1. Los Angeles is the city of paradox. Where else could Shirley Temple, the Marx Brothers, and other Hollywood luminaries live in the vicinity of eminent Viennese composer Arnold Schoenberg? Indeed, many influential artists, musicians, and cultural critics of the European avant garde found themselves in the land of palm trees and Hollywood glitz during the massive upheavals that led up to the Second World War. Leonard Stein, who was born in Los Angeles, was an active participant in the intellectual émigré community, and his close association with Arnold Schoenberg in particular make him an invaluable asset to those interested in the city’s art music life.

  2. Stein is a pianist who studied with Schoenberg at UCLA and assisted the composer in his musical and scholarly activities. He was one of the first performers in the Evenings on the Roof concert series, which continues to this day at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Maiko Kawabata performed Schoenberg’s last composition, the Violin Phantasy, Op. 47, with Stein in the spring of 1999 as part of this distinguished series. But it is his role as a keeper of Schoenberg’s legacy that makes Stein important to historians of the European avant garde.

  3. Arnold Schoenberg was one of the most important Western art music composers of the early twentieth century. Feeling that the expressive capacity of tonality as a musical language had been exhausted, Schoenberg overturned the basic tenets that had governed Western harmony since the early 17th century. In a move he called the "emancipation of dissonance," Schoenberg dismantled the hierarchical relationships of tonality and invented a system in which all twelve tones of the chromatic scale are equal. Schoenberg strongly believed in an evolutionary model of music history and felt that, just as tonal language—increasingly chromatic throughout the 19th century—would run its course, equally he was the true heir of the Germanic musical tradition. He and his students Alban Berg and Anton Webern came to be known as the Second Viennese School, a name which connected them to the great trio of earlier Viennese composers Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

  4. Schoenberg was not the only Jewish intellectual to flee Nazi persecution and settle in California in the 1930s. Hanns Eisler, Bertold Brecht, Thomas Mann, Theodor Adorno, and Max Horkheimer were amongst Schoenberg’s fellow émigrés who observed the American cultural industry at close hand in Hollywood. Although Schoenberg’s archives recently returned to Europe, his name is still a part of both the California institutions at which he taught composition, harmony, and counterpoint—the music building at UCLA bears his name, and the University of Southern California’s Schoenberg Institute is a feature of their campus. Many of Schoenberg’s important compositions and texts were produced in the last fifteen years of his life in Southern Californian homes in Pasadena and Los Angeles neighborhoods such as Hollywood, and Brentwood.

  5. From 1935 to 1942 Leonard Stein was Schoenberg’s student at UCLA. Stein subsequently edited Schoenberg’s books on counterpoint, harmony, and composition, and compiled and edited over a hundred essays by Schoenberg in Style and Idea: Selected Writings of Arnold Schoenberg. As a performer, Stein champions the music of Schoenberg, performing all his piano works at universities and conservatories in this country, and in radio performances in Europe. He has played Schoenberg’s most well-known piece Pierrot Lunaire, as well as the Ode to Napoleon and the Phantasy for Violin, which he premiered in 1949. In addition, he has conducted Schoenberg’s Violin Concerto with Rose Mary Harbison as soloist, Serenade Op. 24, the Septet Suite, Op. 29, and Stein’s recordings include the Brettl-Lieder (Cabaret songs), Nine Early Songs with Marni Nixon, and the Two Piano Pieces, Op. 33, as well as all the piano music of Anton Webern.

— ECHO and Maiko Kawabata

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Volume 2 Issue 2


Susan McClary:
Temporality and Ideology

Fink, Garofalo, Gebhardt,
and Partovi:

Music as Object?
A Napster Roundtable



Magical Urbanism

The Art of Piano

Review Essays

Experience Music Project

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