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Scottish pianist, theorist, and writer on music.

Career Summary

Dunn studied at Edinburgh University with Friedrich Niecks and later at the Stuttgart Conservatory with Samuel de Lange (theory) and Max von Pauer (piano), and in 1902 joined the teaching faculty there. In 1909 he was appointed to the Kiel Conservatory, first as professor of piano, later as deputy director, but returned to Britain in 1914, serving and being wounded in World War I. After the war, he settled in Edinburgh (Scotland), where he worked as piano teacher and concert artist, later teaching music theory at Edinburgh University 1920-31.

His books include Das Geheimnis der Handführung beim Klavierspiel (1914), Ornamentation in the Works of Chopin (London: Novello, 1921), A Student's Guide to Orchestration (London: Novello, 1928), based on his Edinburgh DMus thesis, and The Basis of Pianoforte Playing (London: OUP, 1933), completed posthumously by his wife, Aline Dunn (a native German-speaker). He was killed in a street accident in 1931.

Dunn and Schenker

Though never a pupil of Schenker's, Dunn became a disciple of his on the basis of the study of Schenker's writings, and Schenker took pride in the fact that his theory was being taught in Edinburgh. Dunn prepared an abbreviated English translation of Schenker's Kontrapunkt that remained unpublished.

A verbal portrait of Dunn is presented by Anthony van Hoboken when he visited him in September 1927: OJ 11/54, [18], September 18, 1927. [insert link]

Correspondence and Portraits

There survive a copy of one (draft?) letter from Schenker to Dunn dated July 8, 1928 (OC 30/122-124), five others from Schenker to Dunn that are not known to have survived, and are here designated Dunn [1]-[5], eight letters from Dunn to Schenker, 1926-30, and two from Dunn's widow dated 1931 together with a clipping and typed German translation of D. F. Tovey's obituary for Dunn in The Scotsman, February 6, 1931 (OJ 10/12 and 10/13).

Schenker owned two inscribed photographic portraits, one of John, one of John and Aline (OJ 72/4), and a copy of A Student's Guide to Orchestration (OC 2/p. 80); this work contains what is probably the first published translation of an extract from Schenker's writings (taken from the monograph on Beethoven's Ninth Symphony).


  • Federhofer, Hellmut, Heinrich Schenker nach Tagebüchern und Briefen ... (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1985), pp. 102-04
  • Baker's1971
  • Oster Collection Finding List
  • Jonas Memorial Collection catalog

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