Handschin, Jacques (Samuel)

views updated

Handschin, Jacques (Samuel)

Handschin, Jacques (Samuel), eminent Swiss organist and musicologist; b. Moscow, April 5, 1886; d. Basel, Nov. 25, 1955. He studied organ in Moscow, and in 1905 mathematics and history at the Univ. of Basel. He then went to Munich to pursue his academic studies, and also studied organ and theory with Reger. He later attended some of the lectures in musicology given in Leipzig by Riemann and in Berlin by Hornbostel, and took additional courses in organ with Strube in Leipzig and with Widor in Paris. Returning to Russia, he taught organ at the St. Petersburg Cons. (1909–20). He gave numerous organ recitals in Russia, and promoted contemporary organ works by Russian composers, among them Glazunov and Taneyev. Included these works in his anthology Les Maîtres contemporains de l’orgue (Paris, 1913-14). In 1920 he returned to Switzerland, and in 1921 he received his Ph.D. from the Univ. of Basel with the diss. Choralbearbeitungen und Kompositionen mit rhythmischem Text in der mehrstimmigen Musik des 13. Jahrhunderts; completed his Habilitation there in 1924 with his Über die mehrstimmige Musik der St. Martial-Epoche sowie die Zusammenhänge zwischen Notre Dame und St. Martial und die Zusammenhänge zwischen einem dritten Stil und Notre Dame und St. Martial. In 1924 he became Privatdozent at the Univ. of Basel, and later he was a prof, of musicology there (1935–55). He also served as a church organist in Zürich and Basel. He was greatly esteemed for his erudition and the soundness of his analytical theories; he evolved philosophical principles of musical aesthetics seeking the rational foundations of the art. His most important work is Der Toncharakter: Eine Einführung in die Tonpsychologie (Zürich, 1948), which sets down his principles of musical aesthetics. Other works include La Musique de l’antiquité (Paris, 1946) and Musikgeschichte im Überblick (Lucerne, 1948).


H. Oesch, Gedenkschrift J. H: Aufsätze und Bibliographie (Bern and Stuttgart, 1957); H. Angles et al, eds., In memoriam J. H. (Strasbourg, 1962); M. Maier, J. H.s “Toncharakter”: Zu den Bedingungen seiner Entstehung (Stuttgart, 1991).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire