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Karl Linke
What makes studying music with Schönberg so fascinating is this enormous accumulation of energy contained in every word he speaks. Nothing ever becomes routine, formulaic, or rigid. It is characteristic that Schönberg always walks back and forth when he develops something; because everything within him is in turmoil and motion. Lecturing for him always means developing, deflecting, making something fluid. Schönberg never says what he knows, but rather what he thinks, what he thinks anew each time. Mere knowledge is a dead thing. lt has been absorbed once, has been fixed in memory and slowly disintegrates there. Those who are weak thinkers live off knowledge. Their processes of renewal have stopped; they have shut themselves up like a snail that senses its end, with the one exception that the snail is a very delicate creature and senses its end; those people, however, whose development takes place in large part physically, go an living vacuously and let themselves be nurtured to a ripe old age by knowledge. If they have the misfortune to be involved with the next generation, for instance as teachers, they help create persons who always know where something can be “found,” where “the same kind” is, and who “know those who.” Wustmann already made fun of those dime-a-dozen people twenty years ago, the kind who have an “opinion” everywhere because they have learned something everywhere. Learning is the thing. Most are proud of the thing learned, of that which someone else has drilled, pressed, and pounded into them, which is actually no learning at all, but rather mere addition. Facts are placed alongside facts; their functions and qualities are a part of other subjects, just as prescribed by a genuine theory of language. Oh, that kind of mind is great. Real learning would not be placing things next to each other, but things flowing in and out of each other, the capability of change and the capability of bringing new things to light. Learning is not addition, but multiplication.
Learning multiplication with Schönberg is far more than one usually expects from the study of music. Because it shows us undeniably who has artistic merit. Every possibility of feigning music that did not originate multiplicatively, that did not flow together in the depths and become crystallized, is excluded. In the beginning those who study like to reject everything; they make everything more difficult than the material demands; they place artificial barriers around a simple melody so that it will at least seem interesting. They do not do this consciously or intentionally, but merely because they are not quite clear about a lot of things. But Schönberg hears when a melody strays an purpose. He prefers honest banality to that.
Once I brought a song that I liked so much to a lesson, mainly because the song was so difficult. After Schönberg had read it through, he said:
“Did you really conceive this so complicatedly?”
A pupil always answers yes to such a question, because it is flattering. But Schönberg did not relent:
“I mean: Did your first inspiration so unambiguously include that complicated form of accompaniment?”
A pupil does not always answer that kind of a question in the affirmative. Because he feels how it cuts to the quick. I tried to recall the initial idea. But Schönberg, strengthened by my uncertainty, continued:
“Didn’t you add this figure onto it after the fact, in order to put clothes onto an harmonic skeleton? Like one sticks facades onto buildings?”
Now he had it, too. It turned out the idea was only harmonic, not a compelling generator of movement.
“Look, just accompany the song harmonically. It will seem primitive, but it will be more genuine than this. Because what you have here is ornament. These are three-part inventions decorated by a singing voice. Music is not supposed to decorate, it is just supposed to be true. Wait patiently for an idea that comes immediately into consciousness as a rhythm, in the horizontal dimension. You will be surprised how muck driving Force such an inspirational idea has. Look at Schubert’s song “Auf dem Flusse,” and how one movement creates the next. And then: nothing should present itself to you as difficult. What you compose should seem as obvious to you as your hands and your clothes. Until that happens, you should not even write it down. The simpler your things seem to you, the better they will be. Sometime bring me those Works that you don't want to show me because they seem too simple and artless to you. I will prove to you that they are more genuine than these. Because I can only proceed from those things that are organic or seem obvious to you. If you find something that you have written to he very complicated, then immediately doubt its authenticity.”
After being exposed like that a few times, the pupil becomes fanatically strict toward his own ideal. He hears his compositions through to the end with exactitude, which is the, main point anyway. And sometimes – and this is the most wonderful part of these lessons – at some point or other of the compositional exercise, Schönberg suddenly feels that something is forcing him away from the piece, that the path of the sound continues elsewhere, in order to flow together again further on. What is that? He listens for a while:
