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Jewish-Polish medical doctor. Director of the Sanatorium Löw in Vienna. Heinrich Schenker's physician from 1922 to his death in 1935.

Career Summary

Dr. Julian Halberstam was the son of Henryk (Heinrich) and Pauline Halberstam. The family came from Bialystok (north east Poland), but Julian was born in Warsaw. He first appears in the Vienna street directory in 1906, living at Hörigasse 10 in Vienna IX/1. Since this address is very close to the Sanatorium Löw on Mariannengasse and Pelikangasse, he was probably already working at that institution, of which he became the Director c. 1924, remaining so until 1937 or 1938, in which latter year the sanatorium was closed by order of the Nazi party.

Halberstam and Schenker

Schenker's first encounter with Julian Halberstam and first appointment at the Sanatorium Löw occurred on April 4, 1922, after which seven further visits took place that year. In all, some 300 entries in Schenker's diary have items relating to Halberstam, who kept a close eye on Schenker's sugar levels, prescribing medications as necessary, advising on other conditions, and also occasionally advising on Jeanette's health.

Within a few months, the two men had established a common interest in music. One result of this was that Schenker ordered copies of his works to be sent Halberstam: the facsimile of the "Moonlight" Sonata, Beethovens Neunte Sinfonie, issues of Der Tonwille and Das Meisterwerk, articles in several journals, Fünf Urlinie-Tafeln, also Oswald Jonas's book Das Wesen des musikalischen Kunstwerks and several articles about himself, as well as Victor Hammer's portrait and Alfred Rothberger's medallion.

The two parties also invited each other to their homes on several occasions. Most notably, Schenker invited Halberstam and his attorney, Dr. Theodor Baumgarten, for February 22, 1928, announcing "a Schubert evening! I name my [duet] partner as Dr. Brünauer." Jeanette produced a magnificent dinner, after which things did not go as intended: The conversation proceeded with difficulty; it moved unavoidably in recollections of common acquaintances or of famous people who were known to all from their reputation. It proved still more difficult to establish a relationship between the players and the audience; we played Schubert and added only Mozart's Andante in G major – but we were not met with an appreciativeness commensurate with our devotion to the task. My wish, to offer Dr. H. a great joy, ran aground on his incapacity for great joy.

On several occasions at Keilgasse 8 Schenker played to him and others into the early hours: "I play from 9.30 to 12.45" (April 6, 1927), "they stay until after 1 o’clock; at midnight I play Bach – utterly and deeply exhausted" (May 9, 1934). On one occasion Schenker played to Halberstam and Baumgarten from 8.15 to 2 a.m., commenting "Halberstam falls asleep at the first note of music" (February 5, 1930).

Correspondence

Schenker's diary attests to Schenker and Halberstam having written each other many letters, and sent holiday postcards, Christmas and New Year's greetings, and delivered calling cards. None of these are known to survive, except for one letter from Halberstam to Schenker of 1934 (OJ 11/34, [1]).

Sources

  • Siegel, Hedi, "Schenker at the Piano," Music Analysis 34/2 (July 2015), 165‒79
  • Geni: "Dr. Julian Halberstam"
  • Communications from Itai Hermelin (author of Geni entry)

Contributor

  • Ian Bent

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Correspondence

  • OJ 8/4, [11] Handwritten postcard from Schenker to Moriz Violin, dated April 9, 1922

    Schenker apologizes for not having been in touch with Violin, mainly owing to overwork and a severe diabetic reaction, which required medical attention. He reports on a new series of Beethoven sonata editions – an "Urlinie-Ausgabe" – he is planning to undertake.

  • OJ 8/4, [16] Handwritten postcard from Schenker to Moriz Violin, dated September 29, 1922

    Schenker reports, among other things, that Hans Weisse has returned as a paying pupil.

