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Collection of voice-leading graphs, on loose sheets of paper, by Heinrich Schenker and pupils under his supervision. They were published in 1932 by the David Mannes Music School, New York, in conjunction with Universal Edition, Vienna; the title-page and Foreword are however in both German and English, and the titles of the compositions and the (sparse) annotations to the graphs are exclusively in German.

Concept and Preparation

The idea of a set of analyses without commentary probably arose during work on Beethoven’s "Eroica" Symphony in the late 1920s. By this time, Schenker's graphing notation had reached a point at which it was to remain largely unchanged over the last years of his life: the technique used for the "Eroica" (published as the third Meisterwerk yearbook in December 1930), for these five pieces, and for the music examples for Der freie Satz (1935) is essentially the same. Within the Five Analyses in Sketchform, however, Schenker adopts an earlier practice (abandoned for the "Eroica") of presenting the Ursatz and all the middleground layers in vertical alignment on a single page, with only the necessarily longer foreground graphs printed separately, these covering as many as three very wide sheets of paper.

The Five Analyses in Sketchform grew out of Schenker's teaching, both privately and in his weekly seminars with Trude Kral, Greta Kraus, Felix Salzer and Manfred Willfort (see Salzer 1967, p. 18). Two analyses – one published here, one projected for a later series – also inform the project: Felix-Eberhard von Cube, who had studied with Schenker in the mid-1920s before taking up teaching in Duisburg and later in Hamburg (at Moriz Violin's Schenker-Institut), produced graphs on his own initiative of the C major Prelude from Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I (1930–31), and the first-movement theme of Beethoven's Piano Sonata Op. 26 (1933). Despite the collaborative nature of the venture, the final publication appeared solely over Schenker's name.

Another of Schenker’s pupils, Angi Elias, was also invited to take part: she made a fair copy of Cube's Bach analysis, for purposes of consultation at the seminar. But the autography for publication was carried out by Georg Tomay, the Viennese draftsman whose extraordinary skill and meticulous attention to detail had greatly contributed to the quality of the "Eroica" graphs two years before.

In abandoning a prose commentary, Schenker and his pupils were compelled to render their analyses very precisely, so as to demonstrate with utmost clarity the relationship of notes in a composition to each other (see Salzer 1967, p. 20). The graphs would then be able "to 'speak' even without text," as Schenker explained in an undated letter to Cube (OJ 5/7a, [40], written around October 29, 1931). This had two beneficial side-effects: (1) Schenker did not have to spend time refining any accompanying prose, something that had consumed a large portion of his time after drafting an essay; and (2) the new format eliminated the need – and the opportunity – for polemical verbal tirades against contemporary culture and society. A polemical tone is, however, discernible in the footnotes to the Chopin analyses.

Publication History

The main work on the analyses took place in Schenker's seminar during the 1931/32 teaching year (see Salzer 1967, p. 17). The graphs must have been close to completion by early spring, as Schenker was corresponding in April with Tomay about the autography and with Hans Weisse over terms of publication, and Tomay sent Schenker the invoice for 229 shillings for his work (Matritzen Zeichnungen) on June 21 (OC 54/350). The job of the printing was assigned to the Viennese firm of Waldheim-Eberle, for a print-run of 1,000 copies, the graphs being placed loose-leaf into a printed wrapper, at a total cost of 1,140 shillings (a duplicate invoice being send to the Mannes School in September: OC 54/361). The unusually large landscape format was 34 x 27 cms (13½ x 10½ inches) when closed, with several of the fold-out graphs opening to double that width, and the two largest extending to 100 x 27 cms (39 x 10½ inches) ‒ the factor that accounted for the high cost of production.

The David Mannes School agreed to take responsibility for the production costs, on the understanding that it was assuming the role of publisher. However, Schenker was anxious not to allow a quintessentially "German" work to appear as an exclusively American product. (His diary for April 26, 1932 records that he had a long consultation with Otto Erich Deutsch "concerning the publisher of the Urlinie volume," i.e. a European distributor based in Austria or Germany.) The solution to this issue was for the 800 copies destined for the American market to be printed with the imprint "Published by the David Mannes Music School", and the remaining 200 copies, for the European market, with the imprint of "Für Europa: / Universal-Edition, Wien / U.E. 10.385."

A complete draft of the Foreword had been ready by May 1, 1932; on one fair copy, Jeanette signed her husband's name "Heinrich Schenker / not Hans Weisse" (OC 54/381). The English translation was prepared by Weisse (Schenker's diary, June 14 and 19, 1932) and the typescript for it survives as OC 54/382–384. The German and English were printed side-by-side on the reverse of the front cover. Both were post-dated "August 30, 1932," presumably to allow for packaging and transatlantic shipment. It was marketed in Austria for 1.80 Florins.


The choice of works could hardly be regarded as representative of the literature, not even of Schenker's limited concept of what constituted great music: two etudes by Chopin (Op. 10, Nos. 8 and 12), a chorale from Bach's St Matthew Passion and the Prelude in C major, and the development section from one of Haydn's late E-flat major sonatas (Hoboken XVI:49), the last of these intended as a contribution to the composer's bicentennial year. (Throughout the early 1930s Schenker was thinking of writing a substantial essay on Haydn, but he got no further than amassing a sizeable portfolio of notes for it, preserved in OC File 49.)

But they did have one feature in common: the composers' autographs of all five works were available for consultation at the Photogram Archive in Vienna. This point is stressed in the Foreword, and the name of the Archive's benefactor, Anthony van Hoboken, is duly mentioned.

Although only one set of "analyses in sketchform" was published, Schenker projected a second and third such collection, comprising further analyses; these were to be mainly of keyboard music by Chopin, Beethoven, Handel, Bach and Brahms. His handwritten list, which is reproduced on pp. 18–19 of Salzer's 1967 edition, also includes Bach's Fifth Brandenburg Concerto and themes – one by Paganini, one attributed to Haydn – used by Brahms for two of his variation sets. Some of this material was at a sufficiently advanced stage to be included among the illustrations for Der freie Satz , the completion of which was his principal concern during the last four, illness-plagued years of his life.

Revised Edition

In 1969, Dover Publications, Inc. of New York ‒ a company set up to republish out-of-print works no longer marketed by their original publishers ‒ reissued the work with the title Five Graphic Music Analyses (Fünf Urlinie-Tafeln). This omitted the German Foreword, added an introduction by Felix Salzer, a glossary of German technical terms with English translations and in some cases explanations, and a contents list. The Tomay graphs were left unchanged except for anglicized titles, occasional bracketed translations, and translated footnotes. The format was reduced to 11½ x 8¾ inches.


  • Felix Salzer (ed. and trans.), Heinrich Schenker: Five Graphic Music Analyses (New York: Dover Books, 1969)
  • William Drabkin, "A Lesson in Analysis from Heinrich Schenker: The C Major Prelude from Bach's Well-tempered Clavier, Book I," Music Analysis 4 (1985): 241–58
  • William Drabkin, "Schenker, the Consonant Passing Note, and the First-Movement Theme of Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 26," Music Analysis 15 (1996): 149–189


  • William Drabkin and Ian Bent with assistance from Hedi Siegel and Marko Deisinger

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