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Josef Matthias Hauer

Hauer's birthplace in Wiener Neustadt
Josef Matthias Hauer's "athematic" dodecaphony in Nomos Op. 19[1](About this sound Play  )

Josef Matthias Hauer (March 19, 1883 – September 22, 1959) was an Austrian composer and music theorist. He is most famous for developing, independent of and a year or two before Arnold Schoenberg, a method for composing with all 12 notes of the chromatic scale. Hauer was also an important early theorist of twelve-tone music and composition.

Hauer "detested all art that expressed ideas, programmes or feelings,"[2] instead believing that it was " raise music to its highest...level," [3] a, "purely spiritual, supersensual music composed according to impersonal rules,"[4] and many of his compositions reflect this in their direct, often athematic, 'cerebral' approach. Hauer's music is diverse, however, and not all of it embraces this aesthetic position.

According to one scholar, Hauer's twelve-tone music was balanced between the "obligatory rule" that each composition follow an arrangement of the total chromatic: "the 'Constellation' or "Grundgestalt' ('basic shape')," and his often emphasized concept of tropes, or unordered arrangement of a pair of hexachords[5] This interpretation seems largely drawn from Hauer's theoretical writing of the early to mid-1920s in which he outlines these techniques. But a closer look at Hauer's compositional output reveals that a significant portion of his twelve-tone music from the 1920s and 30s employs strictly ordered rows, as do the Zwoelftonspiel pieces that follow.[6] Despite this, Hauer is often mentioned as the inventor of the tropes in contrast to the Arnold Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School, who are thought of as advocates of Schoenberg's twelve-tone method. (In fact, many of the twelve-tone pieces by Schoenberg and his student Alban Berg do not strictly follow this method.)


  • Life 1
  • Musical style 2
  • References in literature 3
  • Musical works 4
  • Theoretical writings 5
  • Notes 6
  • Sources 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9


Hauer was born in

  • Josef Matthias Hauer page (German)
  • Josef Matthias Hauer (1883-1959) (in German, with photos of Hauer)
  • John Covach. "Josef Matthias Hauer" (biography).
  • Database of tone rows and tropes

External links

  • Covach, John. “The Quest of the Absolute: Schoenberg, Hauer, and the Twelve-Tone Idea,” in Jon Michael Spencer, ed., Theomusicology, special issue of Black Sacred Music: A Journal of Theomusicology 8/1 (Duke University Press, 1994): 158-77.
  • Henck, Herbert. Fürsprache für Hauer: Hermann Heiß und die Hintergründe eines Briefes von Thomas Mann an Ellie Bommersheim im Jahre 1949 ["Speech for the Defence of Hauer: Hermann Heiß and the Background of a Letter from Thomas Mann to Ellie Bommersheim in 1949"]. Deinstedt: Kompost-Verlag, 1998. ISBN 3-9802341-3-4.
  • Fheodoroff, Nikolaus. Josef Matthias Hauer: Schriften, Manifeste, Dokumente ["Josef Matthias Hauer: Writings, Manifestos, Documents"]. Vienna: Edition Österreichische Musikzeit, 2003.
  • The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers, 2001.
  • Sengstschmid, Johann. Zwischen Trope und Zwölftonspiel: J. M. Hauers Zwölftontechnik in ausgewählten Beispielen ["Between Trope and Twelve-tone Game: J. M. Hauer's Twelve-tone Technique in Selected Examples"]. Regensburg: Gustav Bosse, 1980. ISBN 3-7649-2219-2
  • Shaw-Miller, Simon. Visible Deeds of Music: Art and Music from Wagner to Cage. Chapter 5, 'Out of Tune' Hauer's Legacy and the Aesthetics of Minimalism in Art and Music', pp. 163–207. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002.
  • Dominik Sedivy: Serial Composition and Tonality. An Introduction to the Music of Hauer and Steinbauer, edited by Guenther Friesinger, Helmut Neumann, Dominik Sedivy, edition mono / monochrom, Vienna 2011

Further reading

  • Covach, John. 1990. "The Music and Theories of Josef Matthias Hauer", Ph.D. dissertation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan.
  • Covach, John. 1992. "The Zwölftonspiel of Josef Matthias Hauer”. Journal of Music Theory 36.1 (1992): 149-84.
  • Covach, John. 2002. "Twelve-Tone Theory”. In The Cambridge History of Western Music Theory, edited by Thomas Christensen, 603–627. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Covach, John. 2003. "Josef Matthias Hauer". In Music of the Twentieth Century Avant-Garde, edited by Larry Sitsky, 197–202. [N.p.]: Greenwood Publishing.
  • Hauer, Josef Matthias.
  • Lichtenfeld, Monika. 2001. "Hauer, Josef Matthias". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, 29 vols., edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell, 11:134–37. London: Macmillan Publishers; New York: Grove's Dictionaries.
  • Whittall, Arnold. 2008. The Cambridge Introduction to Serialism. Cambridge Introductions to Music. Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-86341-4 (cloth) ISBN 978-0-521-68200-8 (pbk.)


  1. ^ Whittall 2008, 26.
  2. ^ a b Lichtenfeld 2001, 135.
  3. ^ Hauer, p. 604, quoted in Whittall 2008, 25.
  4. ^ Lichtenfeld 2001, 134–35.
  5. ^ a b c d Lichtenfeld 2001, 134.
  6. ^ Covach 1990, .
  7. ^ Covach 1990,.
  8. ^ Covach 1992, .
  9. ^ Covach 2002, .
  10. ^ Covach 2003, .


