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Vrieslander, Otto

Otto Vrieslander (1880–1950). German composer, notably of Lieder (including a setting of poems from Giraud’s Pierrot lunaire in O. E. Hartleben’s translation, dating from 1904—eight years before Schoenberg’s melodrama cycle: both settings were commissioned by Albertine Zehme, but whereas Zehme performed Schoenberg's setting, she was dissatisfied by that of Vrieslander and never performed it). Resident in and around Munich for much of his life, he moved permanently to Switzerland in 1929.

Vrieslander was a pupil of Schenker only during the 1911/12 season: records survive only for January 5 to March 5, 1912, and Vrieslander took lessons twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays) between January 15 and February 29. He remained in contact with Schenker for the rest of the latter’s life as a member of the inner circle of long-time friends, former students, and supporters (others include, e.g., Robert Brünauer, Walter Dahms (a pupil of Vrieslander), Herman Roth, Hans Weisse, Viktor Zuckerkandl, and Reinhard Oppel).

Vrieslander advocated several projects (all ultimately abortive): in 1915, a second edition of Schenker’s Harmonielehre (which he used in his own teaching, and on which he wrote three unpublished commentaries between 1910 and 1925 and compiled a list of typographical errors), and adding exercises and assignments (which Schenker resisted); in 1918, a Festschrift for Schenker’s 50th birthday; in 1919–20, the founding of a Schenker Institute in Munich; in 1921, with Hoboken, the publishing of inexpensive Urtext editions and a periodical; in 1926–27, a Festschrift for Schenker’s 60th birthday; in 1927–28 a monthly Schenker periodical planned by Weisse, Salzer, and Jonas; around 1927, a Schenker monograph-cum-anthology; and in 1932 a student edition (Schulausgabe) of Harmonielehre (of which he was then making a “concentrated” version) for use by Josef Marx at the Vienna Hochschule für Musik (=Conservatory) . After Schenker’s death, Jeanette Schenker wished Vrieslander to produce a new edition of the Harmonielehre, gave him Schenker’s personal annotated copy for this purpose from which he copied out Schenker’s numerous additions, and in 1938 signed a contract with him at UE for which he was paid an advance—but the annexation of Austria intervened.

It was Vrieslander who apparently recommended Victor Hammer, certainly Herman Roth, and Anthony van Hoboken to Schenker. He also advised Hoboken in the building up of the latter’s collection of first editions. In 1920, Vrieslander served as intermediary with the publisher J. G. Cotta of Stuttgart by delivering the manuscript of Kontrapunkt II to them; and more importantly in 1924 as an intermediary with the Drei-Masken-Verlag of Munich in dealings that resulted in the publication of Schenker’s Das Meisterwerk in der Musik (1925, 1926, 1930), the proofs of which he assisted in correcting.

After encountering Schenker’s Hamonielehre, Vriselander underwent a sharp break with his previous compositional style (even destroying copies wherever possible), his new beginning occurring in 1916. Schenker thought highly of Vrieslander’s work from that time on, describing his Lieder as “the best since the death of [Hugo] Wolf,” and “among the best that the Lieder repertory has to offer from the post-Brahms era.” Schenker states in 1917 that he commissioned a work from Vrieslander and subsequently paid him money from the stipend fund created by Sofie Deutsch. Under Schenker’s influence, Vrieslander made a “critical edition with elucidatory appendix” (dedicated to Schenker) of C. P. E. Bach’s Kurze und leichte Clavierstücke: Neue kritische Ausgabe mit erläuterndem Nachwort [Short and easy keyboard pieces: new critical edition with elucidatory afterword] (Vienna: UE, 1914), which the cover title significantly characterized as: Erläuterungsausgabe (elucidatory edition: the term that Schenker himself used for his publications on the late Beethoven piano sonatas); he also wrote the monographs C. P. E. Bach Lieder und Gesänge (Munich: Drei-Masken-Verlag, 1922) and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (Munich, 1923), and contributed the article “Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach als Theoretiker” to Von neuer Musik (Cologne 1925). Vrieslander also wrote articles about Schenker and his work: Musikblätter des Anbruch, February/March 1923; Die Musik, 19/1 October 1926, 33–38; Deutsche Tonkünstler-Zeitung, March 5, 1928; and Der Kunstwart, 43 (1930), 181-189.

The majority of the correspondence between Schenker and Vrieslander forms part of the Vrieslander Nachlaß, which is privately owned by Heribert Esser (the letters from Vrieslander to Schenker having been mostly returned by Jeanette Schenker). There are 18 letters from Vrieslander to Schenker in the Oster Collection (OC 18/5–22 passim; OC 54/11–140 passim (Cotta-Verlag); OC 69/2–3: 1925–26, 1932–33); 2 letters from Schenker to Vrieslander and 12 from Otto and Helene Vrieslander to Schenker in the Jonas Collection (OJ 5/42 and OJ 15/4: 1912, 1917–20, 1935–39), and 5 from the Vrieslanders and Herman Roth to Schenker (OJ 13/30: undated); 1 from Vrieslander to Violin (OJ 70/43: 1912), 1 from Vrieslander to Robert Brünauer (OJ 71/37: undated), 1 from Hans Weisse to Vrieslander (OJ 71/40: [1918], concerning the 50th birthday Festschrift), and a portrait of Vrieslander and Roth (OJ 72/13). The Vrieslander correspondence is an invaluable repository of biographical information about Schenker himself, his pupils, and contemporaries.

