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Institute, part of the University of Vienna, the head of which in Schenker’s lifetime was Guido Adler, whose seminar several of Schenker’s pupils attended.

Historical Summary: 1898–1939

A chair in the History and Aesthetics of Music was founded at the University of Vienna in 1870, its first occupant being Eduard Hanslick (1825–1904), who had been lecturing at the University in that subject since 1856. In 1882 Guido Adler (1855–1941) earned his habilitation there with a dissertation entitled Studie zur Geschichte der Harmonie (Study in the History of Harmony, 1881); and in 1893‒94 Adler founded the historical edition Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Österreich (Monuments of Music in Austria) under his own general editorship. Upon Hanslick's retirement in 1898, Adler succeeded to the chair in musicology, which he held until 1927. Also in 1898 he founded the Musikhistorische Lehrmittelsammlung (Music-Historical Collection of Teaching Materials), which in 1901 was redesignated the Musikhistorisches Institut (Music-Historical Institute), with Adler at its head.

Already in 1885 Adler had published an article "Umfang, Methode und Ziel der Musikwissenschaft" ("Scope, Method, and Aim of Musicology"), which established the distinction between the historical and systematic fields of musicology. This taxonomy was later amplified in his books Der Stil in der Musik (Style in Music, 1911) and Methode der Musikgeschichte (Method in the Historical Study of Music, 1919), the latter codifying all the sub-fields of the discipline and providing the underlying principles of the Institute itself. In 1913 the Institute was incorporated into the main building of the University, and in the same year Adler founded the journal Studien zur Musikwissenschaft (Studies in Musicology), which served as a vehicle for the research of his students. The Institute became not only the central focus of all Austrian musicology but the leading center internationally, and Adler's pupils came to be dubbed the "Vienna School" of musicology.

Adler took retirement in 1927. Despite fierce resistance on his part, Robert Lach (1874–1958), a comparative musicologist, was appointed to succeed him. Lach’s elevation was engineered at the instigation of an anti-Semitic professorial cartel to which Lach himself belonged. Moreover, in 1933 Lach became a member of the Nazi Party. From the moment Lach took up his post at the Institute, Adler’s so-called style-critical school, which had striven to depict a historically developmental relationship between the constituent musical artworks of music history, was resolutely suppressed. Soon the most renowned Adler pupils, Wilhelm Fischer (1886–1962) und Rudolf von Ficker (1886–1954), left the Institute, which was downgraded to Musicological Seminar in 1928, in which year Adler moved the operation of the Denkmäler out of the institution.

Historical Summary: 1939–Present

Lachs retired in 1939. He was succeeded – to the surprise of many – by the young music historian Erich Schenk (1902–1974), backed by the personal and political influence of the Nazi Party. Although Schenk never joined the Party, he belonged to several organizations allied to it and participated in initiatives of Nazi cultural politics. In 1941 he instigated the expropriation (aryanisation) of Adler’s surviving scholarly materials, as part of which the contents of Adler’s voluminous private library were dispersed among various libraries, including that of the Musicological Seminar itself. After World War II, only begrudgingly and in part very belatedly was restitution granted to Adler’s heirs.

Schenk was able to remain in post after Nazi rule, and even to expand his influence over Austrian musicology by means of the successive taking over of high offices and activities inside and outside of the University (and was elected Rector of the University for the year 1957/58). He exerted a marked influence, for example on the appointment of personnel, at the Musicological Institute, which he continued to direct until 1971. The first faculty member to be appointed after Schenk’s retirement not directly a Schenk pupil was Gernot Gruber in 1995.

The Institute and Heinrich Schenker's Pupils

Hans Weisse
The first of Schenker’s pupils known to be associated with Adler’s Seminar was Hans Weisse (1892–1940), who in 1913/14 was taking three lessons a week with Schenker while also attending the Seminar. The earliest of Weisse’s many reports from inside the Seminar appear in Schenker’s 1913/14 lessonbook on March 23, 26, and 30, 1914, when Weisse consulted Schenker “on the music doctorate” and spoke of “Adler’s shifty attitude in the Seminar”; and in Schenker’s diary for April 27, 1914, which showed Adler already reshaping the scope of Weisse’s doctoral dissertation (suggesting that Weisse’s registration must date back at least to October 1913). Thereafter, Weisse reported comments by Adler that were then subjected to Schenker’s ridicule. Apparently, none of Schenker’s publications were available in the Seminar library; and Schenker’s concept of music analysis conflicted with Adler’s belief that it must always be governed by historical-stylistic criteria. Evidently, Weisse’s interactions with Adler were colored by the latter’s sense of rivalry with Schenker.

