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Viennese Jewish music critic, teacher, and administrator; regular contributor to the Neue freie Presse over several decades.

Josef Reitler was the son of banker Robert Reitler and his wife Eugenie. He took private lessons in violin and piano in Vienna, and studied music theory with Arnold Schoenberg 1902‒05. Reitler worked as the music and theater correspondent for the Berlin Vossische Zeitung in Paris 1905‒07, then became editor for and music critic of the Neue freie Presse , eventually succeeding Julius Korngold. He also wrote several opera libretti.

He was appointed director of the Neues Wiener Konservatorium in 1915, remaining in that post until the conservatory's closure by the Nazis in 1938 after the Anschluss. It was during his directorship that the Vienna Schenker Institute was founded within the conservatory in 1935.

In 1938 he emigrated to the United States, working in the opera department of the New York College of Music 1940‒45, and teaching also at Hunter College, dying in New York in 1948.

Reitler and the Schenker circle

As a reader of the Neue freie Presse , Schenker saw Reitler's articles and reviews, and commented sardonically on many of them in his diaries between 1912 and 1932, e.g. on an article of May 22, 1924 referring to the centenary re-enactment of the original performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony on May 7 of that year: "In the evening edition [...] Reitler, on the occasion of the Ninth Symphony, rides out against all the world's theorists and extols the intuitive genius of the man who ‒ touches up the original score! As if Beethoven were lacking intuitive genius!" Schenker commented, also, in letters to close colleagues, and shared jokes about Reitler. — Clippings of two articles by Reitler are preserved among Schenker's papers in the Oster Collection (2/pp.85/86, B/449).


  • Reitler, Josef, 25 Jahre Neues Wiener Konservatorium, 1909‒1934 (Vienna: Neues Wiener Konservatorium, 1934)


  • "Josef Reitler," wikipedia (consulted Oct 17, 2019)


  • Ian Bent