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Karpath, Ludwig

Ludwig Karpath (1866–1936), Viennese writer on music and administrator, early student of Schenker who was twice involved in attempts to procure an official post in Vienna for the theorist.

Born in Budapest, Karpath studied at the Conservatory there and embarked on a career as a singer. After moving to Vienna in 1894, he became music critic for the Neues Wiener Tagblatt, a position he held until 1921, while working also as a subeditor at Der Merker 1914–17, and later worked as a freelance writer. As a critic he was an influential figure.

Although ostensibly a promoter of young musical talents, Karpath shouted during the première of Schoenberg's Second String Quartet (December 21, 1908) for the performance to be stopped, then wrote a hostile (unsigned) review in the Neues Wiener Tagblatt, followed by a (signed) statement in the Signale für die musikalische Welt (January 2, 1909); the latter prompted Schoenberg to write an open letter to him, which Karl Kraus published in Die Fackel.

From 1922, he was artistic adviser to the Austrian Ministry of Education (OJ 12/9, [30]); however, but he must at least have had contacts in the Ministry by 1908 (see below), which is perhaps why he was involved in the conversion of the Vienna Conservatory from private to public institution in 1909. He had also been involved in the founding of the Vienna Volksoper in 1898, and later in the building of the Vienna Konzerthaus (1912/13). By 1933, he bore the title of Hofrat (Court Counsellor). Karpath was a close friend of Richard Strauss (who dedicated his ballet Schlagobers (1924) to him, and the correspondence between the two men survives), and knew also Brahms, Reger, Puccini, Mahler, Hans Richter, and many other prominent musical figures. He wrote a number of books, including a biography of Siegfried Wagner.

Karpath and Schenker

Karpath was an early student of Schenker's: his was the first lesson of the 1906/07 season on September 4, 1906 (diary, OJ 1/5, p. 19). That Karpath was by then a member of Schenker's close circle of friends is indicated by the use of the codes "Kp." and "rp." for him in Schenker's diary in reports of their lunching together and discussing musical topics. Karpath was also one of those to whom review copies of Schenker's earlier publications were sent at the author's own request. However, from 1913 the tone of Schenker's references to him become progressively less favorable (WSLB 154, OJ 56/27, etc.).

Search for a Position for Schenker

On two widely separate occasions, Karpath was involved in attempts to obtain an official position for Schenker. — 1908: The diary for February 10, 1908 (OJ 1/7, p. 74) records:

Mr. Karpath alerts me in a postcard open for all to see that the wheels have been set in motion in the Ministry [of Education] regarding the professorship.

And the following today, hilariously:

With Floriz [Moriz Violin] at Karpath’s place. Chandelier comes crashing down, all the globes dashed to smithereens—by the laws of superstition, a most propitious omen. Meaning: I must now go and see Hofrat Wiener myself.

The disastrous interview with Karl Wiener, who was shortly to become President of the Vienna Conservatory (= Akademie), regarding a professorship at that institution is recorded in the diary on February 15 (p. 78), concluding with "Report of it given to rp. [Karpath] after lunch."

— 1932/33: Between November 1932 and February 1933, Karpath was involved in trying, with Furtwängler's support, to find a position for Schenker in Vienna, while Furtwängler was trying simultaneously to secure a position for Schenker in Berlin; there is a three-way correspondence on this, involving others as well, and there are reports in Schenker's diary (e.g. OJ 4/6, p. 3792, November 18, 1932). At that time, Furtwängler speaks of Karpath's untrustworthiness, overweening vanity, and diminished influence (OC 18/37–38), and Schenker refers to Karpath's scheme as a "hapless idea" (OC 18/49), and of his "incorrigible vanity, his ignorance" (OJ 4/6, pp. 3812–3813). In the end, Karpath reported that the initiative was "impossible," but that Karl Kobald, President of the Akademie (and artistic adviser to the Education Ministry 1906–32), "has recommended you strongly for the Austro-American Course that is now coming into existence, and that you would certainly be granted this post." (OC 18/54). Of that—which Schenker characterized scornfully as "the American club" (OJ 4/6, pp. 3814–3815)—nothing came.

Between those two occasions, in a review of Schenker's Beethovens Neunte Sinfonie dated April 7, 1913, Karpath said of Schenker:

A researcher with so profound a knowledge, with so outstanding an analytical intellect as Schenker, a teacher of such towering significance, is consigned in Austria to making a living from private funds. Schenker's place is the University. It is there that he ought to be conducting his work so that his lofty gifts can develop in the right way. (OC 2/p. 29, unsigned).

Correspondence

Correspondence between Karpath and Schenker survives as OJ 12/9 (24 items including letterheads of Neues Wiener Tagblatt and Der Merker, 1908–32), OC 18/40–45[b], 51–54 (1931–33), and correspondence between Wilhelm Furtwängler and Karpath as OJ 35/4, OJ 71/11 (1933), and OC 18/27–28, 46–47, 52 (1933); one letter from Emil Kammerer to Karpath with letter from Karpath to Schenker on reverse as OJ 71/19a; one letter to Josephine Violin as OC 18/45[a] (1933).

Reviews

Reviews by Karpath in the Signale für die musikalische Welt of performances involving Schenker are preserved in Schenker's scrapbook at OC 2/p. 17 (November 30, 1904) and p. 19 (February 7, 1906), of a publication mentioning Schenker at OC 2/p.8 (December 23, 1903), and of performances by Moriz Violin, Schenker and others at OJ 70/66 (1904, 1906), also in the Neues Wiener Tagblatt at OC 2/p. 16 (November 15, 1904) and p. 19 (March 1905). Karpath's review of Schenker's Harmonielehre in the Neues Wiener Tagblatt is preserved at OC 2/p.20 (May 18, 1908). According to Schenker, Karpath had reviewed the first edition of Ein Beitrag zur Ornamentik [1903] in 1908, and requested a copy of the second edition in September 1908 (WSLB 19). In 1912, Karpath complained that he had not been sent a review copy of Beethovens Neunte Sinfonie (WSLB 138, OC 52/101).

Bibliography:

Ludwig Karpath, Siegfried Wagner als Mensch und Künstler (Leipzig 1902)

Ludwig Karpath, ed., Zu den Briefen Richard Wagners an eine Putzmacherin (1906—object of Schenker's ridicule in WSLB 154, April 22, 1913)

Ludwig Karpath, ed., Richard Wagner: Briefe an Hans Richter (Berlin 1924)

Sources:

Felix Czeike, Historisches Lexikon Wien, vol. 3 (Vienna 1994), p. 470.

Eybl, Martin, ed., Die Befreiung des Augenblicks: Schönbergs Skandalkonzerte 1907 und 1908: Eine Dokumentation (Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 2004), pp. 40–42, 133–34 , 182–84, 211–12, 239–40, et al

Federhofer, Hellmut, Heinrich Schenker nach Tagebüchern und Briefen ... (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1985), 40–42

Harten, Uwe, "Karpath, Ludwig" in Oesterreichisches Musiklexikon, ed. Rudolf Flotzinger, vol. 2 (Vienna 2003), p. 969

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