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Pianist, composer, and music theorist.

Career Summary

Réti studied at the Vienna Conservatory (= Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst) and Vienna University. As a concert pianist, he gave the first performance of Schoenberg's Drei Klavierstücke Op. 11 (1909) in 1911. In the 1930s, he worked as a music critic. He emigrated to the USA in 1938, where in three books (1951, 1958, 1967) he developed a theory of motivic cells and a theory of pantonality:

  • The Thematic Process in Music (New York: Macmillan, 1951)
  • Tonality, Atonality, Pantonality: A Study of some Trends in Twentieth Century Music (London: Rockliff, 1958)
  • Thematic Patterns in Sonatas of Beethoven, ed. D. Cooke (London: Faber & Faber, 1967)

Réti and Schenker

On March 4, 1913, Réti invited Schenker to attend a lecture entitled "An attempt to explain modern harmony," which Schenker declined (diary, OJ 1/12, p. 320); Réti replied on March 10 (ibid., p. 322: Schenker's comment: "his only gift is arrogance, thus [he is] ungifted"). On April 14, 1913 (ibid. p. 334), Schenker responded angrily to an article by Réti in Die Musik that cited him. Further diary entries ensued thereafter.

Correspondence with Schenker

One letter survives from Réti to Schenker as OJ 13/22 (1913), and one from Schenker to Réti as OC 1/B 12 (1913). An article by Réti published in Die Musik for April 1913, pp. 67-88, entitled "27 Paragraphen über das musikalische Einzelphänomen mit einem Erklärungsversuch zeitgenössischer 'Moderne Harmonik'," is preserved in Schenker's scrapbook (OC 2/p.45).