1. MK To get back to Schoenberg’s 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.

  2. 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

  3. UCLA Students Honoring Schoenberg at his home
    on his birthday, Sept. 13, 1939.

  4. I must mention one other event which took place at Schoenberg’s 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 student’s 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:

    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)

    The book he mentions eventually became Fundamentals of Musical Composition and included numerous examples illustrating a "great number of methods of solving problems."

  5. 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."

  6. 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.

  7. Knudsen’s 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.

    You 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)

  8. The lecture 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 Schoenberg’s growth as a composer with many music examples.

  9. 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 in 1944.

    On 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)

  10. 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.
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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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