Jonathan Dunsby


I would like to begin with a short, personal story. As a music major, I spotted a German book called Das Meisterwerk in der Musik, the enticing title of which translates as "The Musical Masterpiece." Intrigued, I showed this library book to my tutor, who advised me to leave it alone. "Schenker is toxic" were his precise words. To a youngster of the post 1968 era, a forbidden idea just made it all the more alluring, and so I discovered what few of my generation seemed to be being taught. Admittedly, piano studies involved a venerable lineage through Heinrich Neuhaus of Moscow, who had taught many of the great teachers teaching my generation, back through such as Liszt and Czerny, all the way to Ludwig van Beethoven himself, who seemed to have more or less invented everything that mattered in piano virtuosity. Into the conceptual void strode Dr. Schenker, opining in his evocative Gothic script about how music fits together, so that you could think about it and know what it was you were thinking about. I sensed, at that moment, that I had been allowed at last to read, and not only hear, some of the secret knowledge of classical music that otherwise could be garnered only somehow intuitively, and for me only half-understood, in the studio.