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Austrian pianist and composer.

Career Summary

Having moved with his family to Vienna in 1889, he studied piano there with Leschetizky and music theory with Mandyczewski. He moved to Berlin in 1898, and between 1925 and 1933 taught at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. He left Berlin only when Hitler came to power in 1933, moving first to Switzerland and in 1939 emigrating to the USA, eventually returning to Europe.

He was celebrated especially as an interpreter of Beethoven and Schubert, and made many recordings; but also played contemporary music (he took part in one of the early performances of Schoenberg's Pierrot lunaire), and composed in a modernist idiom. His publications include My Reflections on Music (Manchester, 1933), Music and the Line of Most Resistance (Princeton, 1942) and My Life and Music (London, 1961).

Schnabel and Schenker

Schenker mostly recorded unfavorable or mixed comments about Schnabel's playing in his diary. For example, on January 28, 1909: "Concert by A. Schnabel: Errors: forte without shading; lack of principal accents [and] main highpoints"; on November 4, 1929: "[Diabelli Variations]: basically a pianist devoid of the elements of what composers and performers would consider art," although he added on February 7, 1930 that Wilhelm Backhaus played "far worse than Schnabel." Schenker also made adverse remarks on Schnabel's Beethoven editing (WSLB 211). — Schenker noted much later (OJ 5/18, 33, letter to Jonas, December 21, 1933), that Busoni had played Schenker's Syrian Dances through with Schnabel before writing to Schenker on February 11, 1900 that the pieces were "touched by genius" (OJ 9/27, [11]); this would have been between September 1899 and that date.

One letter from Schnabel to Schenker survives as OJ 14/14, [1] (Dec 6, 1925).


  • Baker's1971
  • NGDM2
  • Federhofer, Hellmut, Heinrich Schenker nach Tagebüchern und Briefen ... (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1985), pp. 250‒51

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