The seminar course included written examinations and its goal was the writing of a dissertation. Weisse, after a long interruption for wartime service, not only resumed study with Schenker but also returned to complete his thesis on the “artistic waltz,” of which much must have been written by 1914, for a typescript of Der Kunstwalzer und seine bedeutendsten Vertreter (The Artistic Waltz and its Most Important Exponents), inscribed to Schenker and dated February 1915, is preserved in the Oster Collection (OC 47). In 1914 and again in 1919, Schenker tried to persuade Universal Edition to publish it (WSLB 235, 302). Weisse was awarded the Ph.D. degree in 1919.

Other Pupils
Richard Figdor was a pupil of Schenker’s between the end of the 1918/19 season and some time in that of 1920/21. There are indirect references in Schenker’s diary for December 15, 1919 and February 9, 1921 suggesting that he was a member of Adler’s seminar. None of his lesson notes contain allusion to the Seminar or to Adler.

Klammerth, jnr (first name unknown) was a pupil of Schenker’s in the two seasons 1919/20 and 1920/21. There are reported comments by Klammerth in Schenker’s diary alluding, some indirectly, to Adler’s seminar, on March 22 (“Klammerth recounts that Adler spoke to him about me, acknowledged my merits, indeed, but held the "infallibility" against me. He also thought it strange that I derive "everything," for example, in the Ninth Symphony , from a thirty-second note.”) and November 3, 1920 and February 9 and May 4 (“Klammerth recounts some Adleriana …”), 1921.

Two further Schenker pupils were also students of Adler, but in each case the two periods of study were widely separated in time. Victor Zuckerkandl (1896–1965) studied with Schenker in the season 1914/15, before being called up for wartime service, after which he did not resume study with Schenker. He subsequently wrote a dissertation entitled Prinzipien und Methoden der Instrumentation in Mozarts Werken (Principles and Methods of Instrumentation in Mozart’s Works) under Adler’s supervision, earning the Ph.D. from the University in 1927. Felix Salzer (1904–86) took lessons in piano and theory for many years from Hans Weisse. When the latter emigrated to New York in 1931, Salzer became a member of the Friday seminar that Schenker gave for former Weisse pupils throughout the years 1931/32 to 1933/34; and when the seminar was dissolved in June 1934, Salzer continued as a private student. Salzer’s membership of Adler’s Seminar long preceded his time with Schenker, and must have coincided with, or preceded, his period of study with Weisse, for he was awarded the Ph.D. of the University in 1926 with a dissertation on Die Sonatenform bei Franz Schubert (Sonata Form in the Works of Franz Schubert).


  • Institut für Musikwissenschaft der Universität Wien
  • Chronik des Instituts für Musikwissenschaft (1856–2017)
  • Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (1949‒69), "Guido Adler" (1949), "Wien" (1968)
  • The New Grove Dictionary of Music (1980), "Guido Adler," "Musicology"
  • Boisits, Barbara, "Guido Adler und die Gründung der Bibliothek am musikwissenschaftlichen Institut in Wien," in Musikwissenschaft als Kulturwissenschaft: damals und heute. Internationales Symposion (1998) zum Jubiläum der Institutsgründung an der Universität Wien vor 100 Jahren, ed. Theophil Antonicek and Gernot Gruber (Tutzing: Schneider, 2005), pp. 69–88
  • Boisits, Barbara, "Musikwissenschaft im Ersten Weltkrieg. Der Fall Guido Adler," in Musik und Erinnern. Festschrift für Cornelia Szabó-Knotik, ed. Christian Glanz and Anita Mayer-Hirzberger (Vienna: Hollitzer, 2014), pp. 123–141
  • Gruber, Gernot, "Tradition und Herausforderung. Historische Musikwissenschaft an der Wiener Universität," in "Weite des Musikwissens. 100 Jahre Musikwissenschaft in Wien," Österreichische Musikzeitschrift 53/10 (1998), 8–19
  • Hilscher, Elisabeth Theresa, "Chronik des Instituts für Musikwissenschaft," in "Weite des Musikwissens. 100 Jahre Musikwissenschaft in Wien," Österreichische Musikzeitschrift 53/10 (1998), 4–7
  • Stumpf, Markus, "Raub und Rückgabe der Bibliothek und des Nachlasses Guido Adlers – Anmerkungen und Aktualisierungen," in Guido Adlers Erbe: Restitution und Erinnerung an der Universität Wien, ed. Markus Stumpf, Herbert Posch, and Oliver Rathkolb (= Bibliothek im Kontext 1; Göttingen: V&R unipress, Vienna: Vienna University Press, 2017), pp. 83–202
  • Zoidl, Clemens, "Die Geschichte des Instituts für Musikwissenschaft an der Universität Wien nach Guido Adler. Forschung – Ergebnisse – Aufgaben," in Guido Adlers Erbe: Restitution und Erinnerung an der Universität Wien, ed. Markus Stumpf, Herbert Posch, and Oliver Rathkolb (= Bibliothek im Kontext 1; Göttingen: V&R unipress, Vienna: Vienna University Press, 2017), pp. 45–64


  • Ian Bent and Marko Deisinger

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