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Music theorist, one of the leading first-generation Schenkerian scholars and advocates of Schenker's theory.

Career; Relation to Schenker

  Photograph of Oswald Jonas
Oswald Jonas, c. 1950 (OJ 72/8, No. 1)

Son of a merchant, Oswald Jonas first studied piano with Schenker's close friend Moriz Violin, who referred him to Schenker for further study. He was a pupil of Schenker's during the 1918/19 and 1919/20 seasons, and after 1920 with Hans Weisse; during the same period he studied Law at Vienna University (as had Schenker 1884-89), taking his doctorate in 1921. Subsequently, he taught at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin 1930-34, then returned to Vienna to help found the Schenker-Institut at the Neues Wiener Konservatorium, and with Felix Salzer to found and edit the journal Der Dreiklang 1937-38 (nine issues).

In 1938, he emigrated to the US, teaching at Roosevelt University in Chicago 1941-64. Thereafter, he taught at the Vienna Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst (= Conservatory) in 1962-65 and 1973-75, then as Regents' Professor, and subsequently as adjunct professor, at the University of California, Riverside, until his death in 1978.

Jonas built up a substantial library of historical editions and microfilms of manuscripts, and also acquired a large part of the Schenker Nachlaß from Erwin Ratz. These materials were deposited in the Special Collections Library at Riverside at his death.

Publications; Editions of Schenker's Works

He wrote articles, many of them on sketches and autograph manuscripts by Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, others on Schenker and his theory, and also books, notably Das Wesen des musikalischen Kunstwerks: Einführung in die Lehre Heinrich Schenkers (Vienna: Saturn-Verlag, 1934; 2nd edn Universal Edition, 1973; Eng. trans., 1982; 2nd edn 2005), a work that won high praise from Schenker; he also edited Schenker's Harmonielehre as Harmony, trans. Elisabeth Mann Borgese (Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1954), Die letzten fünf Sonaten Beethovens (Vienna: UE, 1971-72 in 4 vols, titles modified), and Der freie Satz (Vienna: UE, 1956).

Correspondence with Schenker

Jonas and Heinrich Schenker corresponded extensively between 1918 and 1935, and correspondence continued with Jeanette Schenker until 1938: OJ 5/18 (Schenker to Jonas: 1918-34: 60 items), OJ 12/6 and OC 44/9, 20-22, 43, 46 (Jonas to the Schenkers: 1928-38: 51 items); joint correspondence between Salzer and Jonas with Jeanette Schenker comprises OJ 5/36 and 14/1 (1935: 2 items).


  • NGMD2
  • MGG
  • OeML Online
  • Tittel, Ernst, Die Wiener Musikhochschule (Vienna: Lafite, 1967)
  • Federhofer, Hellmut, Heinrich Schenker nach Tagebüchern und Briefen ... (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1985), passim
  • Fink, Evelyn, ed., Rebell und Visionär: Heinrich Schenker in Wien (Vienna: Lafite, 2003), esp. pp. 21-23 (Neues Wiener Konservatorium), 25-7 (Akademie)
  • "Oswald Jonas," in M. Eybl & E. Fink-Mennel, eds, Schenker-Traditionen: Eine Wiener Schule der Musiktheorie und ihre internationale Verbreitung (Vienna: Böhlau, 2006), p. 243


  • John Rothgeb and Ian Bent

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