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Danish conductor and composer.

Career Summary

Klenau began his music studies at the Copenhagen Conservatory (Otto Malling, composition, F. Hilmer, violin), continuing them at the Hochschule für Musik, Berlin (with Karl Haliř, violin, Max Bruch, composition), in Munich (Ludwig Thuille), and Stuttgart (Max von Schillings). During World War I he returned to Denmark. After 1918, he undertook studies with Arnold Schoenberg in Vienna. His career as a professional conductor began at the Freiburg Opera in 1908; from 1922 to 1926 he conducted the Danish Philharmonic Society, of which he was a co-founder; from 1922 to 1930 he was director of the Konzerthaus Gesellschaft in Vienna, where he also conducted the Singakademie. Later he withdrew from practical musical work on account of increasing deafness, and in 1940 he returned permanently to Copenhagen.

He composed seven operas, seven symphonies and a violin concerto, other orchestral works, chamber music, solo piano pieces, and orchestral songs. Despite having taken lessons with Schoenberg, and becoming a close friend and regular correspondent of Alban Berg, his style was largely that of the late Romantic era.

Klenau and Schenker

Having read the Erläuterungsausgabe of Op. 109, Klenau first approached Schenker in September 1923 in search of advice on the correct performance of orchestral works by Beethoven. The two men met on many occasions between 1923 and at least 1930 to discuss performance issues, their main focus being the third, fifth, and ninth symphonies and the Missa solemnis .

Klenau's most significant act in Schenker's eyes was his historical reconstruction on May 7, 1924 of the concert that had taken place in the Kärntnertor Theater on May 7, 1824, comprising three movements of the Missa solemnis, the Overture "The Consecration of the House," and the Ninth Symphony. To these works, he sought to restore Beethoven's original tempi and instrumentation, on the basis of Schenker's advice and the monograph Beethovens Neunte Sinfonie . The description in Schenker's diary for the same day is generally laudatory. (A copy of Klenau's program book ("Fest-Konzert Programmbuch") for the concert is preserved at OC B/84 with Schenker's annotations.) In Der Tonwille issue 8/9, Schenker remarked: The jubilee performance ‒ I was present at it ‒ achieved an effect that exceeded the usual standards [...]. It confirmed Beethoven's creation in its unity of synthesis, notation, and all detailed instructions. [...] In short, the conductor's intentions exceeded all expectations. (p. 54 (122))

In a postcard to Moriz Violin of February 26, 1927 (OJ 8/4, [46]), when the latter was using Schenker as an intermediary with Klenau's father-in-law in pursuit of a job in Frankfurt, Schenker remarked "Klenau is a thoroughly magnificent person." Klenau, when passing on advice to others that he had received from Schenker, was meticulous in giving credit (e.g. "Klenau sends an article about the Ninth Symphony, in which he insures that justice is done to me." ‒ diary May 20, 1924). In the meetings of the two men, Schenker was generous in advice, showing Klenau photographs of autograph scores and explaining editorial issues and notational matters. There is little doubt that Schenker saw Klenau as a potential vehicle for his performance principles ‒ though not to the extent of Wilhelm Furtwängler. The many hours he spent advising Klenau, and the length of the diary entries he wrote concerning him, would attest to this.


Fourteen items in all survive: eleven items from Klenau to Schenker, 1923‒27 (OJ 12/11, [1]‒[11]), two copies of letters from Schenker to Klenau, 1923‒24 (OC 54/333-336, OC 12/249), and one memorandum of a conversation between Klenau and Schenker (OC 82/10), which reveals the sort of advice Schenker gave (as do many of the diary entries). Other, non-extant items are recorded in Schenker's diary. Several articles by Klenau are preserved in the folders of the Oster Collection.

In February 1930, Anthony van Hoboken evidently asked Schenker to write something on the Missa solemnis . The result was a four-page essay (OC 82/3‒6), dated February 22, 1930. This makes no mention of Klenau; however, in a letter of the same date to Hoboken (OJ 89/4, [1]), Schenker recalled: "With Klenau I rushed through the score – i.e. the form in the large and most overall sense – in 2‒3 hours [September 21, 1923, cf. OC 82/10]"; and in his diary for the same day (February 22, 1930) he remarked: It pleases me to see that my improvisation proceeds along paths similar to those that I had previously taken in my instructions to Klenau; I am even more pleased to have confirmed what I originally suspected, namely that no Urlinie is to be found in the Gloria or the Credo.


  • [Klenau author of all:]
  • Concert program of Klenau's Beethoven centenary performance, May 7, 1924 (OC B/84)
  • "Die 'Klassische' Neunte," Pult und Taktstock iv (July 4, 1924) (OJ 41/6)
  • "L. v. Beethovens Symphonie nr. 5 C-moll," Frankfurter Zeitung Oct 14, 1924 (OC 2/p. 65)
  • "Albert Schweitzer," Frankfurter Zeitung Dec 2, 1925 (OC C/500)
  • "Albert Schweitzer, Träger des Goethepreises," Frankfurter Zeitung Aug 29, 1928 (OC C/505)
  • "'Zeitgemässe'-Oper," Frankfurter Zeitung Dec 22, 1928
  • Schenker, Heinrich, Hundert Jahre IX. Sinfonie (Zur Festaufführung der Wiener Konzerthaus-Gesellschaft am 7. Mai 1924) (One Hundred Years of the Ninth Symphony: On the jubilee performance of the Wiener Konzerthaus-Gesellschaft, May 7, 1924), Der Tonwille IV/2‒3 (= 8/9) (April/Sept 1924), pp. 53‒4 (121‒22)


  • MGG (1958)
  • Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980)


  • Ian Bent

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