From the memorial to the Trakl Forum

When the Trakl Memorial was opened in the poet's birthplace in 1973, several measures had already been taken to highlight the importance of the poet, who was born in Salzburg. This included the supervision of the work by the Otto Müller publishing house since 1938 and the establishment of the Georg Trakl Prize for Poetry by the Salzburg provincial government in 1952. In 1957, on the 70th anniversary of his birth, a Trakl fountain from the workshop of Toni Schneider-Manzell was erected in the courtyard of the then tax office in Kapitelgasse; in 1962, the Raimund Society donated a commemorative plaque, which was attached to the former Trakl family residence on the Residenzplatz. It was thought to set up a memorial in this house, with which Mrs. Maria Geipel-Trakl, the poet's eldest sister, would have agreed; she lived in an apartment on the second floor until 1970. However, a notice to the owner of the house thwarted this plan; the house was vacated and Mrs. Geipel-Trakl had to move into a new apartment at the age of 87.

When the province of Salzburg rented a cellar and two floors in the birthplace of Georg Trakl at Rudolfskai in order to house cultural institutions that had to leave the residence, it was possible to make the idea of a Trakl memorial a reality. A larger and two smaller rooms of the apartment in which the Trakl family had lived between 1885 and 1893 and in which Georg Trakl was born on 3 February 1887 were planned for this purpose. The house was thoroughly renovated, and in the autumn of 1972 various cultural institutions moved into the newly designed rooms, including the Salzburg Cultural Association, which was entrusted by the province of Salzburg with the establishment and care of the planned memorial to the poet.

The basic stock of the equipment consisted of a Trakl collection, which the director of the Raimund Society, Hofrat Dr. Gustav Pichler, had created and sold to the cultural association, and parts of the family heritage, which was still in the possession of Mrs. Maria Geipel-Trakl. She bequeathed it to the Salzburg Cultural Association shortly before her death in autumn 1973, but due to lack of space most of it had to remain in a museum depot for the time being.

On April 10, 1973, the memorial was officially handed over to the Salzburg Cultural Association by Governor DDr. Hans Lechner during a ceremony. Mrs. Maria Geipel-Trakl was present as guest of honour at this event. The author of these lines, who had just completed his studies in German language and literature at the time, was already employed as a part-time curator. The most important task was and is to provide the public interested in Trakl's person and work with information about the poet. Guided tours were set up for this purpose, during which the exhibits (poems, sketches, photos, documents, utensils, etc.) provided an insight into the origin and uniqueness of the poem. A slide show, which has been available since 1987 and was redesigned in 2008, also serves this purpose.

Efforts to expand the stock of documents have not been without success. In 1978, the majority of Georg Trakl's letters to his childhood friend Erhard Buschbeck from the property of Prof. Lotte Tobisch in Vienna were acquired, later also the Trakl manuscripts of the Salzburg Glaser family. Individual documents could be purchased through auction houses or from private collections. This would not have been possible without the financial commitment of the Salzburg Cultural Association (in particular its Secretary General, Dr. Heinz Klier, had understanding for this). Due to the sharp rise in the price of Trakl manuscripts, however, their purchase is increasingly reaching financial limits. Unfortunately, it has not yet been possible to merge other Trakl documents located in Salzburg, in particular those of the Salzburg Museum, with the holdings of the memorial. Fortunately, in 2008 Prof. Lotte Tobisch generously donated the remaining Trakl documents from the Buschbeck estate of the memorial as a gift.

The archive, which has been built up over the years, now contains various Trakl editions, the magazine "Der Brenner" (closed) and the extensive secondary literature on the person and work of Georg Trakl. In addition, there are translations (complete works or a selection of poems) in over 30 languages, illustrations by various graphic artists on Trakl texts and literature related to Georg Trakl. There are screening possibilities for Trakl's texts and for films or video recordings of plays about Georg Trakl. When in 1987 the historical-critical complete edition of Trakl's works was reissued, the memorial was able to make a considerable contribution to the improvement and expansion of the archive material. The relevant material was made available for the facsimile edition of the Brenner Archive ("Innsbruck Edition"). The last of six volumes was published in 2014. The archive is available to all those who wish to obtain more detailed information about the poet. Students from Germany and abroad and several translators have worked here so far. The writer Franz Fühmann also informed himself "on the spot" about Trakl when he wrote his sensational book "Der Sturz des Engels" ("The Fall of the Angel"). Again and again poets and writers were among the visitors of the memorial, which led the strong interest in Trakl into this house. Statements on publications about the poet, films or plays were requested from various institutions. Cultural institutes and educational institutions abroad were grateful if they could be supported with ideas and material for Trakl events; thus organisers in London, Rome, Ghent, Milan, Strasbourg, Lviv, Krakow, Athens and Paris could be helped. Proposals have been made for the placement of poetry panels in Salzburg, nine of which are currently in the city area, one in Anif. They were financed by the magistrate or the municipality of Anif. A brochure with the 'Salzburg' poems of Georg Trakl in German and English provides an overview with a short commentary. A leaflet "Wege mit Georg Trakl" is a signpost for Trakl places in the city. The annual "literRADtour" of the Literaturhaus is often seen as a guided tour to such places.

