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The third volume of Schenker's yearbook Das Meisterwerk in der Musik (1925–30), the full title of which is:

  • Das Meisterwerk in der Musik: ein Jahrbuch von Heinrich Schenker
  • The Masterwork in Music: a Yearbook by Heinrich Schenker


Volume III differs markedly from its two predecessors in comprising only 122 pages of printed text and a conversely greater proportion of foreground graphs (Bilder), and also in the absence of music examples (Figuren) from the text, all such examples being printed on separate fold-out sheets and housed in an appendix and cued (as are the graphs) from the margins of the text.

The volume's contents further extend the progression from Meisterwerk I and II: The number of articles is reduced to three: one sharply polemical piece, one analysis, and the customary "Vermischtes." The analysis article, on the "Eroica" Symphony, which is the centerpiece of the volume, extends over 73 pages of text, of which the "Presentation of Content" occupies 55 pages, "Performance" seven pages, and "Secondary Literature" two pages, with an additional section on Beethoven's revised score and the original instrumental parts interpolated between the first and second sections.

That Meisterwerk III was an expedient vehicle for his "Eroica" Symphony essay rather than an intended continuation of the Yearbook, and that Schenker had always conceived the essay as a separate monograph, is explained in the next section. See also Beethovens Dritter Sinfonie [monograph]. In the light of this, the first article and the "Vermischtes" can both be seen as subservient to the "Eroica" essay, both emphasizing genius over non-genius.


The "Eroica" Project

The preparation of a monograph on Beethoven's Third Symphony appears to have been made in two phases. Diary entries mention work "on the Eroica" between October 1923 and February 1924, though this was far from being regular and systematic. A couple of years later, between November 1926 and February 1927, mention is made of the "Eroica" Variations for piano, particularly in connection with Schenker's pupil Robert Brünauer. Near the start of the following teaching year, on November 14, 1927, Brünauer dropped a bombshell by noting that the neighbor-note aę 2 near the start of the first movement, which is reached via a crescendo from g2, becomes "the driving force in the entire work."

This observation may have spurred Schenker to resume work on the symphony. Although diary entries on the symphony in 1928 are sparse, on September 23, 1928 he records "the new revision of the Eroica, and all earlier leaves destroyed." From this point until May 1930, the diary documents intensive work on the symphony and its companion essay, "Rameau oder Beethoven?".

The search for a publisher

By late 1928, Schenker was writing to his old adversary, Emil Hertzka, hoping to regain the favor of Universal Edition by offering the "Eroica" together with an Erläuterungsausgabe of the "Hammerklavier" Sonata and the long-awaited final volume of the Neue Musikalische Theorien und Phantasien (i.e. Der freie Satz); Hertzka's initial reply was politely cautious; but when the matter was broached again, shortly before the summer holidays, he deferred making a decision once more – for another year – on economic grounds (Hertzka to Schenker, June 21, 1929): The people who would certainly be interested in an "Eroica" monograph have no money, and the people who have money are buying no sheet music, no books, and no "Eroica" monograph.

Through the conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler and his close friend, the organist Karl Straube, appeals were made to two major publishing houses in Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, and C. F. Peters. Neither of these bore fruit: in a letter to Schenker of May 14, 1930, Straube reported with regret that Breitkopf was not interested in taking over the publication of Schenker's work, noting that "works devoted to musical issues are hardly sold"; a postscript dated May 16 reports a rejection from Peters (OC 54/218).

Schenker's anxieties about finding a publisher for the "Eroica" met with sympathy from Moriz Violin, who was always willing to do his utmost for his teacher's cause. Between November 1929 and January 1930 he tried to interest another Leipzig publisher (D. Rather) in the monograph, but repeated visits to their Hamburg offices drew a blank. Schenker thanked Violin for his efforts, and seemed more optimistic when he wrote to him in March (OJ 6/7, [47]): I hope soon to be able to have the musical graphs (Notenbilder) for the "Eroica" engraved by Waldheim & Eberle, who can do this best of all. About a publisher, I shall tell you at a later occasion.

What Schenker had in mind here was a revival of the (fictitious) "Tonwille Verlag" imprint from the early 1920s. He approached the Viennese printers Waldheim-Eberle (OC 54/221), who had engraved the first two volumes of Meisterwerk for Drei Masken Verlag, in the hope that they would be willing to act as the "commission publisher" for the "Eroica." Waldheim-Eberle's initial reply was encouraging: they prepared a cost estimate for Schenker on February 13 (OC 54/221). But while they were prepared to take on the printing, they did not also want the additional responsibility of acting as a publisher, saying that this activity was not part of their business (March 22, 1930: OC 54/223).

It was at this time that Schenker, somewhat in desperation, considered returning to Drei Masken Verlag. The "Eroica" study could appear as the third volume of Das Meisterwerk in der Musik in name only, as it would be difficult to justify the term "Yearbook" for a work that would come out three years after its predecessor, and moreover one that focussed on a single composer, and on a single work. (The polemical "Rameau oder Beethoven?", far from being an independent essay, functioned as an introduction to the study; indeed, while working on it Schenker repeatedly refers to it as the "Vorwort" (Foreword) in diary entries from mid-May.)

