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Felix Salzer papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MP-0007-01


Austrian-born American music theorist Felix Salzer (1901-1986) furthered the system of musical analysis developed by Heinrich Schenker and was a faculty member and executive director of the Mannes College of Music. The collection contains biographical information, Salzer's honorary doctorate from Mannes and materials and photographs relating to the degree conferral ceremony, as well as vacation photographs of Salzer and his wife, Hedwig Lindtberg.


  • 1940-1986



0.1 Cubic Feet (5 folders)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

This collection contains photographic portraits of Felix Salzer and his wife, Hedwig Lindtberg, a brief biography of Salzer written by Carl Schachter, Salzer's honorary doctorate in music from Mannes College of Music, and the contents of a scrapbook relating to the 1982 commencement ceremony at which the doctorate was conferred, including a program and invitation, remarks by Mannes president Charles Kaufman, chairman Sidney Gelber, student Lise Friedman, faculty member Carl Schachter, and Felix Salzer, as well as correspondence and photographs from the ceremony. The collection also contains small black and white vacation photos of Salzer and his wife, circa the 1940s.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use. Please contact for appointment.

Conditions Governing Use

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives and Special Collections. Please contact:

Biographical Note

Felix Salzer (born 1904, Vienna, Austria - died 1986, Manhattan, New York) was an Austrian-born American music theorist and teacher who furthered the use of Schenkerian analysis in music scholarship. Born to a prominent Austrian family (his maternal uncles were concert pianist Paul Wittgenstein (1887-1961) and philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1881-1951) Salzer studied music theory with Hans Weisse, a pupil of Austrian music theorist Heinrich Schenker. When Weisse immigrated to the United States in 1931, Schenker began holding weekly seminars with his students to advance his method of analysis. Salzer was a participant in these sessions. In 1932, Hans Weisse arranged for the David Mannes Music School in New York City, where he was teaching, to publish Five Analyses in Sketchform, which was a graphical record of the work of Schenker’s weekly seminars with his students.

Salzer also studied music history and musicology with Guido Adler at Vienna University, and received his doctorate there in 1926. At the Vienna Conservatory, Salzer studied conducting and received a diploma in 1935. After Schenker’s death in 1935, Salzer taught music theory at the New Vienna Conservatory, as part of the Schenker Institute at the school. With colleague Oswald Jonas, Salzer founded Der Dreiklang (The Triad) in 1937, which was a monthly journal centered on Schenkerian analysis.

Following the Nazi annexation of Austria, Salzer immigrated to the United States in 1939, later becoming a U.S. citizen in 1945. In 1940, after Weisse’s death, Salzer replaced his former teacher on the music theory faculty at the David Mannes Music School, becoming head of the theory department in 1944, assistant director of graduate and undergraduate schools in 1948, and executive director of the school in 1950. During Salzer’s tenure as executive director, The David Mannes Music School was accredited as a degree-granting institution, becoming The Mannes College of Music in 1953.

At Mannes, Hans Weisse had established Schenkerian analysis as part of the fundamental curriculum of the school, and Salzer continued this as part of Mannes’ “Techniques of Music” program. In 1952, Salzer authored the text Structural Hearing: Tonal Coherence in Music, which disseminated Schenker’s theories in the United States. Der Freie Satz (Free Composition), Schenker’s major published work, had not yet been translated into English, and was focused on presenting Schenker’s theories, while Structural Hearing provided a practical textbook for applying Schenkerian analysis. Salzer also expanded on Schenker’s ideas in the book: Schenker had limited his analyses to music by European composers of the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods, as its tonal coherence lended itself to his analytical technique, but in Structural Hearing, Salzer applied Schenkerian principles to Medieval and Renaissance music, as well as contemporary music.

Salzer left Mannes in 1956, becoming a visiting professor at several institutions, including Queens College of the City University of New York (1956-1957), University of California, Los Angeles (1959-1960), The Peabody Institute (1962), and The New School for Social Research (1962-1963), which would incorporate Mannes as a college in 1989. In 1962, Salzer returned to the faculty of Mannes, where he remained until 1981. Throughout his career, Salzer continued to develop and promote Schenker’s ideas, co-founding and contributing to Music Forum, a six-volume book series, the first of which was published in 1967, intended to define and expand Schenkerian theory. In 1969, Salzer co-authored Counterpoint in Composition: A Study of Voice Leading with Carl Schachter, a fellow Mannes faculty member and Salzer’s former student. The text would become influential in music theory pedagogy. In that same year Salzer wrote a foreword for the second edition of Five Analyses in Sketchform, the Schenkerian text that he had helped to create in 1932.

In addition to his teaching career, Salzer served as chair of the New York chapter of the American Musicological Society from 1962 to 1964. Salzer died in New York City in 1986 at the age of 82.


Berry, David Carson. “Schenkerian Theory in the United States: A Review of Its Establishment and a Survey of Current Research Topics.” Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie. Last modified, January 12, 2008. Accessed February 17, 2021.

Course Catalogs. “Mannes College of Music.” 1942-1981. College of Performing Arts Course Catalog Collection. The New School Archives Digital Collections, New York, New York.

Felix Salzer Papers. “Felix Salzer Papers, 1897-1995: Overview.” Music Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, New York, New York.

“Felix Salzer: Structural Hearing (Book Review).” Musical Quarterly. (1 January 1953): 126-129.

Novack, Saul. “Felix Salzer.” In Grove Music Online. Accessed February 17, 2021.

Page, Tim. “Felix Salzer, 82, Musicologist.” The New York Times, August 13, 1986.

Siegel, Hedi. “Felix Salzer.” Schenker Documents Online. Accessed February 17, 2021.


Arranged alphabetically by subject.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The staff of The New School Archives and Special Collections assembled this collection from records collected by the Scherman library of Mannes College of Music and by Mannes development director George Nichols, accessioned in 2015.

Related Materials

The New School Archives holds the records of the Mannes School of Music photograph collection (MA.04.01.01) which includes photographs of Mannes faculty and commencement ceremonies. The New York Public Library holds the Felix Salzer papers, which contains additional personal materials belonging to Salzer, as well as correspondence, academic work and analyses, and materials pertaining to Heinrich Schenker.

Guide to the Felix Salzer papers
Jason Adamo and New School Archives Staff
October 2, 2023
Language of description
Script of description