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The first volume of Schenker's yearbook Das Meisterwerk in der Musik (1925–30), the full title of which is:

  • Das Meisterwerk in der Musik: ein Jahrbuch von Heinrich Schenker
  • The Masterwork in Music: a Yearbook by Heinrich Schenker


Volume I, 220 printed pages in length (16 gatherings: 224pp), comprises fifteen articles in all: ten short and analytical, three theoretical, one text-critical, and one polemical. Six of them have their roots in Der Tonwille : the three mini-analyses of short preludes by J. S. Bach continue the series of five published in Tonwille 4 and 5; "Further Considerations of the Urlinie" follows on from articles in Tonwille 1 ("The Urlinie: A Preliminary Remark") and 2 ("Yet Another Word on the Urlinie"); the "Elucidations" are actually a reprint of the article published in Tonwille 8/9; and the "Miscellanea" continues the series that has appeared in all but two issues. At the same time, three articles connect forward to Meisterwerk II: the two analyses of Bach solo violin movements are matched by one of a Bach solo cello movement in volume II, and "Further Considerations"" has its own direct sequel with the same title in volume II, where also "Elucidations" was to be reprinted again.

Production Chronology

Work on the contents of this volume goes back to the fall of 1924. Schenker began drafting the three Bach short prelude analyses in that November, worked up the voice-leading graphs and music examples in December, finalizing all three articles in January 1925 with finishing touches in early June. The two Bach violin analyses were started in early January 1925, polished in February and finalized in late May. Schenker started work on the two Chopin Etude analyses in mid-January 1925, polished them in mid‒late April, finalizing them at the end of May. The two Scarlatti sonata items were started in early April and completed in late May. The Op. 110 piece took only seven days, April 28 to May 4, 1925.

The text-critical "Abolish the Phrasing Slur" was written between late February and early June 1925. It was a response to an article by Walter Engelsmann, which was itself preceded by an exchange of letters between Engelsmann and Schenker. The essay represents the most significant published "updating" of a Schenkerian analysis by Schenker himself: he also provides foreground graphs of extracts of the first movement (Figs. 7 and 12) and a complete middleground reduction of the Allegro molto (Fig. 8), things which were unthinkable back in 1914 when the Erläuterungsausgabe of the work was published.

The two theoretical articles (other than the much earlier "Elucidations") were produced in 1925. The first idea for "The Art of Improvisation" occurred to Schenker on February 23, the work spreading over fourteen weeks to early June; it proceeded by sections, the C. P. E. Bach materials in mid-March, the Handel preludes in late March, the "introduction and epilogue" in early April, the graphs polished in mid-May, with Jeanette Schenker taking dictation and writing up drafts at various stages, eventually producing the fair copy, all being finished on June 2. Work on "Further Considerations of the Urlinie" was underway before March 20, when Schenker dictated a rough version to Jeanette; work continued section by section throughout April, preparation of the Schoenberg and Stravinsky section in the final week of that month (all of this charted in his diary), and the final version was produced May 22‒24.

Schenker first referred to the "Miscellanea" in December 1924, but the main work occupied only nine days, May 9‒17.

The whole manuscript was packed up on June 3, 1925 and delivered to Drei Masken Verlag. Early in the following November, the publisher assigned the printing and engraving to Waldheim-Eberle (OC 54/42). (This was held up for a time because of the lack of "special characters" – i.e. careted numbers – in the engravers' type-set: OC 54/43.) Schenker began receiving galley-proofs of the letterpress around November 28 (OC 54/45), at which point he submitted the text of his Foreword (OC 54/48).

He records returning corrected first galley-proofs between December 9 and 15. Second galleys circulated in January 1926 (OC 54/59, 60), proofs of the engraved work and small music examples (Klischees) in February, first page-proofs were returned on March 1 (OC 54/67), and Schenker seems to have given his overall imprimatur in April (OC 54/75), although some revisions trickled on into May. One copy of the volume was finally delivered to Schenker on June 11 ‒ the very day on which he submitted the manuscript of volume II! Meisterwerk I was apparently released on June 21 (diary and OC 54/90).


  • English translation: Drabkin, William, ed., The Masterwork in Music: A Yearbook [team-translated] (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994–97): vol. I (1994)

Contents List

  • Vorwort [Foreword], 7 [1]
  • "Die Kunst der Improvisation" [The Art of Improvisation], 9‒40 [2‒19]
  • "Weg mit dem Phrasierungsbogen" [Abolish the Phrasing Slur], 41‒59 [20‒30]
  • "Joh. S. Bach: Sechs Sonaten für Violine. Sonata III, Largo" [J. S. Bach: Six Sonatas for Violin, Sonata No. 3, Largo], 61‒73 [31‒38]
  • "Joh. S. Bach: Sechs Sonaten für Violine. Partita III [E-Dur], Präludio" [J. S. Bach: Six Sonatas for Violin, Partita No. 3 (E major), Prelude], 75‒98 [39‒53]
  • "Joh. S. Bach: Zwölf kleine Präludien, Nr. 6" [J. S. Bach: Twelve Short Preludes, No. 6], 99‒105 [54‒57]
  • "Joh. S. Bach: Zwölf kleine Präludien, Nr. 7" [J. S. Bach: Twelve Short Preludes, No. 7], 107‒13 [58‒61]
  • "Joh. S. Bach: Zwölf kleine Präludien, Nr. 12" [J. S. Bach: Twelve Short Preludes, No. 12], 115‒23 [62‒66]
  • "Domenico Scarlatti: Sonate für Klavier D-Moll" [Domenico Scarlatti: Keyboard Sonata in D minor], 125‒35 [67‒74]
  • "Domenico Scarlatti: Sonate für Klavier G-Dur" [Domenico Scarlatti: Keyboard Sonata in G major], 137‒44 [75‒80]
  • "Chopin: Etude Es-Moll op. 10, Nr. 6" [Chopin: Etude in Eę minor, Op. 10, No. 6], 145‒59 [81‒89]
  • "Chopin: Etude Ges-Dur op. 10, Nr. 5" [Chopin: Etude in Gę major, Op. 10, No. 5], 161‒73 [90‒98]
  • "Noch einmal zu Beethovens op. 110" [A Postscript to Beethoven's Opus 110], 175‒84 [99‒103]
  • "Fortsetzung der Urlinie-Betrachtungen" [Further Considerations of the Urlinie], 185‒200 [104‒111]
  • "Erläuterungen" [Elucidations], 201‒05 [112‒14]
  • "Vermischtes: Gedanken über die Kunst und ihre Zusammenhänge im Allgemeinen" [Miscellanea: Thoughts on Art and its Relationships to the General Scheme of Things], 207‒19 [115‒21]
  • "Anhang: Notenbeilagen" [Appendix: Supplement of Music Examples] (14 pages)
  • Advertisement for Der Tonwille, issues 1‒10


  • Ian Bent and William Drabkin

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