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Mother of Heinrich Schenker.

Julia's father had been a tailor, "but always devoted himself to Hebrew literature, in which he was very well-versed"; and in her "parental house there existed that spiritual atmosphere that is peculiar to the Jews" (OJ 2/9, p. 812: pp. 812-17 contain an extended tribute to her by Heinrich on her burial day, December 23, 1917).

Julia and her husband, Johannes, Heinrich's father, lived in Wisniowczyk, in Galicia. The couple were married on April 30, 1876. They had at least six children, of whom four survived: Wilhelm, Shifre, Heinrich, and Moriz. After her husband's death in late 1887, she moved with her impoverished family to Vienna, to be near Heinrich. Of this he later recorded: Already during my earliest years, because I had to support mother, sister [Schifre, later Sophie Guttmann], younger brother (today the so ungrateful billionaire) [Moriz], and niece [Frieda?] by giving piano lessons, I gladly accepted an offer from a Viennese friend of [Maximilian] Harden to write something for him. (DLA 69.930/10, September 25, 1922, to Halm)

Little is known of her character, but a passing remark about Wilhelm made in 1927 offers a possible hint: "Wilhelm is also much too animated and also much too domineering (herrschsüchtig) – something inherited from our dear mother – to be comforted by this" (diary OJ 3/9, p. 3109, Sept 3 1927). Heinrich took his responsibilities toward his mother seriously ("for [September] 19 (Jewish holidays) : a few pennies for Mama, seats in the synagogue etc.": OJ 6/4, [], Schenker to Violin, September 15/18, 1906), and taking care of her when she was ill. Julia Schenker provided a vital link to Heinrich's Jewish heritage, coming out with Jewish sayings, and reminding him of customs and holy days: Evening with mother at Uncle and Aunt Einschenk's, for Passover. Old memories!: The ritual meal unexpectedly remedies an upset stomach that has persisted for several days! (OJ 1/6, p. 36: March 30, 1907 ‒ the first seder in 1907 took place on Friday March 29)

During the period after Jeanette Kornfeld left her first husband to be with Heinrich (1910-), Julia accepted and befriended Jeanette when others in Heinrich's circle ostracized her.

Julia was housed with Wilhelm Schenker and his wife Dodi in Kautzen iin the three years leading to her death on December 22, 1917, and Heinrich was much involved in the burial ritual (in Waidhofen an der Thaya, a town not far from Kautzen that had a Jewish cemetery), the saying of Kaddisch, and the erection of the gravestone (diary for December 1917, January/February 1918, passim). In 1918, Schenker tried to have the coffin transported from Waidhofen to Vienna, but the cost proved too high.

Heinrich and Jeanette visited Julia's grave for the first time on September 13, 1923 (OJ 5/45, [4]) and recorded the following description: The gravestone is simple, but dignified; since the marble slab and the engraving break with orthodoxy, Lie-Liechen is right in wishing for a frame and ivy decoration. It made me uneasy to feel that my poor mother, who was the one to hold us together for so long after the death of my father, lies far from us children, as if unreachable! Fate played a bad enough role in the very last years, so it would have been fair if it had granted her a resting place where the purpose of her life could have continued as if symbolically. (OJ 3/4, p. 2567)

Sources:

  • Federhofer, Hellmut, Heinrich Schenker nach Tagebüchern und Briefen ... (Hildesheim: G. Olms, 1985)
  • Schenker's diaries, esp. OJ 2/9, pp. 812-17 (Dec 22-23, 1917) and OJ 2/10, pp. 822-24 (Jan 3, 1918)
  • Marriage certificate: http://agadd.home.net.pl/metrykalia/300/sygn.%20993/pages/PL_1_300_993_0010.htm

Contributors:

  • Ian Bent and Marko Deisinger

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