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Heinrich Schenker: Selected Correspondence

Heinrich Schenker: Selected Correspondence

Ian Bent
David Bretherton
William Drabkin
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 544
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  • Book Info
    Heinrich Schenker: Selected Correspondence
    Book Description:

    Heinrich Schenker (1868-1935) ranks as the leading twentieth-century theorist and analyst of tonal music. His ideas have shaped higher education in music in the United States profoundly, and influenced music theorists there, in Europe, and throughout the world. Living and working in Vienna, Schenker maintained a vigorous correspondence with a wide circle of professional musicians, writers, music critics, institutions, administrators, patrons, friends and pupils. A large part of his correspondence was preserved after his death: some 7,000 letters, postcards, telegrams, etc., to and from 400 correspondents, spanning 1889-1935. In addition, his diaries, kept over the last forty years of his life in notebooks comprising 4,000 pages, not only record the fabric of his personal life and the running of his business as private music teacher; they also provide a detailed commentary on historical and political events. In short, these documents yield information about technical-musical matters and the musical life of Vienna, and also about the society, culture, and politics of his time. Heinrich Schenker: Selected Correspondence offers the full text of some 450 letters in English translation, organized into sections devoted to various aspects of his professional life. Each section is prefaced by an introduction, and all the letters are fully annotated. Extracts from the diaries are included to provide a summary of important parts of the correspondence that do not survive. IAN BENT is Professor Emeritus, after retiring from Full Professor of Music, at Columbia University and Honorary Professor in the History of Music Theory at the University of Cambridge. WILLIAM DRABKIN is Professor of Music at the University of Southampton. DAVID BRETHERTON is Senior Tutor in Music at the University of Southampton.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-382-9
    Subjects: Music, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  6. Editorial Method
    (pp. xvii-xix)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xx-xx)
  8. Biographical Notes on Correspondents and Others
    (pp. xxi-xxviii)
  9. General Introduction
    (pp. xxix-xliv)

    The present volume brings together some 450 pieces of correspondence to and from the Austrian music theorist Heinrich Schenker. These have been arranged in six sections, each concerned with an aspect of Schenker’s long and wide-ranging career in music. Each section contains several individual chapters that cover the correspondence relating to a specific topic or episode: the publication of a single work, the negotiations with a publisher over a series of publications; an exchange with a particular correspondent at a particular time, a musical work that became a focal point in Schenker’s life, and so on. Broadly speaking, the chapters...


    • 1 Schenker as Composer
      (pp. 2-29)

      Upon applying in September 1887 to study at the Vienna Conservatory, Schenker was pronounced “qualified to be placed on probation in the first year of the advanced class (Ausbildungsklasse) in composition,” and would “at his own wish be assigned to the class of Franz Krenn.” Alongside this he was to study piano with Ernst Ludwig. But Schenker evidently changed his mind about composition, opting instead in the first year for harmony and in the second year for counterpoint, both with Anton Bruckner. Not until the third year, 1889/90, did he enroll in a composition class, this time with Johann Nepomuk...

    • 2 Schoenberg and Schenker’s Syrian Dances
      (pp. 30-43)

      In 1903 the twenty-nine-year-old Arnold Schoenberg found his first publisher, Dreililien Verlag, and was taken on as a teacher of harmony and counterpoint at the Schwarzwald School in Vienna. Additional income came from work as an arranger for Universal Edition. Since 1900 Schoenberg had regularly made piano reductions (including one of selections fromThe Barber of Sevillefor piano four-hands) and also orchestrated “some 6,000 pages of operettas by Zepler and others,”¹ so it was presumably his reputation as a safe pair of hands that led to his engagement—at Busoni’s suggestion—to orchestrate Schenker’sSyrian Dances, which Busoni would...

