Cerebrating SDO

Members of the Schenker Documents Online team are delighted to be taking part in the Society for Music Analysis symposium 'A Cerebration of Analysis', to be held at London's Institute of Musical Research on 21-22 September 2012. The 'Cerebration' is to celebrate the Society's 21st birthday, and the 30th birthday of the Society's journal, Music Analysis. SDO has been allocated a special session on the Friday morning - for information about our presenters and papers, please see the abstracts below. For further information about the event, including the full programme, please see http://www.sma.ac.uk/event/a-cerebration-of-analysis/.

11am, Friday 21st September, 2012 - Special Session: Schenker Documents Online

Chair: Ian Bent (Columbia University and University of Cambridge)

John Koslovsky (Amsterdam Conservatory of Music / Utrecht University), 'Distant Pen Pals: The Dahms-Schenker Correspondence'

Of all the figures who ever corresponded with Heinrich Schenker, none seems to be as mysterious as Walter Dahms (1887-1973). A music critic, composer, biographer, and freelance journalist based in Berlin, Dahms was one of Schenker's most ardent advocates, despite never having studied with him and having met him face-to-face on just one occasion. However, the two maintained a lively correspondence over a period of eighteen years (1913-1931). Those years were some of the most dramatic ones in German and Austrian history—for Dahms's part, they were filled with personal tumult, alienation, and utter desolation. Eventually, Dahms would come to disown his German fatherland and seek refuge in the more southern climates of Italy and Portugal; he cut off all contact with his previous life and spent his remaining years under the guise of another name, Gualterio Armando. It comes as no surprise, then, that so little is known about this enigmatic figure.

In an effort to make sense of Dahms and his place in Schenkerian history, this paper will survey Dahms's correspondence with Schenker and will offer a look at an exchange that remained, for the most part, a purely literary one. To our loss, only Dahms's portion of the correspondence is known to survive. But given the extent of Dahms’s letters and the availability of Schenker's diaries and other correspondence, we are able to reconstruct a picture of the relationship these two figures shared. Understanding that relationship gives us tremendous insight not only into Dahms's life but also into Schenker's own Weltanschauung. Crucially, the correspondence opens up a new context within which to interpret Schenker’s writings from the 1920s, in particular those concerning his thoughts on politics and culture in a post-WWI climate. Indeed, sometimes the most distant relationship can result in a more fruitful and influential exchange of ideas than can the closest personal contact.

William Drabkin (University of Southampton), 'Schenker's Army: Defending the Fundamental Line of Mozart’s G minor Symphony'

In an article published in 1930 in the influential monthly journal, Die Musik, an art critic and curator by the name of Walter Riezler argued that the  concept of Urlinie, as applied to Mozart's great G minor Symphony in the second volume of Heinrich Schenker's Meisterwerk in der Musik, distorted Mozart's achievements by wrapping an impenetrable web of lines around the symphony; an intellect of Schenker's stature could have written much more convincingly about the piece had he adopted a more humanistic stance. This nine-page critique of a single essay was something of a novelty for its time: most of the contemporary writings about Schenker's theoretical publications were either idolatrous essays by friends and pupils or cautiously respectful short reviews which sometimes noted the theorist's unfortunately intemperate display of German nationalism.

Although Schenker did not reply to Riezler's attack upon the very foundations of his new theories, he did encourage four of his pupils to do so, hoping that a response might be published in a subsequent issue of Die Musik. Replies of differing character, by two of his lesser-known pupils, survive in special collections of Schenker documents held at the New York Public Library and the University of California at Riverside. Together with Riezler's article, these unpublished essays shed light not only on analytical issues arising in the symphony but also on the way in which Schenker's radical concept of musical structure was received almost at the moment of its creation.

Nicholas Marston (University of Cambridge), 'Dynamische Fälschung: Schenker's Understanding of the Second-Movement Trio of Beethoven's "Hammerklavier" Sonata'

Schenker's contract with Universal Edition for an Erläuterungsausgabe of Beethoven's last five piano sonatas was signed in 1912. The series might have been expected to be complete by 1917 or so, but publication of op. 101 was delayed until 1921 for a variety of reasons, and the 'Hammerklavier' was destined never to appear. Schenker did edit it, in 1923, for his complete edition of the sonata; and he subsequently analysed all four movements in close collaboration with his pupil Angelika Elias between 1924 and 1926. Voice-leading graphs of the complete sonata in Elias's hand, together with Schenker's own preliminary sketches, are contained in File 65 of the Oster Collection and have never been published. This paper, drawn from my forthcoming book on Schenker's long-term engagement with the 'Hammerklavier', examines his understanding of the second-movement Trio and in particular the role played by rhythm, metre, and what he termed 'dynamic falsification'.

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