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German music critic, writer on music, and composer.

Career Summary

  Photograph of Walter Dahms.
Walter Dahms (Cristina Teixeira Coelho)

Dahms studied literature, philosophy and fine arts at Berlin University, and composition with, among others, Max Reger and Ferruccio Busoni. While in Berlin, he was a professional violinist in theaters, a conductor, and also music critic of the Kleines Journal (1912) and the Neue Preussische Kreuz-Zeitung, and wrote for, among other publications, the Ostdeutsche Rundschau, the Allgemeine Musik-Zeitung, the Münchner neueste Nachrichtungen, at least between 1913 and 1928; in 1926, he launched and edited the periodical Musikus-Almanach, which survived only one issue.

The books that Dahms published during Schenker's lifetime, all of which were in Schenker's private library at his death, are:

  • Schubert (Berlin & Leipzig: Schuster & Loeffler, 1912)
  • Schumann (Berlin & Leipzig: Schuster & Loeffler, 1916)
  • Mendelssohn (Berlin & Leipzig: Schuster & Loeffler, 1919)
  • Die Offenbarung der Musik: Eine Apotheose Friedrich Nietzsches (Munich: Musarion, 1922)
  • Musik des Südens (Stuttgart & Berlin: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1923)
  • Johann Sebastian Bach (Munich: Musarion, 1924)
  • Chopin (Munich: Otto Halbreiter, 1924)

Private life and change of identity

  Photograph of Walter and Margarete Dahms.
Walter & Margarete Dahms (OJ 10/1, [91])

Dahms married Agnes Matulke in 1910, and lived in Berlin. Some years later he separated from her, and lived with Margarete Ohmann. Between October 1921 and August 1926 the two of them lived in Italy, and in 1927‒28 Nice ‒ according to Dahms pursued by the German police and judiciary (OJ 10/1, [90] and [95]). A letter of November 1928 states that he had appealed to the Minister of Justice and the President of the Weimar Republic and had been turned down (OJ 10/1, [103]). Not until 1929 did Walter obtain a divorce from Agnes. In February 1931 he wrote that his marital affairs had finally been settled, and continued with bitterness: "The wonderful Germans have, after the crime of justice they committed against me, made me wait eighteen years for my basic human rights" (OJ 10/1, [104]). He and Margarete married on June 6, 1931 (though in his letters from the 1920s he often sends greetings "from me and my wife [Frau]") in Paris, where they lived for several years. (One wonders whether Schenker sympathized with Dahms in view of Jeanette's nine-year struggle to obtain a divorce from Emil Kornfeld, 1910‒19.)

In the mid 1930s, Walter became a Honduran citizen, changed his name to Gualterio Armando (his wife to Margarita Armando), apparently foreswore all connections with Germany, and moved to Lisbon in 1935, where he continued to publish books and compose music.

Dahms and Schenker

Dahms became one of Schenker's strongest supporters and advocates. He first came to Schenker's attention in May 1913. His review of Schenker's Chromatic Fantasy & Fugue edition (July 15, 1913) pleased the latter, several other reviews at that time drew attention to Schenker's ideas, and his review of Die letzten fünf Sonaten ... op. 109, "Beethoven redivivus," December 31, 1913, and the cordial response from Schenker that it evoked, encouraged him in April 1914 to express the desire (reported in WSLB 202) to move from Berlin to Vienna in order to become a pupil of Schenker's. He did study briefly with Schenker's pupil Otto Vrieslander (who was based in Munich) c.1919, but decided to discontinue this and sought Schenker's advice on further study. Schenker regularly arranged for him to receive complimentary copies of his publications, from Die letzten fünf Sonaten ... op. 109 to Das Meisterwerk in der Musik, vol. III (1930).

In 1918, he was involved with Vrieslander, Halm and Herman Roth in an attempt to launch a Festschrift for Schenker's fiftieth birthday, through Universal Edition. In 1919, Schenker stated his intention to grant him one of the stipends "for impecunious skilled composers" that were in his gift from the estate of Sofie Deutsch; the award was deferred for a year, and seems to have been paid in the summer of 1920.

Dahms was conservative in outlook, applauded Schenker's uncompromising pronouncements on contemporary music, and shared his German nationalist and anti-democratic political views (though he disagreed with him hotly over Germany's militarism, and became increasingly disenchanted with many aspects of contemporary German culture).


105 items of correspondence survive from Dahms to Schenker in OJ 10/1 (1913 to 1931), and one letter from UE to Dahms with annotations by Schenker (OC 52/617, undated). No correspondence from Schenker to Dahms is known to survive. There are also many references to Dahms in Schenker's diary.

In addition, clippings of eight reviews by Dahms of Schenker's publications are preserved in Schenker's scrapbook (OC 2/pp. 38, 41-42, 49, 54, 61, 67, 72, 75, the last of these also at OJ 58/5). Of these, two more general articles about Schenker are:

  • "Heinrich Schenker: zu seinem 50. Geburtstag am 19. Juni 1918," Konservative Monatsschrift, June 1918, 647-49
  • "Heinrich Schenkers Persönlichkeit," Allgemeine Musik-Zeitung, Aug 3, 1923, 511-12


  • Baker's1971
  • Communication from Dahms's granddaughter, Cristina Teixeio Coelho

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