“Didn’t you hear that part like this?” And he continues to play, differently of course, exactly what the pupil had been searching for but had not found – those measures where the logical sequence of the idea had gotten lost and could no longer be traced.
“Now let’s think about why it has to continue like this!”
At this point the scientific work of the theoretician begins. Here a Bb is discovered that forces the sound in another direction. This Bb must have effects that were not complied with. Now it is important to listen up to the point where the piece would like to turn, to see how long it has the need to fall, and to find the moment that it pulls itself together in order to climb upward to its conclusion. Here Schönberg speaks of an instinctive life of tones. Or it could be a slight displacement of the beat. If this turned out to be necessary, then it would appear more than once. Because then it would be organic and its possibility must lay hidden within each tone. The earlier occurrences must keep on vibrating in those that follow.
The pupils are made aware of this. This knowledge is the kind that seems as though it has come from someone else. The knowledge was merely hidden in them like an embryo and only needed the one who would rouse it from sleep. Schönberg’s manner of teaching is built upon the following: he has the pupil find things out. And only after someone has found out something by himself does it belong solely to him. What he has wrested from music in terms of serious work will never get lost, even if the composition has failed. Power has increased, even though it might not be victorious till die tenth or twentieth assault.
Composition pupils mature best through their work. Schönberg recognizes early on those gifted for conducting – whose strength will lie in the reproductive sphere – by the way they take hold of things. Then he treats them differently. He aids their musical development through the works of the great masters themselves, through analyses. That is the second part of his instruction. Only on occasion does he lead to analysis those who produce things themselves, in order to show them how Brahms, for example, treats a harmonic problem or how Beethoven solves it in a quartet. Schönberg never says the same thing twice, but he will come hack to the same point ten times from different angles. The possibilities of explaining something are endless. Once someone told him that today he had explained the Beethoven sonata completely differently from the last time, to which Schönberg responded:
“I am a different person today also, and I don’t have the obligation to be consistent, but rather only this: to stay alive.”
An explanation like “This is the main theme group, this is the secondary passage and within them there are these modulations” is too boring for him. He is looking for the instinctive in an artwork: he shows how everything proceeds from one seed and emanates in all directions, just like the most delicate intertwinings of a thematic arbor still have a relationship to the seed from which they were produced. Or he shows how at a seeming conclusion a tiny structure grows forth, still almost invisibly, as yet without meaning, how it wins over friends and becomes strong and mighty and finally takes up battle with the old one. I never had more respect for Beethoven than after the lesson when Schönberg had analyzed a sonata in this manner. These analyses are no diagnoses of relationships; they are an illumination outward from within, a complete recreation of the work of art.
People have often told me that it is Schönberg’s amazing knowledge of musical literature that enables him to know so much about these things. I know many whose knowledge of the literature might be no less, but who still do not understand how to arouse someone’s interest with all that knowledge. Thus the reason cannot lie in the knowledge but rather in the person himself, in the way he examines, compares, and groups events; in the capability of immediately discovering similarities in different things; and of seeing immediately what is different in similar things. Only in this way will knowledge become fluid and fertile, and if at the beginning it seemed as if it were contemptible to have knowledge of something, by now it must be clear that what was meant was only the smell of decay that arose from dead knowledge. In the productive person everything becomes fertile, even history; for he will include it in the present.
It is remarkable that Schönberg’s way of teaching coincides with the kind that Scharrelmann and other pedagogues actually demand for schools: to purge teaching of rigid formulae and deflect them from the person you have before you; because only in that way can learning become organic and fertile. Knowledge is a beautiful thing, but one ought not to be prouder of it than of a pretty face, for which one is not responsible. Because it was only acquired; at the very most it belongs to our brain and will get lost again. Comprehension, however, which has proceeded from within us, has a home in our blood and in our nerves, too, and is thoroughly our own possession. And if it seemed to have gone astray as a result of further development, it nevertheless built a step which we had to climb over and stride beyond. The step was necessary, however. The goal of education can only be knowledge that the pupil somehow has to acquire an his own. The distinct task of' the teacher can be only to show Bach Student his own path there and to remove those inhibitions that would merely delay rather than promote the process.

