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New York City has been the primary vehicle for the transmission of Heinrich Schenker's ideas into the United States from as early as c. 1925, initiated through the institutional and private teaching of, in particular, Hans Weisse, Felix Salzer, and Ernst Oster between 1931 and the 1970s, and furthered through the issuing in English translation of the majority of Schenker's published and unpublished works by New York publishing houses, thereby disseminating Schenker's ideas to the broader English-speaking world.

Educational Institutions: to 1940

Several institutions for the teaching of music at college level came into existence toward the end of the 19th century, including the New York College of Music (founded in 1878, it absorbed the German Conservatory in 1920 and the American Conservatory in 1923), the National Conservatory of Music in America (1885, of which Dvořák was director 1892 to 1895), and the Metropolitan Conservatory (1886).

The Music Department of Columbia University was founded in 1896. Further institutions were established in the early 20th century, most notably the Institute of Musical Art, founded by Frank Damrosch in 1905, and the David Mannes Music School, founded by David Mannes and his wife Clara Damrosch in 1916. Also, the Manhattan School of Music was founded in 1917. The Institute of Musical Art merged with the graduate music school of the Juilliard Music Foundation to form the Juilliard School of Music in 1926. The New School for Social Research was founded in 1919, and in the 1920s broadened its curriculum to include subjects in the arts and humanities.

It was in three of these newer institutions that the first signs of interest in the theories of Heinrich Schenker emerged. George A. Wedge was a student at the Institute of Musical Art before 1920, and later returned to teach there and serve as its dean. In 1925, the professional cellist Gerald F. Warburg reported that Wedge was "lecturing on the Urlinie" and pioneering Schenker's theory. In the 1920s, Warburg, while in Vienna, had himself been a pupil of Hans Weisse, and it is he who may have drawn the attention of David Mannes and Clara Damrosch to Weisse's work; at any event, Weisse taught at the David Mannes Music School from the Fall of 1931 to his death in 1940, giving courses in music theory and composition influenced by Schenker's ideas. From 1932 to 1940, Weisse also gave courses and graduate seminars at Columbia University in which he introduced significant numbers of people ("musicians, teachers, even concert artists") to Schenker's ideas. Among those whom Weisse influenced at those two institutions were Arthur Waldeck (who corresponded directly with Schenker in 1929‒34), Israel Citkowitz, Arthur Berger, Adele T. Katz, Ruth Halle Rowen, and William J. Mitchell, several of whom subsequently disseminated Schenker's ideas.

Adele T. Katz taught courses on Wagner's music dramas at the New School for Social Research in 1932‒34 into which she may have introduced Schenkerian elements. She also taught a wide range of courses at the Rand School of Social Science between 1931 and 1940, the titles of some of which suggest that she adopted a Schenkerian perspective. She also taught at the Young Men's Hebrew Association and gave lectures at a number of other educational institutions and clubs in the 1930s through which she most likely propagated Schenker's ideas to a broader audience.

Educational Institutions: after 1940

It was Adele T. Katz who authored the first English-language book devoted to Schenker's theory and analytical method: Challenge to Musical Tradition, published in 1945, which both reflected her studies with Weisse and arose out of her teaching in the 1930s, and which had wide influence throughout the English-speaking world. She was appointed an instructor at Columbia University's Teachers College 1946‒51, where she explicitly taught "the Schenker approach" to analysis; and at the Studios of Music Education 1947‒69, where again her teaching was imbued with Schenker's ideas.

William J. Mitchell (1906‒71) studied at the Institute of Musical Art and Columbia University. After two years in Vienna during which he studied with Weisse he returned to Columbia's Music Department, teaching there from 1932 to 1968 (latterly as chairman), using the Schenkerian approach in his theory and analysis courses, and concurrently lectured at Mannes (by then Mannes College) between 1957 and 1968. His Elementary Harmony (1939) was the first American textbook to draw explicitly on Schenker's ideas. He was founding co-editor with Felix Salzer in 1967 of The Music Forum , an occasional hardcover periodical published by Columbia University Press to which Schenker's "ideas, teachings, and theories" were central, and to which Mitchell contributed several major articles.

