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DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2249.2010.00298.

kevin korsyn
Schenkers Vienna: Nicholas Cook on Culture, Race and
Music Theory in FIN-DE-SICLE Austria

I
[T]he splintering of scholarship through specialization has made polymaths seem
obsolete, especially in the United States. Today Freud, Neurath, or even Wittgenstein would be patronized as unprofessional, so dazzling was their versatility.
Constricted by training and by criteria for advancement, scholars who do examine
these men cannot help but interpret them from a parochial point of view.
( Johnston 1972, p. 6)
musa_298

153..180

Vienna, the city of Mach and Wittgenstein, Freud and Kraus, Mahler and
Schoenberg, the birthplace of psychoanalysis and logical positivism, expressionism and atonality, a vipers nest of virulent anti-Semitism, yet also the cradle of
the Zionist movement, prone to bureaucratic inertia as well as restless experimentation, renowned as the glittering capital of Franz Josefs empire but also
notorious for its prostitution, this city of contradictions was also the home of
Heinrich Schenker and the milieu in which he developed his theory of tonal
music. Indeed, Back to Vienna! might be a good slogan for the growing number
of scholars, including Wayne Alpern, Ian Bent, David Carson Berry, William
Drabkin, Kevin Karnes, Allan Keiler, Joseph Lubben, William Pastille, Robert
Morgan, Hedi Siegel, Robert Snarrenberg and others, who are seeking to reconstruct the intellectual, social and cultural contexts for Schenkers work. If the
Americanization of Schenker, as William Rothstein called it in a seminal article
(Rothstein 1986), had detached the theory from its origins in the interest of an
emerging academic discipline eager for scientific status, the historical movement seeks to reverse that process by connecting the theory to a specific time and
place, as if to establish that even if you take the theory out of Vienna, you cant
take Vienna out of the theory.
One of the key questions posed by this return to history is to what extent
Schenker identified with or participated in the various forms of modernism
associated with Vienna at the turn of the twentieth century, especially because his
almost exclusive focus on music from Bach to Brahms in his mature theory
makes it all too easy to portray him as orientated towards the past.The oft-made
connection between Schenker and German idealism can reinforce this image of
him as a solitary and even nostalgic figure, a man out of step with his times,
because when he was alive, the major idealist philosophers were already a
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century in the past. The return to Vienna, however, can challenge this image of
Schenker on several fronts. First, as William Johnston pointed out, the centralised educational bureaucracy in Austria, which was a conservative and Catholic
country, resisted the innovations of the idealists, who were largely Protestant and
liberal (Johnston 1972). Although this could not wholly extinguish the appeal of
idealism, it did open a space for other movements to flourish, so that it would be
a mistake to portray idealism as the sole source of Schenkers intellectual background (Korsyn 1993). Secondly, recent scholarship has shown that idealism
itself was a more subversive and more diverse phenomenon than we had previously thought, so that any conclusions drawn about Schenker on the basis of a
superficial acquaintance with it may turn out to be premature and subject to
revision. If fin-de-sicle Vienna was the breeding ground of dangerous ideas, a
return to Vienna should attempt to decide whether Schenker is still dangerous.
In The Schenker Project: Race, Culture, and Music Theory in fin-de-sicle Vienna,
Nicholas Cook has not only added his considerable erudition to the Back to
Vienna! movement, but has even gone back to Galicia by exploring Schenkers
roots there and the continuing effects of his Jewish identity.1 Although a book of
this scope and ambition can afford many digressions, its main focus is Schenkers motivation, the deep-seated beliefs or prejudices about music and
society that fuelled not only his polemics but also, if I am right, his theoretical
development (p. 5). In contrast to what he calls Robert Snarrenbergs emphasis
on the linguistic fabric of Schenkers discourse, which aspires to reveal the inner
dynamic of Schenkers texts, Cook wants to pursue the outer dynamic of
Schenkers thought (pp. 56). In Ch. 1, Foundations of the Schenker Project,
Cook proposes three principal motivations (p. 88) that he believes drove
Schenkers theoretical quest; in what follows, I will consider each of these
motivations in turn. Since Cook engages not only Schenkers work itself, but
much of the substantial literature it has inspired, I will also evaluate Cooks
response to the secondary literature, showing how he uses it to construct or
confirm certain images of Schenker.
II
The first of Schenkers motivations was to do for music what, because of their
musical ignorance, the philosophers of the German idealist tradition had so
conspicuously failed to do (p. 47). Although Cook briefly mentions several
philosophers, including Herbart (p. 59), whose work might plausibly be connected to Schenker, it is clearly Hegel who commands Cooks attention here; one
indication of his centrality in Cooks argument is the fact that Hegels name
appears on about 45 of the books 318 pages (not including the appendix and
bibliography), more often than any other name except Schenkers own. Since
Schenker decisively rejected Hegels specific ideas about music, Cook seeks this
influence elsewhere, in Hegels philosophy of history and his concept of the state;
the reconciliation of individual and society in Hegels theory of the state, for
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example, corresponds to the synthesis of part and whole, detail and larger
structure in Schenkers vision of musical unity. Cook finds Hegelian resonances
everywhere in Schenker, from Der Geist der musikalischen Technik, published
in 1895, to Der freie Satz, published posthumously in 1935: In both his first
theoretical work and his last, ... Schenkers basic construction of what it might
mean to understand music and its development whether in terms of the
unfolding of an individual piece or that of musical history is deeply impregnated with Hegelian thought, or at least with German idealism (p. 34). The
central function of Hegel in the books argument becomes clear when Cook
summarises his position as follows:
[O]ne of this books main claims is that Schenkers theory, at one level a way of
thinking about music, is at another level a way of thinking about the relationship
between individual and society and what makes this possible is a Hegelian
framework of thought, however loosely derived, that is always both aesthetic and
political at the same time. (p. 137)

