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Austrian tailor and businessman, also engraver of medals.

Career Summary

Alfred Rothberger was one of the four sons of the Viennese garment manufacturer Jakob Rothberger. After the death of his father in 1899, together with his brothers Moritz and Heinrich he took over the paternal firm. The "Rothberger Geschäftshäuser" [Rothberger houses of business] were located on the Stephansplatz at Nos. 1 and 9-11. Between 1917 and 1926, Alfred and Hilda Rothberger lived at Vienna IV, Wohllebengasse 4 (close to the Schwarzenbergplatz), and before that at Vienna I, Augustinerstrasse 8.

Rothberger and Schenker

Clearly, Alfred Rothberger, like his brother Moritz (who was also a professional sculptor), was artistically gifted, too, and became a designer and engraver of medals and plaques (Medailleur). A bronze medallion (Medaille) of Schenker survives in several copies with Schenker's profile on one side and a depiction of "tonal space" surrounded by laurel leaves and an inscription on the obverse. A larger version of this as a one-sided plaque (Plakett) was also made, and a copy of this survives as OJ 73/2 (photographs as OJ 72/14, No. 18). An announcement of the medallion was placed in the Neues Wiener Journal for June 28, 1925: (A Heinrich Schenker medal) The medal engraver Alfred Rothberger has made a portrait medal of the celebrated Viennese music theorist Heinrich Schenker, which, cast in bronze, will be issued in the form of a circular medallion and, greatly enlarged, as a plaque. On the reverse of the Schenker medal is rendered Schenker's beautifully expressed maxim: "Music is the living motion of tones in nature-given space." The finely executed bronze medal, which reproduces with great care the features of Schenker's profile, intellectually so animated, will surely be welcome to the numerous admirers and friends of the greatest music theorist of the present day.

The medal was created between January and April 1925. Schenker's portrait was based on a photograph taken at a studio on January 9, 1924 (OJ 3/6, p. 2618). Between March and May 1925 there was a much correspondence between Schenker, Rothberger and recipients of the medallion. A diary entry (OJ 3/7, p. 2775, January 20) suggests that Schenker devised the quoted "maxim" specially for the medallion. Initially, twenty-five copies were made of the smaller medal, while the larger plaque, of which one copy was supplied that Jeanette hung on her bedroom wall, was available only to order. Schenker distributed copies to his close pupils and friends. The medal was also available at music stores for 100,000 Kronen (OJ 3/7, p. 2823, May 27).

Alfred Rothberger is also known to have created a plaque of the respected singing teacher Otto Iro (1890-1971) a medallion bearing the portrait of Gustav Mahler, and according the Schenker also "plaques not only of Eusebius Mandyczewski, but also d'Albert, Sarasate [and] Leschetizky" (diary OJ 3/9, p. 3001, November 14, 1926).

Of him on the day of his death, Schenker recorded in his diary (OJ 4/5, p. 3732): "Whenever he came or wrote, he forever conveyed joy, out of sheer joy toward us and in himself. He deserves heartfelt thanks."

The Rothbergers' son Karl took lessons with Schenker beginning April 4, 1934.

Correspondence with Schenker

No correspondence between Alfred Rothberger and Schenker is known to survive, but letters from his wife Hilda Rothberger to Heinrich and Jeanette Schenker (enclosing letters from Karl Rothberger) survive as OJ 13/31 (1929-38: 30 items).

Sources:

  • schneidern und sammelm: Die Wiener Familie Rothberger, eds Christina Gschiel, Ulrike Nimeth, Leonhard Weidinger (Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 2010), esp. p. 55.
  • Hann, Edith, "Herrenkleider-Magazin Jacob Rothberger," in: Andreas Lehne, Wiener Warenhäuser 1865-1914, with contributions by Gerhard Meißl and Hann, Edith (Forschungen und Beiträge zur Wiener Stadtgeschichte 20, Vienna, 1990), pp. 85-122
  • Das Jahrbuch der Wiener Gesellschaft 1928, ed. Franz Planer (Vienna 1928), p. 286
  • Rebell und Visionär: Heinrich Schenker in Wien, ed. Evelyn Fink (Vienna: Verlag Lafite, 2003), p. [54] [reproduction of both sides]
  • Czeike, Felix, ed., Historisches Lexikon Wien, vol. 4 (Vienna 1995), p. 704
  • Federhofer, Hellmut, Heinrich Schenker nach Tagebüchern und Briefen... (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1985), p. 76

