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Schoenberg collection goes to North Texas

By Korea Herald

Published : Jan. 17, 2012 - 19:00

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DENTON, Texas (AP) ― Arnold Greissle-Schoenberg can still picture his grandfather, composer Arnold Schoenberg, raising his finger to command attention.

“Whenever Schoenberg wanted to say something he would raise his finger and everybody would fall silent and then he would have his say,’’ said Greissle-Schoenberg, whose childhood memories include watching his grandfather holding court with other musical luminaries.

The 88-year-old grandson of the famous 20th century composer remembers a side of Schoenberg that most people didn’t get to see: the family man. These elements of Schoenberg’s life are portrayed in a collection of letters, compositions and photographs that Greissle-Schoenberg donated to the University of North Texas Music Library.

“There are incredible pieces of history here,’’ said Arturo Ortega, a coordinator for the Music Library, one of the largest academic music collections in the U.S. “A lot of it is Schoenberg the family man, Schoenberg the father, Schoenberg the grandfather, about which we know relatively little in comparison to Schoenberg the composer and the innovator of musical thought. This makes it terribly interesting to see him within the context of family.’’

The Jewish composer ― known for inventing the 12-tone technique, a system of harmony in which there is no key ― was born in Vienna and worked throughout Europe before fleeing to the U.S. in 1933 as Adolf Hitler came to power. Schoenberg went on to teach at the University of Southern California and the University of California at Los Angeles before he died in 1951 at age 76, leaving behind a legacy documented in the archives of various institutions.

Though the largest collection of Schoenberg’s archives resides at the Arnold Schoenberg Center in Vienna, Greissle-Schoenberg decided the 100 or so items he owned should go to North Texas after visiting the Schoenberg collection that has been housed at the Music Library since the late 1960s. It contains letters between Schoenberg and his cousin, Hans Nachod, and music manuscripts written in Schoenberg’s hand.