Mathilde and Arnold Schönberg, Berlin-Südende, 1915 © Alban Berg Stiftung, Wien

At a recent auction of autographs, the archive was able to acquire a previously unknown letter from Arnold Schönberg to Smaragda von Eger, sister of his student Alban Berg, dating from 1915.

The purpose of the Arnold Schönberg Center Private Foundation is, among other things, to "acquire and preserve [...] materials," "which have a connection to Arnold Schönberg." Since the establishment of our institution we have been able to acquire a large number of objects, whether in the form of purchases at auctions, in free sales or from private persons, but also through donations. Significant holdings have also come to the Center in the form of permanent loans.
The new addition to our archive, dated February 16, 1915, refers to a meeting in Schönberg's apartment in Berlin-Südende (Berliner Straße 17a, today: Sembritzkistraße 33/33a). Among those present, in addition to the composer, were his wife Mathilde, his student Heinrich Jalowetz, as well as Smaragda von Eger and her partner May Keller.
The conversation on Berliner Straße – as was mostly the case on Saturdays when Schönberg  invited them to his home on February 6, 1915 – ended in a heated argument. Even a letter of apology from Egers/Keller on the 12th of the month was unable to dispel this. Schönberg's displeasure was initially sparked by an inappropriate remark made by his female guests about the composer Max Reger, whom the host was known to hold in high esteem. Furthermore, there was a dispute between Schönberg, Eger and Keller over the role of Heinrich Jalowetz, whose disdain by the other guests condemned Schönberg in the strongest terms. He wrote in his letter: "This is also an injustice against me, for he is one of my best students, and you should consider that. In addition, however, he is the 1st Kapellmeister of a larger theater and is already being seriously considered for first positions (thus Zemlinsky suggested him as his successor in Prague!!)".
In the offer of reconciliation that concludes the letter, Schönberg lays down his authority, which disarmed any objection:
"I would like to tell you what you were wrong about; for without such a debate there can be no thorough reconciliation. I hope that you will now have understood that your sensitivity and nervousness toward me is really not necessary. We can then easily refrain from further debate or statement. And if you come back to us soon, I will automatically assume that you have agreed with me and everything will be fine."

Eger 1 © Belmont Music Publishers, Pacific Palisades/CA Eger 2 © Belmont Music Publishers, Pacific Palisades/CA Eger 3 © Belmont Music Publishers, Pacific Palisades/CA