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Distinguished Austrian mathematician, pupil of Moriz Violin and of Heinrich Schenker.

Career Summary

The son and only child of architect Theodor Schreier (1873‒1943) and his wife Anna (née Turnau, 1878‒1942), Otto was born in Vienna on March 3, 1901. Showing early talent for music as well as mathematics, he had piano lessons with Moriz Violin during his high school years, continuing with Schenker when Violin left Vienna for Hamburg.

He studied mathematics at the University of Vienna, receiving his doctorate in 1923. The Jewish quota having been filled at Vienna University, he relocated to Hamburg, with its outstanding mathematics faculty, where his original work and his teaching could flourish in his position as Privatdozent. In Hamburg he met and soon married Edith Ascher (née Jacoby), like him a serious musical amateur who studied the piano with Moriz Violin. In 1929 he was offered and accepted a position as Professor at the University of Rostock. Tragically he fell ill and a brilliant career was cut short by his untimely death, less than a month before the birth of his and Edith's daughter Irene.

Otto Schreier and Moriz Violin

As a child, Otto proved so gifted in music that he commenced piano lessons with Moriz Violin c.1914. These continued until 1921, when Violin relocated to Hamburg, at which point he recommended Otto to Heinrich Schenker. After Otto himself moved to Hamburg in 1923 he resumed his studies with Violin. Evidently Otto was intimate with the Violin family, as evidenced by a letter from Violin to Schenker where, speaking of his son, he wrote: "Little Karl [...] was very upset by the death of Professor Schreier" (OJ 14/45, [79], June 16, 1929).

Otto Schreier and Heinrich Schenker

Theodor Schreier first approached Schenker for lessons on behalf of his son on September 16, 1920. Both parents returned with Otto five days later, when Schenker accepted him for one lesson in the first instance. The 1920/21 lessonbook entry (undated) suggests that more than one lesson took place: Mozart Sonata in A major; Beethoven Bagatelles [sic] in F major; Beethoven Op. 2, No. 2.

In January 1921 Theodor asked for a continuation, which seems to have been granted; but in September of that year Schenker stipulated an increase in fee to 4,000 Kronen, at which point Theodor withdrew his son. In 1924, upon hearing that Otto had completed his doctorate, and again in 1927, Schenker acknowledged him in his diary as his "former pupil." On June 5, 1929, Schenker's diary recorded shock at the notice of Otto's death.



  • Ian Bent

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  • OJ 14/45, [79] Handwritten letter from Violin to Schenker, dated June 16, 1929

    In spite of an earlier promise, Violin says he cannot visit the Schenkers in Galtür because he must stay with his son, who has had an inflammation of his kidney following the news of the death of Otto Schreier. He will instead take his son on a holiday in the Harz Mountains, and hopes to visit Vienna in the autumn or over Christmas.