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Schoenberg's New World: The American Years Hardcover – March 2, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

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"A pioneering work of revisionist scholarship. With a fresh eye, Feisst investigates not only Schoenberg's American years--constituting almost a third of his career--but also the reception and impact of his music in the U.S. across much of the twentieth century." --Walter Frisch, author of The Early Works of Arnold Schoenberg


"This is an almost overwhelming study of the life, work, and even world of one of the most important and influential of composers." --Milton Babbitt, Princeton University/The Juilliard School


"An exceedingly thorough study of Schoenberg's American years, has been long in the making and is worth the wait. Feisst's book shows how much there is left to be learned about this astonishing figure in modern cultural history, whose true, full biography has yet to be written." --Alex Ross, TheRestIsNoise.com


"Feisst's description of Schoenberg's proudly held triple identity--Jewish, German, and American--is richly detailed and provides insights not only into his personality but into the several masterworks he produced in his final years." --Opera News


"As a musician I think [Feisst] won her argument with earlier historians while also accomplishing something more valuable. She has provided a rich portrait of the life and times of a significant musician as he came to terms with his new home, and I am grateful that she illuminates not only his work and his thought, but also his complicated humanity." --John Steinmetz, Chamber Music


"A satisfyingly thorough and probing study of Arnold Schoenberg's life in America...You'll find it absorbing to read about how this most European of composers came to grips with the strange new world of southern California, which he liked far more than is generally realized." --Terry Teachout


"Meticulously researched, richly revealing...Feisst...has brought together a wealth of information that challenges old myths, offering a more balanced and multivalent account of Schoenberg's late years." --Boston Globe


"An important book, extensive in its research, lively in its presentation, smartly revisionist in its attitude--all in all, an inspiring homage to and celebration of Schoenberg's later years. I imagine that no one who reads it will think about the New World or for that matter the Old World Schoenberg in quite the same way again." --Notes


"Highly recommended." --Choice


"A very readable but also thoroughly and meticulously documented work. Feisst supplies a compendium of recent research and further readings in footnotes and in a bibliography for interested scholars and students...Schoenberg's New World is a pivotal work that sets an example for future musicological research on émigré composers." --American Jewish Archives Journal


"The thoroughness and insight that she brings to this [work] makes Schoenberg's New World an invaluable and engaging source of information for Schoenberg specialists, Americanists, film music scholars, and anyone with an interest in the history and development of Southern California's rich musical community during the second quarter of the twentieth century." --American Music


"Schoenberg's New World is a gold mine of historical and biographical information,
the fruit of diligent and resourceful research." --Journal of the American Musicological Society


...[A]n important book, extensive in its research, lively in its presentation, smartly revisionist in its attitude--all in all, an inspiring homage to and celebration of Schoenberg's later years. I imagine that no one who reads it will think about the New World or for that matter the Old World Schoenberg in quite the same way again." - Howard Pollack


"Feisst's groundbreaking work presented documentary proof consisting of correspondence and interviews that Schoenberg's American years have wilfully been misinterpreted as years of "selling out" or of frustration with a nation incapable of understanding his musical values. It... places both arrivals within a new context." --The Times Literary Supplement


About the Author


Sabine Feisst is Associate Professor of Music History and Literature at Arizona State University. Focusing on twentieth-century and contemporary music studies, she has published a book on concepts of improvisation in new music as well as numerous articles on Arnold Schoenberg and American music in essay collections, professional journals, and encyclopedias.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195372387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195372380
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.3 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,576,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a very enlightening and extremely well researched book. It provides a lot of information I did not know about Schoenberg's American life. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This thoroughly researched and well written account of modernist composer Arnold Schoenberg in the U.S. (from 1934–his death in 1951) is much more than a simple biography, explaining for the way his emigration changed Schoenberg’s compositional and teaching practice as much as the way his music has affected all art music of the twentieth century. His identity as a cultural German from Austria, a Jew, and an American are explored though his musical compositions (audio example available on companion website), and his negotiation of "difficult" modernist music with the popular culture of Hollywood cinema that surrounded him is examined. Contrary to popular belief, Schoenberg became an American citizen and was quite proud to be one.
Schoenberg’s networks in the U.S. were surprising varied, and Feisst's narrative of them is particularly rich: not only his fellow émigrés, who comprised a distinctive sub-culture in Los Angeles of the period, but also wealthy patrons, like Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, many "club women," students at USC and UCLA (where he taught), and musicians and conductors across the country took an interest in Schoenberg and his music.
Far from the draconian, austere modernist as depicted in his most popular stereotype, Schoenberg’s humanity shines through this book, especially as he struggles to help his family members and friends escape Nazi Europe. The author is herself a German émigré and approaches these questions with rare insight.
This prize-winning book (Society for American Music) gives attention to a period of Schoenberg’s life and works of a crucial but underrepresented period of one of the most significant composers of the twentieth century—a "must read" for anyone interested in music and culture in the twentieth century. Informative for music scholars, but also accessible to laypeople.
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