Born in Vienna, Felix Salzer (1904‒86) had been a pupil of Weisse in the 1920s and after Weisse's emigration a member of Schenker's "Friday seminar" from 1931 to 1934 (the seminar the work of which resulted in the publication by the David Mannes Music School of Fünf Urlinie-Tafeln / Five Analyses in Sketchform in 1932), and briefly a private Schenker pupil. He had received a doctorate in musicology from the University of Vienna in 1926 under the direction of Guido Adler, and had in 1936 purchased part of Schenker's posthumous papers from the theorist's widow (ultimately bequeathed to the New York Public Library among the Felix Salzer Papers). He emigrated to the United States in 1939 and spent the remainder of his life in New York City. Salzer succeeded Weisse at Mannes in 1940 and taught there until 1956, serving as Executive Director 1948 to 1955. During that time he established the "Techniques of Music" curriculum, based on Schenker's approach, for which Mannes became celebrated; and taught there again part-time from 1962 to 1981.

Salzer published a book in English in 1952 that was to have an enormous impact not only throughout America but also in other English-speaking countries around the world. Structural Hearing: Tonal Coherence in Music, which grew out of his teaching at Mannes, presented a systematic and pedagogical approach to Schenker's theory and analytical method while eschewing its political and social components and polemical style. Salzer established English equivalents for Schenker's technical vocabulary and devised some new terminology (perhaps in part derived from Weisse and Adele T. Katz). Extending the repertory to which he deemed Schenkerian theory applicable, he included music of the middle ages and renaissance, as well as 20th-century music.

Ernst Oster (1908‒77), born in Mannheim and educated in Hamburg, after studies with Oswald Jonas in Berlin in the 1930s moved to Vienna in 1935, where in 1938 Schenker's widow entrusted him with a large part of the theorist's papers (correspondence, unpublished sketches and draft materials, etc., eventually bequeathed to the New York Public Library as The Oster Collection). Oster emigrated to the United States in 1939, where he taught privately in New York. In the late 1960s he taught briefly at Princeton University and began teaching at the New England Conservatory and, in the mid-1970s, at Mannes. His pupils included Peter Serkin, Edward Laufer, William Rothstein, and David Beach. Oster was angered by Salzer's Structural Hearing, in part because he did not believe Schenker's approach should be applied to works outside the 18th‒19th-century canon. He advocated advancing Schenker’s cause by presenting his published works in well-informed translations, and contributed to this process by translating Schenker's final work, Der freie Satz , published in 1979 as Free Composition.

Of the campuses of the City University of New York, that of Queens College, which established its music department in 1937, had the greatest impact on the spread of Schenker's ideas. New York-born Saul Novack (1918‒98) taught there from 1952, was its chair 1961‒66, and Dean of Arts and Humanities 1978‒82, and was instrumental in the department's transformation to the Aaron Copland School of Music in 1982. The department's music theory curriculum incorporated Schenker's theory, and the School became a center for Schenkerian study and research with scholars such as Novack, Felix Salzer, Carl Schachter, Charles Burkhart, and William Rothstein on its faculty and also on that of the CUNY Graduate Center, founded in the 1960s.

In the later 1930s, the New School for Social Research became a haven for Jewish German and Austrian scholars escaping the Nazi regime. One of these was Viktor Zuckerkandl, a Schenker correspondent, and pupil in 1914/15, who taught at the New School 1946‒48 before moving to St. John's College, Annapolis. His teaching, as evidenced in his publications, was imbued with Schenker's ideas and graphing methods. Other students and members of Schenker's circle who emigrated to New York include the conductors Carl Bamberger and Paul Berl, who both taught at Mannes, as did the clarinettist Erich Simon. Also active in New York were Paul Breisach (Schenker pupil 1913‒19), who conducted at the Metropolitan Opera House, and Trude Kral (a member of Schenker's "Friday seminar" in 1931/32), who was on the piano faculty of the Third Street Music School.


The role of New York's publishing houses in the dissemination of Schenker's ideas to the English-speaking world cannot be overstated. The New York publishing scene around 1930 was dominated by companies such as Simon and Schuster, Random House, Alfred A. Knopf, and the Viking Press, but there was a host of small, independent publishers as well.

Publication of the first work by Schenker was undertaken by the David Mannes Music School itself: Fünf Urlinie-Tafeln / Five Analyses in Sketchform (1932). The School published this in conjunction with Universal Edition of Vienna. Every graph bears the imprint "Autographie Gg. Tomay Wien I" ‒ Georg Tomay, the draftsman who had executed the graphs for Schenker's study of the "Eroica" Symphony in 1930. Universal Edition saw to the printing, and supplied Mannes with 80% of copies, retaining 20% for sales in Europe, an arrangement made possible by use of parallel, dual-language text for the one-page foreword and title-page, the graphs being solely in German.