    • 3 Johannes Messchaert and Performance
      (pp. 44-52)

      One of the most celebrated vocalists of his day, the Dutch baritone Johannes Martinus Messchaert (1857–1922) enjoyed an illustrious career as a soloist, pedagogue, and choral conductor. (See Plate 24.) It was not as an opera singer that Messchaert made his name but as a singer of lieder and oratorio; above all, his performances of Schubert lieder and his role as Christ in Bach’sSt. Matthew Passionearned him accolades in the German and Dutch press. Having studied with the Frankfurt-based vocal pedagogue Julius Stockhausen, Messchaert went on to collaborate with the pianist Julius Röntgen, with whom he established...

    • Plates
      (pp. None)
    • 4 The Society for Creative Musicians and Schoenberg’s Music
      (pp. 53-58)

      The invitation to Schenker to attend a meeting “to consider possible ways of setting up a society to sponsor the performance of ‘modern music’,” of which Schoenberg was a co-signatory, and the dispatch of an invitation to the event of the Ansorge Society on February 7, 1904, leave open the question as to how much of Schenker’s thinking about such music was known to those inviting him. The Society for Creative Musicians¹ was duly established on April 23, 1904, but despite having Mahler as its honorary president—he also conducted Strauss’sSinfonia domesticaat one of the concerts—it lasted...

    • 5 Julius Röntgen: Editing and Ornamentation
      (pp. 59-72)

      While Schenker first witnessed Julius Röntgen perform five years before he wrote his first extant letter to him, we do not know when the two men first met or communicated with each other.¹ In his letter of March 15, 1901 to the Leipzig-born composer, pianist, and accompanist, Schenker invited Röntgen to join him in preparing practical editions of keyboard works from the classical canon, a commission from Josef Weinberger, co-founder of the publishing firm of Universal Edition. Röntgen accepted and completed no fewer than eight volumes of music by J. S. Bach the following year. Schenker’s correspondence with Röntgen ranged...


    • 6 Cotta and the New Musical Theories and Fantasies
      (pp. 74-92)

      The grand German publishing house of J. G. Cotta goes back to 1659, when Johann Georg Cotta acquired the management of the bookshop of Tübingen University through marriage. At about the same time he established his own publishing business, and the name “J. G. Cotta” soon became attached to both the retail store and the publishing firm. In the 1790s Cotta became associated with Schiller, and soon after with Goethe, of whose collected works it published the third edition in 1806–10. In the latter year, the firm moved from Tübingen to Stuttgart (where it remains today under the name...

    • 7 Otto Erich Deutsch and the “Moonlight” Sonata Facsimile
      (pp. 93-105)

      Schenker’s correspondence with Otto Erich Deutsch is among his largest. The earliest known letter from Deutsch dates from June 25, 1913;¹ but prior to this, in late 1912, both were apparently speakers at a public lecture series at the Society of the Friends of Music,² and in addition Schenker’s diary entry for February 24, 1913, reports an evening spent with Deutsch following a lecture by Schenker’s pupil Sofie Deutsch.³ The correspondence reached its peak in the late 1920s and early 1930s and mostly concerns Schenker’s publications; it also includes numerous social invitations, which attest to an increasingly close relationship between...

    • 8 Universal Edition and the Tonwille Dispute
      (pp. 106-129)

      Schenker’s correspondence with Universal Edition spanned thirty years, from 1901 to his death in 1935, and involved all UE’s principals—Josef Weinberger, Josef Wöss, Barbara Rothe, Alfred Kalmus, Hans Heinsheimer, Hugo Winter, and Ernst Roth. But it was with one person that Schenker primarily dealt: Emil Hertzka. Soon after his arrival as UE’s director in 1907, Hertzka gave Schenker his personal attention: of the approximately one thousand surviving items of correspondence between Schenker and UE, no fewer than six hundred are with Hertzka. Schenker’s periodicalDer Tonwille, a decade in the planning and full of promise, ultimately proved an impediment:...

