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OC 1/B9 — vsn 1 : 12-29-16

Handwritten draft letter from Schenker to Halm: version 1, in Jeanette Schenker’s hand, dated [December 29, 1916]]

In Beantwortung Ihres freundlichen Schreibens,1 für das ich Ihnen herzlichen Dank sage, beeile ich mich zu bestätigen, daß ich Ihre Arbeiten schon seit langem kenne u. deren Schicksal in der Presse auch aufmerksam verfolgt habe. Auch stimme ich Ihnen vollkommen bei, wenn Sie meinen, daß was uns einigt vorläufig wichtiger zu sein habe, als dasjenige was uns trennt; im großen u. ganzen werden Sie indessen wohl bemerkt haben, daß ich im Grunde nur sehr unfreiwillig wider Gegner ins Feld ziehe u. es nur dort tue, wo der Gegner im spezifisch gefärbter Bazillus des Irrtums ist oder gar selbst zuerst aggressiv geworden (darunter verstehe ich natürlich auch das Verschweigen) meine Waffe herausfordert.

Meine Tendenz geht dahin, im seit 2–300 Jahren so übermächtig angewachsenen Kreise der Kunstbeflissenen wirkliche Könner u. Kenner der Stimmführung u. Harmonie wenn nicht in demselben, so doch zumindest in einem ähnlichen Verhältnis hervorzutreiben u. zu erzielen, als es ihrer vor so vielen Jahrhunderten innerhalb des kleineren Kreises immerhin noch gegeben hat. Nur in dem leidigen Mißverhältnis zwischen Wissenden u. Unwissenden erblicke ich die Ursache der gegenwärtigen Zerrüttung, der Uebermacht unserer Gegner, des ewigen Geplappers von Fortschritt u. dgl. m[ehr]. So kommt es denn freilich in letztem Grunde nur eben darauf an, wessen Begriffe von Stimmführung u. Harmonie die richtigen sind, das heißt mehr im Einklang mit den Werken unserer großen Meister, die meinen oder die der Gegner. In dem der Druckerei bald zu übergebenden II. Bd. des Kontrapunktes, der sich hauptsächlich mit dem freien Satz2 beschäftigt, glaube ich den Nachweis dafür erbracht zu haben, daß auch die Töne, genau so wie z. B. die Sterne am Firmament, nur wenige Urgesetze haben, die desto unverändlicher im Kerne selbst bleiben, je veränderlicher, ja in ihrer Veränderlichkeit verwirrend[,] sie sich in den einzelnen Erscheinungen objektivieren. Niemals, davon bin mindestens ich selbst überzeugt, kann je eine neue Generation, eine neue Jugend den wenigen Urgesetzen auch nur noch eines hinzufügen. Und es wird der Welt das überaus beglückende u. dankbare Geschäft harren, sich mit der unendlichen Veränderlichkeit zu bescheiden u. in ihr sicher zu wirken, statt nach Regionen zu gelangen in denen auch nichts uns wahrnehmbar ist. Nach all dem begreifen Sie, daß ich dem mir angekundigten Aufsatz mit wirklichem Interesse entgegensehe.

Was Ihren Plan anlangt, die Klavierübung3 eventuell bei der “U. E.“ hier anzubringen, darf ich Ihnen nicht verhehlen, daß ich selbst mindestens vorläufig – wie das ja so häufig verkommt – in einem etwas gespanntem Verhältnis zum Verleger stehe, so daß sogar meine Ausgabe in op. 101 u. 106 dadurch in Frage gestellt ist. Doch wäre – wie auch dies so häufig vorkommt – möglich, daß sich die Beziehung neuerdings bessert, was ich Ihnen dann selbstverständlich zur Mitteilung bringen werde, gerne bereit, Ihnen den Verleger gefügig zu machen.

[ in later hand, in red crayon: ] Halm, Dez. 1916?

© In public domain.
© Transcription Ian D. Bent, 2006

Handwritten draft letter from Schenker to Halm: version 1, in Jeanette Schenker’s hand, dated [December 29, 1916]]

{a} In reply to your cordial letter,1 for which I warmly thank you, I hasten to confirm that I have known about your works for some time already and have attentively followed their fate in the press. Further, I concur with you completely when you say that which unites us must for now be more important than that which divides us. All in all, you will meanwhile have noticed that in principle I take the field against opponents only very unwillingly, and do it only when the opponent manifests a specifically tinged bacterium of the error or, in becoming aggressive themselves first (I understand here naturally also remaining silent), provokes my weaponry.