The first fully English-language book on Schenker's theories, Adele T. Katz's Challenge to Musical Tradition (1945), with over 400 pages and numerous music examples, was fortunate in being taken up by one of the major houses, Alfred A. Knopf. By contrast, the second, Felix Salzer's Structural Hearing (one volume of text, one of music examples) was issued by the small publishing house of Charles Boni in 1952. Boni had started in 1913 as a leftist bookshop in Greenwich Village frequented by writers and intellectuals, and launched a small publishing house, Albert & Charles Boni, in 1923, issuing modernist literary works (such as Upton Sinclair and Thornton Wilder). This eventually foundered in the Depression, but Charles Boni started publishing again after World War II.

Columbia University Press embarked on The Music Forum in 1967. The series, while not exclusively Schenkerian in content, served as a laboratory for Schenkerian ideas. It offered analyses of works in the traditional and non-traditional Schenkerian repertory, and studies of autograph sources and performance issues. It was the platform for translations of two analyses from Schenker's Das Meisterwerk , and of two Schenker monographs: Ein Beitrag zur Ornamentik (1903, rev. 1908) by Hedi Siegel as A Contribution to the Study of Ornamentation in 1976, and Oktaven u. Quinten u. A. (1933) by Paul Mast in 1980.

Dover Publications Inc. of West Soho was founded in 1941 to reissue works no longer marketed by their initial publishers. In 1969, by which time it had a motley list of music titles and scores as well of long-playing records, the firm reissued Fünf Urlinie-Tafeln as Five Graphic Music Analyses, omitting the German foreword, adding an introduction by Salzer and a glossary of German terms, while leaving Tomay's graphs unchanged save for occasional bracketed translations and anglicized titles. It had reissued the two volumes of Salzer’s Structural Hearing in 1962 (consolidated into one volume in 1982). In 1975 the firm reissued Schenker's edition of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas (1921‒23), edited by Carl Schachter, and in 2016 it rescued from permanent out-of-print status the English translation by William Drabkin and others of the three-volume Das Meisterwerk in der Musik (1925‒30), published in England by Cambridge University Press in 1994‒97.

It was the small house of Longman of West 44th Street that in 1979 undertook publishing Oster's translation of Der freie Satz as Free Composition (after rejection by several other publishers), issuing it in two hard-back volumes with slipcase. This edition, part of the Longman Music Series edited by Gerald Warfield, re-established many of the passages omitted by Oswald Jonas in his 1956 second German edition of the work. (This translation was reprinted in 2001 by Pendragon of Hillsdale, in upstate New York.) Three years later, Longman issued John Rothgeb's English translation of Jonas's 1934 Das Wesen des musikalischen Kunstwerks (2nd edn. 1972) as Introduction to the Theory of Heinrich Schenker. (A further edition of this translation was issued by Musicalia Press of Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 2005.) In 1984 Longman published Schenker's critical edition of J. S. Bach's Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in a translation by Hedi Siegel.

In 1987 Schirmer Books of New York, part of Macmillan, Inc., took on the two volumes of Schenker's Kontrapunkt (1910, 1922) translated by John Rothgeb and Jürgen Thym as Counterpoint.

Oxford University Press's New York music division published Schenker's unfinished and fragmentary work Die Kunst des Vortrags (1911‒30), edited by Heribert Esser and translated by Irene Schreier Scott as The Art of Performance, in 2000, followed by the ten issues of Der Tonwille (1921‒24) in translation by William Drabkin and others in two volumes in 2004‒05; and the four volumes of Die letzten fünf Sonaten von Beethoven (1913‒20), also known as the Erläuterungsausgabe, translated by John Rothgeb as Beethoven's Last Piano Sonatas in four slim volumes with associated website in 2015.

The only translations of autonomous publications by Schenker to be released by a publisher outside New York City were his Harmonielehre (1906), abridged and edited by Oswald Jonas and translated by Elisabeth Mann Borgese as Harmony, by Chicago University Press in 1954; his Beethovens neunte Sinfonie (1912) by John Rothgeb as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, by Yale University Press in 1992; and his Das Meisterwerk in der Musik , first issued in 1994‒97 by Cambridge University Press, as referred to above.


