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Viennese painter, portraitist, sculptor, engraver, print-maker, typographer, book illustrator, and craftsman, with a keen interest in music.

Career Summary

Hammer studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna, then worked in Vienna as a portraitist and sculptor. During World War I, he was a military artist. In 1922, he moved to Florence, where he opened a printing workshop, which he later named the Stamperia di Santuccio, but maintained a studio in Vienna. He taught at the Vienna Akademie 1936–39, then he emigrated to the USA, where he taught at Wells College, Aurora, NY until 1948, moving that year to Lexington, KY. It is to his time in the USA that many of his publications belong.

Hammer and Schenker

Hammer first approached Schenker in September 1913, asking him to take on his wife, Rosl, as a pupil. Schenker seems to have responded stating his fee, whereupon in his next letter ("typically Viennese," scoffed Schenker in his diary), Hammer tried to negotiate a lower figure. Nothing seems to have come of this approach. Hammer owned two clavichords, and also a piano by Andreas Stein dating from 1820, played clavichord, lute, and clarinet, and himself built several clavichords.

Hammer had had his attention drawn to Schenker's works probably by Otto Vrieslander, notably the edition of J. S. Bach's Chromatic Fantasy & Fugue (1910), and his monograph Beethovens Neunte Sinfonie (1912). He was already acquainted with several members of Schenker's circle, in particular Hans Weisse. On March 21, 1914, Heinrich and Jeanette visited an exhibition at the Sezession Building in Vienna, where they saw and commented on several Hammer pictures favorably, though remarking that "something unduly stiff seems to lie right at the heart of his forms"(OJ 1/14, p. 541).

Schenker's diary for June 11, 1918 records that one of his most long-standing pupils, Robert Brünauer "presents me now with another proposal: to sit for the painter V. Hammer for a drawing; I declare that I have no objections to raise to this, at the least out of consideration for Hammer." (OJ 2/10, p. 900). However, ten days later, Schenker records that Brünauer "comes back to his proposal that I should have my portrait drawn by Hammer, which I likewise refuse." (OJ 2/11, p. 907).

Hammer and Schenker met in person and became friends around 1921. Although the former lived in Florence, he maintained a studio in Vienna and was there not infrequently, thus the two had conversations and corresponded. During these contacts, Hammer became interested in Schenker's concept of the Urlinie (evidently from reading the first issue of Der Tonwille, "Die Urlinie: Eine Vorbemerkung"), speculating on how it might be applied to painting—to which Schenker responded that there were "fundamental differences between painting and music in consequence of which the Urlinie clearly signifies different things in the two art forms." (December 19, 1921). In his lessonbook for 1921/22, Schenker records that he worked with Hans Weisse on Mendelssohn's "Altdeutsches Lied," which Rosl Hammer had been singing, and parenthetically notes that he has "sent the line [i.e. Urlinie sketch] to Hammer" (in a letter dating May 25, 1922 — reproduced in Siegel, plates 3 and 4, and quoted, p. 83). Hammer went on to attempt an equivalent of Urlinie that brought out the "underlying structure" of a picture (see Siegel, plates 6–8), and it may be possible to see traces of Hammer's influence on Schenker's thinking in the later Tonwille and the Meisterwerk essays, as well as of Schenker's influence on Hammer's thinking in his writings.

In 1924, Hammer approached Schenker again about the possibility of sitting for a portrait. The sittings began in 1924, and the resulting mezzotint portrait, with the rubric, in his characteristic uncial typography, "1 . 9 . v . heinrich schenker . h . 2 . 5", was completed in October 1925. A hundred copies of this were printed, and sold by the Viennese art shop of Artaria & Co. (In 1923, Hammer also made a drawing of Hans Weisse, which may have been preparatory to a mezzotint portrait. Letters and diary entries indicate that he completed a drawing of Jeanette Schenker in 1927. The latter appears not to have survived.)

Correspondence with Schenker

Hammer and Schenker corresponded between 1913 and 1931. Letters and postcards from Schenker to Hammer survive at the New York Public Library as JOB 94-3 (not part of the Oster Collection), photocopies of which are held as OJ 5/15a (30 items: 1921–31) and OC 1B/46-48 (a copy in Jeanette Schenker's hand of JOB 94-3, [1], 1921), and from Hammer to Schenker as OJ 11/36 (28 items: 1913–27). Reproductions of art works, with Urlinie-like overlays by Hammer, are preserved among Schenker's papers at OJ 11/37; a mezzotint self-portrait of Hammer inscribed to Schenker is preserved as OJ 72/6 (1926), and Hammer's mezzotint portrait of Schenker as OJ 72/14, item 7 (of which the original is kept among the oversize prints in Special Collections); the drawing of Hans Weisse is preserved in the Scherman Music Library, Mannes College the New School for Music, New York .


  • Federhofer, Hellmut, Heinrich Schenker nach Tagebüchern und Briefen ... (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1985), pp. 38–9, 149–50
  • Siegel, Hedi, Looking at the Urlinie, in Burstein, Poundie & Gagné, David, eds., Structure and Meaning in Tonal Music, Festschrift in Honor of Carl Schachter (Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon, 2006), 79–99
  • communication from Robert Kosovsky
  • communication from Hedi Siegel

Further Reading:

  • Rothenstein, John, Victor Hammer: Artist and Crafstman (Boston, MA: David R. Goodine, 1978)
  • Hammer, Carolyn R., comp., Victor Hammer: Artist and Printer (Lexington, KY: The Anvil Press, 1981)
  • Hammer, Carolyn R., comp., Victor Hammer: An Artist's Testament (Lexington, KY: The Anvil Press, 1988)


  • Marko Deisinger, Ian Bent, and Hedi Siegel

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