The nature of the lessonbooks
Over nearly 20 years, from 1912 to 1931, Schenker kept details of the piano and theory lessons that he gave in his own apartment. Comprising 580 pages in four bound volumes, these Stundenbücher – written by dictation in the hand of his companion (later wife) Jeanette, and including many separate slips of paper ("lesson notes") in Heinrich's own hand – record the musical works learned by each student, the features of piano technique taught, the passages of his own theoretical works and those of others – particularly in harmony, counterpoint, and thoroughbass – assigned for reading and discussion, the written exercises done and graded, the theoretical issues raised, the analyses conducted, and the studies made of facsimiles of composers' autograph manuscripts and sketches and of early printed editions.
Internal organization of the lessonbooks
There are two aspects of the organization of the lessonbooks that it is important for users of this edition to understand.
Each year of these lessonbooks mirrors Schenker's teaching year – what he called his Saison – by running from October 1 of a given year to late June of the next year. In this online edition, such a year is designated as e.g. "1917/18", thus covering from October 1, 1917 to c. June 21, 1918.
Ordering of contents
Schenker's method of organizing the contents of each saison changed over the years. He adopted two essentially
different methods, with a transitional period from the former to the
latter, as follows.
19/12 – 1914/15 – arranged chronologically by date, each date containing the lesson notes for the pupils of that day, presumably in time order.
1915/16 – 1923/24 – at first (1915/16), the saison divided into months, with pupils arranged in alphabetical order within each month; then (1916/17 – 1919/20) the saison broken into two periods, with pupils arranged alphabetically within each period; then (1921/22 – 1923/24) presented as single saisons, with pupils arranged alphabetically, but with no dates at the beginning of entries.
1924/25 – 1930/31 – arranged by pupil in alphabetical order, the lessons for each pupil given in chronological order, with lesson date at the beginning of each entry
The value of the lessonbooks
This information is significant not only in charting the progress of individual pupils, but also for the insights that it offers into Schenker's teaching methods, and the way in which those methods changed over the years. Of great interest is the comparison of those methods with his unpublished work Die Kunst des Vortrags (The Art of Performance: 1911 and later). Of potentially even greater interest is the determination of the extent to which his teaching influenced the works he published over the period 1912 to 1935, many of which contain detailed remarks on performance of specific works.
Another field of study opened up by the lessonbooks is the comparison of his "school" of teaching with those of other famous Viennese teachers of his day, such as Theodor Leschetizky, Richard Robert, and Emil Sauer, through their publications and editions, and the words of their pupils.