Egon Wellesz
Schönberg has to an unusual degree the gift of revealing to the pupil the constructive element, the “logic” of music. Analyzing the classics, he uncovers in the most concealed places organic connections which shape the secret effect of some part or other. His main effort lies in training his pupils in the inventive power of rhythm, harmony and counterpoint. Above all, he demands mature technical skills as the foundation for composing. Without these, even the most talented artist will only be able to produce something incomplete. Schönberg knows how to inspire the productive fantasy of the pupil during every stage of study by taking examples from the musical literature. Within the confines of a technically faultless manner of writing he allows the pupil every freedom and in no way does he ever put forth his own style as a prototype.

Robert Neumann
Truly everyone who has the good fortune of approaching Schönberg marvels at the generosity, depth, and complete independence of his understanding in the most varied areas of artistic emotion and strictly serious thought, and understands that this man is not only the master of composition, but also a genuinely significant human being. And someone like that is always the best teacher of his subject, at least where it is not merely a question of developing someone’s mechanical skills but more of enriching his capabilities, developing his individuality and furthering the whole personality of the pupil.

Erwin Stein
Schönberg teaches you how to think. He guides the pupil toward seeing with his own eyes, as if he were the very first one to observe the phenomena. What has been thought of before should not be the norm. Even if our thoughts are no better than someone else’s – it is not a matter of finding the absolute truth but rather a question of the search for the truth.

Heinrich Jalowetz
Arnold Schönberg possesses the two basic qualifications of every genius and thus of every brilliant teacher: an the one hand, the power of naive observation that can dispense with the crutch of tradition and force him to grasp and invigorate everything anew, from the most minute details of daily life to the highest human and artistic concerns, and, on the other hand, the power to impart convincingly a personal appreciation for all things. The miracle of his method of instruction and his unique influence on the pupil stems from these two basic powers of his being. In his lessons, all the long since dried-out artistic rules found in old textbooks or heard from the mouths of bad teachers seem rather to be born from the idea that is directly present; or they appear in an entirely new and exhilarating light, not to mention those utterly new vistas that are always opened up by his own personal way of looking at things. Thus, for the pupil, every step along the path of his instruction becomes an exciting experience that remains firmly anchored in his innermost being. With this completely independent treatment of the material, and with the utmost severity, Schönberg insists on the observance of the most rigorous demands of artistic purity, so that the pupil learns to feel that an unmotivated progression is a spot of dirt. The pupil is nurtured by a musical sense of cleanliness that must ultimately make hixn understand, without rules, what is genuine and what is fake. Finally, Schönberg, like any good teacher – and this is all the more remarkable for such a strong personality – has the gift of adjusting himself to the individuality of the least of his pupils in such a way that no two pupils are ever led down the same path in even remotely the same manner. The teacher does not “hold” to a particular method, rather it is continually arrived at, by way of the pupil.
This is still a one-sided picture, for his effect on the pupil extends far beyond purely artistic parameters. When you are dealing with such a multidimensional and harmonious nature, a person who has been educated through and through, the relationship between teacher and pupil cannot be confined to instruction only.
Schönberg educates the pupils in the fullest sense of the word and involuntarily establishes such compelling personal contact with each one that his pupils gather about him like disciples about their master. And if we call ourselves “Schönberg pupils,” this has a completely different emphasis from what it does for these who are inseparably linked to their teacher by virtue of a fingering that will make him happy, or the creation of a new figured bass. We know, rather, that all of us who call ourselves Schönberg pupils are touched by his essence in everything that we think and feel and that we thereby feel in a kind of spiritual contact with everything. For anyone who was his pupil, his name is more than a mere recollection of student days; it is an artistic and personal conscience.

Karl Horwitz
“Don’t strive to learn anything from this; rather try to learn from Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms! Then perhaps some things here will seem worthy of note to you.”
Arnold Schönberg wrote me these words in my copy of his First String Quartet (D Minor, Op. 7). During my years of apprenticeship with him, I learned what he meant by that. I recall how often Schönberg expressed himself energetically against superficialities that did not result organically from my style, how inexorably he inveighed against anything that was not deeply felt.
Only a short while ago – I was no longer his “pupil” – he warned me against being influenced externally by his style: “You do not have to write that way just because I write that way. Allow your personality to express what you feel driven to express with all your might. Each person goes through a different development an his way to the goal, which has to be an inevitable result.
Schönberg’s alpha and omega is precisely inner experience, warmth of emotion; expression and technique form themselves from these. He who has nothing to say should remain silent!
How much I have learned from Schönberg can hardly be expressed; what I thank him for has no limits. I already knew the classics before I came to him; through him I lived them. I learned to see so much of what before had lain veiled in front of my eyes.
No less significantly must I grant that he never was just a “teacher.” He was a relentless friend to me, always striving, working tirelessly to make me into a human being of high quality and above all self-critical.

Anton Webern
“Belief in technique as the only salvation had to be suppressed, and the arge for truthfulness encouraged.”
Schönberg, “Problems in Teaching Art”

