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25 Jahre neue Musik: Jahrbuch der Universal-Edition

(Vienna, 1926)

Prepared by Peter Sühring
Online only (2022)

Published only three times by the Viennese music publisher Universal Edition (UE), the initial, standalone volume (1926) of the Jahrbuch der Universal Edition celebrated the publisher’s twenty-fifth anniversary with the title 25 Jahre neue Musik. The subsequent two thematic volumes, which appeared in 1927 (Opera) and in 1929 (Gesang), were published as double issues in the journal Musikblätter des Anbruch. The content of these two later volumes can be found in the RIPM index to Anbruch. This introduction and RIPM index concerns the first volume, 25 Jahre neue Musik, alone.

In promotion of UE’s twenty-five years of support for new music, UE wished to document and summarize its successful and problematic story with the publication of a yearbook. For this purpose, twenty-five different aspects of new music were treated by twenty-five authors, totaling 279 pages (inclusive of the preliminary remarks and attached lists). Many of the authors were composers whose works were also published by UE. Not all, but most of the authors came from the inner circle or the wider environment of the Second Viennese School, with Arnold Schönberg and Alban Berg at the center, along with the first generation of their students. Many of the authors also wrote for the Musikblätter des Anbruch, the in-house journal of UE, which was also edited by the two editors of the Jahrbuch. The volume contained a few illustrations attached to certain articles, but no music examples, and relies nearly entirely on the argumentative word. Almost all articles were signed with the full names of the authors. 

In the editors’ foreword, it is emphasized that this yearbook is a review of twenty-five fateful years of music and that accordingly, aspects of the past, present, and future are to be discussed. In a sort of greeting from the management of UE, it is emphasized that this review is only a stop on a long journey, and that hope lies in the youth. A unsigned contribution under the title “Der Aufbau des Verlages” chronicles the individual steps in the development of the UE publishing house and its publications of individual composers, separated by years from 1901 to 1925. The Jahrbuch concludes with a list of composers arranged by their birth years from 1841 to 1904, under the title “Die Lebensalter.” For the main theses represented in the contributions, see the short biographies of the authors below.

With the UE's anniversary as occasion, the Jahrbuch tries to take stock of the efforts to establish new music. Although UE was founded to provide composers of avant-garde music with a platform for disseminating their works, new music is not yet written with a capital N here, that is, it does not appear as a uniform tendentious block, but claims to set itself apart from the simple continuation of tradition. The significant questions concern alternatives between mere expansion of harmony, transition to atonality or recourse to the primitive elements of music through folklore. No single right way is proposed, rather, a variety of stylistic possibilities in different genres and efforts to justify the new ways through music education and music criticism is offered.

Short biographical sketches of the editors and collaborators


Hans Heinsheimer (1900‑1993). Born in Karlsruhe, the music publisher went to Vienna as a young man, joined UE as a trainee in 1923 and one year later became head of the publisher's opera department. He oversaw important operas in the 1920s and 1930s, including those of Berg, Krenek, and Weill. After Austria's annexation to the German Reich in 1938, he did not return to Europe from a business trip to the USA and continued his work for American music publishers (Boosey & Hawkes, Schirmer) and supervised the works of Bartók, Copland, Barber and Bernstein. For the Jahrbuch he only acted as editor (e.g., as acquirer and editor of the articles) and, in contrast to many articles in the music journal of the Anbruch, he did not write an article of his own, but was co-author of the editor's foreword.

Paul Stefan (Gruenfeld) (1879‑1943). A man of letters and music writer, he was born in Brno and moved to Vienna as a young man, where he became the chief editor of the Musikblätter des Anbruch from 1922 until its cessation in 1937. He also worked as a translator (Tacitus, Daudet, Verlaine, and Saint-Beuve) and music critic for Viennese newspapers. Stefan was forced to leave Austria in 1938, and emigrated via Switzerland and Portugal to the USA, where he worked as a music journalist and publicist for a short period until his death. In addition to the translation of a letter from Malipiero in defense of his Francisco oratorio, he published in the Jahrbuch a review of the period of musical upheaval at the turn of the century. 


