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Turkish-born Austrian-Jewish pianist and music teacher. Schenker's longest-term pupil and one of his most devoted patrons.

Life

Angi Elias (the diminutive form of name seems to have been almost universally used) was Jewish and of Turkish citizenship, born in Vienna. Her parents were Heinrich Menachem Elias (c.1841‒1901) and Rachel (née Russo) (1853‒1934). Angi had five older sisters, Valerie Grassia, Ida, Melanie Miriam, Sofie Anna, and Elsa Ester (all later married), and two younger brothers, Manolo Menachem and Jacques, all born in either Vienna or Bucharest.

Her father Heinrich and his two brothers, Abraham Menachem (1839‒1908) and Jacques Menachem (1844‒1923) were proprietors of the firm A. H. Elias Brothers, wholesale merchants of Turkish goods, located, at the time of Angi's birth, at Vienna I, Hafnersteig 5. By 1890 the firm had moved to Augustengasse 4 (both addresses close to the Josefs-Kai and Danube canal). The firm steadily prospered, becoming by 1910 a registered "bank and commissioning business." It continued through World War I under Jacques as the sole propietor, but seems to have collapsed in 1920.

In 1921 Jacques moved to the nearby Gölsdorfgasse 4, which is the address given in the earliest letters of Angi to Heinrich Schenker. Angi continued to live at that address, and after Jacques' death became the resident of record. Her mother's death in August 1934 is referred to in OJ 10/18, [8] and Schenker's diary. In 1936 she moved to Vienna XIII, Nikolausgasse 1, and remained there until 1941 after which she disappears from the Vienna street directory. She perished in the Ravensbrück concentration camp in 1944. (Of her sisters, Melanie died in the camp in Riga, and Sofie committed suicide in Vienna in 1938.)

First evidence of Elias giving lessons herself occurs early in 1918, the lessons in question being in music theory (diary, February 28, March 2, 9, 16). Schenker probably steered other pupils in her direction, and certainly advised her on what fees to charge. Her close friend, Marianne Kahn, with whom she occasionally took holidays, and after Schenker's death visited his grave every June 19, was also a piano teacher.

Elias and Schenker

Elias's first lesson with Schenker occurred in late January 1905 (Schenker's diary for January 28, 1925 records that Elias brings a present "in remembrance of her first lesson twenty years ago") ‒ lessonbooks do not exist prior to 1912. She continued having lessons with him to his death in 1935, taking the full package of three lessons a week, and a comprehensive range of instruction in piano, theory, analysis, and source studies. Schenker's table of her intended lessons for 1934/35 shows her still having three lessons per week (Tuesday morning, Thursday afternoon, Friday morning) ‒ more than any of his other pupils that year (Oster Collection A/262, A/259 and A/264). After Schenker's death in January 1935, Elias does not seem to have taken lessons at the Schenker Institute which operated in the Neues Wiener Konservatorium between 1935 and 1938.

Elias was a patron of Schenker, known to have given him 10,000 Kronen in 1917 for his next publication, and to have offered him a yearly subvention and further support for his publications. She also often raised the honorarium for her lessons voluntarily, as well as being generous with presents, not only at Heinrich's birthday and Christmas/New Year but at other times. On one occasion, she also offered to give financial assistance to Schenker's secretarial assistant Aron Mittelmann (diary, November 27, 1912). For much of her life she was evidently a wealthy woman; however, in 1932 she experienced what Marianne Kahn described to Schenker as an "extreme financial decline" (diary, June 1, 1932). Thereafter, Schenker reduced his fees in order to retain her. Searforce makes a case that he taught her free of charge in the final years (2004, pp. 10‒11).

Elias and Voice-leading Graphs

Inclusion of theoretical materials in her instruction began in 1916/17; in 1920/21 Schenker began "Linie-Studien" with her, and discussion of the Urlinie in 1921/22. The year 1924/25 seems to have been a turning-point. In that year she produced "graphs" (Bilder), notably "Urlinie-graphs," of which after correction she made "fair copies" (Reinschriften). Between October 1924 and June 1925 she produced graphs and fair copies of Beethoven's Piano Sonata Op. 106: then on June 24 brought "the Urlinie graphs of movements 1, 2 and 3, together with music examples (Klischees)," and in the following November produced fair copies of the four "sections" (Sätze) of the fugue, followed by a "Grundplan" of the whole movement. Many of these materials are preserved in OC File 65, notably items 4‒6, 12‒15 (mvt 1), 24‒25 (mvt 2), 28‒29 (mvt 3), and 43‒47 (mvt 4). The end of the work came on February 9, 1926, when the lessonbook records "Fugue finished," and Schenker's diary records: "Finished with the fugue from Op. 106 (first check though of the version made in Galtür)." During the same period she also produced graphs of seven of the Chopin Etudes Op. 25 and Berceuse Op. 57, Brahms Waltzes Op. 39, and works by J. S. Bach, most of which are preserved in OC Files 10 and 34. This was a remarkably productive year!