    • 9 Drei Masken Verlag and The Masterwork in Music
      (pp. 130-150)

      Even before severing his ties formally with Emil Hertzka and Universal Edition in 1925 (see chapter 8) Schenker was already in negotiations with a publisher to continue theTonwilleseries of short analytical and theoretical essays. The Munich firms of R. Piper and Drei Masken Verlag (DMV), both of which had considerable experience in fine book production, were initially considered. With the help of Otto Vrieslander a cordial relationship was begun in late 1924 with DMV, for whose music catalog Alfred Einstein was responsible. Much of the correspondence with Schenker was undertaken by a Mr. Demblin—probably the historian August...


    • 10 The Sofie Deutsch Bequest and the Vienna Academy
      (pp. 152-178)

      One of the less familiar corners of Schenker’s world, this correspondence affords a glimpse into Viennese philanthropy and institutional politics. It centers around a bequest, made in a will of 1915, for two stipends a year to be awarded to “impecunious skilled composers”—stipends that were placed in the lifetime gift of Schenker. No sooner had the bequest been made than attorneys contested it. Matters were complicated by the fact that the annual yield for these stipends was part of the interest on a large bequest to the Association for the Feeding and Clothing of Hungry Schoolchildren in Vienna:¹


    • 11 Invitations to Serve: Guido Adler
      (pp. 179-186)

      For a half century prior to the German annexation of Austria Guido Adler was the principal shaper of musicological discourse in the organized academic community of the Habsburg Empire. After completing a doctorate under Hanslick, Adler began his professorship at the German University in Prague. There he worked to lay foundations for an ambitious reimagining of music-historical study, grounded in the empirical examinations and inductive, text-critical analyses that characterized the “Vienna School” of art-historical research under Rudolf Eitelberger, Alois Riegl, and Moriz Thausing.¹ Adler’s move to the University of Vienna in 1898 introduced his vision of musicology to a new...

    • Plates
      (pp. None)
    • 12 The Photogram Archive
      (pp. 187-207)

      It was Anthony van Hoboken who, at Schenker’s urging, in 1927 founded the “Archive for Photograms of Musical Master Manuscripts” (Archiv für Photogramme musikalischer Meisterhandschriften). The goal of the “Photogrammarchiv” or “Meisterarchiv,” as it was also called for short, was to capture photographically the autograph manuscripts of famous composers from Bach to Brahms, so that they could be made generally available for the purposes of study and preparing editions, without the originals themselves being susceptible to damage. In addition, in the event that the original was lost, at least its photographic reproduction would survive for posterity. The administration of the...

    • 13 Professorial Sorties: Ludwig Karpath and Wilhelm Furtwängler
      (pp. 208-224)

      The mode of address to which Schenker was strictly speaking entitled throughout his career was “Doctor,” reflecting the doctorate of law that he had received from the University of Vienna in 1889.¹ During the 1890s he was addressed in letters by professional people (e.g. Eduard Hanslick, Ignaz Brüll, Hermann Bahr, Max Graf) as “Dear Doctor,” and by publishing houses (Breitkopf & Härtel, Edition Peters, Simrock) as “Dear Sir” or “Dear Mr. Schenker,” while closer acquaintances (d’Albert, Busoni) saluted him as “Dear friend.” (Schenker, throughout his life, meticulously addressed people as they were due: “Dear Doctor,” “Dear Professor,” “Dear Court Counselor,” “Dear...


    • 14 Genesis of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony
      (pp. 226-236)

      The idea of a monograph on the Ninth Symphony came about in part fortuitously. On October 16, 1909, Schenker reported to Emil Hertzka that Wilhelm Bopp, Director of the Vienna Academy, wished to arrange a “historical” concert for January or February 1910, the program comprising:

      1) Concerto for keyboard and orchestra by C. P. E. Bach

      2) Concerto for two keyboards and string orchestra by C. P. E. Bach

      3) Cantata by J. S. Bach.

      And there might in addition, at my suggestion, be as a fourth work a concerto by Handel for harp and orchestra.

