Schenker Documents Online

Schenker Documents Online

  • Letter from Schenker to Otto Erich Deutsch, May 15, 1930 (OJ 5/9, [3])

  • Page of Schenker's diary, late January and early February 1907

  • Page of Schenker's lessonbook for 1923/24


This single-page letter - a note rather than a letter, perhaps - offers some opinions and analytical thoughts on materials that O.E. Deutsch had sent him six weeks earlier.

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This diary page, p. 33, includes a notorious passage: his outspoken reaction to Schoenberg's first string quartet.

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This is p. 14 of the 1923/24 lessonbook. It records part of the series of lessons of Hans Weisse, covering April 1 to June 3, 1924.

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Heinrich Schenker

Viennese musician and teacher Heinrich Schenker (1868-1935), the twentieth century's leading theorist of tonal music, produced a series of innovative studies and editions between 1903 and 1935, while exerting a powerful and sustained influence, directly and through his pupils, on the teaching of music from the 1930s onward in the USA, and since the 1970s in Europe and elsewhere.

Schenker maintained a vigorous correspondence over nearly half a century, kept a meticulously detailed diary over 40 years, and recorded precise notes on lessons that he gave over a period of twenty years. It is these three collections of personal documents that constitute the core of Schenker Documents Online.

Schenker Documents and this Edition

Schenker left behind approximately 130,000 manuscript and typescript leaves comprising unpublished works, preparatory materials, and personal documents, preserved in two dedicated archives, numerous libraries, and private possession. (See "Major Collections.") The archived papers of several other scholars, among them Guido Adler, Oswald Jonas, Moriz Violin, and Arnold Schoenberg, also preserve correspondence and other documents relating to Schenker and his circle.

Schenker Documents Online offers a scholarly edition of this material based not on facsimiles but on near-diplomatic transcriptions of the original texts, together with English translations, explanatory footnotes, summaries, and contextual material relating the texts to Schenker's personal development and that of his correspondents.


Additions to the site in spring 2021

  • DIARIES: The transcription and translation present 1915 and the first three months of 2016; this leaves just a year and a half (April 2016 to Sept 2017) before the entire 4,000-page diary is completely edited. The war years show Schenker’s diary writing at its most prolific: on average, he wrote about 300 words per day, much of the time commenting on the conduct of the war and its consequences for the lives of his pupils, friends, and ordinary Austrians.
  • CORRESPONDENCE: That between Arnold Schoenberg and Moriz Violin (64 items) spans 1902–19, and 1938–50, the last 13 years covering Violin’s migration to San Francisco, his struggle to make a living, and Schoenberg’s great kindness. — The adversarial 1910 Universal Edition correspondence (43 items) covers preliminary dealings over the Ninth Symphony monograph and The Last Five Sonatas of Beethoven. — Schenker and Theodor von Frimmel performed together long before their cordial surviving correspondence (28 items: 1902–27), which provides background to Schenker’s C. P. E. Bach edition, Ornamentation, and Handel arrangements.
  • LESSONBOOKS: The addition of three new years yields a 7-year run on the site, from Fall 1913 to Summer 1920. This allows us to inspect closely Schenker’s program of theory instruction, and his use of analysis for performance, especially in 1913/14, where Schenker’s notes are highly detailed.
  • AN ANALYSIS ... Schenker’s analysis of Brahms’s C minor Piano Quartet, written in Oct 1913 in conjunction with teaching, and intended for publication, adds to our appreciation of his evolving analytical technique at the time of the Op. 109 and 110 elucidatory editions. (Locate this in “Browse Documents” under “Other Material.”)
  • PROFILES: Among the latest batch of profiles is a detailed account of Guido Adler’s Seminar/Music-Historical Institute, and several of people and institutions in California in and after WW2.