Correspondence to and from Heinrich Schenker survives in about twenty depositories, located in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States. Some items are held in national, civic, and university libraries and archives, some in the files of commercial companies, some in private possession, whether by the descendants of recipients, or by other persons into whose hands they have subsequently come. There are undoubtedly yet-to-be-identified caches of correspondence, and such caches, for which Schenker Documents Online actively searches, come to light from time to time. Diaries and lessonbooks, to the contrary, survive each in a single location.

Of these depositories, four stand out as holding the largest quantities of material, and details of them and their locations are given below.

Background: 1935–42

What happened after Heinrich Schenker's death on January 14, 1935 should, however, first be briefly outlined here. Whereas most of his books and scores were sold through the book trade, the huge mass of papers that Schenker left behind, including drafts and fair copies of texts for publications (prospective or actual), analyses and sketches of music, handwritten notes and memos (some even on tram tickets and restaurant bills), drafts and file copies of correspondence (sent or unsent), correspondence received, diaries, lessonbooks, scrapbooks, miscellaneous other materials, and copies of his own publications, were retained by his widow Jeanette, who sought over the next few years to impose some organization on them.

Between Heinrich's death and her own deportation to Theresienstadt (Terezin) in 1942, Jeanette gave or sold some of her husband's papers to friends and pupils; thus Felix Salzer purchased part of the collection in 1936, Otto Vrieslander re-acquired most of the letters he had written to Heinrich, and materials were passed to Wilhelm Furtwängler. In particular and still more significantly, Jeanette entrusted a large quantity of his working papers to Ernst Oster (a pupil of Oswald Jonas), who then emigrated to the USA; these passed at his death to the New York Public Library.

The remainder of the papers and other materials, stored in a large trunk, she entrusted to Erwin Ratz, a close friend who for some time succeeded in shielding her from the Nazis. Ratz himself remained in Vienna throughout the war and kept the trunk safe; then Oswald Jonas, a pupil of Schenker's who had emigrated to the USA in 1938, returned to Vienna some time after the war and acquired the trunk from Ratz. He shipped it back to the USA, where from 1965 to his death in 1978 he taught at the University of California at Riverside, to which he bequeathed its contents.


Riverside, California, USA :
University of California, Riverside, Special Collections Library

Oswald Jonas Memorial Collection

This collection of materials (c. 75,000 leaves) comprises Schenker's diaries, the bulk of his correspondence, spanning 1888–1935, his theoretical, critical, and analytical works and editions in manuscript, proof, and published versions (many with annotations and corrections), scores, and his own compositions. In addition to these, the collection also holds the papers of Oswald Jonas himself, including correspondence, manuscript and published works and other materials, the papers of Schenker's life-long friend Moriz Violin (who had emigrated in 1939 and lived and worked in San Francisco), including correspondence and memorabilia, and also other correspondence acquired subsequently, and photographs and portraits of the Schenkers, their family and circle of friends. A checklist of the materials has been published and made online.

  • Lang, Robert & Kunselman, JoAn, Heinrich Schenker, Oswald Jonas, Moriz Violin: A Checklist of Manuscripts and Other Papers in the Oswald Jonas Memorial Collection (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1994)

  • Lang, Robert & Kunselman, JoAn, Guide to the Oswald Jonas Memorial Collection (online edition)

New York, USA :
New York Public Library, Performing Arts Library, Music Division


Oster Collection

This collection of Schenker's materials, deposited at the New York Public Library in 1979/80 after the death of Ernst Oster, includes correspondence with the publishers Universal Edition of Vienna (939 items), Drei Masken Verlag of Munich and Waldheim-Eberle of Vienna (384 items), and to and from others, spanning his entire career. It also includes Schenker's lessonbooks (1912–31) and lesson notes (1931/32), and his scrapbook preserving clippings from newspapers and journals (1902–35). In addition, it contains many music analyses and graphs (mostly organized by composer), preparatory manuscript and typed materials for publications, including texts of unpublished works, and a collection of books, pamphlets, and scores (many with annotations and corrections). The collection was preserved and catalogued in 1988-90 with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a finding-list published. The entire collection is available on microfilm.

  • Kosovsky, Robert, comp., The Oster Collection: Papers of Heinrich Schenker: A Finding List (New York: New York Public Library, 1990)

Felix Salzer Papers

This collection, bequeathed to the Library in 2000, holds the papers of Felix Salzer, a pupil of Schenker's who left Austria in 1939 and emigrated to the USA the following year, taught at the David Mannes Music School and subsequently also at Queen's College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. The collection includes a portion of Schenker's papers, notably the latter's notes on the J. S. Bach "Generalbaßbüchlein," his "Von der Stimmführung des Generalbasses," and his commentary on C. P. E. Bach's Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen, and numerous analyses and sketches, including preparatory materials for the projected second volume of Fünf Urlinie-Tafeln. In addition, it holds Salzer's own correspondence with many people, including twenty-seven items from Heinrich Schenker, communications with Jeanette, and correspondence between Hans Weisse and Schenker. The papers were catalogued in 2007, and the catalogue published online.


Vienna, Austria :
Wienbibliothek im Rathhaus (formerly Wiener Stadt- und Landesbibliothek)


Handschriftensammlung [Manuscript Collection]

This collection contains correspondence between Schenker and Otto Erich Deutsch (24 items), Albert Franz Seligmann (17), Karl Weigl (4), Artaria (1), and Johannes Brahms (1). There is no published catalogue.


Musiksammlung [Music Collection]

This collection comprises 408 letters, mostly in Schenker's hand, to his principal publisher, Universal Edition of Vienna, and thirty-five from Universal Edition to Schenker, spanning 1908-31, on long loan from Universal Edition since 1976. Regrettably, the letters from Schenker to UE are missing for the years 1920–23 inclusive. There is no published catalogue.

There is also a small number of letters between Jeanette Schenker and Universal Edition dating from after Heinrich's death, held at the company's archive at its head office in Vienna.


Marbach, Germany :
Schiller Nationalmuseum/Deutsches Literaturarchiv: Cotta-Archiv (Stiftung der Stuttgarter Zeitung)

This archive holds correspondence from Schenker to his publisher J. G. Cotta of Stuttgart, interleaved with carbon copies of letters from Cotta to himself, spanning 1905–21 (179 items). There are also letters from Schenker to August Halm in the Deutsches Literaturarchiv itself (16 items). There is no published catalogue.

For full list of the depositories of Schenker materials, with the sigla used by Schenker Documents Online, see Abbreviations and Sigla.

The information contained in the above introduction and collection descriptions is drawn from the sources already cited, and also from the following:

  • Federhofer, Hellmut, Heinrich Schenker nach Tagebüchern und Briefen in der Oswald Jonas Memorial Collection, University of California, Riverside (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1985)
  • Kosovsky, Robert, "Levels of Understanding: An Introduction to Schenker's Nachlass," Schenker Studies 2, ed. Carl Schachter & Hedi Siegel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999)
  • [Anon.], "Der Nachlaß Heinrich Schenkers," Der Dreiklang i (April 1937), 17–22