Heinrich Schenker cover

photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

Heinrich Schenker

Austrian music theorist

1868   -   1935

country of citizenship: Austria
languages spoken, written or signed: German
educated at: University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna
occupation: composer, musicologist, music theorist, music pedagogue
student of: Anton Bruckner, Franz Krenn, Karol Mikuli

Heinrich Schenker (19 June 1868 – 14 January 1935) was a Galician-born Austrian music theorist whose writings have had a profound influence on subsequent musical analysis. His approach, now termed Schenkerian analysis, was most fully explained in a three volume series entitled Neue musikalische Theorien und Phantasien (New Musical Theories and Phantasies), which included Harmony (1906), Counterpoint (1910; 1922) and Free Composition (1935). Born in Wiśniowczyk, Austrian Galicia, he studied law at University of Vienna and music at what is now the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna where his teachers included Franz Krenn, Ernst Ludwig, Anton Bruckner and Johann Nepomuk Fuchs. Despite his law degree, he focused primarily on a musical career following graduation, finding minimal success as a composer, conductor and accompanist. From the 20th-century on, Schenker increasingly directed his efforts towards music theory, developing a systemic approach to analyze the underlying melodic and harmonic material of tonal music. His theories proposed the presence of fundamental structures (Ursatz) occurring in the background (Hintergrund) of compositions, which he illustrated with a variety of new specialized terms and notational methods. Schenker's views on race have come under scrutiny and criticism in the 21st century.
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