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Writer on music, music critic, lawyer.

Career Summary

As a child, Berrsche took lessons in violin, piano, and music theory. He studied jurisprudence in Munich, culminating in the doctorate of law, while also taking music theory and piano instruction with Max Reger 1903‒06. While practising as a lawyer, and later becoming chairman of the Arbitration Commision of Munich, he also worked as music critic for the Augsburger Postzeitung, and prominently from 1912 for the rest of his life at the Münchener Zeitung. He also made his name as an accompanist for singers, and as a chamber music pianist.

Berrsche had strong interests in the music of J. S. Bach, Beethoven, and Bruckner. He was also an advocate for the music of Max Reger and Hans Pfitzner.

Berrsche and Schenker

Two contributions by Berrsche to the Münchener Zeitung of May 29 and June 9, 1914 (part of a dispute with Eduard Bach) supported Schenker's theory of the trill from Beitrag zur Ornamentik (1903; 2/1908). Otto Vrieslander drew Schenker's attention to these on June 29, and Schenker in turn forwarded the clipping to Emil Hertzka, saying that Berrsche was "a passionate supporter of my ideas, which he tries to put into practice in his reviews." Schenker subsequently sent the clippings to three of his pupils (Sofie Deutsch, Angi Elias, and Hans Weisse).

For the centenary of Beethoven's death in March 1927, Berrsche contributed an article, "Beethoven: ein Erziehungskapitel," to Der Kunstwart , read by Schenker, in which he cited Schenker as "the most important theorist of the present day." In the November 1928 issue of Der Kunstwart , Berrsche wrote "Ein Gesprach zum Schubert-Gedenktag," of which Schenker observed "[He] professes an unusual interest in my works and poses a very nice question concerning Schubert's 'Unfinished' Symphony" (diary October 31, 1928). Schenker wrote to Berrsche in response, quoting a passage from his forthcoming Der freie Satz, and praising the article (diary, November 10, 1928), to which Berrsche replied.

A subsequent controversy between Berrsche and Jani Szántó regarding a passage in Bruckner's String Quintet was carried on over several issues of the Münchener Zeitung in October and November 1930, and Schenker wrote to Berrsche supporting his side of the argument (diary November 25, 1930).


Two letters from Berrsche to Schenker survive as OJ 9/14, [1]‒[2] (November 21 and December 30, 1930). One postcard from Schenker to Berrsche (December 17, 1930) survives in the manuscript collection of the Munich Stadtbibliothek (all three are quoted in Federhofer, pp. 69‒72). Other correspondence, not known to survive but reported in Schenker's diary, occurred in November 1928, in December 1930, and March and June 1931. Schenker also corresponded about Berrsche between 1929 and 1932 with Hermann Rinn (OJ 13/25, [4], [9]‒[10], [12], [14], [17], [20]‒[23], [25], and [26]. In 1925, Schenker instructed Universal Edition to send Berrsche a review copy of Das Meisterwerk in der Musik, vol. I.

Clippings of five articles by Berrsche are preserved among Schenker's papers (OC 2/pp. 44 (along with an article of the same title by Eduard Bach and a response by Berrsche, both from June 9, 1914), 71, 76, and OC 50/17).


  • Berrsche, Alexander, "Der Triller bei den Klassikern," Münchener Zeitung, May 29, 1914 (and further response June 9, 1914)
  • Berrsche, Alexander, "Beethoven: ein Erziehungskapitel," Der Kunstwart, March 1927
  • Berrsche, Alexander, "Ein Gespräch zum Schubert-Gedenktag," Der Kunstwart, November 1928
  • Berrsche, Alexander, Trösterin Musika: Gesammelte Aufsätze und Kritiken, ed. H. Rupé and H. Rinn (Munich: Callwey, 1941, 2/1949)
  • Berrsche, Alexander, Hans Pfitzner : Verzeichnis sämtlicher erschienenen Werke : mit einem Vorwort "Hans Pfitzner und die absolute Musik" (Leipzig: Leuckart, 1938)
  • Berrsche, Alexander, Kritik und Betrachtung (Hamburg: Ellermann, 1964)


  • MGG (1973), Wilhelm Zentner
  • Federhofer, Hellmut, Heinrich Schenker nach Tagebüchern und Briefen ... (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1985), pp. 68‒72
  • Frank, Paul and Altmann, Wilhelm, eds, Kurzgefaßtes Tonkünstler-Lexikon (Regensburg: Gustav Bosse Verlag, 1936)
  • Münchner Stadtbibliothek


  • Marko Deisinger and Ian Bent

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