Rare silent film of Schoenberg conducting

Rare silent film of Schoenberg conducting


norman lebrecht

July 30, 2016

Before you start trying to guess which work, it’s Verklärte Nacht with the LA Phil in March 1935, six months after his arrival as a refugee in the US.

Schoenberg conducts


  • David Osborne says:

    You missed a great opportunity here Norman, the headline could have been: “Rare footage, Schönberg conducts Cage!” Just an excerpt of course…

  • Sue says:

    See if you can tell what it is he’s conducting!! Beethoven #5? Final movement?

  • Respect says:

    Fascinating, a clear stick technique, real intensity (not that anything that Schoenberg did would be poor!)

    I’m always amused when posters here try to pretend it’s 1965 and we still argue whether he was a great master.

    • Sue says:

      Well, he could certainly make wonderful arrangements of other composers’ music!!!


    • John Borstlap says:

      He certainly was a composer of genius, as is testified by Gurrelieder, Verklärte Nacht, 2nd string quartet, 1st Chamber Symphony, and a couple of works in ‘free atonal’ style like the first three of the Five Orchestral Pieces and most of Pierrot Lunaire (a deeply tragic work). Later works are not on the same level of invention, artistry, expression…. but of course these are merely common sense reactions (to prevent Mika and JP having a fit).

  • Garry Humphreys says:

    This clip is (I think) the one referred to by Charles Barber in his article, ‘Legendary Conductors on Film’ in the Journal of the Conductors’ Guild, vol. 13, no. 2 (1992). It’s bad luck that for a 1935 film there is no sound, particularly because it’s clearly a rehearsal and it would be interesting to hear what Schoenberg is actually saying to the orchestra. I agree with Respect (31 July), it’s a wonderfully clear and expressive stick technique Thanks for posting this, Norman.

  • Garry Humphreys says:

    This little 12-minute documentary might also be of interest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awx4Ji10PTU