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Beschreibung: Interview in English of Schoenberg by Halsey Stevens on Schoenberg as painter.
Signatur: 16/C; 48/R7
The music of Arnold Schoenberg, vol. 3. -- Columbia M2L 309 [2 LP], p1965. -- Recording.
The music of Arnold Schoenberg, vol. 3. -- Columbia M2S 709 [2 LP], p1965. -- Recording.
"Schoenberg as a painter: interview with Halsey Stevens." In: Schoenberg: the expressionist years, 1908-1920. -- Sony Classical SMK 62020 [CD], p1995. -- Recording (Track 24 = 6:23).
HALSEY STEVENS: The music we are hearing today has been written by a man whose influence on musical thinking has been worldwide. Beginning with Verklärte Nacht and continuing up into the present day, Mr. Schoenberg’s music has stimulated a great deal of discussion and controversy. For the past several years he has been living and teaching here in Southern California and we are privileged on this occasion to hear some of his earliest and some of his latest music. It may not be generally known that Mr. Schoenberg is also a painter as well as a composer, and it is particularly appropriate, I think, to have his music performed in the atmosphere of a museum of art. Mr. Schoenberg, I understand that it was originally intended to exhibit some of your paintings at the same time as the performance of the music? Is that right?
SCHOENBERG: Yes, it is right. But I have to correct something: I was a painter, perhaps, but I am not any longer a painter. I didn’t paint for many, many years – but at least two or three decades. But here still the whole afternoon I was under the impression that I will be asked about my paintings and have to speak about them. So I have a little prepared my capacity of improvisation.
In thinking about this subject – or because all my ideas centered around this subject – so I planned to tell you what painting meant – means – to me. In fact, it was to me the same as making music. It was to me a way of expressing myself, of presenting emotions, ideas, and other feelings; and this is perhaps the way to understand these paintings or not to understand them. They would probably have suffered the same fate as I have suffered; they would have been attacked and scolded – and I don’t know what else I should say. What I mean, the same would happen to them what happened to my music. This, I mean, would (be) understood or not understood.
In fact, as I said, I expressed myself in the same manner as I did it in music. I never was very capable of expressing my feelings or emotions in words. I don’t know whether this is the cause why I did it in music and also why I did it in painting, or vice versa. That I had this (way) as an outlet, I could renounce expressing something in words. Does this answer some of your questions?
HALSEY STEVENS: Yes, it does, Mr. Schoenberg, I wonder if you found the same problems in painting that you found in music, of course taking into consideration, the complete difference in technical media.
SCHOENBERG: It’s a very good question. I must answer, that as a painter I was absolutely an amateur; I had no theoretical training and only little aesthetic training, and this only from general education, but not from an education which pertained to painting. In music it was different. So I was also an – self-made ? – an autodidact – I had always had the opportunity to study the works of the masters and to study them in quite a professional manner, so that my technical ability grew in the normal manner. This is the difference between my painting and my music.
HALSEY STEVENS: Suppose you had pursued the profession of a painter: do you feel that you would have encountered the similar problems – and you have already said that you would have expected the same sort of reception, the same sort of surprise and occasional condemnation that you have received in your music – but do you feel that your career as a painter might have paralleled that as a composer?
SCHOENBERG: Yes, I am sure it would have. So I must say, technically I possessed some ability, at this time at least, and I’m afraid that I have partly lost it. For instance, I had a good sense of relations, of space relations, of measurements. I was able to divide – let us say – a line rather correctly in three, four, five, six, seven, even eleven parts, and they were quite near the real division. And I had also a good sense of other such measurements, of many measurements. At this time I was able to draw a circle which deviated very little from when you checked it with a compass. I could draw really very well, but I think I lost this capacity. But I had the idea that this sense of measurement, of measurements, is one of the capacities of a composer, of an artist. It is probably the basis of correct balance and logic within, if you have a strict feeling of the sizes and their mutual relationship.
HALSEY STEVENS: Certainly the space relationships – the feeling for measurement, to which you refer are very important in music and have been demonstrated thoroughly in your own work. There is hardly any composer of importance now writing who has not been touched in some measure by the tonal explorations which you have conducted. I wonder if you feel that the techniques you have developed in musical composition will become more significant as time goes on.
SCHOENBERG: I think that one can, there is a possibility to learn something of my technical achievements. But I think it is even better to go back to those men from whom I learned them: I mean, to Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and Bach. I can really, you can really contend that I owe very, very much to Mozart; and if one studies, for instance, the way in which I write for string quartet, then one cannot deny that I have learned this directly from Mozart. And I am proud of it!
HALSEY STEVENS: Then your advice to a young composer, Mr. Schoenberg, would be to base a foundation upon the same composers?
SCHOENBERG: Yes, yes, yes. Of course you cannot imitate it directly you have to take the essence and amalgamate your ideas with them, and create something new.
HALSEY STEVENS:It would be impossible, of course, impractical to imitate any past style?
SCHOENBERG: No – yes – it’s out, yes, yes.
HALSEY STEVENS: Well, I see, that our time is about up, Mr. Schoenberg. Thank you for being with us on this first interview.
SCHOENBERG: I was afraid I will speak too much!
HALSEY STEVENS: By no means; it has been a very great pleasure and an honor to have you with us. Next week´s museum Concert will present Toscha Seidel, violinist, and Max Rabinovich, pianist, in a program of violin Sonatas. Mr. Seidel will be my guest at intermission time next week, and you are cordially invited to join us then. This is Halsey Stevens, returning you to the Music room of the Los Angeles county Museum, and your announcer, Warren Russel.
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