Noted Modernist Composer Talks of His Art
Undisturbed by Criticism
Recalls That Work of Wagner in Past Was Hissed

Meet Arnold Schoenberg, internationally famous German composer. Arnold Schoenberg, a voluntary exile from Germany where his music is under Reich ban, but nevertheless one of the foremost figures in contemporary music. Mr. Schoenberg arrived here on Tuesday, accompanied by his wife and seventeen-months-old daughter, to teach composition at the Malkin Conservatory of Music in Boston, and is spending a day or two at Hotel Ansonia, seeing New York for the first time.
He is of medium height, with a rather broad face, the sensitive pointed ears of a dreamer, and serious brown eyes. He could never be mistaken for anything but a musician – a serious musician of genuine artistic impulses. Admittedly in his fifty-ninth year, although his partially bald head is the only betrayal of his age, Mr. Schoenberg’s slender, nervous fingers which have set down compositions marking a new epoch in musical development, would mark their owner as an artist if all other characteristics did not.
Yesterday he was reluctant to discuss his departure from Germany. It is not a compulsory banishment that has sent him here, he said, but all last winter his music was under ban in Germany because of its advanced character and the Semitic background of the composer. And he believes he will be happier in America.
Schoenberg’s name has been associated with such bold experimentation and has been the center of so many violent controversies in the musical world during the last generation that it is interesting to know his attitude toward the criticism which has been directed at him in the past.

As to Modernism.

“We modernists are condemned by some people,” he said, “but we cannot stand still. The music of the old masters will live forever, but we must keep step with life. We have at our disposal far more material than they had, and we must use it.
“Like composers of the past – Wagner, for example, whose earlier efforts were hissed by his audiences – the artist is often misunderstood. Of necessity he is always ahead of his time. His contemporaries may not understand him, but the next generation and future generations will.”
Mr. Schoenberg will teach advanced harmony and composition at the Boston Conservatory under the sponsorship of the dynamic Malkins, Joseph and Manfred, who are themselves well known in the musical world. Joseph Malkin, director of the conservatory, is a famous cellist and his brother is a successful pianist

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. One day each week, probably on Fridays, Schoenberg will instruct New York classes at a Steinway Hall studio, and between times will act as guest conductor for such orchestras as the Boston Symphony and others who are now negotiating for his appearance.
He is scheduled to lecture on modern music at the New School for Social Research here on Tuesday, Nov. 14.
“I plan to leave for Boston shortly,” he said yesterday, “But I am returning to New York next week for the concert and reception on November 11, at Town Hall, when a program of my works will be given by the Pro-Arte Quartet and assisting artists, under the sponsorship of the League of Composers.”

Among First to Appreciate.

Incidentally, the League of Composers was one of the first groups of musicians and music patrons in this country to recognize Mr. Schoenberg’s genius. It is an organization of musicians and musical patrons devoted to fostering new works by living composers.
Mr. Schoenberg is a native of Vienna and is largely self-taught. He began to compose in his boyhood but was unable to gain a hearing for his works in Vienna and in 1901 went to Berlin. After a year he obtained a position as teacher at Stern’s Conservatory, at the recommendation of Richard Strauss, but in 1903 he returned to Vienna.
A meeting with Gustav Mahler led to the performance of some of Schoenberg’s work and in 1911 he went back to Berlin, settling there as a teacher. During the last eight years he has been connected with the Berlin Academy of Arts.
Schoenberg has many compositions to his credit, notably “Pierrot Lunaire” and the “Gurrelieder” which Stokowski directed here recently. His book on composition, the much discussed “Treatise on Harmony,” begins with this sentence of the preface: “This book I have learned from my pupils.”
His pupils have attained significant stature in the field of modern music. Foremost among them are Alban Berg, Anton von Webern, Egon Wellesz, Paul Pisk, Hans Eisler, Heinrich Javlovetz [Jalowetz] and Erwin Stein. Berg, the best known here, is the composer of “Wozzeck,” which had its American premiere three years ago under the direction of Stokowski.
Artur Bodanzky, George Gershwin, Harold Bauer, Ernest Bloch, Dr. Archibald T. Davison, Arthur Fiedler, Ossip Gabrilowitsch and Fredrick Stock are on the advisory board of the Malkin Conservatory of Music, sponsoring Mr. Schoenberg’s American appearances.
Mrs. A. Lincoln Filene of Boston, music patron and philanthropist, George Gershwin, American composer, and Leopold Stokowski are among those who have contributed toward scholarships for study with Schoenberg.

The New York Sun (November 2, 1933)

 

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