Hans Keller

Musicologist and broadcaster; born 11 March 1919 in Vienna, died 6 November 1985 in London.


Born in Vienna in 1919, Hans Keller emigrated to the United Kingdom in 1938 and spent 1940–41 interned on the Isle of Man. As a young man he studied violin with Max Rostal and played quartets with Oskar Adler; he also made an intense study of Freudian psychoanalysis, which had a marked effect on his writing about music. After the war he was very active as a music critic, known initially for his writing on new music, film music and the music of Britten and Schoenberg. He began broadcasting for the BBC in 1956, with a series of experimental programmes analysing music purely in sound rather than words (known as ‘functional analysis’) as well as more conventional talks on music. He worked full time for the BBC from 1959 to 1979, becoming its best known musical broadcaster. Keller was married to the artist Milein Cosman, whose many drawings of 20th-century musicians can be found in the collections of the Royal College of Music. Hans Keller died of motor neurone disease in 1985.

Links and Sources

Cosman-Keller Trust London

Hans Keller Archive, Cambridge University Library

Hans Keller in the University of Hamburg online database of musicians persecuted during the Nazi Period

Archived radio recordings of Hans Keller

Elsewhere in this resource 

Leo Black interview 

Bernard Keeffe interview

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