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Austrian music theorist, composer, and pianist.

Career Summary

After being a pupil and chorister at the Benedictine monastery of Kremsmünster and studying privately with Josef Pembauer (a former Bruckner pupil), Thuille became a student at the Royal Music School in Munich, studying music theory, organ and composition with Joseph Rheinberger and piano with Karl Bärmann. In 1883 he was appointed a teacher of piano and harmony at the same school, in 1888 was given the rank of professor, and in 1893 succeeded Rheinberger as professor of composition, a position he retained until his death. In the 1880s he became associated with the "New German School" of composition and a focus for the young composers of that group, and founder of the "Munich School" of composers.

Thuille is better know today for the widely circulated and forward-looking Harmonielehre (Stuttgart: Carl Grüninger Nachf., 1907, 2/1908, 3/1910, 10/1933), written jointly with Rudolf Louis. Thuille contributed the general method and many of the music examples, Louis the aesthetic and theoretical sections of the work. The work devotes 200 pages to diatonic harmony and 200 pages to chromatic and enharmonic harmony, including 20 pages of examples from the music literature (excerpts from Liszt, Bruckner, Wagner, Richard Strauss, etc.) with multi-level Roman-numeral analyses and analytical commentaries. An important concept is that of "perceptual dissonances" (Auffassungsdissonanzen), which are "simultaneously both consonances and dissonances: the outer ('sensory') ear hears them as consonances, while to the inner ('mental') ear they are unquestionably entirely dissonant' (6th edn, pp. 46‒47).

Thuille and Schenker

Schenker showed some sympathy for Louis-Thuille: in his 1907 diary (p. 56) he remarked dryly that now that Thuille had died, leaving behind the Harmonielehre, "people suddenly knew that he had been a better theorist than composer." Certain recent theorists have claimed that Louis's and Thuille's interpretation of some harmonies as the result of complex linear motions rather than vertical constructions is closer to Schenker's approach. Schenker's library at the time of his death had a copy of the 1907 first edition of the Harmonielehre (Hinterberger, Musik und Theater ..., item 181).


  • MGG (1989), "Thuille, Ludwig" (Oskar Kaul)
  • Grove Music Online, "Thuille, Ludwig" [n.a.]
  • Damschroder, David and Williams, David Russell, Music Theory from Zarlino to Schenker: A Bibliography and Guide (Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon Press, 1990), pp. 172‒73
  • Wason, Robert W., Viennese Harmonic Theory from Albrechtsberger to Schenker and Schoenberg (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1985), pp. 116‒19, 121‒32
  • Wason, Robert W., "Musica practica; Music Theory as Pedagogy," The Cambridge History of Western Music Theory, ed. Thomas Christenson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 66‒67


  • Ian Bent

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