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Deutsch, Sofie

Sofie [Sophie] Deutsch (born Vienna, June 22, 1858; died Vienna, January 5, 1917), wealthy Viennese-Jewish widow, sister of the industrialist Fritz Mendl, long-term pupil of Schenker's.

Sofie Deutsch was a pupil of Schenker's apparently from 1902 until her death (when she is described as having been "a pupil of 15 years' standing"), working mostly on piano repertory (Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms) and keyboard parts of piano trios and quartets. She was also one of Schenker's principal patrons. Schenker was frequently to be seen having meals with her in the coffee house, and spending evenings at her home with a circle of guests in elevated conversation (meticulously, sometimes scornfully, recorded in Schenker's diary) or playing chamber-music. Schenker was always trying to improve her, lecturing her on matters of morality, commending improving reading to her. He once described her as "An eternally restless person, sinking into the dirt over and over again, a genuine Hedda Gabler character" (OJ 1/7, p. 74, November 2, 1908).

In her will, she settled on Schenker an annual pension of 2,000 Kronen to be paid in half-yearly instalments, and an outright legacy of 5,000 Kronen (OJ 12/52, January 12, 1917). Her benefaction made possible the publishing of Schenker's Kontrapunkt2. She also left money to provide stipends for "impecunious skilled composers and similarly qualified composition pupils," of which Schenker was to be the sole life-long arbiter, awarding two per year. This money constituted a quarter of a sum willed to a charity in which she was involved, the Verein zur Speisung und Bekleidung hungernder Schulkinder in Wien (Association for Feeding and Clothing Schoolchildren in Vienna); after the Association was wound up in 1924, the stipends were transferred to the Vienna Akademie (Hochschule) für Musik und Darstellende Kunst (=Conservatory) as the "Sophie Deutsch Music Stipend;" the transfer was hotly contested by Schenker, who preferred to allocate the stipends privately rather than through an institution (OC 5/24, July 8, 1924).

Records of her lessons are recorded in Schenker's lessonbooks 1912/13-1916/17 (OC 3/1-3). Schenker's correspondence and encounters with her are extensively reported in the diaries from 1906 to her death. There is only one letter from her to Schenker (OJ 10/4, January 26, 1916), in which she announces that she is settling on him 10,000 Marks in annual withdrawals of up to 3,000 Marks "for the purpose of publishing your future works," but there is much correspondence to and from Schenker with Fritz Mendl, and attorneys Siegfried Türkel, Ernst Lambert, and Hugo Friedmann.

It was at her house, Schenker met Otto Erich Deutsch, who seems to have been unrelated to Sofie.

Federhofer, Hellmut, Heinrich Schenker nach Tagebüchern und Briefen ... (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1985), pp. 38, 97, et al
Eybl, Martin & Fink-Mennel, Evelyn, Schenker-Traditionen (Vienna: Bohlau, 2006), pp. 241

Contributor: Ian Bent


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