      Preparations for this event...

    • 15 Paul von Klenau and Beethoven
      (pp. 237-250)

      Composer and conductor Paul von Klenau (1883–1946: see Plate 37) was Danish but studied mostly in Germany, his composition teachers being Max Bruch (Berlin), Ludwig Thuille (Munich), and Max von Schillings (Stuttgart). His conducting career took him first to the Civic Theater in Freiburg, next to the Bach Society in Frankfurt, then back as the chief conductor in Freiburg. He spent World War I in Denmark, where in 1920 he co-founded the Danish Philharmonic Society, which he conducted until 1926. From 1922 to 1930 he served as conductor of the Vienna Concert House Society. It was during this period...

    • 16 Georg Dohrn and the Ninth Symphony
      (pp. 251-254)

      Georg Dohrn (1867–1942) was a conductor working in Flensburg, then Munich (1898–1901), then with the Breslau Orchestral and Choral Societies (1901–36). He was an admirer of Schenker’s writings, and in 1926 sought the latter’s advice, raising points of interpretation on Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony that Schenker answered in close detail.

      Some time after this correspondence took place, Hellmut Federhofer, while browsing in a bookstore, happened on a used copy of Schenker’sBeethovens neunte Sinfonie, which he purchased. When he later opened the volume, Schenker’s holograph letter to Dohrn fell out of its pages. Federhofer had no way of...


    • 17 Expedient Mutuality: Schenker and August Halm
      (pp. 256-293)

      The correspondence between August Halm and Heinrich Schenker (thirty-six letters and eleven postcards between 1916 and 1927) chronicles the views of self-appointed spokesmen waging campaigns in a cultural conflict between tradition and modernity during the last few years of World War I and the birth and subsequent sociopolitical and economic travails of the Weimar Republic. In some ways the two men are allies under the banner of traditionalism—preserving and deepening appreciation for the German musical canon—but in others they occupy seats on opposite sides of the political, sociological, and music-aesthetic aisle. Their written communication is a mix of...

    • 18 Expectations Unfulfilled: Schenker and Furtwängler
      (pp. 294-317)

      One would expect remarkable insights from an exchange such as this between a sophisticated intellectual and an aspiring conductor. But their conversation never got off the ground: the radical theorist and the artistically open-minded musician failed to come to terms. This makes their exchange not in the least uninteresting. It follows two different characters and outlooks in their ups and downs over one and a half decades, and it covers a wide range of topics. However, it all stems from a small number of fundamental principles that form a constant background to the unfolding of ideas.

      These principles are visible...

    • 19 Open Disagreement: Schenker and Paul Hindemith
      (pp. 318-324)

      This material is the only known exchange in writing between Schenker and a leading contemporary composer to address technical and aesthetic matters. Hindemith had begun his professional life as an orchestral violinist in 1915, and was soon composing prolifically. From 1923 he focused his performing activities on the Amar Quartet, which played only contemporary music, and on composing. In 1927 he became a teacher of composition in Berlin, and began to develop the interest in music pedagogy that intensified after his move to the United States in 1937 and resulted in several theoretical texts. His letter to Schenker is an...


    • 20 Fighting the Propaganda War: Walter Dahms
      (pp. 326-349)

      A berlin-based freelance writer and composer, Walter Dahms earned his living primarily as a music critic and as author of composer biographies.¹ Dahms was an active voice in the German press during the 1910s and 20s, writing regular concert reviews and editorials for theNeue Preussische Kreuz-Zeitung, theKleines Journal, theBerliner Börsen-Zeitung, and theMagdeburgische Zeitung; he also wrote more extended articles for theater and music periodicals such asBühne und Welt, Die Musik, and theAllgemeine Musikzeitung. Dahms was, above all, an outspoken critic of modern music and a conservative voice of his time. His writings in the...

