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Victor Hammer collection

Identifier: MP-0009-01


Music manuscripts and books collected by Victor Hammer, including a copy of Ein Beitrag zur Ornamentik by Heinrich Schenker, musical sketches and three books of lute tablature, correspondence of Carolyn Reading Hammer with Clifford Wurfel and Robert Lang of the University of California at Riverside Library, a drawing of Hans Weisse by Victor Hammer, and manuscripts of compositions by Hans Weisse, with dedications to Victor Hammer.


  • 1927 - 1981



0.9 Cubic Feet (2 boxes)

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection consists of compositions collected by Victor Hammer, as well as materials created by him. The collection also contains correspondence written by Carolyn Reading Hammer many years after his death concerning the disposition of his papers. The correspondence was initiated by Robert P. Lang, Emeritus Associate University Librarian for University of California, Riverside regarding the Victor Hammer-Heinrich Schenker letters. A secondary correspondent is Clifford R. Wurfel, a special collections librarian at the same university.

A highlight of the collection is a set of eight scores by Hammer's friend Hans Weisse, five of which bear inscriptions to Victor Hammer. These scores consist of: "Drei geistliche Sprüche," 1927; "Sechs Bagatellen für Klavier," 1929; "Canon für drei Frauenstimmen," (1930); "Zehn biblische Spräche," July 1930; "Sechs Stücke für die Laute" (one undated and one dated January 1931); and "Fantasie für die Laute" (one undated and one dated 1931). These compositions pre-date Weisse's immigration to the United States in late 1931. A pencil portrait of Weisse by Hammer is also present.

Another notable aspect of the collection are three hand-bound books of music for lute (lute tablature), with inserts indicating that Hammer had bound them. The bindings are leather, with decorative endpapers and handmade paper and calligraphic lettering. It is unclear whether Hammer was responsible for the calligraphy, but it seems likely, as drafts of the compositions in these books are present in a portfolio in the collection.

Language of Materials

Materials in English, German and French.

Access Restrictions

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

Use Restrictions

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

Victor Hammer (1882-1967) was an Austrian-born artist, active mainly in Florence and Vienna and later in the United States. His output consists largely of portraits and religious scenes—paintings, sculpture, drawings, woodcuts, engravings, and mezzotints. He is widely known for his contribution to the book arts as a designer of uncial typefaces and a printer on hand presses. An avid amateur musician, Hammer played the clavichord, lute, and clarinet. A number of his friends were musicians, among them Heinrich Schenker and Hans Weisse, who dedicated several of his compositions to Hammer. Hammer completed a mezzotint portrait of Schenker in 1925, and a portrait drawing of Weisse in 1923. His exchange of letters with Schenker (available through the Web portal, Schenker Documents Online) record their discussion of the existence in both music and pictures of the Urlinie, a concept from Schenkerian analysis that represents a reduction of a composition to a single descending line. The influence of Schenker’s ideas can be seen in Hammer’s essays on the philosophy of art, most of which he published after his immigration to the United States in 1939. He taught at Wells College in Aurora, New York, and later at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, where he continued his work in the book arts with his second wife, the printer Carolyn Reading Hammer.

Hans Weisse (1892-1940) was an Austrian (later naturalized American) teacher, theorist and composer, who studied with Schenker between 1908 and 1919, taught for ten years in Vienna and, after contemplating prospects in Germany, opted to immigrate to the United States, teaching in New York until his premature death. He, more than anyone else, deserves credit for initiating the wide dissemination of Schenker's theory that took place in the U.S. in the mid-20th century. Weisse communicated Schenker's ideas not through publications but through teaching, his pupils including Oswald Jonas, Adele T. Katz, William J. Mitchell, and Felix Salzer. Arriving in New York in late September 1931, Weisse introduced himself to his new colleagues at Mannes School of Music with a successful half-hour talk on "the relationship of a music theory teacher to the other teachers in a school of music," and he soon confirmed his reputation as a gifted educator. Many of the letters he wrote to Schenker during this period (also available through Schenker Documents Online) describe the success he had connecting theory to practice, specifically the ways in which music should be listened to and, especially, performed.

Biographical note adapted from legacy finding aid data.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged alphabetically.

Custodial History

Materials are a gift of Carolyn Reading Hammer, Victor Hammer's wife, given to the Harry Scherman Library of the Mannes School of Music, 1993.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from Harry Scherman Library of the Mannes School of Music to The New School Archives and Special Collections, 2015.

Related Materials

Northwestern University holds the Victor Hammer private press collection (MS137). Additionally, the University of California at Riverside's Oswald Jonas memorial collection (MS067) contains correspondence between Hammer and Heinrich Schenker. Examples of Hammer's artwork are held by a number of repositories, including the University of Kentucky, which holds the Victor Hammer papers (2011MS118).

Guide to the Victor Hammer collection
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
October 30, 2018
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