Schoenberg’s composition class

An account of Arnold Schoenberg teaching a composition class:

Well, first of all there was composition class, in which he analyzed in brief the first sections of several Schubert sonatas. How he adores Schubert! “Many people say,” he remarked, “that Schubert is too long. He is long-yes-but for me he is always too short!” Such was not the opinion, however, of Mr. E., who, when Uncle Arnold asked the class, after Mr. Stein’s rendition of the 1st movement of the D major Sonata, how they liked it, replied, “Well, it seems to me an awful lot of spinning out of not much!” “So?” queried le maître. “You think? Mr. Stein! PLAY IT AGAIN!” Talk about the rebuff royal! All during this performance he happily bobbed his head from side to side and danced about in a most outlandish manner, obviously enjoying himself tremendously. Then, at the end, he inquired, “Now did you find this very pleasant?” This time everyone assented, even the stubborn E., who, however, was not squelched even by this demonstration. Shortly afterwards, when S. was telling how, in contrast to Schubert’s love of repeating his motives and rhythms, his ideal has always been, at least since the first Kammersymphonie, to say as much as possible in the least possible room, E. was heard distinctly to mutter in the background, “Not in Gurre-Lieder!”

Newlin, Dika (1980) Diaries and Recollections, (1938-76). New York: Pendragon Press, p. 132.