Schenker and the Moonlight Sonata: Unpublished Graphs and Commentary

Kiyomi Kimura


This paper examines Schenker’s unpublished materials on the first  movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata — analytic graphs of the work and a commentary on its performance. The materials, which are found in the Felix Salzer Papers at the New York Public Library, include analyses prepared in a seminar conducted by Schenker from 1931 until the spring of 1934. There are three full-length graphs of the first movement shown in five levels. Of the three, one is a complete graph in the hand of Greta Kraus (a member of seminar); two, in the hand of Angelika Elias, are nearly complete. (Elias was not a member of the seminar; she studied Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in her private lessons with Schenker.) In addition to the pages of the analyses, there is a commentary on performance interpretation titled Notizen zum Vortrag der Mondscheinsonate (Notes on the performance of the Moonlight Sonata). I will provide a facsimile, transcription, and English translation of the commentary on the first movement. I will also present Kraus’s complete graph of the first movement in facsimile and will compare selected passages with the interpretations given in the graphs by Elias. As a supplement, I will offer a few analytic interpretations of my own.

In my paper, I will relate the unpublished graphs, the Notizen, and Schenker’s fingerings in the hope that together they will serve both pianists and theorists as an important guide to Schenker’s analysis and provide them with insights into the performance of the Moonlight Sonata.

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