Description: On Schoenberg's struggle to follow his musical instincts in composition. Also known as the "Boiling water" speech. In English.
ASC call nos.: 22/C (3:46); 40/C (4:27); 48/R7 (4:27); 105/R7 (4:21)
SCHOENBERG: Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen. I am proud about the formulation under which this award has been given to me.
That all I have endeavoured to accomplish during these fifty years is now evaluated as an achievement seems in some respects to be an overestimation.
At least not before I could sum it up--that is: while it still looked to me like a pell-mell of incoherent details, at least then did I fail to understand it as a direction leading toward an accomplishment. Personally I had the feeling as if I had fallen into an ocean of boiling water, and not knowing how to swim or to get out in another manner, I tried with my legs and arms as best as I could.
I do not know what saved me; why I was not drowned or cooked alive. I have perhaps only one merit: I never gave up! But how could I give up in the middle of an ocean. Whether my wriggling was very economical or entirely senseless, whether it helped me to survive or counteracted it--there was nobody to help me, nor were there many who would not have liked to see me succomb. I do not contend it was envy--of what was there to be envious? I doubt also that it was absence of good will--or, worse--presence of ill wishing.
It might have been the desire to get rid of this nightmare, of this unharmonious torture, of these unintelliglble ideas, of this methodical madness--and I must admit: there were not bad men who felt this way--though, of course, I never understood what I had done to them to make them as malicious, as furious, as cursing, as agressive. I am still certain that I had never taken away from them something they owned; I had never interfered with their rights, with their prerogatives; I never did trespass their property; I even did not know where it was located, which were the boundaries of their lots and who had given them title to these possessions.
Maybe I didn't care enough about such problems, maybe I myself failed to understand their viewpoints, was not considerate enough, was rough when I should have been soft, was impatient when they were worried by time pressure, was ridiculing them, when indulgence was advisable, laughed when they were distressed. I see only that I was always in the red; but I have one excuse: I had fallen into an ocean, into an ocean of overheated water and it burned not only my skin, it burned also internally. And I could not swim.
At least: I could not swim with the tide, all I could do was to swim against the tide--whether it saved me or not. I see that I was always in the red and when you call this an achievement, so--forgive me--I do not understand of what it might consist. That I never gave up? I could not--I would have liked to. I am proud to receive this award under the assumption that I have achieved something. Please do not call it false modesty if I say: Maybe something has been achieved, but it was not I who deserves the credit for that. The credit must be given to my opponents. They were the ones who really helped me. Thank you.
COMMENTATOR: [unintelligible two or three words].