Eminent Modernist Believes There Is No Relationship Between Science and Music

Surrounded by the gentlemen of the press and photographers last week, Arnold Schönberg, the newest musical luminary come to our shores, endeavored to answer the questions hurled at him. These ranged from the food he prefers to a problematic relationship between the science of mathematics as expressed by Einstein and the science of music as developed by Schönberg. This last question particularly amused the eminent composer.
“There may be a relationship in the two fields of endeavor,” he said, “but I have no idea what it is. I write music as music without any reference other than to express my feelings in tone. I do not shape my scores with a definite idea to express anything but music. All symbolic ideas are read into it by musicologists, for I have no intention when I write of solving tonal problems, creating emotional response or building unusual patterns.” Mr. Schönberg speaks English quite well and with more practice will be able to make himself understood accurately.
Queried as to why he had never come to America before, he laughed and replied, “No one ever asked me here until now.” As has been announced he has come to America to teach composition at the Malkin Conservatory of Music in Boston, but he will spend one day of each week in New York teaching at a studio in Steinway Hall. Beginning on November 14 the composer will deliver his first lecture of a series in English at the New School for Social Research in New York.


The composer, during this meeting, also dicussed several of his new works. One of these is a concerto for cello and orchestra transcribed from a clavier concerto by Monn, a contemporary of Haydn. There are also a concerto written for string quartet and orchestra based on a Handel concerto grosso, and a new opera, entitled Moses and Aaron, composed to his own libretto.
“I am not familiar with much American music,” he said. “I, of course know Roger Sessions’ work which greatly pleases me and some compositions by Marc Blitzstein, which are excellent. Unfortunately I was not able to attend the orchestral performance of American works in Berlin last winter. I am indeed sorry.”
Mr. Schönberg then commented on the music written by Hindemith, Milhaud, Ravel and Bartok, for which he has much admiration. A reference to Alban Berg, composer of Wozzeck and Schönberg’s pupil, produced the information that Berg is engaged in writing his second opera, Lulu, based on a play by Franz Wedekind.


Arnold Schönberg is accompanied by his wife and his eighteen-months-old daughter Nuria. On November 2 he was the guest of honor at a concert sponsored by the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation at the Congressional Library in Washington D. C., when several of his compositions were played. Following this on November 9 and 10 he was received at receptions at Yale and Harvard, also under Mrs. Coolidge’s auspices.
The composer has accepted Serge Koussevitzky’s invitation to conduct two concerts of his music with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In New York, on November 11, Schönberg is to be the guest of the League of Composers at a concert made up of some of his compositions, to be followed by a reception at the Town Hall Club. He remains in America until June.

Musical Courier (November 11, 1933)