Wilhelm Altmann (1862‑1951). The Berlin music librarian and historian gives a statistical overview of the world premieres and first performances of opera works on German stages in the last 25 seasons.

Paul Bekker (1882‑1937), a violinist, conductor, music critic, artistic director and music writer. His memorial address to Busoni at the unveiling of his grave monument in Berlin-Friedenau on June 17, 1925 was printed in the Jahrbuch.

Alban Berg (1885‑1935). In his contribution to the Jahrbuch, the famous representative of the Second Viennese School once again justified the thesis of securing the supremacy of German music through the appearance of twelve-tone music. Berg argues that with all the relativity of the meaning and the changeable and ephemeral preference for certain styles and composers, the rank of Mahler and Schönberg is undeniable and the ridicule of them is ridiculous.

Oscar Bie (1864‑1938). As a music and art critic and historian, he wrote on the portrayal of dance in the Jarhbuch, in which he analyzed the contradictions and similarities of modern dance styles.

Walter Braunfels (1882‑1954). The composer and university director, who was banned from practicing and performing from 1933 to 1945, made available for the Jahrbuch his speech at the opening of the Cologne University of Music.

Erwin Felber (1885‑1964). He was a music critic and educator of Jewish origin who trained and worked in Vienna and who participated in the UE journals Musikblätter des Anbruch and Pult und Taktstock. He took traveled to Shanghai and lived there in the Jewish ghetto until 1949, where he earned his living with music reviews and music lessons. After his attempts to emigrate to Canada or the USA failed, he settled again in Vienna and earned his living with publications, teaching assignments and classes. For the Jahrbuch he took over the presentation of the state of musicology, in which he emphasized the interrelationship with the natural sciences, psychology and ethnology that began after its philological foundation phase.

Max Graf (1873‑1958). After he had given up his professorship at the Vienna Conservatory, he was one of the most important music critics in Vienna during the interwar period, living in exile in New York from 1938 to 1947. After his return to Vienna, he published music-historical writings with reference to modern music. For the Jahrbuch discussed the development of music criticism in which he pleaded for the role of the music critic as a mediator between the intentions of the composer and the audience.

Louis Grünberg (1884‑1964). The pianist and composer, who was born in Russia, lived in the United States since he was two years old, then worked in Vienna and Berlin in the 1910s and 1920s. For the Jahrbuch he wrote a review and outlook for jazz.

Josef Matthias Hauer (1883‑1959). The co-developer of twelve-tone technology with a more mechanical application, and who competed with Schönberg, wrote a defense of the twelve-tone law as a salvation and common denominator for all serious musicians.

Franz Ludwig Hörth (1883‑1934). The philosopher, actor and singer, who worked as a dramaturge, producer and opera director, wrote on “The turning point of opera directing” for the Jahrbuch, in which he explores the distance of music and criticizes contemporary opera productions that think in terms of drama and stage design.

Rudolf Stephan Hoffmann (1878‑1939), the choir director, translator and editor. For the Jahrbuch he wrote about the operetta, in which he describes the fate of the operetta between decay and resurgence and sees its future in adaptations.

Heinrich Kaminski (1886-1946). The composer of sacred and secular works of various genres from opera to chamber music, who grew up in an Old Catholic milieu, gave up all official positions in public and academic musical life in 1933, but was able to continue performing and publishing his works until he was banned from working because of his Jewish origins. For the Jahrbuch he wrote an examination of the question: “Revolution or reform in music?” and pleaded for a revolution that was only necessary to a limited extent and for a limited period of time, the goals of which could only be achieved in a subsequent reform.

Paul von Klenau (1883‑1946). The Danish composer wrote a statement for the Jahrbuch on the problem of the conductor's duties, in which he justifies the conductor as a mediator of the classical and the new and criticizes earlier models of the conductor as an interpreter.

Ernst Krenek (1900‑91). The composer and music writer, who lived in Vienna until 1938 went through several phases: from free atonality and neo-romanticism to adopting the twelve-tone technique and the serial method. From 1930 he combined his commitment to twelve-tone technique with that of Catholicism (opera Karl V) and sympathy for Austrofascism. He emigrated to the USA and never returned to Europe. In the Jahrbuch he published a lecture given at the Congress for Music Aesthetics in Karlsruhe on October 15, 1925, on music in the present, in which he deals with the causes of the isolation of the modern musician from the bourgeoisie, incapable of artistic freedom.

