Maiko Kawabata
University of California, Los Angeles


  1. Maiko Kawabata When did Schoenberg first come to UCLA?

    Leonard Stein It was in the fall of 1936. He had been in Los Angeles since October 1934, shortly after his sixtieth birthday on September 13. He had departed from the East Coast (Boston and New York) after suffering a freezing winter which affected his health (he was asthmatic), and although he warmed up at Lake Chautauqua during the summer of 1934, he was advised by friends that the salubrious climate of California was not only better for his health but that he might make a decent living teaching Hollywood film composers as well. So he took the train from Chautauqua, accompanied by his wife, Gertrud, and his baby daughter, Nuria, and disembarked a week later in Pasadena. Here is how he described his first days in California:
  2. Today, the 25th of November, I am sitting by the open window, writing, and my room is full of sunshine! […] We have a very charming little house, not too large, furnished, with many amenities customary here but hardly known at all in Europe. (Style and Idea 29; original in German)

  3. At first he taught privately. Soon after his arrival a notice appeared in the Los Angeles Times announcing his presence in Los Angeles: "The distinguished composer, Arnold Schoenberg, has moved with his family to Hollywood and is accepting students." As Pauline Alderman, a professor of music at USC tells it, she soon got in touch with Schoenberg and organized a class with some of her colleagues at his home in the Hollywood Canyon. Later on, in the Spring, she signed up twenty-five students for a private class which began with an analysis of Bach’s Art of Fugue. However, the class soon prevailed upon Schoenberg to discuss one of his own works, his Third String Quartet, which he had composed in 1927. For this class Schoenberg wrote out an analysis of the Quartet in English. It was also performed for the class by the Abas Quartet, a local ensemble that played all three of the Schoenberg quartets written up until that time.

  4. I heard the Abas Quartet play the Third Quartet in the Spring of 1935. That was the first time I saw Schoenberg—a rather roly-poly individual already bronzed by the California sun. I had previously become acquainted with some of his piano music. The Little Piano Pieces, Op. 19 had been played by my piano teacher, Richard Buhlig in 1932, I believe, but I cannot recall hearing any other Schoenberg before that time. From Buhlig subsequently I learned the Three Pieces, Op. 11, pieces which he had premiered in Berlin in 1912, becoming acquainted with Schoenberg in the process. Buhlig had known Schoenberg in Berlin and they remained close friends as well in Los Angeles.

  5. Pauline Alderman arranged an appointment for letterSchoenberg at USC in the summer of 1935—he was a recipient of the Alchin Chair, as it was called. He taught rather large classes in analysis and composition. As I recall, most of the students were music teachers, apparently with very little knowledge of the classics, which Schoenberg referred to in the classes. He continued to teach special classes at USC during the following school year and through the summer of 1936. I attended some of these classes in composition and analysis.

  6. MK But how and when did he come to UCLA?

    LS As I said at the beginning of our interview, it was in the fall of 1936. There are various stories about his appointment to the music faculty at UCLA. One of them concerns Otto Klemperer, the distinguished conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and Dr. Vern Knudsen, an eminent acoustician and Physics professor at UCLA. Dr. Knudsen was a member of a search committee seeking a distinguished musician for the Music Department, a department which had not yet outgrown its Normal School origins as part of the Education Department. The Music Department did not even offer a BA in music at that time, only offering a teaching degree. Dr. Knudsen heard about Schoenberg from his friend Maurice Zam:

How UCLA got Schoenberg: in the early Spring of 1936, I was in New York and other points East interviewing suitable candidates to fill a professorship in composition for the Department of Music at UCLA. My interviews with top ranking prospects were terminated immediately following receipt of a letter from my wife. Her letter was written immediately following her return from a party at which Maurice Zam and other admirers of Schoenberg were entertained by modern music. The letter relates that when Maurice asked Florence where I was, she replied that I was in New York, as Chairman of a Faculty Committee searching for a professor of composition. Maurice replied, ‘By G--, why is he searching in the East when the greatest of all living composers is right here in Los Angeles and is professor of music at the University of Southern California.’ I immediately called Ernest Carroll Moore, Provost of UCLA, and recommended that he initiate negotiations with Professor Schoenberg. He acted promptly, and with USC’s consent, Arnold Schoenberg accepted the professorship, much to the good fortune and glory of UCLA. (Zam 224)

1   2   3   4   5   6    Next  


Top Button
Contents Button
Letter Button
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

Tell us what you think...