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Graf, Max

Max Graf (born Vienna, Oct 1, 1873; died Vienna, June 24, 1958), influential Austrian music critic.

As part of his degree at the University of Vienna, Graener studied music history with Eduard Hanslick, and (like Schenker) studied harmony at the Vienna Conservatory with Bruckner, his doctoral dissertation being on the music of the Renaissance (1896). From 1903 to 1938 he taught music aesthetics and music history at the Vienna Conservatory, serving also as music critic for several prominent journals and newspapers.

He wrote ground-breaking articles on Bruckner and Hugo Wolf, wrote for Die Zeit, the Österreichische Rundschau, and other Viennese papers, and was a strong advocate of Mahler, Debussy, Strauss, Schoenberg, Stravinsky and other contemporary composers. In 1938, he emigrated to the USA, where he taught at the New School for Social Research, New York, and elsewhere, and worked as a critic. He returned to Austria in 1947. He remains well-known especially for his Composer and Critic: Two Hundred Years of Musical Criticism (London: Chapman & Hall, 1947), with its sparkling account of the Viennese musical world c. 1900.

Graf and Schenker

Graf first appears in Schenker's diary in an entry dated October 19, 1903, recording Graf's review of his Beitrag zur Ornamentik (OJ 1/2, p. 10: the review, in the Neues Wiener Journal of that date, survives in Schenker's scrapbook, OC 2/p. 5); and on November 26, 1910, Schenker comments caustically on Graf's book Die innere Werkstatt des Musikers (Stuttgart, 1910) (OJ 1/9, p. 119). Graf was later to review Schenker's Beethoven's Neunte Sinfonie (1912), Die letzten fünf Sonaten von Beethoven ... op. 109 (1913) (OC 2/pp. 29, 39), and probably also Harmonielehre (1906) (CA 66, March 30, 1907). Schenker seems to have acquired a hostile attitude toward Graf, as illustrated in his encounter with the Vienna Concert House Society in 1914, when he suspected Graf's motives for recommending him for a series of lectures.


Only two letters (dated 1910?) from Graf to Schenker survive (OJ 11/25), and one from Schenker to Graf (OC 1A/3 (1911).

Source: NGDM2 (2008)


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