skip to content

A musician of penetrating insight, Hans Keller (1919-1985) was also an exceptional broadcaster, passionate teacher and compulsive writer, whose remarkable mind dominated British musical life for forty years after the Second World War.  A man of limitless energy, Keller's perceptive, richly expressive prose, radio talks and letters present not only a vivid picture of an extraordinary mind, but also a deep understanding of his musical times and its genesis.

Keller arrived in Britain in 1938 as a refugee from the Nazi invasion of his native Vienna, where he had grown up in a richly cultural environment. During and after the war years he made his living both playing (he was a violinist and viola player) and as a freelance journalist. He is best remembered for the development of his wordless musical analysis (or Functional Analysis as he later called it) and for his twenty years at the BBC which he joined in 1959. He championed all that was good in contemporary music but it was the string quartets of Haydn that formed the bedrock of his musical philosophy. Following his retirement in 1979 he took up posts at the Menuhin School and the Guildhall School of Music coaching string quartets. He died in 1985 of motor neurone disease.

His extensive archive was donated to the University Library in 1995 by his widow, the artist Milein Cosman. It contains manuscripts and typescripts of Keller’s articles, full-length monographs, talks, book, film and concert reviews, his extensive correspondence, music manuscripts (in particular of his functional analyses), family papers, concert programmes, film handbills, notebooks, diaries and football memorabilia. The Library also holds his collection of printed scores and books.

Catalogue records for books and scores are available on the University Library online catalogue, details of the concert programmes are available on the Concert Programmes Project website (Hans Keller Archive Concert Programmes) and temporary handlists of the archive materials and letters are available via the links below:

Visit our music blog, MusiCB3, for posts about Hans Keller. We also recommend exploring The Cosman Keller Art & Music Trust.  

For enquiries about the archive please contact