  • OJ 6/7, [24] Handwritten letter from Schenker to Moriz Violin, dated August 15, 1925

    After expressing his sympathy for Violin, in response to his friend's depressing postcard, Schenker gives an account of some of the summer events, including a visit from Vrieslander and Hoboken and work on two essays for Meisterwerk 2. While continuing to rail against Hertzka and Universal Edition, he repeats the story of Drei Masken Verlag failing to send him 250 Marks upon receipt of the manuscript of Meisterwerk 1. His brother Moses is, however, acquainted with the principal owner of Drei Masken, Felix Sobotka, and through this connection the payment has been made.

  • OJ 6/7, [41] Handwritten letter from Schenker to Moriz Violin, dated February 27, 1929

    Schenker thanks Violin for his concerns, describes how they survived the cold weather earlier in February, reports that his monograph on the "Eroica" Symphony is finished and that he has written an article about the Photogram Archive, which has acquired over seven thousand pages of manuscripts. He looks forward to seeing his friend in the summer.

  • OJ 6/7, [44] Handwritten letter from Schenker to Violin, dated November 24, 1929

    After reply to some of the more personal points in Violin's previous letter, Schenker welcomes his friend's efforts to look for a publisher for the Eroica Symphony monograph, noting that, in spite of the difficulties that Hertzka has caused him, his books are still in print and his status as a theorist has been acknowledged by the the fact that the universities of Heidelberg and Leipzig have expressed an interest in appointing him. A recent article in the Deutsche Tonkünstler-Zeitung will give Violin further ammunition when approaching a publisher. That same issue also contains an article by Schoenberg touching on various canonic works (Bach, Prelude in C sharp minor for the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1; Beethoven, Seventh Symphony, finale; Mozart, slow introduction to the "Dissonant" Quartet). He feels that it is beneath his dignity to make a formal reply; but to illustrate what he means, and why he is contemptuous of Schoenberg, he provides several voice-leading graphs and other music examples concerning these works.

  • OJ 6/7, [47] Handwritten letter from Schenker to Violin, dated March 2, 1930

    Schenker reports on two concerts at which Hans Weisse's Octet was performed for the first time. Furtwängler was enchanted by it, Schenker was impressed by the quality of the voice-leading in general, the construction of the finale movement (a passacaglia) in particular. He was touched to see that a pupil of Weisse's, Dr. Felix Salzer, had subvented the cost of the rehearsals and concerts, and the provision of food and drink for the audience; this he compared with Antony van Hoboken's reluctance to help him with the publication costs of his recent work.

  • OJ 15/16, [63] Handwritten letter from Weisse to Schenker, dated March 3, 1930

    Weisse has delayed in replying to Schenker's recent letter because he has been corrected copies of his Clarinet Quintet and Octet, which he will submit to the City of Vienna Prize competition. He asks Schenker to help publicize the first performance of the Octet, at the small auditorium of the Musikverein, and asks for the addresses of Angi Elias and Marianne Kahn so that he can send them personal invitations. His wife is about to give birth to a second child, and he hopes that Schenker's personal doctor Julius Halberstam might also be interested in hearing the Octet.

  • OJ 6/7, [51] Handwritten letter, with envelope, from Schenker to Violin, dated October 21, 1930

    Writing after a long and serious illness, Schenker assures his friend that he is alive and well. The doctors have pronounced him generally fit, but he suffers from a painful tightening of the thorax, and also a flickering that causes him to "lose" letters and notes. He has had to give many double-lessons of late, in theory, which he finds tiring. To Hoboken, who, though gifted, is concerned only about his money and often comes to lessons without having prepared anything, he would rather play than give over-long lectures. He is concerned, for his own sake as much as for Weisse's, about the lectures in Berlin that Weisse will deliver, and about his eagerness to debate with Alfred Lorenz; he is glad that Violin is going to Berlin, and will give him instructions about what to do there. His Beethoven sonata edition brings in 100 shillings per month – a good deal for the publishers – and his brother still has half of his inheritance. But he is still alive – with Der freie Satz.

Diaries