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Czech Jewish piano teacher; long-time pupil of Schenker's.

Kahn first introduced herself to Schenker on January 17, 1907 (diary OJ 1/6, p. 32), became a pupil of his from September 23, 1907 (diary OJ 1/6, p. 48) until at least 1932. She appears in the lesson books 1913-31 (OC 3/1-4) and there are lesson notes for her from 1931-32 (OC 16/35-37). She is recorded as having left Vienna for Sanremo in Italy on July 21, 1939, and nothing is known of her thereafter.

She was a piano teacher in her own right, and Schenker occasionally passed students on to her (including, e.g., the mothers of Hans Weisse and Robert Brünauer). She was a close friend of Angi Elias; the two saw each other frequently, sometimes went on holiday together, and after Heinrich Schenker's death visited his grave together on his birthdays, June 19.

Kahn and Schenker

Schenker's diaries show signs of irritation with Marianne Kahn from 1927 onward, including this depth analysis of her (Nov 17, 1928): Miss Kahn unexpectly gives me cause for resistance, expecially in the repeat of "Träumerei," which she requested for a pupil of hers. I lost my patience; I saw myself confronted by the failure of my personal kindness, my pedagogical effort, to produce any results after more than twenty years. I was disgusted by a truly dissolute vanity, which treats the greatest masters of the world and their most faithful servant – who is in his own way also a master – as a support-beam, pushing itself to the forefront over and over again. Ultimately, an erotic cause would have made the will to power of such a vanity understandable; but a vanity that has no purpose whatever and yet demands such holy sacrifices allows me to keep my patience no longer. I rebuked her severely and reminded her that she is coming to a musician whose job consists precisely in determining the unconditional in performance, so that there is no more room for the pupil. Whereupon I put her under duress; and she cooperated – not willingly, but nonetheless. She even remarked: "I cannot force myself" – whereupon I replied curtly: "You must." The depravity of this narcissism, which is all the more objectionable the more it is the natural state of affairs – thus in a certain sense belongs to the innocence of her sex life, i.e. there is something bestial about it – consists specifically of her being unwilling to be compelled even by the greatest master, but on the other hand wishes to force the masters and their servants down to her low level. I hope that this harsh rebuke will have good consequences, at least for myself. It is sad enough that the young lady, on account of her opposition, has lost so many years of the best opportunity to learn free of charge and finally, in spite of all help, may herself be satisfied with what she cannot do at all. Yet it is time to look away from this picture; the young lady deserves nothing better. Whether or not this is animalistic innocence, as soon as she causes such harm it must, according to general custom, be utterly destroyed.

Such adverse comments as this by Schenker should perhaps not be taken at face value. When asked by Otto Erich Deutsch to recommend a piano teacher for his brother two year later, he responded: For your brother I would recommend Miss Marianne Kahn, who has been my pupil for over twenty years (still is), is a more than capable concert pianist, is thoroughly educated in [music] theory, but has had to refrain from presenting herself to the public on account of nerves. She plays from memory at one sitting Brahms's Paganini Variations, Chopin's complete Etudes Op. 10 and Op. 25, Beethoven's [Piano Sonata] Op. 106, etc., etc. [...] She has always served well wherever I have recommended her. (I.N. 191.566, August 5, 1930)

Correspondence

Only one of the many letters and postcards recorded in his diary that Heinrich Schenker wrote to Marianne Kahn survives (OC 44/23); none from Kahn to Heinrich are known to survive. One postcard from her to Jeanette Schenker, countersigned by Angi Elias, survives (OJ 10/18, [16], April ?3, 1938).

Sources:

  • Datenbank NS-verfolgte Musik Primavera Gruber Wien
  • Documents on this website

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Correspondence

Diaries

Lessonbooks