Cook is by no means the first to suggest a connection between Schenker and


Hegelian philosophy: indeed, some of Schenkers detractors, including Eugene
Narmour and Joseph Kerman, have asserted such a link as a means of discrediting him (Narmour 1977, pp. 31 and 210; and Kerman 1980 and 1985);
Michael Cherlin, who is more positively disposed towards Schenker, has also
identified a Hegelian strain in his thought (Cherlin 1988). It was Robert
Snarrenberg, however, who made the strongest case for a Hegelian Schenker
(Snarrenberg 1997) and to whom Cook owes the greatest debt; in fact, Cook
does not go significantly beyond Snarrenbergs work here.
Although the conventional association of Schenker with German idealism
makes Hegel an obvious enough choice for anyone investigating cultural contexts, several obstacles must be overcome if this connection is to prove persuasive. To begin with, Hegel is probably the most misunderstood figure among the
major philosophers, a thinker whose ideas have been distorted to the point of
caricature not only among ordinary readers, but even among many professional
philosophers. Much that is taught in most standard textbook accounts of Hegel
is not only inaccurate, but sometimes almost perversely misguided. Consider, for
example, the hackneyed idea that his work reduces everything to a dialectical
process of thesis, antithesis and synthesis, which is perhaps the single idea that
the average liberal arts major associates with Hegel, a notion so closely linked to
him in the popular imagination that it is often called the Hegelian triad. In an
essay in The Hegel Myths and Legends, Gustav Mueller calls this the most vexing
and devastating Hegel legend and demonstrates conclusively that Hegel does
not use this triad once in his complete works; far from endorsing it, Hegel
actually denounced this triplicity ... [as] a lifeless schema (Mueller 1996, pp.
3012). In Schenkers case, anyone who has taken a survey course in philosophy
would be tempted to interpret his frequent references to synthesis in terms of
the so-called Hegelian triad, but this would do justice neither to Schenker nor to
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Hegel (Korsyn 1988, p. 20). Other essays in The Hegel Myths and Legends
demolish any number of other prevalent misconceptions about Hegel, including
the myths that he was a Prussian apologist, that he deified the state and that he
was an arch-rationalist (Stewart 1996). In short, the nonsense that has been
written about Hegel can be as silly as the view that Schenker reduced all music
to Three Blind Mice. Any attempt to link them, therefore, will have to specify
whether Schenker was influenced by the real Hegel or by the pseudo-Hegel
of myth.
I wish I could report that Cook shows a sophisticated awareness of these
issues, but sadly he buys into the Hegel myths with gusto. He naively repeats the
canard, for example, that Hegel saw the Prussian monarchy as the ideal form of
government (p. 193), a notion that has been thoroughly refuted by recent Hegel
scholarship (as T. M. Knox points out, Hegels works went out of print during
the heyday of Prussianism [Knox 1996, p. 76]). Cook may have acquired some
of these misconceptions from Snarrenberg, who admits to deriving most of his
information about Hegels concept of history from Reason in History, the
Introduction to Hegels Philosophy of History (Snarrenberg 1997, p. 65). According to Robert Pippin, however, Reason in History is very unrepresentative of the
philosophical core of Hegels position and can lead to a disastrous reading of his
other works; he attributes the popularity of this text in survey courses to the
pedagogical demands of squeezing Hegels sprawling oeuvre into an easily
digestible package (Pippin 1989, p. 261 n. 5). Snarrenberg also believes that the
ultimate form of Spirits realization is the State (Snarrenberg 1997, p. 69), but
this is not Hegels view, since he regarded art, religion and philosophy as forms
of Spirit that transcend the state: The whole realm of Objective Spirit and
human institutions which culminates in the state is but the foundation of a higher
realm of Absolute Spirit, i.e., art, religion and philosophy (Kaufmann 1996, p.
91). Since the Hegelian state is inferior to art, it seems odd to make it a model
for the work of art, as Snarrenberg and Cook try to do.
Another obstacle that the Cook/Snarrenberg position must overcome involves
the transmission of ideas, because Hegels philosophy encountered active resistance in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the nineteenth century. Robert Zimmermann (18241898), for example, who was one of Schenkers professors at
the University of Vienna Law School, was known for his forceful attacks on
Hegels thought (Gubser 2005, p. 453). There is only one brief quotation from
Hegel in all of Schenkers published writings (Schenker 1935, p. 3, and 1979, p.
13), whereas other philosophers including Kant, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche
are all quoted more frequently.
Cooks manner of dealing with the transmission question is contradictory. He
alternately argues that how Schenker acquired these ideas is irrelevant, while also
trying to force the facts to fit his preconceived schema of Hegelian influence. So
on one hand he contends that there is generally little to be gained by ascribing
Schenkers views to the influence of one particular philosopher as against
another (p. 46), but on the other he argues that at the University of Vienna the
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influence of Hegel was also prominent, so it is more than likely that Schenker
acquired a basic knowledge of Hegel in the course of his legal studies (and
probably at second hand) (p. 14). Cook attempts to inflate this alleged influence
of Hegel in Vienna by portraying another of Schenkers law professors, Georg
Jellinek (18511911), as a Hegelian, but the literature on Jellinek does not
support such a strong connection. Although some references to Hegel appear in
his works, Jellinek is usually regarded as a neo-Kantian. According to Martii
Koskenniemi, for example, Jellineks key concept of self-legislation reconciles
autonomy and authority within a structure of argument received from Kantian
ethics (Koskenniemi 2001, p. 204). Carl Schmitts attempt to revive a unified
science of the state, which he considered a Hegelian ambition, forced him to part
ways with Jellinek: Distinguishing himself from Jellinek is particularly important
for Schmitt, because Jellineks neo-Kantian approach to concept formation in
the study of the state provided [Max] Weber with a springboard for completing
the disintegration of the unified science of the state, which Schmitt seeks to
rehabilitate in a suitably revised from (Seitzer 2001, p. 29). The neo-Kantian
outlines of Jellineks theory can perhaps best be seen on the issue that most
clearly foreshadows Schenker: the unity of the state, which Jellinek buttressed by
methodological considerations drawn from the epistemology of Immanuel
Kant ... . [I]n conceiving the unity of the state in terms of its individuality we
use a conceptually necessary category for the synthesis of appearances, which is
epistemologically justified so long as we do not ascribe transcendent reality to
what is thought through it (Stirk 2006, p. 22). This passage comes closest, I
think, to Schenkers language when he speaks of state-syntheses in the second
volume of Kontrapunkt (Schenker 1922, p. xiii, and 1987, p. xvii). Cook, on the
other hand, seems eager to interpret Schenkerian synthesis within what he
considers a Hegelian framework, writing that if Schenker does not use Hegels
terminology, his use of the ostensively Kantian term synthesis frequently
overlaps with the idea of sublation (p. 132; see also p. 179). Hegel himself,
however, used the term synthesis exactly in Kants sense to mean unity of a
sensory manifold (Pippin 1989, p. 132). Cooks obsession with Hegel goes so far
that he not only fails to mention any connection between Jellinek and Kant, but
even refers to an alleged Hegel-Jellinek tradition (p. 196; Hegel and Jellinek are
also linked on pp. 47 and 136). His only evidence for this is the hoary myth of
Hegel as a tool of the Prussian monarchy: And just as Hegel saw the Prussian
monarchy as the ideal form of government, so for Jellinek it was the medieval
Teutonic state (p. 193). Although Cook, who got most of his information about
Jellinek from Wayne Alperns work on Schenkers legal education (Alpern 1999
and forthcoming), is right about Jellineks valorization of the Teutonic state, we
have seen that Hegel had no such illusions about Prussia.
Despite repeating Schenkers single quotation from Hegel in Der freie Satz no
fewer than three times (pp. 34, 197 and 311), Cook did not succeed in tracking
down the source of the quotation; Snarrenberg also failed in this respect.
Although one can sympathise with them on the grounds that Schenker seldom
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provides the titles of books (much less page numbers!) when he quotes wellknown authors, it is surprising that they were not more curious about the context
in which this remark appears, especially given the paucity of textual evidence
linking Schenker to Hegel. It may interest readers to know that Schenker was
quoting Hegels Phenomenology of Spirit (Hegel 1977, p. 188).
The differences between Hegels political views and Schenkers may be more
significant than any similarities, and trying to turn Schenker into a (real or
pseudo-) Hegelian may obscure the influence of other thinkers who have left
more definite traces on Schenkers works. Although Hegel believed in constitutional monarchy, for example, his position was actually more democratic than
anything we can glean about Schenkers views, because he restricted the role of
the monarch to only dotting the is ... in a formal gesture of taking upon
himself (by putting his signature on them) the decrees proposed to him by his
ministers and councillors (iek 1989, pp. 2212). Schenkers more romantic
vision of monarchy, heightened in the 1920s by nostalgia for the Habsburgs, may
have more in common with the notion of a poetic state associated with Novalis.
In Tonwille Schenker quotes an aphorism by Novalis: A true democracy is an
absolute Minus-state, a true monarchy is an absolute Plus-state (Novalis 1997,
p. 44, quoted in Schenker 2004, no. 1, p. 133, and 2004, no. 3, p. 35). Although
Schenker does not give the exact source for this quotation, I have traced it to the
Vermischte Bemerkungen (no. 122), a work that may have provided Schenker not
only with grist for his political thought, but also with a model to emulate
(although certainly not the only model) in exploring the genre of miscellany in
his own vermischte sections. Whereas most readers regard Novalis primarily as a
poet, his contributions to philosophy have gained increasing recognition, so that
he is now considered a major figure in the tradition of German idealism. The
name of Novalis, however, does not appear in The Schenker Project. Schillers
notion of an aesthetic state, which he pursued in his profoundly influential
Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man, may also have had more resonance for
Schenker than any of Hegels ideas about the state. A long quotation from the
Aesthetic Letters appears in Tonwille, which William Drabkin has traced to the
Eighth Letter (Schenker 2004, no. 2, p. 71, and 2005, no. 7, p. 41), and other
references to Schiller abound in Schenkers works.
III
Oddly, despite the huge impact that Cook ascribes to Hegel, he seems eager to
minimise Schenkers knowledge of philosophy and invests considerable authority
in what is surely the most sceptical evaluation of Schenkers philosophical
competence:
If at times fin-de-sicle Vienna is made to sound like the stereotypical Oxbridge
college combination room, it fell to a doctoral candidate to expose the emperors
new clothes. In a 1996 thesis, Bryce Rytting suggested that Schenkers knowledge
of Kant and one would assume the same applies to Schopenhauer, Hegel, and

