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American cellist, pupil of Hans Weisse.

Career Summary

He was a member of the German-Jewish Warburg family which owned the independent bank M. M. Warburg (est. Hamburg, 1798), and son of the great American philanthropist Felix M. Warburg (whose New York house became the Jewish Museum). Warburg studied at Harvard University (at which in 1956 he established the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library in memory of his aunt), then pursued a career as a professional cellist, studying in Paris and Vienna, making his solo debut with the New York Philharmonic under Walter Damrosch in 1927. (Warburg founded the Stradivarius Quartet using four Stradivarius instruments from his father's collection, his own being the "Duport" of 1711.)

Warburg and Schenker

Warburg was already a pupil of Hans Weisse in New York by the summer of 1922 (diary August 24, 1922). Schenker evidently knew of Warburg by January 12, 1923, when, at Weisse's request, he agreed to receive him "since he is after all a student," but comments that "I would never accept any financial support from Warburg for Tonwille" (OJ 3/4, p. 2489). The blazing row between the two men a year later at Schenker's home (and perhaps also the fact that the Warburg Bank had been heavily involved in the Versailles Treaty of 1919) supplies the reason for this: Warburg criticized the Germans, and (as Schenker reports): he would like to help me if I would adjust to the American standpoint! I stick with my views; he chokes with anger. Finally, however, I assert my rights by throwing the American out, i.e. by my not relying on him, the American learns subordination toward a man of the spirit, who turns his back on his money and character." (OJ 3/6, p. 2723, September 12, 1924).

Five months later, Schenker speaks first of Warburg and then of "another pupil of Weisse's," from which we may perhaps deduce that Warburg was studying with Weisse at least by that time (OJ 3/7, p. 2785, February 14, 1925).

Berry says that Warburg seems to have become aware of Weisse's and Schenker's teachings by January 1927, but the many references to Warburg in Schenker's diaries of 1923-25 suggest that such awareness may go back further. Berry surmises that the invitation from the Mannes Music School to Hans Weisse in 1931 to teach there may have arisen out of conversations between Warburg and David and Clara Mannes. If so, then Schenker may ultimately have owed him in part the transmission of his theory to the United States. Ironic, then, is the 1925 diary entry reading "11:30, Warburg; he is going to Casals in Paris; speaks of his 'musical calling'! 'What can I do for you in America?' I [reply]: 'Absolutely nothing; I see no possibility.'" (OJ 3/7, p. 2823, May 29, 1925). Warburg later that year wrote a letter to Weisse reporting that "an American, [George A.] Wedge, is lecturing on the Urline at the Damrosch Conservatory" (OJ 3/8, p. 2876, October 8, 1925).


There is no known surviving correspondence between Warburg and Schenker. One letter survives from Oswald Jonas to Warburg as OJ 36/71 (1938).


  • Schenker's diaries
  • NDGM2 (2001 and online)
  • Federhofer, Hellmut, Heinrich Schenker nach Tagebüchern ... (1985), pp. 86, 217, 356-57
  • Berry, David Carson, "Hans Weisse and the Dawn of American Schenkerism," Journal of Musicology 20/1 (Winter 2003), 104-56, esp. 109-10
  • Berry, David Carson, "Hans Weisse (1892-1940)," in Eybl, Martin & Fink-Mennel, Evelyn, eds, Schenker-Traditionen: Eine Wiener Schule der Musiktheorie und ihre internationale Verbreitung (Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 2006), pp. 91-103, esp. 93

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