Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Schoenberg's Complaint

"I should be very, very sorry if I had to realize, that you do not only not pay attention to the respectfull [sic] way in which I am accostumed [sic] do be treated as a person of international reputation, but not even for the time which I have spent on this occasion."

Letter: Arnold Schoenberg to Irving G. Thalberg, 6 December 1935.

Alex Ross has an illuminating post about the time Arnold Schoenberg almost composed the score for a filmed adaptation of The Good Earth. Though he died of septicemia later that month, one would think that Alban Berg would have been a better choice to compose Filmmusik than Schoenberg, though that's a fairly unfunny joke.

All I can say is that Schoenberg must have been a pretty difficult chap. He has an "international reputation," and he is not going to be ignored, Irving. In the avant-garde musical milieu of Vienna before the Anschluss, after which there was no avant-garde anything in Vienna, Schoenberg was a pretty big deal. His Verein für musikalische Privataufführungen was a powerful force for new music. Other modernist figures like Webern and Berg were central figures, too, in that "club." Schoenberg, pace Boulez, wasn't dead yet. Quite the opposite.

In Hollywood? That's another story, and one senses the situation from Schoenberg's miffed response.


At 2:23 PM, Anonymous Karl Henning said...

Take heart, Arnold. It was Thalberg who, because he habitually kept the Marx Bros waiting on him for their appointments, at the last walked into his office to find them buck naked, roasting potatoes at the hearth in his inner office.

At 2:34 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

I'm sure that the internationally known Herr Schoenberg took great solace in that.

At 10:24 AM, Anonymous Karl Henning said...

Of course, he might not have cared for potatoes.

At 12:45 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

Schoenberg or Thalberg?

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