    • 21 Hamburg and Moriz Violin
      (pp. 350-386)

      The letters that Moriz Violin and Schenker exchanged between the years 1922 and 1933, when Violin was living in Hamburg, are of special significance because they record the activity of both musicians in considerable detail and also document Violin’s extensive involvement in Schenker’s cause. Violin’s letters paint a portrait of Hamburg as a pleasant but culturally conservative city; they also describe aspects of the political situation in Germany, including the “Jewish question.” A considerable stretch of letters and postcards from 1923–24 are directly related to Schenker’s controversy with Emil Hertzka over the content, publication, and distribution ofDer Tonwille;...

    • 22 Further Inroads into Germany: Felix-Eberhard von Cube
      (pp. 387-417)

      Felix-Eberhard von Cube (1903–87) was the son of a Munich-based architect who had married into the Sternheim family. For a time Gustav von Cube’s family lived on the estate of his brother-in-law, the poet and playwright Carl Sternheim, for whom he had built Schloss Bellemaison. It was here that young Felix studied the piano with Sternheim’s private librarian Otto Vrieslander, on whose recommendation the boy went to Vienna in 1923 to study with Schenker. (It was after one of his first lessons with Schenker that Cube made a pencil drawing of himself seated at the piano, while Schenker ranted...

    • 23 Collecting Sources: Anthony van Hoboken
      (pp. 418-440)

      The correspondence between Schenker and his pupil Anthony van Hoboken comprises 114 letters and postcards written from 1924 until shortly before Schenker’s death in January, 1935. Of these items, seventy-four are by Hoboken, fifty-six by Schenker. The letters here selected span the period beginning with Hoboken’s enthusiastic acknowledgment of Schenker’s acceptance of him as a pupil until 1932. They provide insight into the character and interests, both professional and nonprofessional, not only of the correspondents but also of other members of the wider Schenker circle.

      Regarding Anthony van Hoboken himself, the letters document above all his quest for photographs of...

    • 24 Edinburgh Outpost: John Petrie Dunn
      (pp. 441-453)

      John Petrie Dunn (1878–1931) was the son of a Scottish school inspector. He attended the University of Edinburgh from 1896 to 1899, where he was among the outstanding students of Frederick Niecks; a Bucher Scholarship enabled him to continue his studies abroad. At the Stuttgart Conservatory he had piano lessons from Max Pauer and studied theory with Samuel de Lange; later he joined the teaching staff there. In 1909 he moved to Kiel, as Professor of piano and, subsequently, as Vice-Principal of the Conservatory, where his first book,Das Geheimnis der Handführung beim Klavierspiel, was written; it is probably...

    • 25 The Seminar Years: Felix Salzer
      (pp. 454-464)

      Felix Salzer was born in Vienna into the Wittgenstein family (his mother, Helene Salzer, was the sister of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and the pianist Paul Wittgenstein). By the time he became Schenker’s pupil in the fall of 1931 he had already, in 1926, completed his doctorate in musicology at the University of Vienna with Guido Adler and had published two articles, the first based on his dissertation, “Sonata Form in Franz Schubert.”¹

      The present selection of the correspondence² begins in 1930 with a letter concerning Salzer’s second published article, an essay on the meaning of the ornaments in C....

    • 26 Letters from America: Hans Weisse
      (pp. 465-490)

      Of all Schenker’s pupils and disciples, none was as important for the dissemination of his teachings as Hans Weisse. Weisse seems to be at the forefront of every initiative to promote his teacher’s work, whether as a private tutor, a public lecturer, or an ambassador of music theory. It was Weisse who created a little seminar in analysis at his home in the late 1920s, which Schenker himself was later to take over. He introduced American musicians to Schenker’s approach to musical structure and gave the first public lectures in Schenkerian theory to the German and Austrian music-pedagogical establishment in...

  16. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 491-497)
  17. Transcription and Translation Credits
    (pp. 498-502)
  18. Index
    (pp. 503-524)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 525-525)