My tendency is to think that, in the enormously enlarged circle of art enthusiasts over the last 200-300 years the genuinely able and knowledgeable in voice leading and harmony can be cultivated and achieved, if not in the same relation, then at least in a similar one as still existed, after all, so many centuries ago within the smaller circle. I see the cause of the current disruption, of the predominance of our opponents, of the unceasing babble about progress and the like, solely in the lamentable disparity between the informed and the uninformed. At bottom, therefore, it simply depends on whose concepts of voice leading and harmony are the correct ones, that is, are more in accordance with the works of our great masters, mine or those of the opponents. In the second volume of Counterpoint, soon to be delivered to the printer, which deals mainly with free composition,2 I believe I have adduced evidence that tones, just like stars in the firmament, for example, have but few primal laws which remain at their core all the more immutable the more mutably—indeed, bewildering in their mutability—they manifest themselves in the individual phenomena. Never—of this at least I am convinced—can a new generation, a new youth, add even a single law to the few primal ones. And awaiting the world will be the exceedingly happy and gratifying business of contenting itself with the endless mutability and to work securely within it, instead of ending up in regions where nothing is even perceptible to us. After all this, you will understand that I look forward to the announced essay with genuine interest.

Regarding your plan possibly to submit the piano method3 to U.E., I cannot conceal from you that for the time being I myself am in a tense relationship with the publisher—as so often occurs—so that, accordingly, even my edition of Opp. 101 and 106 is in question. However, it would be possible—as this too so often happens—that the relationship will presently improve, which I will of course communicate to you, [and am] gladly willing to make the publisher amenable toward you.

© Translation Lee Rothfarb, 2006.

COMMENTARY:
Format: Document measures 23 ¾“ x 8 ½“, made up of four sheets pasted together, the first 13“ x 8 ½“, the reverse of a typed letter from the "Kriegshilfsbüro" dated October 25, 1916 (which provides a terminus non ante quem), the others horizontal strips of square-lined paper of smaller size; it is in pencil in Jeanette Schenker’s hand with interlinear corrections and additions in Heinrich’s hand, with an added paragraph at the bottom in pen in Heinrich’s hand. This version provides only Jeanette's initial text, with none of the alterations.
Sender address: --
Recipient address: --

FOOTNOTES:

1 Whereabouts of H’s letter unknown.

2 At the date of the letter (1916), S was still planning to include the material in Kontrapunkt II as "Part 7," after Part 6, the "Bridges to Free Composition," but it ended up being greatly expanded to become Der freie Satz (see H. Siegel: “When ‘Freier Satz’ was Part of Kontrapunkt: A Preliminary Report,” Schenker Studies 2, ed. Carl Schachter and Hedi Siegel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp.12–25).

3 Piano method: discussed in OJ 11/35, 2, January 27, 1917.

SUMMARY:
Acks letter from H; has known H's works for some time; agrees that [in their publications] they should present a united front; comments on lamentable disparity between the informed and the uninformed, and asserts that the primal laws of music are few in number and immutable. S has tense relations with UE, but will try to speak to them regarding H's piano method.

© Commentary, Footnotes, Summary Lee Rothfarb 2006.

Rothfarb, Lee
Schenker, Heinrich
Acks letter from H; has known H's works for some time; agrees that [in their publications] they should present a united front; comments on lamentable disparity between the informed and the uninformed, and asserts that the primal laws of music are few in number and immutable. S has tense relations with UE, but will try to speak to them regarding H's piano method.
DE
Cambridge University Faculty of Music-Ian Bent
IPR: in public domain; Transcription, Translation, Commentary, Footnotes, and Summary: Ian Bent & Lee Rothfarb 2006.
Schenker, Heinrich; Halm, August; NMTP II/2; Kontrapunkt 2; Counterpoint 2; opponents; Klavierübung; piano method; UE
Handwritten letter from Schenker to Halm, dated December 29, 1916?
letter draft
academic; musicology; music theory
OC 1/B9
1916-12-29
2006-05-17
Halm
This document is deemed to be in the public domain as of January 1, 2006. Any claim to intellectual rights should be addressed to the Schenker Correspondence Project, Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge, at [email protected].
letter draft; Jeanette Schenker's hand
August Halm (1916-19??)—Deutsches Literaturarchiv(19??-)
IPR: In the public domain, published with the kind permission of the Deutsches Literaturarchiv??; Image: Deutsches Literaturarchiv; Transcription Ian D. Bent and Lee Rothfarb, Translation, Commentary, Footnotes, and Summary Lee Rothfarb.
Vienna
1916

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