Vrieslander’s list of errors in, and his copy of Schenker’s additions to, Harmonielehre survive as OJ 18/6; his three commentaries (72pp, 468pp, 472pp), are in the possession of Mr. Esser.

Vrieslander is mentioned countless times in other correspondence with Schenker, including the following:

WSLB 73, December 17, 1910 (Schenker to Hertzka (UE))

WSLB 118, June 4, 1912 (Schenker to Hertzka)

WSLB 197, January 4, 1914 (Schenker to Hertzka (UE))

OC 52/138, January 5, 1914 (Herztka (UE) to Schenker)

WSLB 202, April 1, 1914 (Schenker to Hertzka (UE))

OC 52/142, April 2, 1914 (Hertzka (UE) to Schenker)

WSLB 236, January 18, 1915 (Schenker to Hertzka)

WSLB 244, March 29, 1915 (Schenker to Hertzka)

OC 52/170, April 2, 1915 (Hertzka to Schenker)

WSLB 264, November 26, 1915 (Schenker to Hertzka)

OJ 1/16, pp. 647-648, April 11, 1917 (diary re: Elias gift)

OC 1/34r, February 24, 1918 (Schenker to Türkel: award of Sofie Deutsch stipend)

CA 174 = OJ 5/6, [1], August 21, 1920 (Schenker to Cotta)

CA 177, September 22, 1920 (Schenker to Cotta)

CA 178, September 25, 1920 (Vrieslander to Cotta)

CA 179 = OJ 9/32, [44], September 27, 1920 (Cotta to Schenker)

CA 180, October 4, 1920 (Cotta: receipt for MS of Kontrapunkt II)

CA 181–182 = OJ 9/31, [45], October 5, 1920 (Cotta to Schenker)

CA 183, November 6, 1920 (Schenker to Cotta)

CA 185–187, November 16, 1920 (Cotta to Schenker)

CA 189–190 = OJ 9/31, [46], February 5, 1921 (Cotta to Schenker)

OC 52/573, February 16, 1923 (Hertzka to Schenker: Bekker, Kretzschmar)

OC 52/574, February 20, 1923 (Hertzka to Schenker)

OC 52/366, January 30, 1924 (Hertzka to Schenker: biography)

vC 5, October ??, 1926, (Schenker to Cube)

vC 10, June 1, 1927 (Schenker to Cube)

OJ 9/34, [9], October 29, 1927 (Cube to Schenker)

vC 12, November 9, 1927 (Schenker to Cube: monograph)

OJ 9/34, [10] January 30, 1928 (Cube to Schenker)

OJ 12/6, [1], February 1, 1928 (Jonas to Schenker

OJ 12/6, [2], February 9, 1928 (Jonas to Schenker)

vC 13, February 12, 1928 (Schenker to Cube)

OJ 5/18, G, February 14, 1928 (Schenker to Jonas: periodical)

OJ 12/6, [3], March 3, 1928 (Jonas to Schenker)

OJ 9/34, [11], April 24, 1928 (Cube to Schenker)

vC 14, April 29, 1928 (Schenker to Cube)

OJ 10/18, [3], July 11, 1928 (Elias to Schenker: monograph)

vC 21, November 20, 1928 (Schenker to Cube)

vC 28, January 12, 1930 (Schenker to Cube)

vC 29, June 9, 1930 (Schenker to Cube)

OJ 9/34, [21], June 25, 1930 (Cube to Schenker)

vC 30, June 10, 1930 (Schenker to Cube: Vrieslander's character)

OJ 5/18, 1, October 7, 1930 (Schenker to Jonas)

OJ 5/18, 12, August 28, 1932 (Schenker to Jonas)

OJ 12/6, [14], August 30, 1932 (Jonas to Schenker)

OJ 5/18, 14, September 23, 1932 (Schenker to Jonas)

OJ 12/6, [38], September 25, 1932 (Jonas to Schenker)

OJ 12/6, [16], October 1, 1932 (Jonas to Schenker)

OJ 12/6, [17], November 27, 1932 (Jonas to Schenker)

OJ 5/18, 24, March 22, 1933 (Schenker to Jonas: Harmonielehre revision)

OJ 5/18, 48, July 29, 1934 (Schenker to Jonas)

OJ 5/18, 50, August 7, 1934 (Schenker to Jonas)

OC 44/43, September 24, 1934 (Jonas to Schenker)

OJ 10/18, [10], February 17, 1935 (Elias to Jeanette Schenker)


NGDM2 "Vrieslander"
Baker’s1972 "Vrieslander"
personal communication from Heribert Esser
Federhofer, Nach Tagebüchern
Oster Collection, Finding List
Jonas Collection, Checklist
R. Wason, „From Harmonielehre to Harmony ...,“ Fourth International Schenker Symposium, 2006
personal communication from Prof. Wason

Otto Vrieslander (1880–1950). German composer, notably of Lieder (including a setting of poems from Giraud’s Pierrot lunaire in O. E. Hartleben’s translation, dating from 1904—eight years before Schoenberg’s melodrama cycle: both settings were commissioned by Albertine Zehme, but whereas Zehme...


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