In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of Schenker’s death, Mannes hosted the first International Schenker Symposium in March of 1985 (see below, Schenker Studies). At seven-year intervals, symposia were subsequently held at Mannes in March 1992 (see Schenker Studies 2), March 1999 (see Essays from the Third International Schenker Symposium), March 2006 (see Essays from the Fourth International Schenker Symposium, vols. I and II), and March 2013 (see Essays from the Fifth International Schenker Symposium, parts I and II, and Music Analysis, Special Issue on Schenker Documents). The symposia were three-day events; scholars from Australia, Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States presented papers and participated in panel discussions. Topics covered a broad range of analytical, theoretical, and historical subjects. A memorable discussion, Milton Babbitt and Allen Forte in conversation with Joseph N. Straus, took place at the 2006 Symposium.

Music Societies

The Music Theory Society of New York State (MTSNYS), founded in 1971, several years before the establishment of the national Society for Music Theory (SMT), has held about half of its annual meetings in the New York City area. Schenkerian theorists from the city have played an active role in the society, serving as officers and as editors of the Society's journal Theory and Practice, reading papers at the annual meetings (Ernst Oster gave a talk, "Words and Music in Schubert Lieder," in 1975), and contributing to the journal. The early issues of Theory and Practice were produced in New York City, from 1981 to 1990 in affiliation with the Ph.D. program in music at CUNY. A large proportion of the articles published in the journal have a Schenkerian focus.

From 1962 to 1964 Felix Salzer served as chairman of the Greater New York Chapter of the American Musicological Society (AMSGNC), founded in 1935, a year after the founding of the national AMS. Among the papers presented during Salzer's tenure was one read by William J. Mitchell, "Chord and Context in 18th-Century Theory" (published 1963 in the Journal of the American Musicological Society 16/2), in which Schenkerian graphs demonstrated the application of thorough-bass theory to 20th-century examples. (Mitchell was a very active AMS member, serving as president from 1965 to 1966.) At the annual meeting of the AMS held in New York in 1949, Salzer had presented an important paper: "Directed Motion: The Basic Factor of Musical Coherence," which prefigured some of the ideas of Structural Hearing. New York continued to be a venue for meetings of the national societies. A joint meeting of the AMS and SMT held in New York in 1995 included a keynote address, "Reflections on Schenker," by Charles Burkhart and a special session on Schenkerian approaches to rhythm featuring Frank Samarotto, Channan Willner, William Rothstein, and Carl Schachter.



  • Babbitt, Milton, "My Vienna Triangle in Washington Square," in Driven into Paradise: The Musical Migration from Nazi Germany to the United States, ed. Reinhold Brinkmann and Christoph Wolff (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999), pp. 33‒53; repr. The Collected Essays of Milton Babbitt, ed. Stephen Peles et al (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), pp. 467‒87
  • Berry, David Carson, "The Role of Adele T. Katz in the Early Expansion of the New York 'Schenker School,'" Current Musicology 74 (2002), 103‒51
  • Berry, David Carson, "Hans Weisse and the Dawn of American Schenkerism," Journal of Musicology 20/1 (2003), 104‒56
  • Berry, David Carson, "Schenkerian Theory in the United States: A Review of its Establishment and a Survey of Current Research Topics," Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie, 2/2‒3 (2005), 101‒37
  • Berry, David Carson, "Schenker's First 'Americanization': George Wedge, the Institute of Musical Art, and the 'Appreciation Racket,'" "Festschrift for Allen Forte, Part 3", Gamut 4/1 (2011)
  • Forte, Allen, "Schenkerians and Schoenbergians in America," Schenker-Traditionen: eine Wiener Schule der Musiktheorie und ihre internationale Verbreitung, ed. Martin Eybl & Evelyn Fink-Mennel (Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 2006), 83‒88
  • Berry, David Carson, "Hans Weisse (1892‒1940)," Schenker-Traditionen, pp. 91‒103
  • Schachter, Carl, "Felix Salzer (1904‒1986)," Schenker-Traditionen, pp. 105‒11
  • Rothgeb, John, "Oswald Jonas (1897‒1978)," Schenker-Traditionen, pp. 113‒20
  • Rothstein, William, "Ernst Oster (1908‒1977)," Schenker-Traditionen, pp. 121‒35
  • Suppan, Wolfgang, "Viktor Zuckerkandl (1896‒1965)," Schenker-Traditionen, pp. 137‒48
  • Grünzweig, Werner, "Vom 'Schenkerismus' zum 'Dahlhaus-Projekt': Einflüsse deutschprachiger Musiker und Musikwissenschaftler in den Vereinigten Staaten—Anfänge und Ausblick," Österreichische Musik Zeitschrift 3‒4 (1993), 161‒70
  • Koslovsky, John, From Sinn und Wesen to Structural Hearing: The Development of Felix Salzer's Ideas in Interwar Vienna and their Transmission in Postwar United States (PhD dissertation, Eastman School of Music, 2009)
  • Rothstein, William, "The Americanization of Heinrich Schenker," in Schenker Studies, ed. Hedi Siegel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp. 193‒203
  • "New York," The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, (1980) (Irving Kolodin, Francis D. Perkins, Susan Thiemann Sommer)