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the rest was not in fact at the high level assumed by commentators like Keiler
and Korsyn (and many others whom I have not discussed). (p. 45)

Although it goes without saying that Schenker did not have a professional
knowledge of philosophy (and neither Keiler nor I have ever suggested otherwise), Rytting crafts an image of Schenker as a bungler in philosophical matters,
a dabbler rather than an expert, whose use of philosophical jargon has a largely
decorative function, lending his works a deceptive aura of profundity (Rytting
1996, p. 89). If Cook seems eager to embrace this verdict, perhaps it is because
Rytting simply confirmed Cooks own preconceived portrait of Schenker:
This image of Schenker patching and matching sometimes half-understood snippets fits very well with the large numbers of miscellaneous quotations from
prestigious philosophers and other writers that are scattered through the Oster
and Jonas collections not to mention the highly eclectic miscellany of materials
piled high on Schenkers desk at the time of his death (there were an astonishing
390 items). (p. 45)

He might also have mentioned the writers and philosophers whom Schenker
cited in his published works; the Tonwille series alone, for example, mentions
Grillparzer, Herder, Hlderlin, Kant, Leibniz, Lessing, Lichtenberg, Novalis,
Plato, Schiller, Schopenhauer and others. It is no small matter whether we regard
these references, which sometimes involve quoting entire paragraphs, as central
or peripheral to the Schenker project, as largely decorative or something more.
Since Ryttings argument plays such a fundamental role in constructing, or at
least confirming, Cooks image of Schenker, we need to evaluate Ryttings thesis
to see whether his scepticism regarding Schenkers knowledge of philosophy is
plausible. Ryttings most damaging charges involve a passage from the essay
Erluterungen in which Schenker alludes to Kants idea of time and space as
the a priori forms of intuition; since this essay appears no fewer than four times
in Schenkers works twice in Tonwille and twice in Meisterwerk he obviously
considered it especially significant, so his wording cannot be attributed to mere
carelessness. Here is the offending passage in the original German, followed by
two translations, one by Ian Bent, the other by Rytting himself (as Rytting
correctly observes, Bents version conceals the Kantian terminology by translating a priori as innate):
Nur das Genie ist mit dem Tonraumgefhl begnadet. Es ist sein Aprioricum genau
so, wie jedem Menschen schon aus seinem Krpergefhl heraus die Begriffe des
Raumes (als Ausdehnung seines Krpers) und der Zeit (als Wachstum und
Werden des Krpers) a priori eingeboren sind. (Schenker 1925, p. 202)
Only genius is imbued with a sense of tonal space. It is his innate awareness, just
as the concepts of physical space (as extension of the human body) and time (as
growth and development of the body) are inborn, innate in every human as part
of the sense of their own body. (Schenker 1994, p. 113, trans. Ian Bent)

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Only the Genius is graced with a feeling for tone-space. It is his a-priority exactly
as the concepts of space (as extension of the body) and time (as growth and
becoming of the body) are born into every person a priori out of a sense of their
own body. (Translated in Rytting 1996, p. 85)

What bothers Rytting here is the connection Schenker draws between our bodies
and the Kantian forms of intuition; since a priori means before experience, how
can our sense of space and time depend on our experience of anything, much less
our experience of our own bodies? From this Rytting concludes that Schenkers
statement is incoherent; it means something like experience gives us concepts
untainted by experience , and renders a final devastating verdict on Schenkers
knowledge of philosophy: Schenkers prose garbles Kants idea in such a way as
to suggest the reverse of Kants position, and Schenker gives no indication of
being aware of the difference (Rytting 1996, pp. 867).
If Rytting is correct, his condescending assessment of Schenkers philosophical skill would indeed gain some credibility, and Cooks statement about the
emperors new clothes might seem harsh but fair. But it is possible to question
Ryttings argument on several levels. To begin with, his own understanding of
Kant leaves something to be desired. He goes far beyond the function that Kant
attributed to the role of the a priori in our intuitions of time and space, claiming
that an a priori faculty of mind automatically positions the signals that come in
from our senses in spatial and temporal terms as we perceive them (Rytting
1996, p. 85).This implies that we have an internal GPS receiver in our brains that
calculates a priori the exact spatial coordinates of everything we perceive, along
with an internal chronometer that locates events in time precisely without our
having to do anything (automatically position[ing] the signals that come in from
our senses), whereas Kant actually assigned a much more modest function to
the a priori forms of intuition. All that is given a priori is the existence of space
and time as wholes, so that we can anticipate the form of any possible experience,
but not the matter: The matter of appearances, however, through which things in
space and time are given to us, can be represented only in perception, thus a
posteriori (Kant 1998, p. A721/B748). The following remarks by Gary Hatfield
might have been addressed directly to Rytting:
Once we have been told that space and time are a priori forms of intuition, the
question remains of what exactly we have been told. Does this mean that our sense
perceptions present us with a world of objects in space and time, without any
other cognitive activity? Clearly not. The Kantian notions of cognition and of
experience require that our cognition and experience of a world of objects is
mediated by concepts that synthesize intuitions to yield judgements. (Hatfield
2006, p. 83)

