Percy Goetschius

Mixed chorus
Music theory
For beginners
Music criticism
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Applied CounterpointExercises in Elementary CounterpointExercises in Melody-WritingMelodien-Sträusschen nach SchubertModels of the Principal Musical FormsMrs. H. H. A. BeachPiano Sonata, Op.15Psalm 23, Op.8The Homophonic Forms of Musical CompositionThe Larger Forms of Musical CompositionThe Material used in Musical CompositionThe Theory and Practice of Tone RelationsThe Theory and Practice of Tone-relations
Percy Goetschius (August 10, 1853 – October 29, 1943) was an American music theorist and teacher who won international fame in the teaching of composition.
Goetschius was born in Paterson, New Jersey. He was also encouraged by Ureli Corelli Hill, a conductor and violinist, who was a friend of the Goetschius family. Goetschius was the organist of the Second Presbyterian Church from 1868–1870 and of the First Presbyterian from 1870–1873, and pianist of Mr. Benson's Paterson Choral Society. He went to Stuttgart, Württemberg (Germany), in 1873 to study theory in the Royal Conservatory with Immanuel Faisst, and soon advanced to become a professor. In 1885, King Karl Friedrich Alexander of Württemberg conferred upon him the title of royal professor. He composed much, and reviewed performances for the press. Syracuse University conferred an Honorary Music Doctorate on Goetschius for the academic year 1892–1893. In 1892, he took a position in the New England Conservatory, Boston, and four years later opened a studio in that city. In 1905, he went to the staff of the Institute of Musical Art (Juilliard School) in New York City, headed by Frank Damrosch.
Goetschius's notable pupils include Henry Cowell, Lillian Fuchs, Howard Hanson, Swan Hennessy, Julia Klumpke, Wallingford Riegger, Bernard Rogers, and Arthur Shepherd. In 1917, he was elected an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia fraternity, the national fraternity for men in music, by the fraternity's Alpha chapter at the New England Conservatory.
Goetschius published several textbooks on theory, including:
As of the mid-20th century, use of Goetschius' books, as texts, is rare; albeit, the books contain original theoretical ideas and pedagogical approaches that endure today.
Perhaps the most important theory put forth by Goetschius is that of natural harmonic progression, which first appeared in The Theory and Practice of Tone-Relations. According to Goetschius' theory, the triad V in a key resolves to the tonic triad I because of the acoustically perfect interval of the fifth between the root of V and that of I:
Goetschius believed that, since the upper tone of the fifth is a harmonic of the lower, a chord rooted on the upper tone demands to be "resolved" by progressing to the chord rooted on the lower tone. Moreover, this theory is extended to other chords in a key, so that the normal tendency of a chord (triad or seventh chord) in a key is to progress to the chord rooted a fifth lower.
The sole weakness of this theory is its failure to account for the importance of the subdominant triad IV, a chord frequently used in musical practice. Although Goetschius acknowledges the importance of the IV harmony elsewhere in his writings, it does not appear to have a place in his theory of harmonic progression.
My family name is (or should be) pronounced get'she-us. The family hails from Switzerland (1714), where the name was Götschi. One of my ancestors, middle of the 18th century, an earnest Latin scholar, affixed the Latin terminal us.
He was married twice, the second time to Maria C. C. Stephany on June 14, 1899. He had two children.
Percy Goetschius died at his home in Manchester, New Hampshire on October 29, 1943.