Contributor:

  • Marko Deisinger (additions by Ian Bent and William Drabkin

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Correspondence

  • OJ 8/4, [36] Handwritten postcard from Schenker to Moriz Violin, dated April 23, 1925

    Schenker thanks Violin for ordering copies of Tonwille 1. He gives a brief account of a visit from Furtwängler, and mentions the arrival of the bronze medallion with his likeness (designed by Alfred Rothberger).

  • OJ 6/7, [20] Handwritten letter from Schenker to Moriz Violin, dated May 4, 1925

    In a wide-ranging letter, Schenker sends Violin money for arranging the order of Der Tonwille (which must consist of multiple copies of Tonwille 1); Hertzka's representative, Robert Scheu, is currently studying the papers relating to Schenker's threat of legal action. Schenker continues to express his astonishment at Furtwängler's ignorance of sonata form, a fact that does not prevent him from earning huge fees for conducting in New York. He has turned down a request from a lady who teaches in New York and a former pupil (now in St. Gallen), who wish to spend some time with him in Galtür. He enquires about the personal difficulties that Violin writes about in his letter, and asks him to say more; they will invite his sister for a visit. He will send him a copy of the medallion (designed by Alfred Rothberger); the portrait by Viktor Hammer is not yet finished.

  • OJ 6/7, [22] Handwritten letter from Schenker to Moriz Violin, dated May 30, 1925

    Schenker thanks Violin for his latest efforts to account for subscriptions to Der Tonwille. He sends him the smaller version of the bronze medallion designed by Alfred Rothberger.

  • OC B/199 Postal receipt for a package from Schenker to Wilhelm Altmann, postmarked June 12, 1925

    Postal receipt for letter and packet containing Schenker medallion.

  • OJ 10/1, [90] Handwritten letter from Dahms to Schenker, dated June 16, 1925

    Dahms sends birthday greetings to Schenker, and gratitude for the [Rothberger] medallion. — Margarete Dahms has given birth to a girl. — Speaks of "rotten German laws."

  • OJ 6/7, [23] Handwritten letter from Schenker to Moriz Violin, dated July 26, 1925

    Two weeks after arriving in Galtür for the summer holidays, Schenker reports that he has caught up on his sleep and has already dictated an essay on Reger's Variations and Fugue on a Theme of J. S. Bach, Op. 81. He will not allow the legal wrangle with Universal Edition to interfere with his holiday, but he is annoyed about not having been paid by Drei Masken Verlag for the manuscript of Meisterwerk 1. He has responded to a critique of his Erläuterungsausgabe of Op. 110, in an essay in Meisterwerk 1, but will not pursue other attacks upon his work and those of his pupils. The Schenker medallion designed by Alfred Rothberger is going to a second impression; but the mezzotint portrait by Viktor Hammer, which Jeanette finds a superior work, has not yet been printed. Throughout the letter, Schenker urges Violin to bring his family to Galtür sometime during the summer.

  • OJ 8/4, [39] Handwritten picture postcard from Schenker to Moriz Violin, undated, postmarked August 27, 1925

    Schenker sends greetings from the Tyrol, reports the publication of an article on him by Elsa Bienenfeld, which includes a reproduction of his pupil Alfred Rothberger's bronze medallion.

  • OJ 11/2, [3] Handwritten letter from Emma Fischer to Schenker, dated May 26, 1932

    Baroness Fischer sends her commiserations to Schenker on the death of Alfred Rothberger, and comments on the latter's(?) children. -- She will be playing movements 2 and 3 of her piano concerto on the radio, and asks Schenker to listen. -- She has broken her left ankle.

Diaries