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The Music Department of Columbia University was founded in 1896 by Edward McDowell. Subsequent heads of department were Daniel Gregory Mason and Douglas Moore. A graduate program in historical musicology was established in the 1930s under the leadership of Paul Henry Lang. Lectures and graduate seminars in Schenkerian theory were given at Columbia by Hans Weisse in the 1930s, and a year after Weisse's death in 1940 a graduate program in music theory was established by William J. Mitchell, who had studied with Weisse in Vienna in 1930‒32 and taught at Columbia until 1968 (when he joined the music theory faculty at SUNY Binghamton). Patricia Carpenter, a student of Arnold Schoenberg, received her PhD in music theory from Columbia in 1972, and as a member of faculty of Barnard College was head of graduate music theory at Columbia, establishing a seminar sequence in history of music theory. Carpenter retired in 1989, after which the theory program was led by Jonathan Kramer and Fred Lerdahl.


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  • OC 18/32-33 Handwritten letter from Weisse to Schenker, dated November 28, 1932

    Weisse is uneasy about disparity among translations of Schenker's writings into English, and suggests that he work with potential translators to arrive at an agreed set of technical terms. He has renewed contact with Vrieslander, who has sent him a copy of his recently published songs and Ländler. His work in New York is going well and his family is thriving, but he sees and hears about a great deal of suffering, on account of the economic collapse in America.

  • OJ 15/16, [88] Handwritten letter from Hertha Weisse to Schenker, dated February 15, 1933

    Hertha Weisse reports that, through Hans's teaching at Columbia University and the Mannes School, Schenker's work has gained a footing in New York (where people seem more receptive to new ideas), and she expresses her gratitude to Schenker for breathing life into the spirit that has given such joy to her husband's pupils. The children are growing up speaking German, and she has begun to restudy the piano.

  • OJ 15/16, [90] Handwritten letter from Hans Weisse to Schenker, dated March 17, 1933

    Weisse reports the success of his lecture on the C minor prelude from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1. — He is currently giving two lectures on a Haydn's sonata. — He inquires about the possibility of having Schenker's foreground graphs for the "Eroica" Symphony printed separately and sold to his pupils, for a series of lectures planned for the following year; the profits entirely to Schenker. — He sees little prospect visiting Europe in the summer, as his financial situation has worsened: the Mannes School has been forced to reduce his teaching for the next season. — He expresses his doubts about Vrieslander's ability to reshape Schenker's Harmonielehre as a school textbook, and about the value of Harmonielehre itself in the light of his teacher's most advanced theoretical ideas.

  • OJ 15/16, [94] Handwritten letter from Hans Weisse to Schenker, dated March 15, 1934

    Weisse apologizes for long silence, largely on account of depression at the lack of enrollment at Mannes and of enthusiasm for his recently published Violin Sonata. — At Mannes he lectures about his own work, because it is important to show how Schenkerian theory can have a practical application for composers; his pupil Israel Citkowitz is the only cause for optimism. — At Columbia University, where he "smuggles" Schenkerian theory into his lectures, enrolment continues to be large. — He sends a copy of his Violin Sonata, and promises his Variations on a Popular American Song. — He is not coming to Europe this summer. — Universal Edition is going ahead with a schools' version of Schenker's Harmonielehre, but he is surprised that Alfred Kalmus expects him to be involved in an American edition of this.