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GRIPENWALDT: This afternoon, KOWL is privileged to bring you an interview with one of the world’s foremost composers, Arnold Schoenberg. Dr. Schoenberg, for many years a resident of Brentwood, will be with us in a few minutes. But first, let us hear an example of this famous composer’s music. Jack Diether, who writes the musical commentary for the symphonic program heard at 7.00 every Saturday night over this station, has compiled some program notes from the record album of the composition you are about to hear. It is a recording of the Second Part of Schoenberg’s great cantata entitled “Gurre-Lieder”, or “Songs of Gurra”.
“Gurra” is the name of a medieval castle in Denmark, which was given by King Waldemar, who ruled Denmark in the 12th century, to Tove, the girl he loved. In this music, Waldemar curses God for allowing Tove to be killed by his jealous queen, Helwig of Schleswig, whom he has married for reasons of state. Leopold Stokowski conducts the Philadelphia Orchestra in this recording, with Paul Althouse as tenor soloist, in the Second Part of Schoenberg’s “Gurre-Lieder”:


You have heard Paul Althouse, tenor, accompanied by Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra, in the Second Part of Arnold Schoenberg’s massive cantata,
This work was written in 1900 to 1901 and ¾ orchestrated, the remainder being orchestrated in 1910, during the first decade of our 20th century. During this decade, Gustav Mahler, Schoenberg’s great compatriot and predecessor was composing his greatest and most mature compositions, from the Fifth Symphony on. Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, which will receive its first performance in the Western United States on the 29th of this month in Hollywood Bowl, under the direction of Eugene Ormandy, bears interesting points of comparison with Schoenberg’s great cantata, the only work of these monumental dimensions, which Schoenberg ever composed. The “Gurre-Lieder” is approximately two hours in length, and utilizes a large orchestra, three choruses and six soloists. Mahler’s Eighth Symphony is one hour and a half in length, utilizes an even larger orchestra, three choruses and eight soloists, and was known in its first performance as the “Symphony of a Thousand Performers”.

For those of you who wish to become more familiar with the works of Mahler, Jack Diether is presenting a 21-week complete cycle of the recorded works of this composer on his program over KOWL at  7.00 every Saturday night. Dr. Schoenberg, who was one of Mahler’s friends and admirers has said of him: “Gustav Mahler, furthering the tradition of Beethoven, expresses the violent struggle of a unique personality with a world which refused to accomodate his thoughts, his expressions, or his development of symphonic music.” Mahler, who is now accepted in musical circles throughout the world as one of the world’s great composers, was born in the mountain village of Kalischt, Bohemia, in 1860, and died in Vienna in 1911.
Dr. Schoenberg, today’s distinguished guest, was born in Vienna in 1874. He came to this country in 1933, and in 1936, after teaching for two years at USC, became a professor of music at UCLA. He retired from this post in 1944. It is my privilege to introduce to you one of the world’s greatest living composers, Dr. Arnold Schoenberg.
Dr. Schoenberg, we have somehow drawn a parallel, or perhaps I should say a comparison, between you and the elder master Gustav Mahler. So before questioning you regarding some of your own activities, perhaps you would be good enough to tell us something about Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand”, which will be heard for the first time at the Hollywood Bowl this month.

SCHOENBERG: Gladly, Mr. Gripenwaldt, Mahler’s Eighth Symphony presents through its words what is implicit in all his symphonies: his struggle to achieve a balance between an imaginary and a real world. Such a balance is achieved here through the combining of two different texts in one work.
The first part is sung in Latin, and is a setting of the medieval hymn, “Come, Spirit of the Creator“. The second part is in German, and is a setting of the final scene of Goethe’s drama “Faust”, which is the mystical poem of Faust‘s redemption. In the Hollywood Bowl, however, this part will not be sung in German, but in English.

GRIPENWALDT: And do you approve of this?

SCHOENBERG: Very much. And I think that Mahler would have liked it too. You know, that Mahler always preferred to have the great operas which he conducted, sung in the native language of the audience. As a young conductor in Budapest, for example, he was the first to have the operas of Wagner sung in the native Hungarian tongue.

GRIPENWALDT: Well, Dr. Schoenberg, I’m sure we are all looking forward to the opportunity of hearing this monumental work, and I speak for many in expressing the hope that in a future season we may have the pleasure of hearing your own great cantata, “Gurre-Lieder”, performed at the Bowl. What are some of the other compositions of yours which have proven popular?

SCHOENBERG: Well, I think that in company with “Gurre-Lieder”, perhaps my early sextet, “Transfigured Night”, in the arrangement for string orchestra, and “Pierrot Lunaire”, which is a work for a speaking voice with a chamber-music accompaniment, are the best known. These have all been recorded in this country.

GRIPENWALDT: Yes, that is certainly an advantage. What operatic works have you composed?

SCHOENBERG: I composed around 1908 two small operas, each taking less than half an hour, one called “Erwartung” , in English “Expectation”, which is a Monodrame; that is, the whole action is presented by only one person. The second, called “Drama with Music”: “Die glueckliche Hand”, which means “The Lucky Hand”, employs among other means of expression, the play of light and color. A third opera, composed in 1928, was called "From Today to Tomorrow", and deals satirically with fashionable trends of our times.

