×

Notice

By using this website, you agree that cookies are placed on your device. ATTENTION: If you click on "decline", the online shop will not be working and some areas of the site may not be displayed properly!

View infos on Cookies and Privacy Policy

You have declined cookies. This decision can be reversed.

Schoenberg is my teacher. I am immensely thankful to him, for he has done very much for me. I consider him as the greatest modern bourgeois composer. If the bourgeoisie does not care for his music, I can only regret this fact, for they have no better composer. Schoenberg’s music does not sound beautiful to the uninitiated listener, because he mirrors the capitalist world exactly as it is, without beautifying it, and because out of his work arises the visage of capitalism, staring us directly in the face. Because he is a genius and a complete master of technique, this visage is revealed so clearly that many are frightened by it. Schoenberg, however, has performed a tremendous historical service, in that the concert halls of the bourgeoisie, when his music is heard there, are no longer charming and agreeable pleasure resorts where one is moved by one’s own beauty, but rather places where one is forced to think about the chaos and ugliness of the world, or else, to turn one’s face away.
Schoenberg has performed another great service, as the teacher of generations of young composers. For a very long time yet, will one be able to learn from his works, even when they will no longer be listened to for enjoyment. In another domain, Einstein’s theories, although they are of no practical use in the immediate present, are historically of great significance. So with Schoenberg: for the past forty years his versatility has been of such significance that we who do not share but reject his political opinions, can admire him as an artist. It is, as Marx puts it: “No matter what he thinks about his own Situation, or what his views are the important thing to study is his actual work, that which he has concretely done.” (A rough translation)
Therefore we can say that Schoenberg’s production is, historically, the most valuable production of all modern music. Young composers, and above all, young proletarian composers, must not listen to and copy him uncritically, but they must have the strength to differentiate the content of his work from the method, the meaning from the technique.
That this man, sixty years old, and no longer in good health, after a life full of the severest privations undergone for the sake of his art, should be driven homeless thruout the world, is one of the most frightful shames of capitalism in the sphere of culture today.
Finally, I wish to add: from him one will always learn, when other composers who are today fashionable, will have been long forgotten.

New Masses, New York (November 26, 1935), 18f.