Schenker Documents Online is a critical, scholarly digital edition with translation and commentary. It aims to present documents as faithfully as is possible within a digital environment, and to accompany them with supporting information and a limited amount of scholarly interpretation by way of traditional footnotes and links to "profiles."

Quick Guide

{3} page number
{recto} side of sheet or card (recto or verso)
[signed:] editorial note
m[eines] E[rachtens] editorially supplied material (in green)
von Bachs Prael. u. Fuge authorial addition (in brown) inserted above line of text
nach seinen Begriffen authorial underlining
ihres[corr] authorial correction, overwritten, where original text is indecipherable
unterüber authorial overwriting - hover on "über" to see original text underneath
Viele Grüsse von Ihrem ergebenen, Deutsch upward-pointing arrow marks where new handwriting starts - hover on arrow to see hand attribution

Documents: German

In correspondence, the word "document" denotes a single item, such as a letter, postcard, telegram, calling card, etc. In diaries and lessonbooks, the concept of a document is less well-defined. In the case of diaries, it can be equated with an entire library folder, such as OJ 3/1, comprising October 1, 1919 to September 30, 1920. In the case of lessonbooks, it can be equated with a single lessonbook, of which there are four of very variable length, thus e.g. OC 3/3, comprising May 21, 1914 to June 1928. In the case of diaries and lessonbooks, the "entry" is the operative unit, usually representing a day, in the case of the diaries, and either a day or all the lessons for a given student in a given period in the lessonbooks.

Document Identifier (Correspondence)

Each document is assigned an individual identifier made up of its collection, library, or archive siglum (assigned by SDO) + its box and folder number (assigned by the library) + its individual number or letter (in square brackets if assigned by SDO). Thus "OJ 11/54, [9]" denotes the Oswald Jonas Memorial Collection (Riverside, CA), box 11, folder 54, document 9. With the Oster Collection (New York Public Library) we follow the library's cataloguing system, whereby each loose sheet of paper is identified as an "item"; thus "OC 52/496" denotes File 52, item 496. A document might be a single item, or it might comprise two or more items (e. g. a letter running to several pages). (For a list of library sigla, see "Abbreviations and Sigla.")

Dating (Correspondence)

Where an internal date is given, this is taken to be the document's date and is given in the document title—unless it can be proven wrong on internal or external evidence, in which case the deduced dating is given in square brackets in the title. Where an internal date is not given and the writing of the document is recorded in the diary, the latter date is usually taken to be the document's date; where neither of these is the case and a postmark date is available, that is taken to be the document's date. Where diary and postmark dates conflict, the diary normally takes precedence, however the diary is not infallible (because often written up in arrears) whereas a clear postmark is hard to contest. Where a letter is written over several days with separate dates indicated, the last date is used for purposes of the document title.

Layout (Correspondence, Diaries, Lessonbooks)

The edited text indicates all page-breaks (even when they occur in the middle of a word), supplies editorial page numbers where no original numbers exist, and with postcards, calling cards, etc., indicates recto and verso. These interventions are given in bold type within curly brackets (e.g. {2}; {verso}). The text does not indicate line-breaks.

In form-type documents (e.g. contracts; telegrams), printed matter is usually given in Roman type, handwritten or typed entries are given in italics; occasionally the reverse is adopted for clarity. In these and other tabular documents, an attempt is made to render the tabulation, but the latter often has to be broken up, and explanatory editorial comments guide the reader.

Printed letterheads are given in full where possible, with a preceding editorial note "[printed letterhead:]". Precise layout and spacing are not preserved. The wording of very long letterheads is curtailed, retaining the main address but omitting such features as addresses in other cities and countries, telephone and telegraph numbers, name of proprietor, etc. Any pictorial matter in a letterhead is described rather than reproduced.

Certain standard features have been regularized. Thus, in postcards and some letters, where the message continues on from the salutation ("Lieber Herr …"), a line-break has been made; and likewise where the valediction (e.g. "Mit vorzüglicher Hochachtung …") runs on from the final paragraph. Where a paragraph is so long as to make reading on-screen uncomfortable, a paragraph-break has been inserted, and a footnote stating that the original continued on without break.

