly before World War I. After fighting in the Austrian army, Braunstein earned his doctorate with a thesis on Beethoven in 1920.

Besides his professional career in music, Braunstein was quite passionate about mountain climbing. After the split with the anti-Semitic “Deutscher und Oesterreichischer Alpenverein”, Braunstein and many others founded the “Alpenverein Donauland”, which was committed to democratic values and ideals opposing the racial exclusion of Jews and other minorities. After publishing a book on Stephan Steinberger, a monk who also happened to be an important mountaineer, Braunstein had sent a copy of this book to Pope Pius XI. As a response, Braunstein received a letter of papal goodwill and benediction. As Braunstein later recalled in an interview, this letter served him to receive an Italian transit visa during his emigration to the United States via Italy in 1940.

After emigrating to New York, Braunstein worked as a research librarian at the New York Public Library for 17 years. After his official retirement, he became a teacher at the Julliard School, the Manhattan School of Music, and at the Mannes College of Music. He also traveled to Europe, particularly the Swiss and Italian Alps almost every summer. Joseph Braunstein was affectionately known as Giuseppe Sassobruno (Italian for Brown Stone). Joseph Braunstein was married to Emma Braunstein (née Gross). This so called “privileged” interfaith marriage helped Joseph to maintain his job in Vienna until their emigration. When Emma became permanently ill, her sister Hildegard Gross, who also emigrated to the United States, took care of her.


2 Linear Feet


Addenda to the Joseph Braunstein Collection hold the private and professional documents of Dr. Joseph Braunstein, a musicologist and amateur mountaineer from Vienna. The addenda cover Braunstein’s successful emigration to the United States, as well as his activism at “Alpenverein Donauland” in Austria during the 1920s and 1930s. They further document many of his travels abroad.


The collection consists of three series:

  • Series I: Personal Documents, 1892-1996
  • Series II: Photographs, 1927-1996
  • Series III: Professional Career in Music, 1929-1996

Other Finding Aids

The original order, which was not kept, was documented, and may be found in the collection’s first folder.

Related Materials

This collection is an addendum to the original Joseph Braunstein collection (Joseph Braunstein Collection, AR 25072, at the LBI).

See also “Memoirs of Joseph Braunstein: 1910-1996” by Harris and La Vonne Poor, ME 1515.

Separated Materials

“Stephan Steinberger (Pater Corbinian). Leben und Schriften” / by Dr. Joseph Braunstein, Munich 1929; has been removed to the LBI Library.

Musical Recordings of the Wiener Walzer (Undated); Interview project for class, 1992; Memorial service for Dr. Braunstein, 1996; have been removed to the LBI Audio/Visual Collection.

Processing Information

The original order was not kept. The collection was reorganized in groups of documents with related topics.

Series III contains two folders that were added later to the collection and were donated by Harris and LaVonne Poor. These are Braunstein’s notes on Schumann and Poulenc in Folder 1/15 and correspondence of the Friends of Joseph Braunstein in Folder 1/16.

Guide to the Addenda of the Joseph Braunstein Collection
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States