Just in case we missed his error, Rytting immediately paraphrases it: In other
words, when we perceive anything in the world, that thing has already (a priori)
been located in space and time by an unconscious operation of the mind
(Rytting 1996, p. 85). This disregards Kants view of cognition as a composite
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of that which we receive through impressions and that which our own cognitive faculty (merely prompted by sensible impressions) provides out of itself
(Kant 1998, p. B2). Cook gives no indication that he finds anything wrong
with Ryttings account; on the contrary, he even allows himself a certain
Schadenfreude, assuring us that Schenker was not above making philosophical
howlers (p. 14) and going so far as to gloat that then Rytting comes in for the
kill (p. 45).
Even more to the point, however, is that far from being incoherent, as Rytting
believes, Schenkers insight that time and space as a priori conditions of experience are somehow connected to our sense of our own bodies comes rather close
to some of Kants own final formulations in the collection of manuscripts that
have come to be known as the Opus postumum, in which Kant struggled to close
what he called a gap in his system. In this late phase of his work, Kant
increasingly emphasised our unique relationship to our bodies, so that being
conscious of myself as a subject depends on knowing myself as a physical object,
as a body interacting with other bodies. In his doctrine of self-positing (Selbstsetzungslehre), Kant revised his ideas about space and time from the Transcendental Deduction of the Critique of Pure Reason; in place of the passivity of
sensibility that obtains there, Kant stressed the need for a reciprocity between the
activity of our bodies and the spontaneity of sensation. According to Eckart
Frster, we find Kant now characterizing space and time not simply as forms of
our intuition, as he had done in the first Critique, but as forms of our effective
forces [Formen unsererWirkungskrfte] (2138.14); space and time are also forms
by which I move and react to affections of the senses (Frster 2000, p. 109).
Since empty space cannot be perceived, we must perceive bodies in space,
interacting with other bodies in a system of forces, so that my perception of the
existence of some body in space is possible only insofar as I have a body that is
part of the system of physical bodies in dynamic interaction (Beiser 2002,
p. 193).
Rather than garbling Kants position from the first Critique, therefore, Schenkers idea that we have a priori knowledge of space and time from our knowledge
of our own bodies seems like an imaginative extension of it. If it is not consistent
with the letter of the Critique of Pure Reason, it is consistent with the spirit of the
critical philosophy, and Ryttings mistake in playing gotcha! with Schenker was
to assume that Kants work must be a static orthodoxy rather than a constantly
evolving and dynamic process of thought.
This is not to say that Schenker simply reproduces Kants position, because he
did not reach it by parroting Kant but rather by thinking for himself. Indeed,
although the first commentary on the Opus postumum was published in 1920,
thus before the Erluterungen essay appeared, there is no evidence that Schenker knew it, and frankly I doubt that he did.Without being certain, it seems more
likely that Schenkers ideas about the role of the body stemmed from reading
Schopenhauer, a philosopher whose impact on fin-de-sicle Vienna seems to have
been enormous (Janik and Toulmin 1973). It was Schopenhauer who made our
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experience of our own bodies central to what he saw as his attempt to correct and
complete Kants philosophy, and I suspect that along with Schiller, he played a
crucial role in mediating and disseminating Kants philosophy in Schenkers
Vienna. Schenkers familiarity with Schopenhauer is evident as early as the
1890s, because he quotes from the notorious essay On Women in a review of
Wilhelm Kienzls Der Evangelimann in 1896 (Schenker 1990, pp. 31011).
In short, even in this brief excerpt from Erluterungen there are layers of
subtlety of which most readers are unaware. Interpreting it involves more than
merely recognising the obvious allusions to Kant; one must also realise how these
concepts may have been creatively modified, perhaps in response to problems
that Kant himself eventually detected, perhaps independently or perhaps in
response to issues raised by Schopenhauer. Given Cooks naive repetition of the
canards about Hegel and his failure to question Ryttings work, then, his judgement on Schenkers philosophical views must be taken with a grain of salt.
Cook also seems determined to interpret the available evidence concerning
Schenkers education in a negative light, claiming, for example, that we should
not be surprised by Ryttings conclusions because after all, the only formal
training Schenker had in general (as opposed to legal) philosophy was the
first-semester course in practical philosophy taught by [Robert] Zimmermann
(pp. 456). This ignores the fact that not only was philosophy taught during the
last two years of the gymnasium as part of the standardised curriculum throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but that students in the gymnasium would
also have read ancient philosophers as part of their rigorous training in the
classics (eight years of Latin and five or six years of Greek). Moreover, Schenkers work with Jellinek in legal philosophy and international law would surely
have involved a fair amount of philosophical rigor, given the character of Jellineks publications, and the same is true of any number of other professors whom
Schenker encountered in law school. In light of these facts, it is hard to sustain
Cooks image of Schenker as a dabbler patching and matching ... halfunderstood snippets. This does not mean that he had a professional level of
expertise, but he certainly knew enough philosophy for his purposes.
IV
Schenkers engagement with the work of Eduard Hanslick plays a major role in
Cooks argument: if the first of Schenkers principal motivations was to do for
music what the idealist philosophers had failed to do, then the second may have
been to plug the gaping holes in Hanslicks aesthetics of music, and so transform
it ... from a brilliant but negative critique to a plan of action (pp. 5960).
Although other scholars have noticed affinities between Hanslick and Schenker,
Cook invests much more in this connection, seeing it as the key not only to
Schenkers much-discussed early essay Der Geist der musikalischen Technik,
but also as the foundation of Schenkers apparent early interest in music
psychology.
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For Cook, Hanslicks seminal essay Vom Musikalisch-Schnen (Hanslick 1986)


represents not only a contribution to aesthetics, but also a cultural critique that
diagnoses what Hanslick considered a decline in modes of listening to music
during the nineteenth century. Drawing on the work of Leon Botstein (1985 and
1992), Cook describes changes in listening habits involving a movement from
active participation to passive consumption, as music was increasingly mediated
by the written word (p. 56) and music criticism played a greater role in the
experience of concert goers. When placed in this context, Hanslicks insistence
that music is its own content is a way of resisting the reduction of music to verbal
categories rather than the cold formalism for which it is often taken. Cook
regards Schenkers plea for repeated listening and active participation in essays
such as Das Hren in der Musik and Die Musik von heute as a reflection of
Hanslicks critique, and believes that Schenkers argument about the relationship of music and words [in Der Geist der musikalischen Technik] ... is entirely
Hanslickian in its premises (p. 58). So far there is nothing controversial here,
and I had drawn the same conclusions elsewhere: On the crucial issue of musical
autonomy ... Schenker sides with Hanslick and against Wagner. Schenkers claim
that the musical motive is only a sign for itself ... echoes Hanslick (Korsyn
1993, p. 108).
Cook wants to attribute even greater weight, however, to Hanslicks influence,
and it is this enthusiasm for Hanslick that fuels Cooks contribution to the
ongoing debate concerning the Geist essay. This essay was first presented in
lecture form to the Philosophical Society of the University of Vienna (Philosophische Gesellschaft an der Universitt Wien) in 1895 before being published in
seven instalments in the MusikalischesWochenblatt the same year and then issued
separately as a pamphlet; later in this essay I will consider how Schenkers
decision to accept an invitation from the Philosophical Society an extremely
prestigious venue may provide some clues to interpreting his intentions. The
pamphlet version includes a note to the effect that Geist was part of a longer
work still in manuscript; Hellmut Federhofer speculates that this may have been
a project mentioned in Schenkers correspondence and now presumed lost called
Geschichte der Melodie (Federhofer 1985, p. 12). Since Schenker assigns a
privileged role to melody in the Geist essay, Federhofers hypothesis makes
sense.
After Pastille explicated this then almost forgotten essay in an article with the
provocative title Heinrich Schenker, Anti-Organicist (Pastille 1984), readers
wondered what to make of Schenkers apparent scepticism towards organic unity
there, a position radically at odds with his reputation as the organicist par
excellence (Solie 1980, p. 151). Although Schenker concedes that discrete melodies can be organic, he contends that longer works cannot be organic in any
strict sense because they depend on artifice and because music lacks any
principle of causation (Schenker 2007, pp. 3278, and 1990, pp. 1479). Should
Schenkers disavowals of organic unity here be taken literally, or are they merely
rhetorical ploys or ad hoc arguments? Only context can decide, so Geist has
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become a battleground for arguments concerning the most plausible contexts for
understanding Schenkers early thought, in which Pastille, Allan Keiler and I
have been the major participants (Pastille 1984, Keiler 1989 and Korsyn 1993).
Although Cook describes this controversy somewhat flippantly as anything you
can contextualise, I can contextualise better (p. 38), in joining the fray he
implicitly makes the same claim. For Cook, there can be no ambiguity about
what constitutes the proper context: it is my claim that there is such a close link
between the basic conceptual framework of Hanslicks book and Schenkers
essay that one may see Hanslicks approach as fundamental to Schenkers
thinking, not only in Der Geist der musikalischen Technik but far beyond (p.
48). By including Pastilles new translation of Geist as an appendix to The
Schenker Project, Cook confirms the central role it plays in his argument.
The stakes are high, because it is in Geist that Schenker first proclaims an
ambitious program that constitutes the earliest version of what eventually
became the Schenker project:
Because I will explain the nature of harmonic and contrapuntal prescriptions
almost solely in terms of their psychological origins and impulses, I also hope to
bring what are called the disciplines of harmony and counterpoint into a
welcome proximity to free composition, that is, to the actual life of music.
(Schenker 2007, pp. 324, and 1990, p. 142, emphasis mine)

