Guide to the Papers of Hannah Busoni (1930-1958)

AR 10427 / MF 928

Processed by Julia von Tuerk

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2008 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey Oummia in September 2008. Description is in English.
2010-04-16  encoding of linking to digital objects from finding aid was changed from <extref> to <dao> through dao_conv.xsl. Microfilm information added.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Busoni, Hannah, 1905-1995
Title: Hannah Busoni Collection
Dates:bulk 1930-1958
Abstract: This collection documents the life of Hannah Busoni (née Apfel) and her husband, the artist Rafaello Busoni, son of the renowned composer, Ferruccio Busoni. The collection consists primarily of personal correspondence and photographs, but also includes Portuguese newspaper clippings. There are also four court cases pertaining to the defense attorney, Dr. Alfred Apfel, Hannah's father.
Languages: The collection is in German, English, French, and Portuguese.
Quantity: 1.5 linear feet
Identification: AR 10427 / MF 928
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Hannah Apfel was born on May 17, 1905 in Berlin, the daughter of the prominent Jewish lawyer Dr. Alfred Apfel and his wife Dora (née Schoenewald) Apfel. Dr. Alfred Apfel defended Carl von Ossietzky in a trial related to the famous Weltbuehnenprozess. As a girl, Hannah took piano lessons with a Japanese woman named Hide, who herself had learned to play the piano under the guidance of the composer Ferruccio Busoni and would later marry his son, Rafaello Busoni.

In 1927, Hannah Apfel earned her law degree in Heidelberg. Just three weeks after passing the "Referendarexamen," she was expelled from the University because of her Jewish faith.

Kiki Busoni, Rafaello and Hide Busoni’s daughter, was born in 1927. One year later, Hide was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was sent to Switzerland to be cured. While Hide was away and slowly dying, Rafaello and Hannah’s friendship developed into romance. In 1930, Hide's health had supposedly improved dramatically, and so she returned home to Berlin. Unfortunately the diagnosis was spurious, and Hide died fourteen days later at home.

Soon after, Hannah Apfel and Rafaello Busoni married. In January of 1935, the newlywed couple, accompanied by Kiki Busoni, took the steam ship Arlanza to Madeira and lived there until the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936; they then went back to Berlin. In November of 1938, Mario, Hannah and Rafaello's son, was born. Knowing they could not stay in Germany, Rafaello decided to move the family to Sweden, his mother's home country, thinking they would at least be safe there. However, after only six months, the Busonis were forced to leave again, given the choice to return to Germany or go to Italy. Choosing neither, the Busonis boarded a ship in October of 1939 in Norway that brought them to New York. On October 15, 1939 the Busonis arrived in Ellis Island.

The three Busonis proceeded to live with Eva Feilchenfeld, a close friend of Hannah's, in Mount Vernon, New York, for a few months before moving to New York City. There they settled into an apartment in Midtown. Hannah started a framing business, while Rafaello continued painting and earning a living as an illustrator. In 1962, Rafaello passed away.

After the death of her husband, Hannah spent a lot of time traveling. In 1969, she explored the Balkan Peninsula, going to countries like Yugoslavia and Greece. In 1973, she went to Africa. Towards the end of her life, Hannah became involved in the Austrian Stammtisch centered around the writer Oskar Maria Graf and attended many of the meetings.

Hannah Busoni died on November 9th, 1995 in New York City.

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Scope and Content Note

The Hannah Busoni Papers (1914-1985) are arranged in three series and include clippings, correspondence, legal documents, photographs, and sketches by Hannah Busoni and others.

The central topic of this collection is Hannah Busoni's life and that of her family. Letters illustrating Hannah's relationship with her parents, her husband, her friends, and her son will be found in Series I: Correspondence. Especially prominent in this collection are the letters she exchanged with Rafaello Busoni in the time leading up to their marriage and after. A theme relevant to Series I is emigration. Correspondence dating from 1935-1939 illustrates Hannah and Rafaello Busoni's moving to and fro until their eventual settlement in the United States. Typewritten correspondence from Albert Einstein addressed to Dr. Alfred Apfel will also be found in this series.

A secondary topic in the collection pertains to Dr. Alfred Apfel's professional life as a defense lawyer. Pamphlets advertising Dr. Apfel's publications about German justice will be found in Series I, while court proceedings from four of his cases, including one against Carl von Ossietzky, will be found in Series III.

In this collection, there are no documents concerning Ferrucccio Busoni directly, although he is referenced indirectly in publications concerning his son or his granddaughter.

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The collection is divided into three series in the following manner:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Collection is microfilmed; use MF 928.

Access Information

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Request" button.

Use Restrictions

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

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Related Material

Die Alpen von Maine: Exilerfahrung in Amerika am Oskar-Maria-Graf-Stammtisch contains an interview in German with Hannah Busoni from 1995. This manuscript can be found in the Archives of the Leo Baeck Institute, call number MS 720.

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Separated Material

All photographs in this collection have been removed to the LBI Photograph Collection.

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Collection is available on 8 reels of microfilm (MF 928).