  • 17 theoretical writings (1918-1926), 33 essays and articles (1919-1948)
  • Über die Klangfarbe ("About Tone-Color", 1918)
  • Vom Wesen des Musikalischen ("On the Essence of Music", 1920)
  • Deutung des Melos ("Interpretation of the Melos", 1923)
  • "Atonale Melodienlehre" ("Teachings on Atonal Melodies", manuscript, 1923)
  • Vom Melos zur Pauke ("From the Melos to the Kettledrum", 1925)
  • Zwölftontechnik. Die Lehre von den Tropen ("Twelve-Tone Technique: Teachings on the Tropes", 1926)
  • "Der Goldene Schnitt. Eine Rechtfertigung der Zwölftonmusik" ("The Golden Ratio", manuscript, 1926)
  • "Kosmisches Testament" (three "Cosmic Testaments", manuscripts, 1937, 1941, 1945)

The most important writings:

In his theoretical writing, Hauer often casts the twelve tempered tones as a kind of spiritual world. For Hauer, this twelve-tone world offers one access to the fundamental truths of existence, transforming composition from an act of personal expression into one of devotion and contemplation. His various twelve-tone techniques thus become a means to an end, as do the pieces themselves; the ultimate goal of music is to commune with the infinite. This mystical approach to music is drawn from 19th-century romanticism and is certainly not exclusive to Hauer, though he may have been the most publicly vocal proponent of this idea in the Vienna of his day. In fact, much of the thinking of the Second Viennese School is bound up with the idea that music provides access to spiritual truth, an idea adapted from the writing of Schopenhauer, who enjoyed considerable popularity at this time, especially among artists. Hauer often refers to the scientific writing of Goethe (the Theory of Color especially), which most likely came to him though the editions and commentary of Rudolf Steiner.[10]

Hauer is considered an important figure in the development of twelve-tone theory and aesthetics. His early published writings Vom Wesen des Musikalischen (1920) and Deutung des Melos articulate the more theoretical and aesthetic aspects of Hauer's thought, while Vom Melos zur Pauke (1925) and Zwölftontechnik, Die Lehre von den Tropen (1926) provide detailed musical examples. Because of the discussion of tropes in Zwölftontechnik, Hauer has usually cast as an advocate for trope composition in contrast to those advocating the use of an ordered twelve-tone series. This view, however, is mistaken; tropes were only one of the many ways Hauer had of approaching a systematic circulation of all twelve tones. (Interestingly, much of the music praised by those who advocated for an ordered series—the music of Schoenberg and Berg especially—was much more flexible in actual practice than the descriptions of them seems to indicate.) These early theoretical works make Hauer one of the founders of twelve-tone theory.[9]

Theoretical writings

577 works are known (Lafite index).

Musical works

Since the 1920s Hauer has been a model for literature, e.g., in Otto Stoessl's "Die Sonnenmelodie", Franz Werfel's "Verdi" (Matthias Fischboeck). Late in life Hauer spoke about Mann, as well as Theodor W. Adorno, with great bitterness, for he felt that both men had misunderstood him. Adorno had written about Hauer, but only disparagingly. Because of his later achievements and developments it has also been assumed by many scholars that Hauer is also a model for the "Joculator Basiliensis" in Hermann Hesse's "Glass-bead Game".

References in literature

After 1940, Hauer wrote exclusively Zwölftonspiele ("Twelve-tone Games" or "Twelve-tone Playing"), designated sometimes by number, sometimes by date. He wrote about one thousand such pieces, most of them lost.[2] These pieces were all built on an ordered twelve-tone row, with the actual order often determined by chance. These pieces were not so much concert pieces as much as systematic and controlled meditations on the twelve tones—more a means than an end. Hauer believed that the twelve tempered tones provided access to the realm of the spiritual; meditating on the twelve tones was thus a prayerful act and not a public display of personal emotion or expression. In many ways Hauer's use of chance elements, and especially his deep interest in the i Ching, are parallel to those of American composer John Cage.[8]

Hauer's compositional techniques are extraordinarily various and often change from one piece to the next. These range from building-block techniques to methods using a chord series that is generated out of the twelve-tone row ("Melos") to pieces employing an ordered row that is then subject to systematic permution. The so-called 44 "tropes" and their compositional usage ("trope-technique") are essential to many of Hauer's twelve-tone techniques. In contrast to a twelve-tone row that contains a fixed succession of twelve tones, a trope consists of two complementary hexachords in which there is no fixed tone sequence. The tropes are used for structural and intervallic views on the twelve-tone system. Every trope offers certain symmetries that can be used by the composer. But Hauer also employed twelve-tone rows, using one row for a single piece and subjecting that row to a series of transformations, most notably rotation (keeping the order of the elements in a series fixed but reorganizing them so that they start somewhere in the middle and wrap back around to the beginning: A B C D . . . becomes C D . . . A B, for instance.[7]

Musical style

Hauer wrote prolifically, both music and prose, until 1938, when his music was added to the touring Nazi "degenerate art" (Entartete Kunst) exhibit.[5] He stayed in Austria through the war, and, in fear, publishing nothing. Even after the war, however, he published little more, although it is thought that several hundred pieces remain in manuscript. Hauer continued to write Zwoelftonspiel pieces until the time of his death while also teaching several students his techniques and philosophy. At the time of his death, Hauer had reportedly given away most of his possessions, living simply while retaining a copy of the I Ching.

[5].twelve-tone technique (1920), before the Schoenberg circle’s earliest writings on Vom Wesen der Musikalischen). In August 1919 he published his "law of the twelve tones", requiring that all twelve chromatic notes sound before any is repeated. This he developed and first articulated theoretically in Theory of Colours's Goethe In 1918 he published his first work on music theory (a tone-color theory based on [5]

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