When in 1977 the First Salzburg Trakl Symposium (together with the French Cultural Institute) produced scientifically remarkable results, it became clear that it was beyond the scope of a simple poet memorial. The scientific view of life and work was mostly represented in the annual events on the anniversary of birth and death, but a foundation for the expansion of the memorial to a research site was laid with the founding of the International Trakl Forum in 1987 on the centenary of the poet's birth. Since then, an advisory board with representatives from various institutions has accompanied the programme of events at the research and memorial site. The previous chairmen were Prof. Dr. Adrien Finck from Strasbourg (1987 - 1993), Prof. Dr. Alfred Doppler from Innsbruck (1994 - 2015) and Prof. Dr. Johann Holzner (since 2016). The corresponding members establish the connection to foreign countries; they came from Switzerland, Hungary, Belgium, England, Poland, Germany, USA, Canada and Japan. At the Japanese Nihon University, a Trakl Society ensures the dissemination of the work in the local language area. The Trakl Forum is supporting this work. 

Since the Forum was founded, six further conferences have taken place (1988, 1991, 1995, 2000, 2003, 2014), the results of which have mostly been published as volumes of the "Trakl Studies". The editors of these studies are members of the International Trakl Forum. The author of these lines has been involved with Trakl's life, resulting in an extensive Trakl biography with texts and pictorial documents; it was first published in 1994 and was re-edited in 2014. Another volume by him deals with the history of the Georg Trakl Prize for Poetry. With these activities, the additional designation as a "research centre" is probably justified.

Since 1987, the research and memorial site has also had further rooms at its disposal, which have been adapted by the Salzburg Cultural Association with great financial commitment. Especially for groups and school classes it was difficult to follow the information in an appropriate way. Since then, a slide show has provided an insight into the life and work of the poet. This larger room is also used for lectures and readings. The remaining furnishings owned by the Trakl family have now been accommodated in the "historical room", so that visitors can gain a certain impression of the atmosphere in which the poet spent his childhood and youth. A book table provides information on current Trakl editions and the latest publications on his life and work. Visitors also have the opportunity to purchase lecture texts, poem and postcards, and several CDs on which 15 different interpreters present poems and letters by Georg Trakl. A facsimile edition of Trakl's first volume of poems is particularly popular.

Even if most guests appreciate the seclusion of the place because it allows them to reflect and reflect in the otherwise turbulent old town, it would be desirable if even more people, especially from the surrounding area, made use of this offer, because this place does not need to shy away from comparison with other well-known poet memorials.

Dr. Hans Weichselbaum 

Broschüre „45 Jahre Georg-Trakl-Forschungs- und Gedenkstätte“

Im April 1973 konnte im vom Land Salzburg erworbenen Geburtshaus Georg Trakls am Rudolfskai (jetzt „Trakl-Haus“) eine Gedenkstätte an den international bekanntesten Dichter aus Salzburg eingerichtet werden, deren Betreuung der Salzburger Kulturvereinigung anvertraut wurde. Bei der Eröffnung war noch die 90-jährige älteste Schwester Trakls, Frau Maria Geipel-Trakl, anwesend. Seither konnten sich interessierte Besucher im Rahmen von Führungen über Leben und Werk des Dichters informieren. Darüber hinaus gab es eine Reihe von Veranstaltungen, die verschiedene Aspekte seines Lebens und Werkes und dessen Wirkung zum Inhalt hatten: Vorträge, Lesungen, Tagungen mit internationaler Besetzung, Aufführungen, Trakl-Preisträger usw. Über alle diese Aktivitäten in den vergangenen 45 Jahren informiert eine neue Broschüre, die mit vielen Abbildungen lebendig gestaltet ist.

Text: Dr. Hans Weichselbaum
Layout: Laura Wolfesberger