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Leading German musicologist and music theorist, author of numerous books and articles on music history, practice, theory, aesthetics, philosophy, and cognition, and original author/editor of Musik-Lexikon (Leipzig: 1882).

Riemann and Schenker

As early as 1905, Schenker was protective of the manuscript of his Harmonielehre, lest it fall into the hands of Riemann or his followers (CA 5-6). Throughout his career, he regarded Riemann as his chief rival, embodying the antithesis of his own music theory, as well as being an odious force ("the most dangerous musical bacillus in Germany": CA 71, 1907; also OJ 15/16, [27], 1916). Surprisingly, in 1913, he reported that Riemann "counts himself among my keenest admirers" (WSLB 146).

Schenker accused Riemann of being "business-minded" (i.e. mercenary) in writing his numerous catechisms, and his "small" and "large" composition manuals (vC 14: 1928), and of spoon-feeding his readers rather than making them think for themselves (e.g. vC 21: 1928), such that it became one of Schenker's aims to free the youth of his day from Riemann's influence (vC 28: 1930).

In his Beethovens Neunte Sinfonie, he portrayed Riemann's interpretations as "false" (p. XXIV; Eng. trans., p. 17), and devoted much space in the "Literatur" (Secondary Literature) sections to pointing out Riemann's impercipience and errors ("Beethoven's higher interests, aiming for the most perfect art of synthesis, he is unfortunately able neither to perceive in an artistically true manner nor to interpret correctly in theoretical terms.": p. 24/p. 48; "Great heavens, what intellectual sloth! Such a way to write about music!": p. 74/p. 88; "It can be inferred [...] that Riemann has difficulty understanding composed-out larger complexes, and posits instead only smaller units [...]": p. 112/p. 119).

Schenker returned to his harsh critiques of Riemann's theories and analyses in Der Tonwille (1921-24) and Das Meisterwerk in der Musik (1925-30).

Correspondence with Schenker

Two items of correspondence between Schenker and Riemann are known to exist: OJ 13/23, the pro forma invitation of April 15, 1913 to contribute autobiographical information to Riemann's Musik-Lexikon (which Schenker refers to ironically as "being ushered into the Riemann Walhalla": WSLB 154), and Schenker's informative response of April 27, BerkAE, [1] (filed in the Alfred Einstein papers). The entry on Schenker appeared in the 10th edition of the Musik-Lexikon, ed. Alfred Einstein (Berlin: Max Hesse, 1922), pp. 1135-36.

Schenker's personal library at his death included copies of Riemann's Musik-Lexikon (3rd edn, 1887), his Opern-Handbuch (1887), Handbuch der Musikgeschichte, vols I-II (1904-13), Handbuch der Harmonielehre (1898), Grosse Kompositionslehre (1902-03), Lehrbuch des einfachen, doppelten und imitierenden Kontrapunkts (1888), Systematische Modulationslehre (1887), Handburch der Fugen-Komposition (1916), Musikalische Syntaxis (1877), Katechismus der Akustik (1891), Katechismus der Fugen-Komposition (1890-91), Katechismus der Kompositionslehre (1889), Katechismus der Phrasierung (with Carl Fuchs), Katechismus der Musikgeschichte (1901), Katechismus der Orchestrierung (1902), Katechismus der Musik: Allgemeine Musiklehre (1904), and Katechismus der Musik-Aesthetik.


  • Musik und Theater enthaltend die Bibliothek des Herrn Dr. Heinrich Schenker, Wien (Antiquariat Heinrich Hinterberger, [1935])
  • NGMD2 (2001 and online)

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