Ziehn, Bernhard



Distinguished theorist; born in January, 1845, at Erfurt, Thuringia. He was not especially educated in music when a boy, but passed through the common and normal schools, and then became a schoolteacher, teaching for three years at Mühlhausen, and coming to America in 1868, where for three years he taught in Chicago, and then turned his entire attention to music, specializing along theoretical lines. His first published works, Hamburg, 1881, were a System of Exercises for the piano, and A New Method for the Instruction of Beginners, emphasizing the naturally opposite position of the hands in playing, and the necessity of technical training for their symmetrical development. The exercises given in this latter work are largely in contrary motion, in accordance with this principle. A still more important work, Harmonic und Modulationslehre, was published in Berlin, 1888. It is to a great extent inductive, as it illustrates each step by examples from the works of the best composers, quoting from a wide range of nearly one hundred, from the old classicists to the ultra-moderns. His latest work is the Manual of Harmony, published in Milwaukee, 1907. He has contributed articles to various Berlin musical periodicals, including the Allgemeine Musikzeitung, Die Musik, and others, and stands high as an authority on branches of musical history. His opinion of the genuineness of a certain work ascribed to Bach was accepted over that of Spitta by celebrated German scholars. He made a special study of the correct execution of the old embellishments found in classical works; and attracted commendation from the Department of Agriculture at Washington for his important botanical article on poison ivy in the parks and suburbs of Chicago, where he resides. His original ideas in regard to symmetrical inversion of chords in his works on harmony have attracted the attention of the most advanced musicians, but so far have been little used by composers.