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The first issue of Schenker's periodical Der Tonwille (1921–24).


Issue 1, 56 pages in length, comprises a lead-article highly polemical in content (19 pages), one short article on the theoretical topic of the Urlinie (5 pages), three articles each on a single work (11, 8 and 4 pages), of which the first is the first of a three-instalment study of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, and "Miscellanea" (6 pages of regular type).

"The Mission of German Genius" serves as a manifesto for the whole of Der Tonwille. It deals with impossibility of splitting culture from politics, i.e. Germany will inevitably rise through the greatness of German music. The origins of the article appear to lie in a plan, conceived early in 1913, to publish a "Vorrede" (Preface) to Die letzten fünf Sonaten von Beethoven . On February 4, 1913, Schenker wrote to Hertzka: "I plan to precede the work in its entirety with a Preface ('To the Younger Generation'!), which I am not yet enclosing. The 'Preface' should be printed only once […], before the text of Op. 109" (WSLB 146). But by March 18 he had reconceptualized the item: "The more intensively I polish the 'Preface,' the more compelling does my conviction become that […] the 'Preface' must be given a more precise and more comprehensive application right from the start. If we want to publish the Pamphlets under whatever title […]" (WSLB 149), the implication being that the 'Preface' might serve instead as the opening salvo to the Little Library – the planned series which later became Der Tonwille.

Some idea of what Schenker had in mind at that time may be revealed in an article entitled "Das deutsche Genie in Kampf und Sieg," which Schenker wrote in August 1914 and submitted to the Frankfurter Zeitung , but which was rejected and has remained in manuscript (OJ 21/2). This article asserted that the French, Russians, and English lacked any capacity for genius; "only the German bears the distinguishing mark of genius." "Die Sendung" in its final form still maintained this but, fueled by Schenker's anger at the German defeat in 1918 and the demeaning terms of the Versailles Treaty, it now turned also on Germany's enemies "from within" – communists, revolutionaries, pacifists, journalists, cosmopolitans, etc.

The "Urlinie" article, which follows directly upon the first disclosure of the concept in Die letzten fünf Sonaten … op. 101 , forms a bridge between "Die Sendung" and the Beethoven Fifth Symphony analysis: that is, genius, as proclaimed in "Sendung," manifests itself specially in music as Urlinie and synthesis, and the technical workings of these are demonstrated in the Fifth Symphony. The analysis of Schubert's song "Ihr Bild" is a modern version of an essay written c. 1907 which remained in typescript. The article has fascinated generations of Schenker scholars. The "Miscellanea" mirror closely the preceding material, arguing the malign effect of French culture on German culture through a Beethoven edition and Mozart's letters, and the French occupation of Austria.

Publication History

Schenker handed in "Die Sendung" (still called "Preface") to UE on November 10, 1920, and in mid-December was correcting galley-proofs of it. First signs of trouble came on December 30 in a letter from Hertzka asking for a meeting and continuing: "I have only just now read the proof of your article 'The Mission of German Genius' and urgently need to speak with you in this regard" (OC 52/561). When the meeting took place on January 5, 1921, Hertzka remarked: "the 'Preface' is 'holy,' 'magnificent,' but, registered in New York, he would not dare to present it to foreign readers" (diary, p. 2309). The plan to create a "fictitious publishing house" to distance UE from Schenker's opinions was hatched at that meeting.

Schenker began studying the source materials for "Beethoven's Fifth Symphony" in the Archive of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in February 1920; by mid-November he was drafting and dictating the article (having two conversations about the symphony with Furtwängler), and was correcting galley-proofs in January–February 1921.

He began dictating "Die Urlinie: Eine Vorbemerkung" in February 1920; in March he was working on the study of the Bach Prelude, of which he received proofs of the engraved Urlinie graph and letterpress in the September. The Urlinie for the Schubert study seems to have been delivered in September 1920, the remainder of the article in November, and by later that month he had returned the proofs.

Page-proofs were sent out in late April 1921 (OC 52/255), and Schenker must have given his imprimatur in early or mid-May. On May 25, Alfred Kalmus asked for a few lines to be cut so as to contain the issue within four-and-a-half (16-page) gatherings (OC 52/260), after which it went to press, being released on June 13 (diary, p. 2354).

Contents List

  • "Von der Sendung des deutschen Genies" [The Mission of German Genius], 3–21 [I, pp. 3–20]
  • "Die Urlinie: Eine Vorbemerkung" [The Urlinie: A Preliminary Remark], 22–26 [I, pp. 21–24]
  • "Beethoven: V. Sinfonie" [Beethoven's Fifth Symphony], 27–37 [I, pp. 25–33]
  • "Joh. Seb. Bach: Wohltemperiertes Klavier, Band I, Präludium Es-Moll" [The E-flat Minor Prelude from Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I], 38–45 [I, pp. 34–40]
  • "Franz Schubert: 'Ihr Bild' (Heine)" [Schubert's "Ihr Bild" (Heine)], 46–49 [I, pp. 41–43]
  • "Vermischtes" [Miscellanea], 50–55 [I, pp. 44–48]

  • Enclosure: Urlinie for Beethoven symphony
  • Advertisement (at back): "Heinr. Schenkers Werke" (p. 56)


  • Ian Bent

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