In a monumental move, the Vereinigte Buhnen Wien (VBW), a subsidiary of the Wien Holding, has opened up a treasure trove of Vienna's rich theatrical history to the public. The VBW has diligently preserved an extensive archive of historical recordings from over 70 years that encapsulates the artistic spirit of the city. This preservation effort includes material from eminent institutions like the Ronacher, the Raimund Theater, and the Theater an der Wien.
A Digital Step Towards Preserving Art
In a collaborative endeavor with the Austrian Mediathek of the Technical Museum Vienna, VBW's archives have undergone digitalization for the past one and a half years. This process has not only secured these invaluable historical recordings permanently but has also made them readily available online for public viewing. The recordings, dating back to the 1960s, document internal performances and provide an intimate look into the workings of these venerated institutions.
The VBW's Pioneering Efforts
Since the inception of VBW in 1987, the organization has taken up the mantle of documenting and preserving the city's cultural offerings. By merging the archives of the individual theaters, VBW has created a unique repository of music theater productions, concerts, readings, and events. This effort has significantly contributed to shaping Vienna's reputation as a cultural city, renowned for its high-quality music theatre productions.
A Successful Endeavor
On November 28, 2023, a press conference was held where representatives from Wien Holding, VBW, the Technical Museum Vienna with Austrian Mediathek, and the head of the Austrian Mediathek discussed the successful digitalization of the archives. They reflected on the importance of this project for research and the fruitful collaboration between the institutions. To date, three batches of material have been transferred to the Austrian Mediathek, with over 23 meters of material in 39 boxes already secured and digitized.
The Content of the Archives
The digital archive includes original recordings of musical performances, readings, and music events featuring notable artists and premieres of musicals such as 'Cats' and 'Elisabeth'. The Austrian Mediathek has inventoried all analog carriers, from tapes from the 1960s to audiovisual media. The digitalization of these cultural assets ensures their preservation and provides the public with unprecedented access to insights into Vienna's theater history.
The digitalization effort serves as a time capsule, capturing and preserving fleeting moments of cultural production for future research. The recordings are freely accessible for listening at the Austrian Mediathek in Vienna, and online access for research is available after personal registration, opening a new chapter in the accessibility of Vienna's cultural heritage.