The most brilliant refutation of all the ill-willed, envious hostility and slander that oldfashioned brains have plotted against Arnold Schönberg has been offered by himself in his essay “Problems in Teaching Art.”
Never have more penetrating and truer words been said about those things.
And each of his pupils can and could experience for themselves what Schönberg expresses in that essay. People are of the opinion that Schönberg teaches his style and forces the pupil to adopt it. That is completely and utterly false.
Schönberg teaches no style; he preaches the use of neither old nor new artistic means. He says: “So what is the point of teaching how to master everyday cases? The pupil learns how to use something he must not use if he wants to be an artist. But one cannot give him what matters most – the courage and the strength to find an attitude to things which will make everything he looks at an exceptional case, because of- the way he looks at it.”
This “what matters most” is what a pupil of Schönberg receives.
Schönberg demands above all that the pupil not write any old notes he wants to just to fill out an academic form, but rather that he execute these works as a result of a need for expression.
Therefore, that he actually create something, even at the most primitive stages of constructing musical passages. What Schönberg then explains to the pupil results organically from the work; he brings no external dogma to it.
Thus Schönberg actually teaches as apart of the creative process.
With the greatest energy he follows the traces of the pupil’s personality, attempts to deepen it, to enable it to achieve a breakthrough – in short, to give him “the courage and the strength to find an attitude to things which will make everything he looks at an exceptional case, because of the way he looks at it.”
This is an education in extreme truthfulness toward oneself.
In addition to the purely musical, it touches upon all other areas of a person’s life.
Yes, truly, one experiences more than artistic rules with Schönberg. He who opens his heart will be shown the path of the good.
How can one explain that every one of his pupils, working independently today, composes in such a way as to make the style of his own composition seem extremely dose to that of Schönberg’s works? This is certainly the main cause of the misunderstanding about Schönberg’s teaching alluded to earlier. There can be no explanation for it. This question really touches upon the secret of artistic creativity.
Who would like to explain it?
It is not a matter of merely appropriating these artistic means. So what is it?
A necessity holds sway here, the causes of which we do not know but must believe in.

Paul Königer
There are those kinds of people who bestow clarity and strength on the things around them; people who illuminate everything with which they come into contact, in whose hands everything becomes original and spontaneous.
To study with Schönberg is to receive continually. Everything that he gives comes from his depths, affects the innermost essence, and allows it to grow, like a tree grows out of inner necessity.
The person who might come to Schönberg to acquire knowledge would go astray. What we are able to acquire is merely the knowledge of things about which we would be in error. The person who goes to Schönberg to find out about himself would do right. Schönberg can lead those who believe in him to that very path where they must find themselves. Experiences have to be lived. No system is handed the pupil because every acquisition of a perfect system is only a respite along the way and results from fatigue. It is always the weakest ones who speak of end results.
But the strong ones will create. Create values. Because all values are created by people and are placed above them. Schönberg creates new values. And forces one to think anew and learn anew. Because it is impossible to set up new values and to determine new values without altering, reducing, or destroying the old ones. But having to learn anew is what many hold against him. For they are afraid and basically desire only that no one do anything to harm them. But he who creates new values has to be brave, has to have will, courage, and willfulness. He has to be able to surpass many and rise above them; the majority does not forgive that and declares his loneliness to be his fault.
The little and weak ones, who are wary and look to the right and left and try to guess what would be profitable in the marketplace, cannot abide to have the creative person above them; this witness who reminds them all too often of the very thing they distinctly assure one another of not being. But a lie is destined to be short-lived. And it is better to tell the truth, because: “Truth has a wide-range effect and is long-lived.”
Schönberg tells the truth. In everything that he creates, that he teaches, solely the truth.
It would be as difficult to give expression to what constitutes his influence, his personality, as to say in words what he teaches and how he gives of his wealth. The right words will be able to be found when, at the end of his life, his work will be spread out into a thousand things all over the would.

Alban Berg
The genius is effective from the outset as a teacher. His words are instruction, his conduct is a model, his works are revelations. Hidden within him is the teacher, the prophet, the Messiah. And the spirit of language which understands the essence of the genius far better than those who abuse it, gives the creative artist the name “Master,” and says of him that he has created a “school.” This perception alone could convince a time of Arnold Schönberg’s predestination for the teaching profession if it had any idea about the importance of this artist and human being. That it has no such idea is natural, for had a time the capability of perceiving, of sensing something that is so contradictory to its essence as is everything immortal, it would not be the opposite of eternity. And yet, only if we first assume an artist’s calling to the teaching profession in general can Schönberg’s particular method of teaching be properly judged. In addition to being inextricably linked to his artistry and his imposing humanity, his manner of teaching, which is the only justifiable kind, is supported by an express will to this profession. This will – whether it be involved with his own work, with reproduction, with criticism, or ultimately with the profession of teaching – must, like every great artistic will, produce at the highest level. To esteem highly enough such a miraculous achievement, which has come about under these presuppositions and conditions, would mean to solve the riddle of genius and to fathom the secrets of the Godhead, an effort that must of necessity fail by virtue of the impossibility of measuring the immeasurable, of fathoming the unfathomable. It can only remain an attempt, an attempt resembling the kind that would hope to describe the Beauty, richness, and sublimity of the waves of the sea. Submitting himself to its constant currents, the lucky swimmer will be carried out toward eternity, easily and proudly taking leave of those who are shattered an the rocky crags of their intellectual and spiritual infertility or who remain behind in the secure harbor of their temporality.


Arnold Schönberg. Mit Beiträgen von Alban Berg et al. München 1912, p. 75–90