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Classical music conservatory in New York City, founded by David Mannes and Clara Damrosch in 1916 as the David Mannes Music School.

History of the College

David's and Clara's aim in founding their new school was twofold: to offer, in the words of David Mannes (1938), "not only the intense development of the potential professional, but the efforts of those who wanted merely to enrich themselves through a better understanding or playing of music without the responsibilities of a career"; consequently no examinations were held and no diplomas awarded. Music theory was taught initially by Angela Diller, then in 1917‒19 by Ernest Bloch, after whom Rosario Scalero taught strict counterpoint for six years, and on his departure in 1926 David's and Clara's son Leopold took over theory until the arrival in 1931 of Hans Weisse. ("Surely," wrote Mannes in 1938, "if the school had no other claims to favor, it has had three really important influences in its faculty history ‒ Bloch, Scalero and Weisse.") The school was initially located in a single private house, 154 East 70th Street, but in 1919 moved to 157 East 74th Street (three brownstone houses remodeled into a single building). In the 1940s George Szell taught instrumentation and composition.

After Clara's death in 1948, Leopold became co-director with his father (Felix Salzer served as assistant director). Leopold was named the school's president in 1950, with Salzer as executive director, during which period Mannes was given accreditation by the City to award a college degree to its professional students, while the other side of the college's work was redefined as its extension division. In 1953 the name changed to Mannes College of Music. In 1959, with Leopold still at the helm, an attempt by the trustees to close the College was foiled by members of faculty, and in 1960 a merger with Chatham Square Music School solved some of the college's financial and enrollment problems. In 1979 a similar move by the trustees, this time to close the college and merge it with Manhattan School of Music was, in a landmark legal case, thwarted by faculty members.

In 1984 the College moved to premises on the Upper West Side of Manhattan at 150 West 85th Street, and its East Side building was demolished. In 1989 the College became a constituent of The New School for Social Research, and in 2005 was renamed The Mannes College the New School for Music. It left its Upper West Side premises in 2015, and is now located downtown at Arnhold Hall, 55 West 13th Street. Its name became Mannes School of Music, forming part of the College of Performing Arts within The New School. Its library became the Performing Arts Library (the name Scherman Library then being dropped), and its archives became part of The New School Archives & Special Collections.

The Mannes School and Schenker' Theory

In the 1930s the David Mannes Music School became the focal point for the dissemination of Schenker's theory in the USA (thus by extension also in Europe, since World War II), and has played a crucial role in that ever since. (Though it is reported that as early as 1925 George A. Wedge was "lecturing on the Urlinie" at another New York school, the Institute of Musical Art, founded by Mannes's brother-in-law, Frank Damrosch [Schenker's diary, October 8, 1925].) In 1931, Schenker's pupil Hans Weisse was appointed ‒ perhaps at the suggestion of Gerald F. Warburg ‒ to the staff of the school to teach composition, theory, and analysis according to Schenker's theory, and taught there until his death in 1940. In 1932, the school sponsored the publication of Schenker's Fünf Urlinie-Tafeln in conjunction with Universal Edition of Vienna. Weisse is known from his letters to Schenker to have taught classes on the analysis and graphs of Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony in Schenker's Das Meisterwerk in der Musik, vol. III, and a seminar on Der freie Satz , and to have used the Fünf Urlinie-Tafeln as teaching material; and from the School's prospectuses it appears that he taught courses with titles such as "Creative Hearing," and "The Theory of Dr. Heinrich Schenker."

Weisse was succeeded by Felix Salzer, who had been Weisse's pupil in Vienna and subsequently Schenker's seminar member and briefly his private pupil (1931–35). The foundational program at Mannes, "Techniques of Music," integrating musicianship, theory, and performance on the basis of Schenker's theory, was created by Salzer in 1953. Among those Schenkerian thinkers who have taught at Mannes are Adele T. Katz (1936: at the Westchester Branch), Roy Travis (1952–57), Allen Forte (1957–60), William Mitchell (1957–68), Edward Laufer (1973–75), Ernst Oster (1970–77), Eric Wen (2008‒13), and Mannes alumnus Carl Schachter (1956–), who may rightly be regarded as the doyen of Schenkerian theory in America, having devoted his entire career to the development and teaching of the discipline and influencing generations of outstanding scholars.

In 1985, Mannes held the first International Schenker Symposium; subsequent symposia have taken place every seven years. Mannes was also the venue for a four-day Institute on Schenkerian Theory and Analysis, organized and directed by Wayne Alpern in June 2002.


  • Schenker, Heinrich, Fünf Urlinie-Tafeln/Five Analyses in Sketchform (New York: David Mannes Music School, 1932); repubd as Five Graphic Music Analyses (Fünf Urlinie-Tafeln), intro. Felix Salzer, New York, Dover, 1969)
  • Mannes. David, Music is My Faith: An Autobiography (New York: W. W. Norton, [1938])
  • Martin, George Whitney, The Damrosch Dynasty (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983)
  • Grünzweig, Werner, "Vom 'Schenkerismus' zum 'Dahlhaus-Projekt': Einflüsse deutschsprachiger Musiker und Musikwissenschaftler in den Vereinigten Staaten—Anfänge und Ausblick," Österreichische Musik Zeitschrift 3–4 (1993), 161–70
  • Berry, David Carson, "The Role of Adele T. Katz in the Early Expansion of the New York 'Schenker School'," Current Musicology 74 (Fall 2002), 103–51
  • Berry, David Carson, "Hans Weisse and the Dawn of American Schenkerism," Journal of Musicology 20/1 (Winter 2003), 104–56
  • In Martin Eybl & Evelyn Fink-Mennel, eds, Schenker-Traditionen: Eine Wiener Schule der Musiktheorie und ihre internationale Verbreitung (Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 2006):–
  • — Berry, David Carson, "Hans Weisse (1892–1940)", pp. 91–103
    — Carl Schachter, "Felix Salzer (1904–1986)," pp. 105–11
    — William Rothstein, "Ernst Oster (1908–1977)," pp. 121–35
    — Hedi Siegel, "The Pictures and Words of an Artist ('Von einem Künstler'): Heinrich Schenker's Fünf Urlinie-Tafeln," pp. 203–20


  • NGDM2 (2008)
  • Berry (2002)
  • Berry (2003)
  • Schenker-Traditionen (2006)
  • letters of Hans Weisse

  • Communications from Ed Scarcelle, University Librarian at The New School, Wendy Scheir, Director of Archives & Special Collections at The New School, and Eric Wen
  • Advice and guidance also from Hedi Siegel and William Drabkin


  • Ian Bent

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