Tag: Arnold Schoenberg

I am a Communist, not an Idiot

1. “The trouble with intellectuals is that what starts as feelings ends in a hangover.” —Bertolt Brecht to Edwin Piscator 2. When Walter Benjamin asked Brecht, who was fleeing the Nazis, if he’d take refuge in Moscow, Brecht is supposed to have replied: “I am a Communist, not an idiot.” 3. In 1945, just after he had retired from UCLA with a meager pension, Arnold Schoenberg applied for a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation. He was rejected. H/t this essay by George Steiner.

When Intellectuals Go to War

On the recommendation of my colleague Shang Ha, I’ve been reading Alex Ross’ The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century. There I came across this letter from Arnold Schoenberg to Alma Mahler, dated August 28, 1914. Ross only quotes a snippet, but here’s a lengthier excerpt: Meanwhile, you have certainly already heard of the glorious victory of the Germans against France, England, and Belgium. It is among the most wonderful things that have happened. But it does not surprise me: it is not any different from the war of the Greeks against the Persians….My friends know it, I have often said to them, I never had any use for all foreign music. It always seemed to me stale, […]