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Language &

Culture Studies

From Austria to Opera: The Eccentric Life of Franzi Ascher-Nash

By Allegra Banks

Banks photo.jpeg

Allegra Banks is a Senior at Millersville University studying Music (vocal performance) and German. These two passions of hers have made her project at the Archives and Special Collections particularly interesting to her. The task is to translate the Franzi Ascher-Nash papers, which is a large collection of her diaries and written works.

Franzi Ascher-Nash was a Jewish refugee from Vienna, Austria who fled to the United States during the Anschluss in 1938. Having studied opera in Vienna, she became a writer and music critic in New York City. Her diary reveals her daily life, as well as that of her husband and songwriting partner, Edgar Nash. Allegra Banks’ goal is to find her songs and

publish them along with her diary. As the papers are handwritten in abbreviated German, the translation process is complicated but rewarding. Hours can be spent searching for one single word. With the help of German knowledge, mono- and bilingual German dictionaries, and machine translators, Allegra transforms German notes into an English narrative, unveiling a very interesting life and personality. 

Author's Note: 

I have no conflict of interest to disclose.

Thank you to my advisor, Dr. Gemmell, for your support during this project.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Allegra D. Banks at

Keywords:  Franzi Ascher-Nash, Austria, Refugee, Music, Women, Translation, German Language

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