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Music administrator, first President of the Vienna Conservatory of Music (Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst), 1909-19, with whom Schenker had a number of dealings.

Career Summary

From 1872 on, the Conservatory -- founded as a private institution by the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in 1812 -- became increasingly dependent on state funding; moreover, in 1896 the Conservatory introduced a teachers' training course (Lehrerbildungskurs) the faculty for which required state accreditation. The oversight that the Austrian Ministry of Education established over the Conservatory as a result led in 1901 to the addition of one of the Ministry's officials to the Board of Directors of the Gesellschaft: that official was Dr. Karl von Wiener. When in 1907 a special committee oversaw the conversion of the Conservatory to a state institution, von Wiener played a central role in its work; then, at the granting of the new status on January 1, 1909, von Wiener became the first President of the now newly-named Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst. Wilhelm Bopp had been appointed Director in 1907, with the brief to steer the Conservatory through the transition, and was then appointed Director of the Akademie from January 1, 1909.

Von Wiener resigned on March 17, 1919 in face of demands from the faculty for the abolition of the post of President and reforms to the institution. (Bopp was voted out by the faculty on March 27.) In 1930-32, as functionary of the Ministry of Education, von Wiener served as the chairman of a commission to review the double status of the institution since 1925 as Musikakademie (under its Director) and Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst (under a Rector); in 1931, von Wiener was appointed over the two bodies as Government Commissioner (Regierungskommissär), with Franz Schmidt as head of the faculty. Von Wiener retired in 1932.

Von Wiener and Schenker

The prospect of Schenker's being appointed to a professorship in music theory at the Conservatory is first hinted at in a postcard from Schenker's pupil Ludwig Karpath, of February 9, 1908 (OJ 12/9, [1]): Have just come from Wiener. Have tried to reach you in vain by telephone. Must talk to you and Floriz [Moriz Violin] urgently. Konzertverein [?]. Say nothing! Not to anybody!! Greetings, Karpath

Next day Schenker records (OJ 1/7, p. 74): Mr. Karpath alerts me in a postcard open for all to see to the beginning of negotiations within the Ministry concerning the post of professor.

The following day he reports in comic-dramatic fashion (ibid): At Karpath's place with Floriz. Chandelier comes crashing down, all the globes dashed to smithereens -- by the laws of superstition, a most auspicious portent. Meaning: I must now go and see Court Counsellor Wiener myself.

This "difficult interview" took place on February 15, 1908. When Von Wiener objected that Schenker's approach to theory might lead students "to acquire a taste for anarchy," Schenker countered that the "unities of [music's] higher laws" were easier to grasp than the "faulty rules" currently taught (OJ 1/7, p. 78 February 15, 1908). No further action on this is recorded (other than a non-extant letter from Schenker to von Wiener dated August 27 accompanying a complimentary copy of the second edition of his Beitrag zur Ornamentik (cf. WSLB 18)), but a remark by Schenker to the publisher J. G. Cotta on December 2, 1909 suggests that the matter had not rested there (OJ 5/6, [4] = CA 106-107): I might possibly be in a position, even for the first half-volume [of Kontrapunkt 1 (1910)], to put in front of my name the title of a Royal-Imperial Professor of Composition and Theory at the Vienna Highschool (Academy). There is a possibility that I may be selected for this leading post, with all the attendant advantages in honor and remuneration, to open up my theories unfettered to the Academy, and such like.

Conflict between Schenker and von Wiener arose in June 1911, when Schenker was summoned to a meeting over prospective editions of Bach and Beethoven and refused to attend, instead posting notices in the newspapers announcing of a series of lectures in which he would deliver a critique of "the way in which [music] education is conducted today." (OJ 1/10, pp. 131r-131a).

Correspondence with Schenker

One draft letter from Schenker to von Wiener dated October 30, 1915 survives (OJ 5/4, [1]), responding to a now non-extant letter from von Wiener of October 21, 1915 concerning the devolvement upon the Akademie of stipends bequeathed in the will of Sofie Deutsch after Schenker's death. (Five letters from Wilhelm Bopp from 1910-11 also survive (OJ 9/18).)


  • OeML Online
  • Tittel, Ernst, Die Wiener Musikhochschule (Vienna: Elizabeth Lafite, 1967)
  • Bent, Ian, "'That Bright New Light': Schenker, Universal Edition, and the Origins of the Erläuterung Series, 1901-1910," Journal of the American Musicological Society 58/1 (Spring 2005), 69-138

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