Orthography (Correspondence, Diaries, Lessonbooks)

The German original text is rendered as close to a diplomatic transcription as is compatible with the variable effects of browsers. The text presents all the printed, typed, stamped, and/or handwritten matter of the original, including deleted words and phrases, corrections, interlinear and inline additions, overwritings, marginal annotations, underlinings, sidelinings, and the presence of illegible elements. Wherever possible, authorship of such emendations is indicated. — One exception to this arises in typed material where mechanical mistypings have occurred and have either not been noticed or have been corrected by overtyping or by handwritten insertion; since the latter changes have been made by someone other than the originator of the document, and are not part of the thought process of creating the document, the changes have been adopted without indication, and mistypings have been tacitly corrected. On the other hand, where those changes have been made by the originator, the change itself has usually been presented. Some of the spacing of typed matter, especially around commas and periods, albeit in accordance with typing practice of the time, has been silently modernized.

Where features in the original document cannot be conveyed succinctly within the text, a footnote is used to explain the situation. Original punctuation is preserved, with minimal addition of editorial punctuation only for clarity of meaning. Original spellings are retained; where different from present-day spelling, these often preserve archaic or regional spellings that are of intrinsic interest; where spelling is manifestly incorrect, the edition may on occasion supply "[sic]" or even "[recte ...]."

Names of people, places, and organizations are given exactly as in the original; the same is true for titles of books, plays, musical compositions, and other works of art and literature.

In documents written in a mixture of Sütterlinschrift and Lateinschrift (as in Heinrich Schenker's script post-1902), Sütterlinschrift is rendered in Roman type, Lateinschrift in Italic type.

Editorial interventions are of two kinds: those amplifying the original text are given in Roman type within square brackets (e.g. "i/W[estfalen]", where "i/W" is deemed not self-explanatory), those extraneous to the original text are given in italics within square brackets (e.g. "Ihres Briefes [word deleted],"). Material written in the margin and cued to a specific point in the text is enclosed within square brackets, with an editorial indication (e.g. "... machen, [cued from lower margin:] Auch Ihrem Archiv sei die Aufnahme der Abschrift empfohlen als Ersatz der Handschrift![end cue] wieder …"

Hyphenation: in German script and printed matter, two words are coupled by the sign "=" (e.g. "Urlinie=Tafel"). This has been rendered always with the standard English hyphen ("-"); word-divisions over line-ends (hyphenation) make use of a variety of different signs, all of which have been rendered also with the hyphen.

Documents: English Translation

Layout (Correspondence, Diaries, Lessonbooks)

as for German text.


Orthographical features of the original are mirrored as far as is feasible in the English translation. The precise point of a page-break often cannot be indicated because of differing word order: in such a case, the page-number is given late rather than early. Present-day practice in punctuation is applied. Spelling and word usage, as well as punctuation, follow American rather than British conventions. Names of people, places, and organizations abbreviated in the German original are extended, except where reasonable ambiguity exists (e.g. where "B." might be Beethoven or Brahms). Titles abbreviated in the German original are extended (e.g. "N. Fr. Pr." is rendered as "Neue Freie Presse").

Titles of books, plays, musical compositions, and other works of art and literature, are translated where an English title is in wide circulation (e.g. A Midsummer Night's Dream), otherwise given in German, and any abbreviations are extended. For musical compositions, the conventions adopted are: generic titles (e. g. Symphony; Sonata; Concerto) in Roman type with initial capitals, descriptive titles (e. g. Syrische Tänze; Salome) in Italic type. Generic titles with descriptive elements are given with the latter in double-quotation marks (e.g "Coriolanus" Overture; "Pastoral" Symphony). In a collection of pieces (such as a song cycle or set of piano pieces), the overall title is given in Italic type (e. g. Winterreise; Fantasiestücke), the component items (e.g. "Gute Nacht"; "Florestan") in Roman type in double quotation-marks.

Schenker's own publications are rendered in English in the translated text, and usually extended when abbreviated in the original. However, Schenker's use of "I", "II1", "II2", and "III" for the volumes of his Neue musikalische Theorien und Phantasien are preserved as "I", "II/1", "II/2", and "III".

Footnotes and Profiles

Footnotes and profiles are written in English only. Titles are usually given in the original language, and the orthographic rules outlined above for translations usually apply. In general, quotations from letters, diaries, or lessonbooks are given first in German in double quotation-marks, then in English translation in parentheses and double quotation-marks.


Profiles are dictionary-like articles concerning persons, places, and organizations of all types, also journals and newspapers, and Schenker's own published works. They do not pretend to be encyclopedic in content, but rather stress the relationship of that entity to Schenker and his circle. For further information, and access, see Profiles index.

Abbreviations and Sigla

For a listing of general and bibliographical abbreviations, and library and archive sigla, see Abbreviations and Sigla