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German pianist and writer on music.

Career Summary

Albersheim first studied piano, cello, and music theory in Cologne, then worked with Schenker for three years, 1926-29. While giving private tuition and working as a repetiteur, he took a PhD in physics and musicology at Vienna University, 1933-38, publishing his dissertation in 1939. He emigrated to the United States in 1939, holding teaching positions in Los Angeles, working as a pianist and accompanist to singers (including Elisabeth Schumann, Ezio Pinza, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau), and writing journal articles on music theoretical and educational topics. After retirement in 1969, he took up residence in Switzerland.

Albersheim and Schenker

Albersheim first approached Schenker, at the recommendation of Felix Hupka, in May 1926 (OJ 9/5, [1]). He began lessons on October 5, 1926, and continued his studies until June 14, 1929, taking two lessons a week (Mondays and Fridays). Notes on these lessons survive in Schenker's lessonbooks for 1926/27 through 1928/29, and also in OC 38/56-67. His lessons included not only study of the keyboard repertory, but also intensive study of opera (Mozart, Verdi, Wagner), choral, chamber, and orchestral works, often with Urlinie graphs, to which Schenker himself devoted considerable preparation time, and also music theory, performance practice, and source studies. One lesson in January 1928 was occupied with a two-hour discussion of anti-semitism.

Correspondence with Schenker

Four items of correspondence from Albersheim and his father, Josef Albersheim, to Schenker survive (OJ 9/5 and OC B/136-138), and one draft letter from Schenker to Josef Albersheim as OJ 5/5; but some thirty more items are recorded in Schenker's diary as having been sent or received, thus the correspondence was quite extensive. We know, also, that Schenker wrote to Bruno Walter recommending Albersheim in January 1928 (OJ 4/1, p. 3163), and tried to pull strings for him in pursuit of a conducting career in April 1929 (OJ 4/2, p. 3331), as well as advising him on career choices in lessons and correspondence.

In 1930, Albersheim drafted an article promoting Schenker's theory; Schenker read and commented on this draft (preserved with his annotations as OC B/112-134), and Albersheim replied in light of those comments (OC B/136-138); the article was published in 1931.


  • "Heinrich Schenker: Grundlagen und Bedeutung seines Werkes", Rheinische Musik- und Theaterzeitung 31/15-16 (Cologne, 1931), pp. 259-61, 270-74 [preserved as OC 2/p.80 and OC B/135]
  • Zur Psychologie der Ton- und Klangeigenschaften (U. of Vienna, 1938; Straßburg: Heitz, 1939)
  • "The Sense of Space in Tonal and Atonal Music", Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 19 (1960/61), pp.17-30 = Musikalische Zeitfragen 10 (1962), pp. 75-90
  • "The Scale Step", Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 26 (1965/66), pp. 63-79 = Die Musikforschung 16 (1963), pp. 139-52
  • "Mind and Matter in Music", Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 22 (1963/64) = Schweizerische Musikzeitung 104 (1964), pp. 218-24
  • Zur Musikpsychologie (Wilhelmshaven: Heinrichshofen, 1974)
  • Die Tonsprache (Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 1980)


  • MGG
  • NGDM2
  • Schenker-Traditionen, ed. M. Eyl and E. Fink-Mennel (Cologne: Böhlau, 2006), pp. 237-38
  • Bent, Ian, "Schenker as Teacher : The Case of Gerhard Albersheim", Journal of Schenkerian Studies iv (forthcoming)

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