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Hannah Busoni Collection; AR 10427; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

This collection was processed in 2008. Similar materials were grouped together chronologically, and each folder contains a list of contents.

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Container List


Series I: Correspondence, 1914-1985

This series is in German, English, and French.
1.25 linear feet.


Scope and Content:

Series I holds the correspondence of Hannah Busoni. It is predominantly comprised of family correspondence, although letters from others, such as friends will also be found here. The title of each folder in this series denotes the sender(s) of the correspondence.

Correspondence with Albert Einstein involves a copy of a typewritten letter by Einstein to Dr. Alfred Apfel, Hannah Busoni's father, applauding the recently exiled defense lawyer on his idea to found an institute for "les Sans-Patrie," people exiled from Germany. Albert Einstein goes on to recommend ways to go about getting support for such an endeavor.

The majority of the letters are exchanges between Hannah Busoni and her husband, Rafaello Busoni, from 1930 until 1962. Because Rafaello Busoni had to travel a lot due to his career as an artist, the couple was often separated and wrote many letters to each other. These letters began at a time when Rafaello Busoni is still married to Hannah Busoni's childhood piano teacher, Hide Busoni, who died around 1931. Sporadic mention is made of Rafaello and Hide Busoni's daughter, Kiki Busoni. The letters also document Hannah and Rafaello Busoni's time abroad in Madeira, Sweden, and after their arrival in 1939, the United States.

Hannah Busoni wrote other letters to her mother, Dora Apfel, explaining current living situations while studying in Heidelberg in 1927, relating issues about emigration, and describing her new life in the United States.

Letters written by Hannah Busoni to Mario Busoni, Hannah Busoni's son, will also be found in this series.

11Apfel, Alfred1914-1940
12Busoni, Hannah1919-1927
13Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1930
14Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1931
15Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1932
16Busoni, Hannah1933
17Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1934
18Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1935
19Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1935-1940
110Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1936
111Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1937
112Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1938
113Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1939
114Busoni, Hannah1940
115Busoni, Hannah1941
116Busoni, Hannah1942
117Busoni, Hannah1943
118Busoni, Hannah1944
119Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1945
120Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1946
121Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1947
122Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1948
123Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1949
124Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1950
125Busoni, Hannah1951
126Busoni, Hannah1952
127Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1953
128Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1954
129Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1955
230Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1956
231Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1957
232Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1958
233Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1959
234Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1960
235Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1961
236Busoni, Hannah and Rafaello1962
237Busoni, Hannah1964
238Busoni, Hannah1966
239Busoni, Hannah1967
240Busoni, Hannah1968
241Busoni, Hannah1969
242Busoni, Hannah1971
243Busoni, Hannah1972
244Busoni, Hannah1973
245Busoni, Hannah1974
246Busoni, Hannah1975-1976
247Busoni, Hannah1980
248Eva Feilchenfeld1984-1985
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Series II: Clippings and Sketches,  1926-1953

This series is in German and Portuguese.
0.2 linear foot.
Scope and Content:

Series II holds a copy of an article written about Kiki Busoni, the granddaughter of the composer Ferruccio Busoni, at age five. The article discusses her innate talent for the piano. The series also holds two copies of a newspaper clipping from March 22, 1935 that was printed in Madeira, a Portuguese archipelago off the coast of Africa. At that time, Rafaello Busoni and his family were living on the main island in a city called Funchal. There is one article about Busoni in the clipping that discusses an exhibition of his paintings that he planned to make at a place called "Casino Vitoria." The article goes on to explain that Rafaello is the son of the revered composer Ferruccio Busoni and continues to praise his works of art.

249Kiki Busoni1932
250Rafaello BusoniMarch 1935
251Rafaello Busoni's Sketches1926-1953
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Series III: Court Proceedings, 1926-1929

This series is in German.
0.05 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

Series III holds four court proceedings, written by the defense lawyer Dr. Alfred Apfel, Hannah's father, in the first person. In the first court proceeding, Max Hoelz is the accused in a case titled Die Geschichte einer Politischen Verteidigung. In addition to the Max Hoelz case, three supplements pertaining to Max Hoelz will also be found in this folder. In the second proceeding, Johannes R. Becher is accused in a case called Der Dichter als Hochverraeter. The third case, called Der Abgelehnte Richter (Der Weltbuehnenprozess), has to do with the famous case in which Carl von Ossietzky was accused of "oeffentliche Beleidigung." The fourth case is called Der Gotteslaesterer, and the accused are George Gross and Wieland Herzfelde.

252Die Geschichte einer Politischen Verteidigung1926?
253Der Dichter als Hochverraeter1927
254Der Abgelehnte Richter1927?
255Der Gotteslaesterer1929
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Series IV: Photographs, undated

ALB 250: Busoni Family Spain vacation photograph and scrapbook albumundated
ALB 251: Busoni family vacation and portrait albumundated
F AR 10427: Artworksundated
F AR 10427: Cityscapesundated
F AR 10427: Portraits, childrenundated
F AR 10427: Portraits, couples and groupsundated
F AR 10427: Portraits, menundated
F AR 10427: Portraits, womenundated
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