Many musicians contributed to the early spread of Schenkerian ideas in the U.S., but one played a crucial and unparalleled role during the earliest decade, the 1930s: Hans Weisse (1892––1940), one of Schenker's most esteemed students. Although Jewish, Weisse was not a political or war refugee, as were later Schenker éémigréés. Instead, he came to the U.S. to teach, in the fall of 1931; by the time his former colleagues were finding their ways from Europe, Weisse had already become an American citizen. He died prematurely in 1940, but by then his impact on the pedagogy of music theory and analysis was already being felt, not only directly, at institutions where he taught, but through his many students who were active in disseminating the Schenkerian approach.
As the Schenker enterprise now enters its eighth decade in the U.S., a better understanding of its early and largely unexplored foundations becomes ever more essential, and the contributions of Weisse provide a logical point of departure. Heretofore his role has remained largely undocumented. Investigation of three aspects of Weisse's accomplishment and legacy help shed light on his pivotal role as a music educator and thinker in this country: the record of his highly active professional life as a teacher of music; the theoretical positions and pedagogical strategies revealed by his few preserved writings and remarks; and the enduring influence of his teachings. Through the work of his students, it can be seen that his contribution was decisive in laying the foundation for future Schenkerian work.
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