Lecture: "'Hearing Organic Structure': Viktor Zuckerkandl as Schenker’s Disciple" with Assistant Professor Daphne Tan, University of Toronto Faculty of Music
Room 130, 80 Queen's Park
Free and open to the public
Viktor Zuckerkandl (1896–1965), Austrian-American music theorist and philosopher, is best known to English-language audiences through a trio of books: Sound and Symbol: Music and the External World (1956), The Sense of Music (1959), and Man the Musician (1973). References to these works appear in numerous present-day writings on phenomenology, energetics, and musical time; Zuckerkandl’s assertions about musical experience—for instance, that tones are “dynamic symbols” and that meter is best described in terms of waves—have proven particularly compelling. Yet despite enduring interest in these books, many of his essays and moreover, his diverse scholarly activities in the public sphere, remain unexamined. This talk focuses on one aspect of Zuckerkandl’s output that merits wider attention: his commitment to introducing the ideas of Heinrich Schenker, his teacher, to a general educated audience.
Drawing on archival sources, I’ll first consider Zuckerkandl’s adaptation of Schenker’s ideas, both technical and metaphysical, for the American liberal-arts classroom. We’ll then turn to his mature philosophy of music, where we’ll see that Zuckerkandl brings Schenker’s ideas about organicism and genius to the fore. Indeed, I’ll conclude by suggesting that Zuckerkandl’s writings force us to grapple with some of the more dogmatic aspects of Schenker’s approach that have been traditionally sidelined in the North American academy.