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Austrian composer, teacher, theorist, and organist.

Career Summary

Trained in counterpoint and thoroughbass while a choirboy at Klosterneuburg and Melk Abbey, Albrechtsberger subsequently worked as an organist in several places within Austria before being appointed organist to the imperial court orchestra in 1772, then assistant to the Kapellmeister of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna in 1791, then first Kapellmeister in 1793, a position he held until his death. At Haydn's recommendation, Beethoven took lessons in composition with him in 1794 and 1795.

A prolific composer, he wrote choral music for the church, orchestral and chamber music, and keyboard works. But it is as a theorist that he is best remembered today, especially for the pedagogical works:

  • Gründliche Anweisung zur Composition ... (Leipzig, 1790)
  • Kurzgefasste Methode den Generalbass zu erlernen (Vienna, c.1791)

both of which were translated into French and English and gained a wide readership.

Albrechtsberger and Schenker

Schenker owned a copy of the original edition of the Gründliche Anweisung, still in his library at the time of his death. As his diary shows, he studied it closely during the August of 1906 as part of preparatory studies for his Kontrapunkt . Although he believed the two most important treatises of the 18th century to be Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum (1725) and C. P. E. Bach's Versuch über die wahre Art, das Clavier zu spielen (1753‒62), he considered Albrechtsberger an authority to be cited. In the first volume of Kontrapunkt , he discusses the Anweisung somewhat disparagingly in his Introduction, then cites him, often quoting his music examples, at the end of each section of the volume in conjunction with other theorists (primarily Fux, Cherubini, and Bellermann). He continues this process at each stage throughout the second volume, including the final section, "Bridges to Free Composition."


  • Grove Music Online
  • Christensen, Thomas, ed., The Cambridge History of Western Music Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 581‒84
  • Damschroder, David, and Williams, David Russell, eds, Music Theory from Zarlino to Schenker (Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon Press, 1990), pp. 5‒7
  • Musik und Theater enthaltend die Bibliothek des Herrn Dr. Heinrich Schenker, Wien (Vienna: Heinrich Hinterberger, [1936]), item 2
  • Ian Bent

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  • OJ 10/1, [52] Handwritten letter from Dahms to Schenker, dated June 9, 1920

    Reflecting on the difficulty of finding housing and provisions, and on the recent German federal elections, Dahms asks whether mastery of chorale and fugue is to be obtained solely by exercises in the manner of [E. F.] Richter and others. — He inquires whether Schenker knows Kurth's Grundlagen des linearen Kontrapunkts, and whether there are any worthwhile [musical] people in Salzburg.