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Prof. Arnold Schoenberg, who came to the S. C. campus this semester to occupy the Alchin chair of music, is recognized by music critics as the greatest living German composer of music. For almost 40 years his compositions have been played by many of the world’s greatest orchestras.

Professor Schoenberg was bom in Vienna September 2 [recte: 13] 1874, where at the age of eight he started taking violin lessons. Except for the music lessons taken at this time, Schoenberg is self-taught. Although he can only play the violin, cello, viola, and piano, his understanding of all other musical instruments is so great that each instrument plays a very definite part in the scores of his compositions. The composer’s first compositions were short violin duets which he composed for his lessons while only a child. Later he joined a group of young musicians playing chamber music, and he composed trios for them to play.
In 1897 a composition of Professor Schoenberg was played for the first time at a public performance in Munich [recte: Vienna] where it met with great approval. Two years later he composed “Verklaerte Nacht,” based on a poem by Richard Dehmel. In 1900 he began the “Gurre-Lieder,” for choir, but for lack of funds he was forced to spend his time orchestrating operettas written by others, and it was not completed till the following year and not published till 13 years later.

Of it Ernest Newman in the London Musical Times said, “One’s first feelings after a thorough study of the score are regret that it should have remained in manuscript for 13 years and amazement that it should have been written by a young man of 26.” Since that time, Schoenberg has composed choral works, songs, operas, chamber music and concertcs and at present he is working on his 36th opus.
At first his compositions were the targets of persistent attacks. Music critics and audiences were extremely antagonistic towards his works. In Berlin, in 1907, when his “F Sharp Minor Quartet” was being played there was a conspiracy to cause an uproar great enough to break up the performance. The audience shouted and yelled during the first and second movements, but by the time the fourth movement was being played the beauty of the composition had caused such a reversion in their feeling that those who had come to mock applauded the loudest.

“I have no special favorites from among my compositions.” Schoenberg stated to a recent interviewer, “but those which proved most popular with audiences are in the order named. ‘Verklaerte Nacht,’ ‘Gurre-Lieder,’ and ‘Pierrot Lunaire.’ My compositions are difficult for those who are not familiar with my works, for my style is such that only a very well-trained musician can understand and follow them.”

One of the most interesting things in the life of Professor Schoenberg is his nationality. Although born in Vienna, he has never been an Austrian citizen, his father, who was born in Hungary, had never become an Austrian citizen, thus Schoenberg was a Hungarian; but during the war that part of Hungary became Czechoslovakia, so he became a Czechoslovakian. In 1927 he went to Berlin to lecture at the Academy of Fine Arts and, according to the laws of Germany, was required to swear allegiance to Germany and become a German citizen, but at the same time, by German law, he did not lose his Czechoslovakian citizenship, thus he was a citizen of two countries.
Professor Schoenberg is entirely unlike the impression people have of musicians. He does not show signs of temperament, but is courteous and willing to cooperate. He is proud of his work and is extremely pleased to learn that people enjoy his compositions and wish to listen to them.

“I like the University of Southern California very much and I am glad to be a member of its faculty,” he stated in concluding the interview.

Southern California Daily Trojan Vol. 27 No. 61 (January 9, 1936)