Otto Erich Deutsch had continued to support Schenker in the late 1920s – the two collaborated on a revised edition of the "Unfinished" Symphony in the Schubert year 1928 – and also remained on good terms with the music editors at Drei Masken Verlag. In May 1930, within days of Schenker receiving Straube's discouraging letter, Deutsch approached them with the proposal to take on the "Eroica" as volume III of the Meisterwerk series. Deutsch received a favorable response on May 22, and spent the next several weeks discussing arrangements for the setting of the music examples and the printing of the work (OC 54/224). He kept Schenker informed of all developments by forwarding the relevant correspondence, often adding postscripts and making recommendations on how to proceed. With Deutsch's continued assistance, the contract for Meisterwerk III was signed in mid-July, and the manuscript was received by the publishers a week later (telegram from Drei Masken Verlag to Schenker, July 22, 1930: OC 54/229).


Well before the agreement with Drei Masken Verlag had been signed, Schenker was in close contact with the Viennese music calligrapher Georg Tomay, and the two men struck up a cordial relationship which lasted from their first meeting (May 26, 1930), at which Schenker handed over to him all the music examples (Figuren) and foreground graphs, until Tomay produced his final account in November (OC 54/195‒217). Tomay's handwritten examples were then turned into blueprints (Blaupausen) by the Viennese lithographic firm of Karl Piller. Thus the production of the music examples preceded that of the main text of Meisterwerk III, for which Drei Masken enlisted the services of the Leipzig firm of C. G. Röder.

Schenker made regular visits to Tomay's studio to correct the work-in-progress on the graphs; after he and Jeanette left Vienna in late June, discussion continued by correspondence during the summer. These letters show that Tomay exercised extreme care with his work, noting inconsistencies in the original manuscript and offering advice on how to correct the prints (Matrizen); he also seems to have enjoyed the collaboration, writing with an inimitable mixture of courtesy and enthusiasm: As soon as I send you Urlinie matrices for your inspection, I shall, dear Professor, also send you instructions for marking the corrections. These matrices are not so awkward, and you, Professor, can mark up everything, however only with a normal pencil: no ink, no colored pencils, and also no indelible pencils – but, Professor, you are after all in Galtür to rest, and not to work; I shall also leave you now, dear Professor, in peace and send you something for inspection only about two weeks from now.

Tomay's remarks about needing to rest and recuperate while on holiday were prophetic. The Schenkers were obliged to entertain more than their usual complement of visitors in Galtür, at a time when they were expected to read through and correct the whole of the galley-proofs and most of the page-proofs. Problems arose when the galleys were turned into page-proofs (the Umbruch). Schenker had overlooked a number of errors that needed correcting, and further – costly – delays took place in October (Oct 8: OC 54/237). Decisions were needed, too, about the way in which the foreground graphs were to be bound and accommodated within the volume. All these problems, however, were discussed and resolved in the ensuing weeks, and on December 17 Drei Masken Verlag was able to inform Schenker that bound copies of Meisterwerk III had arrived in their warehouses and were already being distributed (OC 54/256). Some copies had made their way to Berlin in time for Hans Weisse's lectures on Schenker's theory at the Central Institute for Education.

Although the work was in print, Schenker was obliged to pay the production costs, which were reckoned at 2,957 marks (Nov 14, 1930: OC 54/249); this was revised upwards, to 3,041 marks (Dec 16, 1930: OC 54/254). He was given a period of three months (OC 54/253) to repay the debt, and on March 20 he settled part of it with a cash payment of 4,000 shillings. A long-awaited subvention of 3,000 marks from Furtwängler did not arrive until June 1 (OC 54/278); this enabled Schenker to make a final payment of 1,173 shillings to Drei Masken Verlag three weeks later (OC 54/267–276).


  • English translation: Drabkin, William, ed., The Masterwork in Music: A Yearbook [team-translated] (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994–97): vol. III (1997)
  • Bent, Ian, "Heinrich Schenker and Robert Brünauer: Relations with a Musical Industrialist," Festschrift Hellmut Federhofer zum 100. Geburtstag, ed. Axel Beer (Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 2011), pp. 25‒37.


  • "Rameau oder Beethoven? Erstarrung oder geistiges Leben in der Musik?" [Rameau or Beethoven? Creeping Paralysis or Spiritual Potency in Music?], 9‒22 [1‒9]
  • "Beethovens Dritte Sinfonie zum erstenmal in ihrem wahren Inhalt dargestellt" [Beethoven's Third Symphony described for the first time in its True Content], 25‒101 [10‒68]
  • "Vermischtes" [Miscellanea], 103‒121 [69‒79]
  • 35 Urlinie-Tafeln, arranged as a separate booklet of four "Bilder" (lit: pictures) corresponding to the four movements (1‒10; 11‒16; 17‒22; 23‒35) tucked into the back of the volume
  • 46 "Figuren" (music examples) grouped and arranged in nine fold-out sheets, numbered by movement (I.1‒7, II.1‒2, III.1‒4, IV.1‒2) at the back of the volume.


  • Ian Bent and William Drabkin

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