- MK To get back
to Schoenbergs classes at UCLA: did he add to the classes
he taught in the years after 1936?
LS Yes. As the students
from his more elementary classes in counterpoint, composition,
and analysis continued into more advanced work he added more advanced
classes in all these subjects, but also added other classes as
well. One was called "Structural Functions of Harmony"
which later became a text and which interpreted harmonic functions
in a different light (not twelve-tone) than his early Harmonielehre
[Theory of Harmony], dating from 1911. Around
the fall of 1942, after I had left his classes for work in the
airplane factory, he inaugurated a course in orchestration, also
with an unusual approach. Unfortunately the gleanings from that
class have never been published. However, books on counterpoint
(Preliminary Exercises in Counterpoint), Composition (Fundamentals
of Musical Composition) as well as Structural Functions
were published after his death. Also, a book of his essays, Style
and Idea, edited by his pupil Dika Newlin, was published in
1950 to be followed by an enlarged edition which I edited in 1975.
All of these books are in constant demand today.
- MK From all you
have said, Schoenberg sounds like a dedicated teacher.
LS About that,
there is no doubt. His preparation of numerous examples for class,
his attention to each individual student, his attempt to always
find new ways to explain the basic language of the great classical
traditions in harmony, counterpoint and form were more than an
obsession to him. At the same time, it was evident that he enjoyed
all this work; he was certainly one of the great teachers of music,
if not the greatest, for all these reasons. Here are a few illustrations
to underline this capacity:
Schoenberg teaching materials
UCLA Students Honoring Schoenberg at his home
on his birthday, Sept. 13, 1939.
- I must mention
one other event which took place at Schoenbergs home. It
was at the end of the school year in either 1939 or 1940 and featured
the students of his advanced composition class having their compositions
performed (either Rondos or Sonatas which I played for them) before
a gathering of Music Department faculty and other guests. Before
each composition Schoenberg read a statement praising the students
work. The compositions were hardly more than capable, as one would
expect from students who had completed no more than two years
of composition, but nevertheless Schoenberg expressed considerable
pride in their achievements. In the following statement to Prof.
Douglas More of Columbia University, written on April 16, 1938,
Schoenberg expresses well what his aims are in teaching composition
to university students:
The book he mentions eventually
became Fundamentals of Musical Composition and included
numerous examples illustrating a "great number of methods
of solving problems."
In my three years contact with university students (I
had to change many of my ideas which I developed within almost
forty years of teaching) I have realized that the greatest
difficulty for the students is to find out how they could
compose without being inspired. The answer is: it is impossible.
But as they have to do it, nevertheless, advice has to be
given. And it seems to me the only way to help is if one shows
that there are many possibilities of solving problems, not
only one. This method of showing always a great number of
methods of solving problems and explaining them systematically
is carried out through the whole book on every point where
it is necessary. (Fundamentals 215)
- MK Did Schoenberg
ever give any public lectures at UCLA?
LS His most important
lecture at UCLA in Royce Hall was in March, 1941, when he delivered
the prestigious Faculty Lecture on his twelve-tone music. But
before that he had prepared lectures for the Music Teachers National
Association (MTNA) in Kansas City in December, 1939, where he
talked about "How a Music Student Can Earn a Living"
and "Ear Training Through Composing."
- The Faculty Lecture in 1941
came about as a result of his friendship with Vern O. Knudsen,
a Physics Professor and an acknowledged authority on acoustics.
Schoenberg and Knudsen had already discussed what "soundmen"
needed for an education long before it became part of a curriculum
for sound engineers. In light of this interest Schoenberg drew
up a list of subjects such as a curriculum would require and submitted
it to the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences.
- Knudsens interest
in Schoenberg dates back to 1936 when, as a member of the search
committee to find a professor for the music department, he had
been led by Maurice Zam, a local pianist, to select Schoenberg.
may recall, Maurice, that midway during his seven-year tenure
at UCLA he received the highest honor our faculty can confer
upon one of its members by being named Faculty Research Lecturer.
This was the first and the only instance in which a professor
in any of the fine arts at UCLA has been so honored. His faculty
lecture on the "Twelve Tone Row" thoroughly justified
the opinion of the Faculty Research Committee that Arnold
Schoenberg was indeed worthy of this high honor for his research
and creativity in new horizons of music. (Zam 224)
on "Twelve-tone Music" had been given earlier by Schoenberg
at Princeton University, and the University of Chicago, but
it was considerably polished for its definitive presentation
at UCLA on March 26, 1941 and can be found in that form in Style
and Idea. It may be considered one of the most important
art documents of the twentieth century. Another important lecture
given by Schoenberg, after his retirement, took place in Royce
Hall in 1949. It is called "My Evolution" (also published
in Style and Idea) and is more or less an autobiographical
account of Schoenbergs growth as a composer with many
- He taught from 1936 until
the end of 1943 school year, and then took a one-year sabbatical.
In 1942 he already knew that retirement was imminent because the
university had a retirement age limit of 70, which he was approaching
September 13, 1944, I will be seventy and it seems that under
normal conditions I should then retire. Frankly, I do not
feel this way. At first, it seems to me that as men below
the age of 64 will probably be drafted for military service,
only men over sixty-four will be available for teaching. But
secondly, my career is not one which is ended by age. I was
appointed on the basis of my merits as a composer and teacher
and I do not feel I am an old man, because I am still improving
my teaching methods; though, as the long list of excellent
pupils of mine proves, my teaching has always been exceptionally
good (excuse me for violating the laws of modesty). Thirdly,
I know of teachers of about my reputation (for instance at
Columbia University) who at eighty and over still teach. Anyhow,
I want to ask you about the conditions of retirement and annuities
as regards the normal regulations of the University of California.
I hope you will be kind enough to tell me all that concerns
me and my special case. (Letters 213)
- Unfortunately Schoenberg
did learn that the university was strict about the retirement
age; but even more devastating to him was to find out that the
pension he was to receive at his retirement was (reputedly) only
$35 per month, hardly sufficient to provide for a family consisting
of his wife and three growing children. In these circumstances
he was forced to sell outright some of his compositions and even
to apply to the Guggenheim Foundation for a fellowship, which
many other lesser, and younger, composers had obtained. He did
not receive the Guggenheim.