GRIPENWALDT: I understand, though, you have also composed a fourth opera, called “Moses and Aaron”?

SCHOENBERG: This is true, but it is not finished. Only the poem I have completed.

GRIPENWALDT: You mean that you wrote the libretto for this opera yourself?

SCHOENBERG: Yes, in fact I started this text as long ago as 1926.

GRIPENWALDT: What is its subject?

SCHOENBERG: My main purpose was to show the real meaning of the revelation.

GRIPENWALDT: You haven’t finished the music yet?

SCHOENBERG: Two acts are entirely completed in score since 1932. But to compose the final act I have not yet found the right mood.

GRIPENWALDT: Which field of composition, Dr. Schoenberg, do you consider your “forte”?

SCHOENBERG: I have written almost all types of musical forms, many of which are chamber music. There is also an oratorio, there are concertos for violin, for cello, for piano, for string quartet with orchestra, many sets of variations, and two chamber-symphonies.

GRIPENWALDT : What is the difference between a chamber-symphony and the usual type of symphony?

SCHOENBERG: A chamber-symphony is not written for large halls, and accordingly limits itself through the size of orchestration, in content, in form and in expression. Perhaps the main object explains itself psychologically: respect for the magnitude of this great form, the symphony. I am not the only one who was afraid to write a symphony. In fact, also Richard Strauss did not write one in his mature lifetime. And another great German composer, Max Reger, called a work “Sinfonietta”, which was actually a fullsized symphony.

GRIPENWALDT: Dr. Schoenberg, I notice that many of your books on musical theory and instruction are finding their way into musical centres all over the world. Perhaps you could tell us the names of some of these technical studies.

SCHOENBERG: There is a book entitled “The Theory of Harmony”, published by the Philosophical Library. It is an abbreviated version of my original German “Harmonielehre”, designed to become more useful purely as a text-book. Others are “Models for Beginners in Composition”, published by Schirmer New York, and “Harmony in its Structural Functions”, which will shortly be published by W.W. Norton. Then there is another new book which will be released in time for Christmas. lt is not a technical study, but a series f musical essays entitled “Style and Idea”. This book contains also a long article about Mahler. I think I succeeded in refuting the arrogance of some of the most violent critics of Mahler, by proving how incompetent they are with respect to esthetic and musical technique.

GRIPENWALDT: That should certainly be interesting. Since retiring from UCLA, Dr. Schoenherg, have you been doing any teaching?

SCHOENBERG: Only at home, although both private lessons and classes there. I am now devoting more of my time to composition and to writing books. But this summer I have accepted an invitation to teach at Santa Barbara, at the Music Academy of the West. [deleted: Among other guest teachers will be my dear colleagues, the French composer Darius Milhaud, and the American composer Roy Harris.] I am leaving for Santa Barbara this weekend.

GRIPENWALDT: Well I’m sure, Dr. Schoenberg, there will be many students eager to avail themselves of the opportunity to study with you. Didn’t one of your students recently write a book about you?

SCHOENBERG: Yes, you are evidently referring to one of my pupils, Miss Dika Newlin, who has recently published. a book entitled “Bruckner, Mahler, Schoenberg”. This book, I understand, attempts to trace a more or less continuous musical tradition of Vienna from the days of Schubert to our own times. Miss Newlin is also translating a book from the French by the composer René Leibowitz, entitled “Schoenberg et son ecole” – “Schoenberg and his School” –, which deals with the continuation of the Viennese tradition, including besides myself, my Viennese pupils Anton von Webern and Alban Berg.

GRIPENWALDT: Well, I’m sure that this tradition is fortunate indeed in being represented in our present day by an artist of your calibre. I shall look forward to reading these books. And I might say that from all indications, it appears that you are continuing to lead, as you have always led, an unusually active and creative life.
We want to hear another selection from your “Gurre-Lieder” before the close of this program, so might I take this opportunity, Dr. Schoenberg, to express my thanks, and the thanks of the listening audience, for your kindness in appearing over Station KOWL.

SCHOENBERG: Thank you Mr. Gripenwaldt for this opportunity to talk to Santa Monicas music lovers.

GRIPENWALDT: Ladies and gentlemen, you have heard a personal interview with Dr. Arnold Schoenberg, one of the world’s greatest living composers and musical theorists. To conclude our program, we shall hear a recording of the final chorus from Schoenberg’s “Gurre-Lieder”, which is an apostrophe to the rising sun, in which the spirit of Waldemar experiences the love of Tove within the outward beauty of nature’s color and form:


You have heard the closing chorus from Arnold Schoenberg’s gigantic cantata “Gurre-Lieder”, and earlier we heard the second part of this work, recorded under the direction of Leopold Stokowski. Between these selections, Dr. Schoenberg appeared in person. The script for this Program was compiled with the co-operation of Jack Diether, and your commentator was Raoul Gripenwaldt.

KOWL, Santa Monica, July 7, 1948; transcribed from typescript, Arnold Schönberg Center, Wien (T 79.20)