Philipp Rist - Music History, Impact Research

Joseph Schillinger - a critical examination

Schillinger and his musical system in New York in the 1930s

The scholarly dissertation project “Joseph Schillinger - a critical examination” deals with the biography of Joseph Schillinger (1895-1943), his compositional system “The Schillinger System of Musical Composition” and its influence on music in New York in the 1930s, especially incidence, dance, and film music. His students reportedly included composers such as George Gershwin, Benny Goodman, and Glenn Miller.

Joseph Schillinger's work is to be understood as a combinatorial compositional system that attempts to parameterise basic musical principles through mathematical conditions as well as combinatorial elements. Schillinger's compositional techniques open new dimensions and perspectives for the discussion process as well as the practical process of composing. However, the exact position and reception of Schillinger in the context of his life and work in the USA has not yet been clarified.

Contrary to the glorifying traditions of his students and widow, a critical examination of Schillinger's person based on well-founded archival research as well as an unbiased musical analysis of incidence music with the aim of a music-historical and impact-historical contextualisation is necessary. If such influences can be proven, the question also arises to what extent Schillinger influenced the development of US stage and film music of the 1930s. The focus of the work is thus on the relevance of Schillinger's work and his influence on central works of the time.

First supervisor: Univ.Doz. Dr. Hans Georg Nicklaus ABPU
Second supervisor: Univ.Prof. Dr. Nils Grosch, University of Salzburg



Philipp Rist was born in Innsbruck, Tyrol in 1993. After his first autodidactic attempts at the piano, he received first classical and later jazz piano lessons from the age of 10. In the summer of 2011, he began his studies in jazz piano as a concert subject as well as instrumental and vocal pedagogy with an additional focus on keyboards & electronic sound production at the Anton Bruckner Private University Linz with Prof. Dejan Pecenko. He completed a master's degree in instrumental and vocal pedagogy. His thesis dealt with Ernst Levy and his complex theory of harmonic structures as well as their adaptation in the jazz context.

In 2016, he travelled to Sri Lanka to teach piano as a guest lecturer at "Musicmatters" in Colombo for three months. He is active as a composer and arranger, especially in the context of his own concert projects with the bands "Bye Maxene" ( "Hikee Bikini" ( and in collaboration with the New York jazz guitarist Adam Rafferty ( As a sideman, Philipp Rist can be heard regularly as the pianist of Jo Strauß ( Furthermore, the conception, composition, and production of film music in various fields is also one of his core competences. His concert activities have taken him to stages such as the Colombo Jazz Festival, the International Festival of Jazzpiano in Prague, the Tschirgart Jazz Festival and the Volksschauspiele Tirol.

Since 2019, Philipp Rist has been a Senior Lecturer in Instrumental Pedagogy at the University Mozarteum and teaches the subjects jazz/pop piano as well as band practice for the training of pedagogues in the field of school music. Since 2020 he has been a doctoral candidate in musicology at the Anton Bruckner Private University with the dissertation project "Joseph Schillinger - a critical examination".