In calling this an almost uncanny premonition of Neue musikalische Theorien


und Phantasien (p. 63), Cook rightly calls attention to its continuity with
Schenkers later work. Yet there are striking discontinuities as well, not only in
the ambivalence towards organicism already mentioned, but also in Schenkers
promise to explain the nature of harmonic and contrapuntal prescriptions
almost solely in terms of their psychological origins and impulses (emphasis mine).
In contrast to some of his contemporaries such as Ernst Kurth, Schenker is
rarely associated with a psychological approach, so it comes as something of a
shock to discover this premonition of Schenkers tripartite magnum opus connected to such an emphatic commitment to explain things almost solely in
psychological terms.
One of the few scholars who have traced a concern with empirical psychology
in Schenker is Leslie David Blasius, whose book Schenkers Argument and the
Claims of Music Theory has not received the attention it deserves. Although
Blasius does not discuss the Geist essay, it provides additional weight to the first
part of his thesis
that Schenkers late analysis entails a powerful if unacknowledged epistemological
argument, directed first (and most obviously) at the psychologies of music perception available at the opening of the new century, and second (and more
importantly) at the sciences of history which flourished simultaneously, and that
the strength of his argument is to be found in the combination of these two
strands. (Blasius 1996, p. xvii)

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Blasius also finds a disjunction between the first and second volumes of Kontrapunkt (p. 23), in which Schenker abandons the rhetoric of psychological
laws (p. 9). However we choose to interpret this shift in rhetoric, it suggests
an intriguing problem when read in conjunction with the fate of organicism from
Geist to Der freie Satz: is Schenkers apparent scepticism towards organic unity
in 1895 somehow related to his interest in psychology, and if so, does his
organicism wax as his investment in psychology wanes? In this way, Geist poses
a series of hermeneutic conundrums, forcing us not only to ponder the appropriate contexts for understanding Schenkers attitudes towards (anti-)organicism
and psychology, but also to consider the implications of these contexts for
understanding the continuity or discontinuity of his work as a whole.
For Cook, Schenkers psychology is best explained as an extension of
Hanslicks desire to find the objective counterparts of subjective musical effects:
Schenkers 1895 essay, then, builds on Hanslicks agenda, seeking to provide the
genuine, psychological explanations at which Hanslick repeatedly hinted only to
swerve away into metaphor or circumlocution ... . Perhaps the best guide to what
Schenker meant by psychology is provided by Hanslick (pp. 59 and 61).What
seems questionable here is not Cooks attempt to connect Schenker to Hanslick
the connections are obvious enough but rather his almost exclusive focus on
Hanslick as the inspiration for Schenkers early psychology. Although Schenker
certainly has some general affinities with Hanslick, the very vagueness of his
program makes it difficult to see Schenkers work as its logical or necessary
fulfilment, especially when the details of Schenkers argument might more plausibly be linked to other, more definite developments in psychology. Schenker
lived during a time of intense creativity and innovation in Austrian psychology as
it was gradually establishing itself as a field separate from philosophy.To be sure,
late nineteenth-century psychology was an ill-defined discipline (Rehding
2003, p. 89), but as Jordi Cat observes in the case of Gestalt psychology, its very
hybrid status may have fostered a permeability ... of ... boundaries, allowing it
to influence thinkers in a number of fields, from philosophy to art history to
economics (Cat 2007, p. 137). Since Ernst Mach (18381916), who was not
only a great physicist but also one of the leading figures in the emergence of
psychology as an independent discipline, wrote to Schenker in 1896, one year
after Geist appeared, it seems likely that at least some scientists interpreted the
essay as relevant to their concerns (Korsyn 1993, pp. 10918). I will have more
to say about this communication from Mach below.
For Cook, any attempts to link Schenker to such wider concerns of late
nineteenth-century psychology are implausible. His primary objection here
seems to be that Schenker later expressed a dismissive attitude towards science:
But that jars with Schenkers suspicion, at least as early as Harmonielehre, of
scientific approaches to music (p. 60). Since more than a decade separates the
Geist essay from the publication of the harmony book in 1906, however, Cook
may be assuming an unjustified continuity in Schenkers attitudes over that time,
whilst also ignoring the possibility of an anxiety of influence of the type that he
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elsewhere attributes to Schenker (pp. 86 and 264). Indeed, Blasius essentially


