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Virtuoso violinist and teacher; first violinist of the Buxbaum Quartet.

Career Summary

Pollak studied in Vienna (Johann Ritter) and Leipzig (Hans Sitt), then taught at the Geneva Conservatory (1905–14), a masterclass in Lausanne (1912), and at the Moscow Conservatory (1918–19), before returning to Vienna to teach the masterclass at the Neues Wiener Konservatorium (1919–26). At that time, he was the first violinst of the Buxbaum Quartet. Thereafter he taught in San Francisco (1926–30), in Tokyo (1930–36), and in Los Angeles from 1937 onward, becoming an American citizen in 1943. Among his pupils were Isaac Stern and Bronislaw Gimpel.

Schenker and Pollak

Schenker spoke once, in 1924 (DLA 69.930/13), of a Rudolf Pollak who fits the above description, recommending August Halm to send his A-major String Quartet to Pollak, in the hope of its being played through by the Buxbaum Quartet. He remarks that he and Pollak "maintain good relations." Pollak is mentioned in Schenker's diaries many times between 1922 and 1924, when he was in Vienna, referred to always just as "Pollak" or "Prof. Pollak." Schenker himself played with Pollak and Buxbaum at a private charity concert (Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven trios) on December 23, 1923, attended in part by Furtwängler.

There was certainly correspondence between Robert Pollak and Schenker, but none is known to survive.

Other Pollaks

  1. In Schenker's diary for December 25, 1906, there is reference to a Theobald Pollak and a Felix Pollak.
  2. In 1921–23, mention is made of a "Court Counsellor (Hofrat) Pollak" who is a friend of Robert Brünauer and acquaintance of Viktor Hammer.
  3. There is also mention of an "Engineer V. Pollak" around 1920


  • oeML
  • Federhofer, Hellmut, Heinrich Schenker nach Tagebüchern und Briefen … (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1985), pp. 185–86 and elsewhere.


  • Ian Bent and Marko Deisinger

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  • OJ 6/7, [7] Handwritten letter from Heinrich Schenker to Moriz Violin, dated October 21, 1923

    In a wide-ranging letter, Schenker expresses his joy at Karl Violin’s improving health, and goes on to mention a number of personal successes he has lately had, including a visit from Paul von Klenau to take advice for a forthcoming performance of Beethoven’s Missa solemnis. He has also had some unexpected support from his publisher, who wants to expand Der Tonwille to a quarterly publication. He is planning to take part in a series of charity concerts (three Haydn piano trios), and has heard that Clemens Kraus and Hans Knappertsbusch are overtaking Furtwängler as conductors in Vienna by accepting more modest fees.

  • OJ 14/45, [31] Handwritten letter from Moriz Violin to Schenker, dated March 16, 1924

    Violin acknowledges receipt of Tonwille 5 and the Beethoven sonata edition. In the former, he finds the graphs of the short preludes by Bach more difficult than anything that Schenker has previously done. He will write to Bamberger with the offer of help (in finding an accompanist post in Hamburg). In response to a question on the "Appassionata" Sonata from one of his pupils, he offers an explanation for the falling direction of the transitional theme (measures 24-30) and its reappearance in the development section (measures 94-100) in inverted, ascending form; he asks if this interpretation is sensible.

  • DLA 69.930/13 Handwritten letter from Schenker to Halm, dated October 6, 1924

    Asks Halm to send some of his chamber music to Rudolf Pollak, with prospect of performance of the A major string quartet. —Deplores current situation over Sofie Deutsch stipends. —Reports difficulties with UE and intention to change publisher.

  • OJ 14/45, [37] Handwritten letter from Moriz Violin to Schenker, dated November 23, 1924

    Violin sends thanks to Jeanette for copying out the article he wrote in 1918. He has sent off ten letters [re distribution of copies of Der Tonwille] and placed the order with UE. He reports on Buxbaum and Pollak, and also Blüthner.

  • OJ 11/35, 23 Handwritten letter from Halm to Schenker, dated April 6 and 15, 1925

    Halm explains why he has not written before and reports successful performance of his A major Symphony; wishes Schenker luck with move from UE to Drei-Masken Verlag; reports events at Freie Schulgemeinde.

  • OJ 6/7, [29] Handwritten letter from Schenker to Moriz Violin, dated September 7, 1926

    Schenker conveys his personal grief over the serious illness of Violin's son Karl. He philosophizes about the ills of the world, noting financial difficulties recently faced by Vrieslander, Dahms, and van der Berg. He reports Robert Pollak's imminent departure for San Francisco.