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Schillinger, Joseph


SCHILLINGER, JOSEPH (1895–1943), music theorist and composer. Born in Kharkov, Schillinger studied conducting and composition with Nicolai Tcherepnin, among others, at the St. Petersburg Conservatory (1914–18). Until his emigration to New York in 1928, Schillinger pursued a career in the Ukraine as conductor and composer and helped organize the first jazz concert in Russia (1927). In New York, Schillinger continued to compose as well as teaching, but he is mainly remembered for his systematic theory of music composition, in which his mathematical training is evident. Schillinger believed in scientific methods as the basis of artistic creativity in all the arts (as described in The Mathematical Basis of the Arts, 1948). His most important book, The Schillinger System of Musical Composition (2 vols., 1941, 1946), attempts to explore all possible permutations of every musical parameter, showing them as geometrical forms. This modernist approach might be conceived as a predecessor of set theory, yet Schillinger's actual theory is limited to rather conventional constraints. For example, he presented rhythmic permutations in conventional meters only (see also Encyclopedia of Rhythms (1966)), and focused on unusual syncopations. Schillinger's private pupils include Jewish jazz composers George *Gershwin and Vernon Duke, as well as Oscar *Levant and Benny *Goodman, who were probably attracted by Schillinger's approach to rhythmic devices. Among his compositions are First Airphonic Suite (orchestra, 1929), The People and the Prophet (ballet, 1933), and many songs and piano pieces


ng2; F. Schillinger, Joseph Schillinger: A Memoir (1949); P. Nauert. "Theory and Practice in Porgy and Bess: The Gershwin-Schillinger Connection," in: The Musical Quarterly (1994).

[Yossi Goldenberg (2nd ed.)]

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