In the following years she produced graphs of Brahms, Intermezzo in E minor Op. 119, No. 1 (OC 34/1), Capriccio Op. 76, No. 2 (OC 34/41‒44), and Paganini Variations, the Christe eleison of J. S. Bach, B minor Mass, "Ich bin's" from the St. Matthew Passion (OC 81/4 and 48/18), and Keyboard Suite in E major (OC 70/4, 7‒8, 12‒17), Beethoven, Piano Sonata in C# minor Op. 27, No. 2, movement 1, and Piano Sonata in E minor Op. 90, movements 1 and 2 (OC 64/46, 125‒126, 128; 129‒131), Chopin, Etudes, Op. 10, Nos 8 and 12 (OC 10/134‒138, 147‒151), Impromptu in F# major Op. 36 (OC 10/223‒224), Mazurkas Op. 17, No. 4, Op. 24, Nos 1 and 3 (OC 32/5‒9, 11, 20, 22), Schenker's own Capriccio Op. 1, No. 2 and Andante Op. 4, No. 1 (OC 15/15‒17, 18‒22), and many other works. The production of all these can be tracked in the lessonbooks for 1926/27 to 1930/31. Although many of Schenker's pupils worked on voice-leading graphs, none has left such a legacy behind (in the Oster Collection, there are otherwise only two graphs by Reinhard Oppel and one by Robert Brünauer, though many are unidentified).

Of her work on Op. 106, Marston remarks: "Elias's achievement was little short of heroic, though the extent to which, if at all, she had any intellectual influence on Schenker's analysis of op. 106 cannot be ascertained. Nonetheless, her efforts mean that preserved in OC 65 are complete voice-leading graphs for the entire 'Hammerklavier' Sonata." (2013, p. 38). A measure of Elias's intellectual input may perhaps come in 1928 with her work on one of Schenker's own pieces: The diary records: "Miss Elias brings, as an extension of her Christmas present, an Urlinie for my Op. 4, No. 1 that already at first glance reveals an excellent solution" (June 15), and "To Miss Elias, having had a better opportunity to look at her graph of my Op. 4 I have found it good in all but trifling details. I bestow praise for her perseverance, which has led her so far" (June 21).

That she was not a participant in Schenker's 1931‒34 seminar is self-explanatory: its members were all former Hans Weisse pupils: Salzer, Kral, Kraus, and Wilfort, taken over at Weisse's departure for the USA. She had her individual lessons with him during those years. However, there are graphs in her hand of four of the works comprising the Fünf Urlinie-Tafeln / Five Analyses in Sketchform produced by the seminar and published in 1932; and on one occasion Schenker's diary (October 29, 1931 ‒ nine months before publication) speaks of his having "sent [...] Elias's copy" of the C major Prelude from Book I of the Well-tempered Clavier to Weisse. That gives some credence to the widely held view that she acted as a copyist for Schenker (though in all four cases, she had herself studied and graphed the works in lessons). Searfoorce makes a case that she became more: his personal assistant (Cadwallader and Gagné suggested the same in 2006, p. 46), even an "equal scholar" (2004, p. 15); but there is tantalizingly little evidence of that. Schenker never credited her in his publications, but neither did he credit any of his other students.

Elias made three verbal (as apart from notational) contributions to the Schenker literature (see Bibliography). Between April 8, 1930 and April 23, 1931 under Schenker's guidance she wrote a response to an article by Walter Riezler that had incorrectly understood Schenker's theory of the Urlinie. This, like an article of choral studies with Schenker, remained in typescript. Her only published article, on two piano pieces by Schumann, appeared in Der Dreiklang for 1937.

Correspondence with Schenker

Elias's correspondence with Heinrich Schenker is preserved as OJ 10/18, [1]‒[9] (1922–34: 10 items), and OC 38/338, 44/18–19, 52/483, 631 (1923‒34: 5 items); that to Jeanette Schenker as OJ 10/18, [10]‒[20] (1935‒39: 11 items, two joint with Marianne Kahn); and that from her brother Manolo to Heinrich Schenker as OJ 10/19, [1] (1934: 1 item).

Bibliography:

  • "Zwei Klavierstücke aus Schumanns 'Album für die Jugend'," Der Dreiklang 7 (October 1937), 161-64
  • "Choral-Studien bei Heinrich Schenker" [typescript, c. 1934: OJ 58/7]
  • "Widerlegung des in der 'Musik' erschienen Aufsatz 'die Urlinie' von Walter Riezler ‒ Stettin" (manuscript in Elias's hand: after OC 15/22)

Sources

  • Bent, Ian, "Schenker and Bach's French Suite in E major," Music Analysis, 34/2 (July 2015), 155‒74
  • Cadwallader, Allen and Gagné, David, "The Spirit and Technique of Schenker Pedagogy," in Structure and Meaning in Tonal Music: Festschrift in Honor of Carl Schachter, ed. L. Poundie Burstein and David Gagné (Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2006), pp. 43‒53
  • Cadwallader, Allen and Pastille, William, "Schenker's Unpublished Work on the Music of Johannes Brahms," in Schenker Studies 2, ed. Carl Schachter and Hedi Siegel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 26‒46
  • Eybl, Martin & Fink-Mennel, Evelyn, eds, Schenker-Traditionen (Vienna: Bohlau, 2006), pp. 241-42
  • Marston, Nicholas, Heinrich Schenker and Beethoven's 'Hammerklavier' Sonata, RMA Monographs, 23 (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate/Royal Musical Association, 2013)
  • Searfoorce, Michaela, "Introducing Angelika Elias ‒ A Discovery in Schenkerian Studies" (MMus diss., Graduate School of Ohio State University, 2004)
  • Orpheus Trust; Datenbank NS-verfolgte Musik Primavera Gruber Wien
  • Geni: "Angelica Rifka Elias" (and other family members)
  • WikiTree: "Jacques Menachem Elias"

Contributor:

  • Ian Bent

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Correspondence

Diaries

Lessonbooks