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Part III: Schoenberg’s Children on Religion and customs

Part III: Schoenberg’s Children on Religion and customs

Did your father mention anything about Judaism at home? Did you celebrate or mention any holiday? Did he speak about the bible? What was your father’s approach to Christianity at the time that you were children?

Nuria: My father did not talk about religion when I was a child. I do remember when I we drove past a synagogue and he told me: this is the temple where Jews go to pray. When I was in primary school some classmates of mine told me not to associate with one of the little boys in the class because he was a Catholic. I remember thinking: I think I am a Catholic. So I asked my parents what a Catholic is and Mother and my father explained to me that there are many different religions: Jewish, Catholic, Protestant and I remember something about Egyptians (!) and that the important thing is to believe in God. One must respect them all. He did not speak about the Bible. Of course I was aware of the texts he used when he composed the choral pieces Op. 50. My mother was Catholic and when they married my father had agreed to bring us up in that Faith, I think. I did not have any religious training until my brothers went to a Catholic school. Then I was sent to catechism and had Holy Communion and Confirmation. But I was already about 12 years old and had gone to public schools.

Ronald: Whatever our Father thought about religion while we were children was not transmitted to us– at least not directly. I didn’t even know what a Jewish holiday was.  When I was still quite young, 6 or 7, (Nuria was 13 or 14; Larry  4 or 5 ) we were baptized Roman Catholic. Larry and I went to Catholic school and Nuria continued in the public school but took some religious instructions. I think this occurred mostly because of our Mother’s preference and our Father’s realization that he had not long to live and that we would soon be totally in her care. Larry remained a practicing Catholic at least through high school and I through college—I attended the University of Notre Dame. If I was at all aware of my Jewishness, I must have suppressed it.  Looking back, I think everyone except me considered me Jewish.

 

I don’t recall any discussion of religious topics or God in the home, certainly not of Judaism. I never thought Mother was serious about her Catholicism until, when she was dying, she became very Catholic.

Larry: My father never discussed any formal religion yet he did stress ethical behavior.  My formal religious training came from the Irish Catholic nuns at my elementary schools.  I attended a local Catholic school from Kindergarten through grade 8.  We celebrated a very secular Christmas at home, though we sang what could be considered religious Christmas Carols. He would play them on the Harmonium.  There was never any direct discussion regarding Catholicism or Judaism in the home as far as I was concerned.  I had heard from my mother that at one time he wanted to write a Mass but I do not think that this was for “religious” reasons. 

Continue to read the interview here: 

Part IV: How you knew him as a father and Moving the Schoenberg Nachlass to Vienna

Part V: Your mother and children and Appendix 1: Larry’s list of works that ‘would not “frighten the audiences”’

Email interview with Schoenberg’s Children - introduction

Part I: Childhood

Part II: On performance

 

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