hints at such an anxiety when he argues that the very certainty with which
Schenker (for whatever reason) dismisses the scientific study of music gives us
cause to suspect that at some level his rhetoric conceals a powerful and ramified
engagement with the claims of these very investigations that he professes to deny
(Blasius 1996, p. xvii). Even Cook himself seems to concede as much when he
writes that despite his suspicion of scientific approaches to music, then, his
epistemology is to that extent scientific rather than hermeneutical (p. 70). Later,
Cook finds that this suspicion of scientific approaches marks a fault-line in
his ... thinking (p. 299).
Some additional clues concerning Schenkers intentions may emerge if we
consider the audience for whom the essay was first presented. Although Cook
mentions the fact that Schenker first read Geist to the Philosophical Society of
the University of Vienna (p. 33), he provides no other details, nor did he
investigate the history of the Society itself. This is a missed opportunity, especially for a historical study such as The Schenker Project, because doing so would
have allowed Cook to connect Schenker to what some have called the centerpiece of reflective Vienna (Blackmore, Itagaki and Tanaka 2001, p. 277).The list
of speakers there reads like a whos who of fin-de-sicle Austria, and the format of
meetings encouraged a serious exchange of ideas, because discussions were held
separately from lectures to allow time to formulate questions (for a complete list
of lecturers and discussion leaders over the 50-year history of the Society
between 1888 and 1938, see Blackmore, Itagaki and Tanaka 2001).
It was to this distinguished audience that Schenker delivered Geist on 15
February and 18 March 1895, and it is here that he would have been exposed to
recent work in psychology.The prominence of Franz Brentano (18381917), the
founder of act psychology, and his students during the early years of the group
ensured that many lectures were devoted to recent research in psychology and
physiology (Blackmore, Itagaki and Tanaka 2001). (Wayne Alpern erroneously
listed Franz Brentano as one of Schenkers professors at the University of Vienna
[Alpern 1999]; in fact, a handwritten entry in Schenkers Meldungsbuch makes
it clear that it was Franzs brother, Lujo Brentano [18441931], who taught
Schenker during the spring of 1888.) Some of the most active Brentano students
included Alois Hfler (18531922), Christian von Ehrenfels (18591932),
J. K. Kreibig (18631932) and Kasimir Twardowski (18661938). Ehrenfels,
for example, who invented the concept of Gestalt in his 1890 essay ber
Gestaltqualitten, lectured or led discussions no fewer than eight times in the
three years preceding Schenkers lecture and spoke frequently thereafter. Schenkers professor Robert Zimmermann read a paper on 13 February 1888 called
On the Beginnings of Mathematical Psychology in Vienna. Even some of the
lectures on aesthetic topics reflected this bias towards psychology and physiology; on 2 March 1895, for example in between instalments of Schenkers paper
a lecture called Aristotles Catharsis Theory in Light of Modern Nerve Data
was given. Many participants in the group shared this propensity for crossing
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boundaries between scientific and aesthetic modes of inquiry. The art historian
Alois Riegl (18581905), for example, asked Sigmund Exner (18461926), a
noted physiologist and originator of the concept of neural networks, to provide
a scientific definition of beauty (Breidbach 2003), and Mach encouraged his
friend Eduard Kulke (18311897) to write about the survival of the fittest in
music (Blackmore 1972).
The other sciences were also well represented in the Society. Schenkers paper
overlapped with a three-part discussion of a lecture that Mach had given at a
conference in Vienna on 24 September 1894, called On the Principle of Comparison in Physics; these discussions took place on 13 December 1894 and 24
January and 14 March 1895. Considering the audience to whom Geist was
presented, therefore, and the type of questions he could expect to receive,
Schenkers decision to frame his project in psychological terms was probably
very carefully considered. Indeed, Schenker was surely aware that his auditors
held the keys to any potential professorship at the University of Vienna, a
position he never achieved but to which he certainly aspired. When Schenker
presented Geist to the Society in 1895, the protracted and contentious search
to replace Hanslick at the University of Vienna was already under way; when the
search finally ended with the appointment of Guido Adler (18551941) in 1898,
Mach, who had already been instrumental in bringing Adler to the University of
Prague in 1885, played a decisive role, and the philosopher Friedrich Jodl
(18491914), who would lead the Society from 1903 to 1912, also belonged to
the search committee (Karnes 2008).
The fact that two evenings were devoted to Schenkers work the second
evening was presumably a discussion suggests that members found Geist
interesting, because only papers deemed especially valuable or controversial were
scheduled for discussions. It is also notable that Schenkers lecture was the first
in the history of the Society, which was founded in 1888, to be devoted exclusively to music. Mach himself wrote to Schenker on 2 December 1896, probably
in reference to Geist, saying that It seems to me that the opinions you have
voiced are essentially sound and deserve to be followed up. However, the discussion will be beneficial and stimulating even if you are not correct on every
point (OJ, 12/47:12-2-1896), and gave Schenker the address of Richard Wallaschek, who had written a Habilitationsschrift under Mach and Jodl in psychology
and aesthetics, in case Schenker wished to contact him.
Obviously this historical information is only one factor to weigh in interpreting Geist, but it does invite us to take great caution before dismissing the
possibility of an engagement with empirical psychology that Blasius finds in
Schenker. The evidence that Blasius presents for Schenkers involvement with
contemporary psychology (especially in the first volume of Kontrapunkt)
deserves serious consideration. Schenkers investigation of the behaviour of
different intervals in counterpoint, for example, involves analysing the hypothetical psychic operations involved in the perception of intervals, which Blasius
describes as identity, bounding and inversion, bringing his thought in surMusic Analysis, 28/i (2009)

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prising proximity to empirical investigation of the subject (the study of harmonic


intervals being the most highly developed problem in contemporary psychology)
(Blasius 1996, p. 18).
Despite a few perfunctory references to Blasius on some relatively minor
points, however, Cook completely ignores the substance of his argument and
never addresses his major claims. Cook also seems to fear that any connection of
Schenker to science must involve quantitative, experimental psychology, but the
psychology of Schenkers day was not exclusively tied to the laboratory, because
some schools of thought were interested in mental states which are not accessible
to external observation and which cannot be repeated to allow for replicated
measurement and observations. Without implying any direct influence, Blasius
finds suggestive parallels, for example, with Schenkers psychology in Wilhelm
Diltheys program for a descriptive and analytical psychology, which rejects the
notion of isolated mental events which can be targeted within carefully drawn
experiments (Blasius 1996, p. 12 n. 16). Through such parallels to wider
developments in European thought, the Schenker who emerges in Blasiuss
account seems a more complex and less predictable intellectual figure than the
one Cook conjures up.
Cooks limited view of Schenkers psychology may reflect his preconceptions
about the continuity of Schenkers views over his entire career. He quotes Ruth
Solie, for example, to the effect that Schenker was not interested in perceptual
mechanisms in the observer (p. 296, quoting Solie 1980, p. 150). Aside from the
fact that Solie is hardly an expert on Schenker, however, she based her conclusions primarily upon his later writings and almost certainly did not know Geist.
In addition to Blasiuss close reading of the first volume of Kontrapunkt, I have
elsewhere analysed a complex of psychological terms in Harmonielehre, which
begins with the psychological concept of the association of ideas and later
invokes principles such as the law of the least expenditure of effort. Many of the
titles of chapters and sections share this tendency: On the Psychology of the
Pedal Point, On the Psychology of Chromatic Alteration, On the Psychology
of Contents and of Step Progression, and so on. One of the best places to
observe Schenkers psychological approach involves his discussion of period
structure; rather than starting from the concept of a period and explaining it as
a convention of musical form, Schenker tries to deduce it from basic human
needs and desires such as the need for conceptual associations or the expectation of a continuation. The first phrase, for example, provides only a preliminary, relative satisfaction, arousing the desire for a continuation, so that the
consequent phrase is needed to give us final and absolute satisfaction (Korsyn
1993, p. 117, and Schenker 1954, 11718). The two musical examples that
Schenker uses to illustrate these concepts provide a good idea of what he means
by discrete melodies in the Geist essay; one of them, the Chopin Prelude in B
minor, Op. 28 No. 6, is a brief but complete piece, and the other, the first theme
from the Mozart Piano Sonata in C major, K. 330, is a relatively self-contained
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ses reflect the sort of work which Schenker produced in the longer manuscript to
which the Geist essay originally belonged.
If we place Schenkers concern with discrete melodies in the Geist essay in
the context of what some have called the Gestalt controversy of the 1890s, we
may come closer to understanding Schenkers motivations in that essay. During
this period of transition from atomistic to more dynamic concepts of the
mind, many in the Brentano tradition were agitated by the problem of complex
perceptions: how can temporally distributed events be perceived as unities, as
integral wholes? If this issue of temporal unities already seems close to Schenkers interests, the relationship becomes even more obvious if we recall that
many in the Brentano tradition used melody as a paradigm for such complex
perceptions. Indeed, although the Gestalt notion was gradually generalised to
include other phenomena, the Gestalt controversy arose and developed in
terms of various accounts concerning our apprehensions of melodies (Sweet
1993, p. 557 n. 8). The Gestalt idea, however, raises as many problems as it
resolves; from a musical perspective, a pressing question involves criteria for
unity, because not every random collection of pitches has the properties necessary to cohere in the mind as a unity. One of the principal motivations behind
Schenkers early music psychology, then, may have been to find the musical and
aesthetic criteria through which discrete melodies cohere as perceptual wholes,
thus transferring the problem of complex perceptions from psychology and
philosophy to music.
This concern with the nature of melody remained central to Schenkers
thought throughout his career; it is a constant in an otherwise changing landscape. Eventually he was able to extend the concept of melody beyond the
discrete melodies that are his concern in the Geist essay to encompass complete compositions, because he conceived the entire piece as a single expanded
melody. As he formulates it in the 1920s, the entire piece constitutes a single
melodic figure: The totality of the foreground is therefore a single torrent of diminution, nothing but a single figure (Schenker 1996, p. 18; emphasis in original,
translation modified). So whereas only individual melodies were considered
organic in the Geist essay, entire compositions could now qualify as organic; in
either case, however, only melodies are organic. Another of Schenkers motivations may consequently have been to extend the concept of melody from the
individual tune to the entire piece.
By limiting his understanding of Schenkers psychology to a fulfilment of
Hanslicks vague programme, Cook overlooks a great deal of historical and
textual evidence and leaves several vital questions not only unanswered, but
unasked. Where does Schenkers psychological vocabulary including terms
such as the law of the least expenditure of effort, expectation, degrees of satisfaction, and so on originate? Was Blasius on the right track when he diagnosed
a disjunction between the two volumes of Kontrapunkt? If so, did Schenker
abandon his psychological programme, or do the later works constitute a concealed repetition (to put it in Schenkerian terms) of this psychology?
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V
Cook also ignores an important context for Geist by missing its Nietzschean
overtones, to which I have called attention (Korsyn 1993, pp. 95104). Nietzsche
became a cult figure at the University of Vienna long before the onset of his
wider European fame around 1890; in 1877, for example, a group of students
there sent him an open letter in which they promised to use his essay Schopenhauer as Educator as a model for their own lives (McGrath 1974, p. 211). Some
revealing details in Schenkers early essays suggest that he did not escape this
Viennese enthusiasm for Nietzsche. For example, when Schenker refers to
Mozart as educator in his essay Capellmeister-Regisseure (Federhofer
1985, p. 239), published two years after Geist, he is obviously alluding to the
title of Nietzsches essay; more overt references to Nietzsche appear in the essays
Unpersnliche Kunst and Mehr Kunst!, both from 1897. As always, such
contextual clues must not be taken for unambiguous answers; they do, however,
invite us to interrogate Schenkers texts with new questions and to examine
Geist afresh. So the parallels between Schenkers scepticism towards organic
unity in Geist and Nietzsches attempts to demystify the work of art and the
process of artistic production in Human, All-too Human, as jarring as they are if
we consider Schenker exclusively within a tradition of idealism, open a new
perspective on Schenker. Since Nietzsche was an uncanny ancestor of what later
became known as deconstruction, this connection allows us to see that Schenkers strategy in Geist anticipates deconstruction, undermining the hierarchy of
oppositions that enables the ideology of organicism. Without examining any of
the textual evidence I have presented, Cook is not sympathetic to my
Nietzschean Schenker, writing that I find it hard to accept Korsyns image of a
fashionably deconstructive Schenker who subsequently turned into a born-again
organicist (p. 64). This simplifies my position in at least two respects, not only
because I acknowledged the presence of organicist impulses in Geist, which I
called a very heterogeneous text, full of unresolved conflicts suggesting that
Schenker was responding to very diverse cultural pressures (Korsyn 1993, p.
85), but also because Nietzsches position in the prehistory of deconstruction
means that there is nothing fashionable or anachronistic about finding
Nietzschean deconstruction in Schenker. Towards the end of his book, Cook
almost seems to concede this when he writes that Korsyns image ... of a
deconstructionist Schenker, who destabilises the opposition between the organic
and the mechanical through a faultless application of Derridean technique, may
be simply anachronistic (or not so simply, given Nietzsches place in the genealogy of deconstruction) (p. 281).
I wouldnt object if Cook had referred to Korsyns image of a fashionably
Nietzschean Schenker, because Nietzsche was hip in the 1890s. Recognising this
early enthusiasm for Nietzsche might enable us to connect him to vibrant and
experimental ideas that were circulating in Vienna in the 1890s and thus to refute
Keilers claim that any view that characterizes Schenker, during any part of his
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development, as fundamentally opposed to essential attributes of organic


