In 2018, this corpus of Austrian dialect recordings was included in UNESCO’s Memory of Austria Register.
These sound recordings were made between 1951 and 1983 in methodologically novel ways and constitute a  comprehensive documentation of Austria’s dialect landscape after the middle of the 20th century across all regions.

The corpus consists of 1748 audio recordings on magnetic tape, resulting

from a cooperation of the  Phonogrammarchiv and the co-called “Wörterbuchkanzlei” at the ÖAW (i.e. “Kommission zur Schaffung des Österreichisch-Bayerischen Wörterbuches”, after 1969 “Kommission für Mundartkunde und Namenforschung”), and constitutes an important part of the Phonogrammarchiv’s holdings of dialect recordings.

The recordings were made in the course of large-scale field research carried out in numerous places in all provinces of Austria and are a valuable primary source for various areas of research. In addition, they represent a special part of Austria’s cultural heritage and the identity (or identities) of its inhabitants.

For the first time in German linguistics, the contributors to the corpus achieved a systematic documentation of dialectal language in its actual use by capturing the speakers’ free speech, or by recording them in conversations. In accordance with the actual demographic situation, besides varieties of German they also recorded samples of other regional native languages spoken in Austria. Due to their age of up to 70 years, these recordings also document dialectal features which have long since vanished. Spanning three decades, the corpus likewise allows to trace linguistic change in the recorded varieties. In addition, since the speakers often talked about their immediate living environment and aspects of their culture, or offered specimens of their narrative tradition, the corpus is of high socio-historical and historico-cultural import.

The recordings will now be digitized, annotated and analysed in phase one of the cooperation project “Corpus of Austrian Dialect Recordings from the 20th Century”, which is carried out in close collaboration  between the ACDH’s Research Department “Variation and Change of German in Austria”, the Phonogrammarchiv, and the FWF Special Research Programme “German in Austria. Variation – Contact – Perception”(F60).


Memory of Austria Register, Tonaufnahmen österreichischer Dialekte 1951-1983

ORF Science: Geistberger / Wieselberg: Dialektarchiv ist UNESCO-Welterbe

ÖAW: Dialektaufnahmen der ÖAW im „Gedächtnis der Menschheit“

audio samples

Cooperation project Corpus of Austrian Dialect Recordings from the 20th Century


In 2014, this important collection of early folk music recordings from the holdings of the Phonogrammarchiv of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the archive of the Österreichisches Volksliedwerk of the Austrian National Library was included in the national “Memory of the World”-Register”.

The so-called “Kotek Collection”, consigned equally to both institutions by its initiator, represents a unique collection of audio recordings that are significant with regard to ethnomusicology, the history of the media and also the history of scholarship.

The 63 shellac discs (118 matrix numbers) and 17 decelith instantaneous discs, all of which are unique items today, contain hundreds of performances by singers or singing groups from all Austrian provinces.
These performances were recorded in the years 1934–37 on the occasion of 12 “Volksliedersingen” (folk song singing events) that were organized and recorded for the Radio-Verkehrs-AG by Viennese folk music researcher Dr Georg Kotek together with journalist Andreas Reischek. (These recordings of parts of the respective events were also broadcast after the events.) The collection thus represents the result of the first attempt at documenting the diversity of contemporary singing practices and interpretations of traditional songs and yodels across the country under equal conditions by means of live audio recordings.
(The collection has no match among the few research recordings or the studio productions of the then-entertainment industry.)

Today, the Kotek Collection is one of the most important historical sources for folk music research in Austria, since it constitutes a representative sample of the folk singing repertoire in its day considered authentic by contemporary experts, and, perhaps more importantly, a sample of contemporary music practice in Austria in the first half of the 20th century. The unaltered original discs (as well as their analogue copies on magnetic tape) are stored in the Phonogrammarchiv under optimal conditions. The discs were digitized based on novel state-of-the-art methods of signal retrieval.


In 1999, the Phonogrammarchiv’s Historical Collections (1899–1950) (voice portraits, ethnological recordings by Pöch, Dirr, Trebitsch, Idelsohn, etc.) were included in UNESCO’s “Memory of the World” Register.



The Phonogrammarchiv offers its expertise to all institutions/persons looking for professional help and advice in the areas of archiving, digitisation, long-term preservation and re-recording of all kinds of audio-visual material.

Send your request to: pha(at)oeaw.ac.at

For researchers, scholars etc., the Phonogrammarchiv provides listening and viewing facilities, access to a comprehensive on-site database (documentation of the holdings), an online catalogue, analogue documentation (typewritten, handwritten protocols), digital copies of the holdings on demand, methodological training and expert advice on audio-visual fieldwork and the long-term preservation of audio-visual data, technical support for researchers, training in archival practices and technologies.

The holdings of the Phonogrammarchiv are open for research of any kind. We serve scholars, curators of exhibitions etc. from all over the world; some recordings have been used also by artists for their productions, installations etc.

We answer all inquiries free of charge; listening to and viewing the recordings on site, or consulting the database and protocols, is equally possible at no cost. All services are also offered in English.

The Phonogrammarchiv is part of the Austrian CLARIN consortium.
For inquiries regarding the digital humanities there is a helpdesk at the Austrian Center for Digital Humanities.
(We are currently working on a new Helpdesk page, in the meantime you can contact the Helpdesk via acdh-tech(at)oeaw.ac.at.)

The CLARIN K-Centre Certificate (PDF)


In 2007 the Phonogrammarchiv was awarded this international prize for its achievements in the safeguarding of audio and video documents. The Jikji Prize is donated by the city of Cheongju, Republic of Korea, and is to commemorate the inscription of the oldest existing book of movable metal print in the world, printed by Buddhist monks in a Cheongju monastery in 1377, i.e. 78 years before the Gutenberg Bible. The prize is awarded biennially “to reward efforts contributing to the preservation and accessibility of documentary heritage as a common heritage of humanity” and is endowed with 30,000 USD.


The award ceremony took place on September 4th, 2007 in the Cheongju Culture Centre in the presence of 1200 invited guests. Dietrich Schüller and Bernhard Graf accepted the prize on behalf of the Phonogrammarchiv from mayor Nam Sang-Woo. Congratulations came, among others, from the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Korea, and, in video messages, from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and from UNESCO Director-General Kodchiro Matsuura.

UNESCO Director-General Kodchiro Matsuura’s message