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Member of the Mayerhofer family of the Viennese silver merchants Mayerhofer & Klinkosch.

Irene Mayerhofer and Schenker

Irene Mayerhofer was the first wife of the composer Hermann Otto Graedener, and a patron of Schenker. Schenker taught her son, Hermann (lesson dates unknown); he also dedicated his Zweistimmige Inventionen for piano, Op. 5 (Leipzig: B&H, 1898, 1901) to her.

Never openly named in his early diaries, always cryptically referred to as"Frau I. M.", "I. M." "Ir.", or just "I.", Irene Mayerhofer played an important part in Schenker's life as supporter and occasional benefactor. The first diary reference to her occurs on August 6, 1906, and he first visited her on September 4 of that year (OJ 1/5, pp. 16, 19). He went to her home for tea, and frequently for the evening

Their relationship was apparently a stormy one, for there are remarks such as "I. M. in her reply harks on kindness and sympathy: feminine burlesque--even rudeness" (December 4, 1906: OJ 1/5, p. 287); "Conflict with I. M.. Acute attack of nerves. Bad night." (February 8, 1907: OJ 1/6, p. 34); "Conflict with I. M. [...] Resolution of the conflict with I. M." (OJ 1/6, p. 38).

Conversely, Schenker had reason to be grateful to her, though he often expressed it churlishly: "Frightful months without money finally behind me. I. M. willing to help if possible, but obviously, even characterlessly, jittery" (November 1, 1907: OJ 1/6, p. 28). When doubtful whether Alphons Rothschild would honor his commitment, he turned to her, only to be rebuffed: "Mrs. I. M. refuses to inspect the 'planned' further volumes of my work (vols. II, III, IV). How childish." (April 20, 1907: OJ 1/6, p. 38).

At her death, Schenker wrote in his diary (August 16, 1923): When I look over my early life, I can safely say that, with the exception of my parents, there is nobody to whom I owe so much as I do to this lady. In her house, I was permitted to breathe the torments that would surely have prostrated me. I have to thank her for the precise training in my profession, above all the feeling that a man sometimes is to be found among men. It comforts me that even I gave her and her children some happy years. Perhaps the only blot on her pesonality was that she favored her son over her daughter to such an extent as to irk those who were close to her, her friends. In contradiction to that, she was one of the most zealous fighters for women's rights.

No correspondence between Schenker and her is known to survive.

Bibliography:

  • Graedener, Irene, "Die Firma Klinkosch," Die Zeit, No. 4069, January 25, 1914, p. 8 [in reply to "Die Firma Klinkosch," Die Zeit, No. 4062, January 18, 1914, p. 7]

Sources:

  • Federhofer, Hellmut, Heinrich Schenker nach Tagebüchern und Briefen ... (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1985), pp. 7-8

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