Gian Francesco Malipiero (1882‑1973) In the Jahrbuch, the Italian composer, with his changing stylistic orientations, explains in a letter translated from French for his enhancements in harmony and his recourse to older styles in his oratorio, Francisco.

Hans Mersmann (1891‑1971) was a musicologist with a penchant for fundamental aesthetic issues. He was entrusted with the establishment of a folk song archive during the German Empire, taught at the Technical University in Berlin during the Weimar period, was a fighter for the recognition of new music, and headed the journal Melos from 1924-33. In the Jahrbuch he gave an overview of the development of new music in the first quarter of the twentieth century, caught between stagnation and prophetic awakening.

Franz Moissl (1869‑1946). The musician, who was born in Bohemia, worked in the Bohemian town of Reichenberg, in Klosterneuburg and Vienna as a church musician (organist and conductor) and lecturer, worked for several music journals (including the Musikblätter des Anbruch), and mainly dealt with church music issues. In the Jahrbuch he wrote “Von neuer Kirchenmusik. Reaktionäres und Fortschrittliches,” in which he welcomes the opening of church music to new styles.

Paul Amadeus Pisk (1893‑1990). He worked as a musicologist, pianist and composer in Vienna and from 1936 in the USA, teaching at the Vienna Conservatory and at adult education centers. He was secretary of the association for private musical performances, co-editor of the musical supplements to Anbruch and music editor of the Wiener Arbeiterzeitung. He taught in the USA at various universities until 1972. He wrote the article on questions of musical education for the Jahrbuch, in which he described the current situation from the perspective of the artist's disconnectedness with the people. Through folk high schools, libraries and collections, central education centers and “The Singing Movement” he made practical suggestions for re-establishing a connection with the people.

Ernst Schoen (1894‑1960). As a student of Busoni and Varèse, he was an early proponent of radio, to ensure the dissemination of electronically generated and distributed music. After his discharge from Radio Frankfurt in 1933, he emigrated to London and continued his work for the BBC. For the Jahrbuch he discussed music and technology and pleaded for a further dematerialization of music.

Arnold Schönberg (Schoenberg) (1874‑1951). The composer, music theorist and painter, born in Vienna, switched to free atonality around 1905 and by 1921 he developed a new ordering principle for atonal compositions, the so-called twelve-tone technique. He worked and taught in Vienna and Berlin until 1933, then emigrated to the USA, where he took citizenship in 1941. In the first article of the Jahrbuch he was allowed to deal in principle with the objective justification of atonality: “Gesinnung oder Erkenntnis?”

Erwin Stein (1885‑1958). The music writer, publisher (shareholder in UE) and composer, who worked in Vienna until 1938, had to emigrate to London because of his Jewish origins, where he was able to continue working at Boosey & Hawkes. In the Jahrbuch he made comparative compositional considerations between Mahler, Reger, Strauss and Schönberg.

Kurt Weill (1900‑1950). The student of Busoni, who worked with Berthold Brecht to create a new type of opera, emigrated to New York after 1933. Weill declared his commitment to opera in the Jahrbuch, pointing out that because of the dramatic elements residing in music, the opera cannot be discarded.

Adolf Weissmann (1873‑1929). The author of music history books (Berliner Musikgeschichte), worked in Berlin as a music critic, writer and organizer since 1900. In the Jahrbuch he published an article dealing with the circulating racial theories about music, the importance of which he tried to weaken.

Egon Wellesz (1885‑1974), Austro-British musicologist and composer who trained with Adler and Schönberg in Vienna, developed into a specialist in baroque opera and ancient oriental music, and deciphered Byzantine musical notation. He worked in Vienna and Oxford, where he emigrated in 1938. For the Jahrbuch he wrote on “The Opera and This Time,” in which, based on the questionable nature of Richard Wagner's model, he called for an overall dramatic conception with clear character guidance.