I don't see anything to indicate that Nietsche, Sartre and the other
early purveyors of existentialism actually used the phrase
Instead, the earliest use of it I could find is in this passage from a
psychological profile of the life of Puccini published in 1959:
"As for the artists and writers between 1880 and 1910, the majority
reacted with feelings of disillusionment, frustration and despair. The
moral, social and aesthetic standards which they had been taught by
their elders to set store by, were now shown to be tottering. In
music, the pervasive pessimism in the works of such composers as
Puccini, Mahler and Debussy was in part a reflection of the spiritual
malaise of their period. With Puccini and Mahler there is, in
addition, a suggestion of the existential Angst, of helplessness in a
world of hard brutal facts and resignation to the sadness which they
saw at the roots of life. Puccini's verses, artless as they are, echo
essentially the same sentiment to which Mahler gave such poignant
expression in the Farewell, the last movement of his Song of the
Please note that the word "Angst" is not only capitalized, but in the
book itself, it is also italicized. The usage suggests (to me,
anyway) that "existential angst" was not, at the time, a phrase in
common use, but was bing coined de novo by the author.
The book the quote comes from is:
Puccini: A Critical Biography.
by Mosco Carner
Publisher: Knopf, New York, 1959.
Carner is a fairly well-known psychologically-oriented writer of
musicians and their works. His profile in the Puccini book is as
"Mosco Carner was born in Vienna in 1904. At Vienna University he was
one of the last pupils of Guido Adler, the great pioneer of
musicology. Up to 1933, Dr. Carner was operatic conductor at the State
Theater of Danzig. In the autumn of that year he settled in London,
where he has made his name as a musicologist, broadcaster, and
conductor, having led all of the foremost London orchestras. He is a
member of the B.B.C. Music Advisory Panel and serves as music critic
on the London Evening News and the weekly Time and Tide. Dr. Carner
has written widely on the music of Schubert, Schumann, Mahler, Bartok,
and Alban Berg. His published books include A Study of
Twentieth-Century Harmony and Of Men and Music. Having first envisaged
the present book on Puccini during his student days in Vienna, he
began systematic work on it in 1953."
I hope this information meets your needs. Don't hesitate to post a
Request for Clarification if anything here needs additional
elaboration or explanation.
search strategy: I searched numerous e-text files of historical
literature for the earliest use of the phrase, "existential angst".