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The eighth and ninth issues, combined as a double issue, of Schenker's periodical Der Tonwille (1921–24).


Brahms's Handel Variations and Fugue was one of Schenker's "core" teaching pieces – the title is to be found in all his surviving lessonbooks, from 1912 to 1931, students studying it variation by variation. The bulk of this 56-page double issue is occupied by an analysis of the work (which became a teaching tool in itself as soon as proofs of the article reached Schenker). The first two-and-a-half pages of the Urlinie sheet lay out each variation over a single staffline so that the individual measures align down the page from variation to variation, facilitating close comparison; the fugue occupies the last page and a half.

As with the essay on Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 57 in Tonwille 7, there are extensive, detailed remarks on performance in the Brahms essay, including a paragraph on each of the variations and nearly two pages on the fugue; these include suggestions for fingering, and for the positioning of the hands in relation to the keyboard.

Two short theoretical articles follow. The first contrasts the effect upon the listener of the work of genius (genuine) and non-genius (sham). The second relates closely to the first, and is of historical importance in crystallizing all Schenker's ideas so far. "Elucidations," which Schenker reprinted in Tonwille 10, and again with minor orthographical changes in Meisterwerk I (1925) and II (1926), sets out concisely with examples the notions of chord of nature, tonal space, passing-tone progression, dissonance and consonance, diatony, harmonic scale-degree, Urlinie, neighbor-note motion, tension-span, background and foreground, synthesis, and the way in which geniuses achieve ultimate economy of means by employing these principles whereas non-geniuses deal only in surface effects.

The "Miscellanea" of this issue are partly linked to the Brahms analysis through the concept of perfection (Vollendung) and are partly a celebration of the centenary of the first performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and the reconstruction of that first concert by the Viennese Concert Society on May 7, 1924.

Publication History

[to be completed]

Contents List

  • "Brahms: Variationen und Fuge über ein Thema von Händel, op. 24" [Brahms's Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24], 3–46 [II, pp. 77–114]
  • "Wirkung und Effekt" [Genuine and Sham Effects], 47–48 [II, pp. 115–16]
  • "Erläuterungen" [Elucidations], 203–05 [II, pp. 117–18]
  • "Vermischtes" [Miscellanea], 52–55 [II, pp. 119–23]

  • Enclosure: four-sided Urlinie sheet of Brahms
  • Advertisements (at back):
  • "'Neue Musikalischen Theorien und Phantasien' /'Ein Beitrag zur Ornamentik' / 'Beethovens IX. Sinfonie' / 'A. Niloffs (H. Schenker) Instrumententabelle' / 'Beethovens V. Sinfonie'" (p. 56)
  • "Beethoven-Schenker: Klavier-Sonaten" (cover)


  • Ian Bent

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  • DLA 69.930/12 Handwritten letter from Schenker to Halm, dated April 3‒4, 1924

    In response to matters raised by Halm in two previous letters, Schenker discusses figuration, distinguishing between that which works only on the surface and that which arises out of the middle and background, drawing on primal intervals. He also concedes that he heard Bruckner improvising, and criticizes it adversely. He refers to Reger, and outlines plans for forthcoming volumes of Der Tonwille.

  • OJ 6/7, [11] Handwritten letter from Schenker to Moriz Violin, dated November 6, 1924

    Schenker has received a photographic reproduction of the opening chorus of Bach's St Matthew Passion. — Gives account of delays to the publication of Tonwille 8/9 and 10, blaming Hertzka for being slow to send work to the engraver, and has written to him with a request to dissolve the Tonwille contract with UE. — Refers to a recent review by (Julius) Korngold, and recounts a long story about his piano dealer, Bernhard Kohn.