Early Primary Sources

  • 1931: Lytle, Victor Vaughn, "Music Composition of the Present: An Analysis of the Trend of Composition based on the Proved Achievement of the Greatest Masters of Past Centuries," The American Organist 14/11 (Nov. 1931), 661‒66 [uses Schenkerian terms and graphing]
  • 1932: Kolodin, Irving, "Music," Arts Weekly 1, 51
  • 1932: Schenker, Heinrich, Fünf Urlinie-Tafeln / Five Analyses in Sketchform (New York: David Mannes School)
  • 1933: Citkowitz, Israel, "The Role of Heinrich Schenker," Modern Music 11/1, 18‒23; repr. Theory and Practice 10/1‒2 (1985), 15‒22
  • 1935: Katz, Adele T., "Heinrich Schenker's Method of Analysis," Musical Quarterly 21/3, 311‒29; repr. Theory and Practice 10/1‒2 (1985),75‒95
  • 1935: Waldeck, Arthur and Nathan Broder, "Musical Synthesis as Expounded by Heinrich Schenker," Musical Mercury 2/4, 56‒64; repr. Theory and Practice 10/1‒2 (1985), 63‒73
  • 1936: Katz, Adele T., "Analysis or Synthesis?," Musical Review, 3‒5
  • 1936: Weisse, Hans, "The Music Teacher's Dilemma," Proceedings of the Music Teachers National Association, 122‒37; repr. Theory and Practice 10/1‒2 (1985), 25‒48
  • 1939: Mitchell, William J., Elementary Harmony (New York: Prentice-Hall)
  • 1945: Katz, Adele T., Challenge to Musical Tradition: A New Concept of Tonality (New York: Knopf)
  • 1946: Mitchell, William J., "Heinrich Schenker's Approach to Detail," Musicology 1/2, 117‒28; repr. Theory and Practice 10/1‒2 (1985), 51‒62
  • 1952: Salzer, Felix, Structural Hearing: Tonal Coherence in Music (New York: Charles Boni), 2 vols
  • 1959: Katz, Adele T. and Ruth Halle Rowen, Hearing—Gateway to Music (Evanston, IL: Summy-Birchard)
  • 1959: Zuckerkandl, Victor, The Sense of Music (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press)
  • 1960: Oster, Ernst, "Re: A New Concept of Tonality (?)," Journal of Music Theory, vi/1, 85‒98 [responding to an article by Roy Travis of the previous year]
  • 1969: Salzer, Felix and Carl Schachter, Counterpoint in Composition: The Study of Voice Leading (New York: McGraw-Hill)

Symposium Publications

  • [1985] Schenker Studies [Essays from the First International Schenker Symposium], ed. Hedi Siegel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990)
  • [1992] Schenker Studies 2 [Essays from the Second International Schenker Symposium], ed. Carl Schachter and Hedi Siegel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999)
  • [1999] Essays from the Third International Schenker Symposium, ed. Allen Cadwallader (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 2006)
  • [2006] Essays from the Fourth International Schenker Symposium, vol. 1, ed. Allen Cadwallader; vol. 2, ed. L. Poundie Burstein, Lynne Rogers, and Karen Bottge (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 2008, 2013)
  • [2013] Essays from the Fifth International Schenker Symposium, ed. William M. Marvin, Part I, Gamut 7/1 (2014),; Part II, Gamut 8/1 (2018),; and Music Analysis 34/2 (July 2015), "Special Issue on Schenker Documents"

Collections of Schenker Papers


  • Ian Bent, with assistance from Hedi Siegel

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