thought would have to appear questionable, if not downright odd (Keiler 1989,
p. 291). By recovering Schenkers position in the cultural conversation of his
times, the anti-organicist moments in Geist suddenly seem quite normal.
Along with these Nietzschean themes, I have suggested that the sceptical
moments in the Geist essay resonate with ideas associated with Mach not
necessarily with his specific ideas about psychology, but rather with Machs
anti-metaphysical philosophy, which had such a stunning impact in Vienna.
Mach believed that all previously accepted unities such as body, ego, matter,
and so on had to be critiqued and their status as fictions acknowledged. Schenkers critique of organic unity in music and his rejection of musical causality
seem consistent with this aspect of Machs thought. Apparently Cook believes
that my point in connecting Mach and Schenker was to associate Schenker with
Machs experimental methods in psychology, but although I did not rule out this
possibility, I never suggested it. The relationship between the Geist essay and
Machs philosophy seems much more significant, because it allows us to link
Schenker to some of the most influential ideas of Viennese modernism.
Although Cook sometimes describes Schenker as a reluctant modernist (p. 89)
an appellation that strikes me as entirely apt he cant bring himself to
acknowledge the affinities between Mach and Schenker.
The problem this creates for Cook in relation to the Geist essay is that he
cant entertain the possibility that Schenkers reservations about organicism
there might reflect a significant cultural movement rather than a momentary
idiosyncrasy, and that despite its uncanny premonition of Neue musikalische
Theorien und Phantasien, Geist may have been poised to lead the Schenker
project in quite different directions than we presently imagine. Cook is convinced
that without organicism, without causality, there is nothing for the theory to be
a theory of (p. 63, emphasis in original) and that in 1895 Schenker was merely
in denial about that concept (p. 134). Yet Schenkers insistence that discrete
melodies and not complete compositions constitute the essence of music is
unmistakable, especially in the essays final words: people today, as in the past,
turn their awareness of externals toward the artificial proliferation of melodies in
a single movement, and yet feel themselves drawn above all and most intensely
to the melodies themselves, which seem to be the intrinsic nature of music
(Schenker 2007, p. 332). A theoretical account of discrete melodies joined by
artifice would have been a very different theory than the one Schenker eventually gave us.
Cooks desire to see organicism as something that is latent in Geist tempts
him to borrow another of Ryttings ideas. Despite his scepticism about Schenkers philosophical competence, Rytting reaches the conclusion that Kants
account of genius from the Critique of Judgment is the missing ingredient in
Geist and virtually the sole source of Schenkers organicism. Since Schenker
did not quote this passage until the Erluterungsausgabe of Op. 101, published in
1921, Rytting concludes that he did not know it until then: Otherwise it is
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difficult to imagine why Schenker would agonize over the issue when Kant had
solved it in a way that Schenker would find congenial for most of his career
(Rytting 1996, p. 117). Cook introduces this last quote from Rytting by saying
that the very fact that Kants idea solves the problem of musical organicism so
neatly makes it impossible to imagine that Schenker was acquainted with it in
1895 (p. 73). Kevin Karnes, however, has found echoes of the Critique of
Judgment in Schenkers work as early as his essay on DAlbert, published in 1894
(Karnes 2008). Even without Karness discovery, the idea of genius as an innate
mental predisposition (ingenium) through which nature gives the rule to art (Kant
1951, 46, quoted in Rytting 1996, p. 116) quickly became one of Kants most
widely disseminated ideas and a theme so thoroughly worked over by the romantics that you would not have to read the Critique of Judgment to know it any more
than youd have to read Hamlet to know that something is rotten in Denmark.To
take just one example, in his Biographische Notizen ber Joseph Haydn, which
appeared in 1810, Georg August Griesinger quoted from the section on genius
in the Critique of Judgment (Griesinger 1810, p. 60). Schenker would have found
Kants ideas about genius elaborated and extended in Schopenhauer (see
Korsyn 1993, pp. 915). Whether or not Schenker had actually read the Critique
of Judgment in 1895, therefore, is beside the point; his reservations about organicism cannot be explained away quite so neatly.
VI
In recent years, several scholars have complicated the received image of Schenker
as the arch-enemy of all things Wagnerian. Kevin Karnes, for example, has
argued that Schenkers early reviews of Brahmss vocal music rely at times on
conceptions of musical structure and meaning that are distinctly Wagnerian
(2002, p. 75), confounding our notions about sharp antagonisms between devotees of Brahms and Wagner. Along similar lines, Allan Keiler has also called
attention to Schenkers early affinities with Wagner (Keiler 1996). In my own
work I have analysed a more ambivalent relationship with Wagnerian thought in
the Geist essay, which can be interpreted as a covert debate with Wagner
coloured by what Harold Bloom calls the anxiety of influence (Korsyn 1993,
pp. 1049). All the key themes in Geist including musics lack of organicism,
the role of repetition and perhaps especially the idea that a sequence of moods
in music lacks any causality or organic necessity are present in works such as
Opera and Drama,The Art-Work of the Future and A Communication to My Friends,
so that Schenker seems to accept the premises of Wagners arguments while
reversing the conclusions.Whereas Wagner had argued that music in itself cannot
create an organic sequence of moods, using this to prove that only drama can
interpret the meaning of music, Schenker is willing to sacrifice organicism to
preserve musics autonomy. Perhaps this tangled and ambivalent relationship
with Wagner should not surprise us, given Allan Janiks recent claim that Wagner,
even more than Nietzsche or Mach, was the philosophical father of Viennese
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modernism (Janik 2001, p. 85). A theorist of Schenkers ambitions could not


