Graf, Max (1873-1958)

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GRAF, MAX (1873-1958)

Max Graf, a composer and music critic, the father of "Little Hans," was born October 1, 1873, in Vienna, where he died on June 24, 1958.

The son of Joseph Graf, a Jewish writer and editor, he was educated in Vienna and Prague. After 1891 he studied at the law school of the University of Vienna but devoted most of his time to music and it was his intention to become a composer, according to Louis Rose (1986). He finished his legal studies in 1896 but devoted much of his time to music composition and criticism, and regularly took part in meetings of the literary group Jung-Wien. From 1902 to 1938 he taught the history of music and musical aesthetics at the Vienna Academy of Music, where he was appointed professor in 1909.

Graf met Sigmund Freud in 1900 and his wife, Olga Graf (born Olga Hoenig), from whom he separated a few years later, was probably a patient of Freud's. Within the psychoanalytic movement he is known for being the father of "Little Hans," Herbert Graf, who was born in 1903. It was Max who supplied Freud with the material for his paper "The Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year Old Boy" (1909b).

At the end of 1904, he took part in sessions of the Wednesday Psychoanalytic Society and, in December 1907, wrote an essay entitled "Methodik der Dichterpsychologie " (Methodology of the Psychology of the Poet). In early 1906 Freud wrote a short text on a somewhat unexpected topic, "Psycopathische Personen auf der Bühne" (Psychopathic Characters on the Stage). The text was never published in German, but Graf, to whom Freud had given the manuscript, kept it and had an English translation published (1942a [1905-1906]).

In 1909 Graf settled in Paris as a correspondent for the Frankfurter Zeitung and translated Romain Roll-and into German. "In 1910-1911 he gave up all work with the Society. His book on the psychology of creativity appeared in 1910 and his pamphlet on Wagner in 1911. In February 1909 Freud had asked him to prepare an essay on 'Mozart and his Relation to Don Juan,' but Graf did not follow up on the idea. He officially withdrew in 1913" (Rose, 1986). On the list of members of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society for October 1913, his name is crossed off.

Graf emigrated to the United States in 1938 and taught until 1947 at the New School for Social Research in New York, where, in 1940, he created the first seminars in music criticism. He was a guest professor at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh and at Temple University in Philadelphia. In 1947 he returned to Austria and taught music criticism at the Mozarteum in Salzburg and elsewhere. In 1953 his autobiography, Jede Stunde war erfüllt: Ein halbes Jahrhundert Musik- und Theaterleben (Every Minute Filled: A Half-Century in Music and Theater), was published in Vienna, where he died in 1958.

Elke MÜhlleitner

See also: "Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-year-old Boy" (Little Hans); Applied psychoanalysis and the interaction of psychoanalysis; Graf, Herbert; Minutes of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society .


Graf, M. (1911). Richard Wagner im "Fliegenden Holländer," Ein Beitrag zur Psychologie des künstlerischen Schaffens. Leipzig-Vienna: F. Deuticke.

. (1942). Reminiscences of Professor Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalytic Quarterly. 11, p. 465-476.

. (1947). From Beethoven to Shostakovich: The Psychology of the Composing Process. New York: Philosophical Library.

Mühlleitner, Elke. (1992). Biographisches Lexikon der Psychoanalyse (Die Mitglieder der Psychologischen Mittwoch-Gesellschaft und der Wiener Psychoanalytischen Vereinigung 1902-1938). Tübingen: Diskord.

Rose, Louis. (1986). The psychoanalytic movement in Vienna: Towards a science of culture. Dissertation, Princeton University.