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Email interview with Schoenberg’s Children

June – August 2008

Email interview with Schoenberg’s Children

By Avior Byron 

There are very few people living today who knew Arnold Schoenberg during his life. While doing my PhD I tried to contact Leonard Stein in order to interview him on how Schoenberg conducted his own music. Unfortunately, Stein died several days after I have sent him an email so the interview did not take place. I was lucky to Interview Dika Newlin here: Dika Newlin on Schoenberg conducting Pierrot lunaire.

Schoenberg was married twice. He married his second wife, Gertrud Bertha Kolisch, on 28 Aug 1924, in Mödling, Austria. Their three children: Nuria Dorothea, born 7 May 1932, Barcelona, Spain, age: 76; Ronald Rudolf, born 26 May 1937, Santa Monica, California, USA, age: 70; and Lawrence Adam, born 27 Jan 1941, Los Angeles, California, USA, age: 66, agreed to be interviewed. I assumed that their memories might be affected by the many years that passed and their experiences since their childhood. On 4 June 2008 I wrote an email to Nuria, Ronald and Lawrence, asking the following:

Would you agree to be interviewed via email about your father as you remember him and other issues (contemporary performance and promotion of his music, etc.)?

I thought it would be interesting if I could email the questions to all of you, but receive separate answers (that will not be coordinated).
At the end of the interview I will show you the results for confirmation.

The reactions to the email interview idea were positive. I grouped the questions by subject: childhood, On performance, Religion and customs, How you knew him as a father, Moving the Schoenberg Nachlass to Vienna, and Your mother and children. Not all of Schoenberg’s children answered all of the questions. One of the results of the fact that the interview was not coordinated is that some of the answers are very short, while others are very long. This was usually affected by how important and interesting the subject was for each person, but in some case probably also according to how much information each of them was willing to reveal.

Larry wrote the following disclaimer:

‘I must state that I was born in 1941 my father died in 1951.  Most of my recollections are from the ages of 4 through 10 when he was near the end of his life.  He was quite ill the last few years.  My age now is approximately the same as his age when I was born and my mother’s age when she died!

They must have done something right or the three of us would not be so completely involved in preserving his legacy.  We were fortunate not to be seduced by Hollywood’s glorification of immediate gratification.  We were not materialistic and we grew up considering morality and ethics as the most important characteristics to admire

My memories have been “infected” by photographs, stories by my older brother and sister and commentaries written by others.’

Here is the result of the interview (I divided the interview to five parts so that it will be easier to read in a web format):

Part I: Childhood

Part II: On performance

Part III: Religion and customs

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”’

One Response to “Email interview with Schoenberg’s Children”

  • Bob Kosovsky responded:

    ha - so Schoenberg’s children aren’t Jewish at all (at least halachically). Interesting.

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Copyright Avior Byron 2017 .