afford to ignore Wagners massive presence in Viennese culture, but he could
co-opt the terms of Wagners arguments through what Bloom calls a creative
misprision (1997, p. xxiv).
Although he does not mention Bloom, Cook also interprets Schenkers relationship to Wagner through the anxiety of influence. Cook believes that in the
monograph on the Ninth Symphony, for example, the intensity of Schenkers
polemic against Wagner might be explained by a kind of anxiety of influence
because Schenker found some of his basic ideas in Wagners writings (p. 86).
The increasing appropriation of Wagners music by virulent anti-Semites can
only have intensified Schenkers anxiety; Cook contends that current debates
about whether Wagners anti-Semitism was merely cultural or also racial miss
the point, because it was received and propagated as racial in fin-de-sicle
Vienna (p. 231). Cook reminds us of some events in the late nineteenth
century that must have alarmed Schenker. Although Franz Josef had initially
refused to ratify the election of Karl Lueger, a notorious anti-Semite, as mayor
of Vienna in 1895, the emperor reluctantly reversed his position when Lueger
was elected again in 1897, crushing the hopes of those who saw the emperor as
the protector of the Jews. Any lingering illusions that anti-Semitism was merely
rhetorical swagger surely ended with the Galician pogroms of 1898 (p. 231).
Through the opposition or appropriation of Wagners ideas (p. 229), Schenker
could reconcile his passionate commitment to German musical supremacy with
his Jewish identity during a time of increasing anti-Semitism. This becomes the
third great motivation that Cook finds for the Schenker project: Schenker
redefines the German in music: he wrenches it away from the Wagnerians and
relocates it back in time to the Viennese classics, back to a legacy that is
common to Jew and gentile (p. 88).
This happens through a reversal of Wagners anti-Semitic polemic that may
be ... latent in Wagners own writing (p. 236). In the essay Was ist deutsch?,
Wagner claimed that Germans were uniquely able to identify the essence of
foreign styles, burning away everything inessential to realise a potential that had
eluded even the styles inventors. Earlier in the same essay, however,Wagner had
attributed a similar capacity to the Jews. As Cook points out, Schenker uses this
logic of alterity (Cook 2007, p. 217) to redefine the nature of Germanness in a
way that includes foreigners. In claiming, for example, that only a German genius
like Brahms could reveal the essence of Hungarian music, Schenker defines
German identity in an inclusive way, incorporating Hungarian identity rather
than excluding it. In his defense of Bohemian composers such as Smetana,
Schenkers revelation of the German basis of their music would have served both
to promulgate a more generous conception of the German than the narrowly
nationalistic or racial one, and to underline the indispensable contribution of the
outsider to German culture (p. 241). In making exceptions within his later
canon of geniuses for two non-Germans Chopin and Domenico Scarlatti
Schenker implicitly defines German identity in a way that is not dependent on
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racial origins: Chopin, like Schenker, is more German than the Germans just
because of his Polish origins (p. 238). In a letter to Oswald Jonas quoted by
Cook, Schenker explicitly ties Jewish identity to German music, echoing an
Enlightenment theme of the Jews as the educators of all humanity and claiming
that through his theory, the greatness of German music is destined to become a
new message to the world from the Jews (Schenker, letter to Oswald Jonas, 21
December 1933, emphasis in original; quoted in Cook, p. 237).
Since some of Schenkers more extreme expressions of German supremacy
have embarrassed even his own most ardent supporters, by giving us a nuanced
and sympathetic view of the motivations that inspired this Germanic bias, Cook
makes Schenkers position seem more comprehensible. In the case of Schenkers
inflammatory essay from Tonwille, Von der Sendung des deutschen Genies, for
example, Cook suggests that this diatribe was directed not so much against the
victorious powers as against the enemy within, those Germans or Austrians
whose Germanness was found wanting (p. 232).
VII
By now it should be clear that I have serious reservations about The Schenker
Project; although Cook is a well-known and prolific scholar whose work I generally admire, I do not think he was the right person to undertake such a book. To
begin with, he seems to rely too much on materials that have already been
translated by others, especially in the case of Schenkers essays from the 1890s,
of which few have been translated in full. Cooks considerations of Schenkers
reviews of Bruckners Psalm 150 (p. 79) and Haydns Der Apotheker (p. 80) quote
excerpts translated by Karnes, and those of Notizen zur Verdis Falstaff quote
excerpts translated by Keiler (p. 37); many more such cases could be cited. The
Erluterungsausgaben of the late Beethoven sonatas, of which no published
English versions exist, are also slighted in the book. Cooks remarks about Op.
110, for example, seem to rely on paraphrasing what Snarrenberg wrote about
this book (pp. 31516); in the case of Op. 101, Cook quotes excerpts translated
in a dissertation by David Goldman (p. 284). Cook has little to say about the
other two volumes in the series. These lacunae are problematic for a book that
aspires to completeness, and they raise doubts as to whether Cook has the
mastery of German that many would consider indispensable for writing a relatively comprehensive book about Schenkers intellectual and cultural background and evolution. This apparent linguistic problem places him at the mercy
of translators whose own expertise may be questionable and may also be symptomatic of deeper problems. His failure to question any of Snarrenbergs translations, for example, is surprising in light of the serious doubts that have been
raised about Snarrenbergs accuracy (Rothgeb 2001), and Cooks naivety here
may have left him vulnerable to accepting Snarrenberg as an authority on Hegel.
None of my reservations, however, detract from the value of the information
that Cook has assembled here. He has considerable powers of organisation,
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weaving a coherent narrative out of a formidable array of primary and secondary


sources, and he has an admirable ability to enliven his story with memorable
details. His discussion of Schenkers apartment building in Vienna is just one of
these moments. As an introduction to the literature about Schenker, readers
will find much to admire here, and by analysing many of the major trends in
research, Cook provides a good introduction to the vast Schenkerian literature.
For the most part, however, readers will want to look elsewhere to understand
Schenkers motivations.

NOTE
1. Nicholas Cook, The Schenker Project: Culture, Race, and Music Theory in fin-de-sicle
Vienna (NewYork and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). xii + 355 pp. 44.00.
ISBN 978-0-19-507056-6 (hb).

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