Peter Turrini


The pre-mortem bequest was pre-sorted very well. The material on the genesis of the works is not the only extensive part, the correspondence, which consists not only of all of the letters received by Turrini but also all that he had written from 1962. With its collection of the documents of reception (newspaper articles, secondary literature, photographs, programme material, etc.) the Turrini archive reaches a high level of completeness.

Peter Turrini Collection

Time period: from 1958

Works (Manuscripts, drafts, materials):

  • Eary works
  • Drama and prose
  • Texts, speeches, essays
  • Lyrical poetry
  • Interviews, convesations
  • Screenplays


Life documentation:

  • Bundles and documents of public debates
  • Photographs


  • Audio-visual media
  • Printed works (file copies)
  • Photographs
  • Posters
  • Programme booklets
  • Press documentation
  • Publishing materials on dramatic work
  • Secondary literature

The Pevny-Turrini Alpensaga Archive                                         

The collection contains materials on the genesis of the scripts to the TV series “Alpensaga” (Alpine Saga) by Wilhelm Pevny and Peter Turrini. Photographs and press documentation of “Alpensaga” are included in Peter Turrini's pre-mortem bequest.

Time period: 1972–1979

Original screenplays, treatments, drafts and materials for the episodes one to six of “Alpensaga“ (Premieres between 1976–1980), television film “The Farmer and the Millionaire“ (Premiere 1977).


Peter Turrini was born on September 26, 1944 in St. Margarethen in the region of Carinthia – he was one of three sons – and spent his childhood in Maria Saal. His mother, Elsa, had moved from Styria to Carinthia, his father was an Italian immigrant who ran an art carpenter workshop in Maria Saal.

Turrini's development as an artist was strongly influence by his relationships to the inhabitants of the Tonhof. This property in Maria Saal was owned by art-loving couple Maja and Gerhard Lampersberg who were private patrons of artists of all fields in the 50s and 60s. Austria's most important artists found recognition and support at Tonhof. The young Turrini met personalities such as Thomas Bernhard, H.C. Artmann or Christine Lavant there. The artistically versatile landlord Gerhard Lampersberg is remembered by Turrini as his “spiritual foster-father”.

Soon after his high school graduation at the commercial academy in Klagenfurt (1963), Turrini left Carinthia to live as a writer and secured his material livelihood (from 1963–1971) by working as a steel worker, a woodcutter, a bartender, and a copywriter, to name a few.

In 1969 on the Island of Rhodos, Turrini met the American author Willard Manus upon whose suggestion he wrote his first play within a short time. The collaboration with Manus is an early indication of Turrini's willingness to forms of collaborative writing, which he would go back to time and again. With his first play “Rozznjogd” (Premiere 1971 at the Volkstheater in Vienna), Turrini promptly became known in the entire German-speaking world. 

Peter Turrini's work covers all literary categories: poems, speeches, political pamphlets, essays, a novel, diaries (unpublished), and letters (partially published). However, he is a playwright first and foremost: Turrini wrote more than 30 plays, as well as libretti and screenplays.

The art form of theatre is defined not only by literary text, but unfolds its effect through the interplay of many components and people. Turrini is an author who oversees the production process at the theatre with the willingness to make changes in the script, knowing very well that he will never get to see the play that he envisioned. Later adaptations of his plays based on specific stagings are not uncommon.

After his initial successes with the dialectal plays “Rozznjogd” and “Sauschlachten”, Turrini turned his attention to the major project of writing a screenplay:  The television series “Alpensaga” developed in the years 1972–1980 and is considered a milestone of in-house production at ORF (Austrian National Broadcast). Together, the authors Wilhelm Pevny and Peter Turrini wrote and developed six 90-minute episodes, in which history is told from the point of view of a rural village community. The story's time frame spans from the turn of the century to the year 1945. With “Arbeitersaga” (Workers' Saga – written together with Rudolf Palla), another work for television followed. In the 80s, however, he turned to writing for theatre again. In the 13 years that Claus Peymann was director of the Burgtheater (1986–1999) alone, Turrini wrote six plays that premiered on the stages of the Burgtheater, such as “Die Minderleister”, “Tod und Teufel”, “Alpenglühen”, and “Die Schlacht um Wien”. 

By commission of the Austrian State Opera, Friedrich Cerha (music) and Peter Turrini (libretto) created the opera “Der Riese vom Steinfeld”. Other works by Turrini were also provided with music by different composers. Translations of his plays can be found in more than thirty languages, including non-European languages such as Afrikaans, Arabic, Armenian, Indonesian, Japanese, and Korean.

Literature stores memory and contributes to the collective memory of a society. Even if it appears fictitious or seemingly unpolitical, literature can, in many ways, reflect the living conditions of an era from a contemporary point of view. The opportunities for political statements in and through literature are just as diverse.

Social grievances and their effects on the affected persons are central themes in Turrini's dramas. Ever since his appearance in the theatre scene in the 70s, Turrini has been declaring himself as a politically (but not party politically) acting writer. His attitude of social criticism does not only show in his plays, he also voiced it in his many texts, essays, and speeches for all kinds of occasions. The mental influence he has on many people by this means, is not only due to his masterful rhetoric but more importantly, it is a result of his authorial intent of being understood.


Peter Turrini's website:


Prizes and Awards


The work of Peter Turrini contains all literary categories: Poems, speeches, political pamphlets, essay, a novel, diaries (unpublished) and letters (partially published). However, he is a playwright first and foremost: Turrini wrote more than 30 plays, as well as libretti and screenplays.

Catalogue of works by Peter Turrini