V023: The Schoenberg Violin Concerto: A Panel Discussion

Featuring: John Harbison, Rose Mary Harbison, Louis Krasner, and Leonard Stein

Non-commercial, VHS (NTSC), color (1992), 43:00.
Recorded in Chamber Music Hall, Tanglewood, on Friday, July 31, 1992.

Time Description
0:00 Harbison asks Krasner what initially interested him about the music of the Second Viennese School. Krasner responds that he was interested, at that point, "in that which everyone else rejected."
4:20 Harbison then poses the same question to Stein. Stein responds that he and Schoenberg were in the same place at the same time. He studied with Schoenberg at UCLA. His students were aware that he was working on the violin concerto at that time (1935-'36).
8:00 Harbison then asks Rose Mary Harbison what brought her to the Schoenberg concerto. Her largest influence in that regard was her years spent at the University of Wisconsin with Rudolf Kolisch. Harbison explains a bit more about who Kolisch was.
10:50 Harbison asks Krasner if the Schoenberg concerto is still "new". Krasner believes it is because it is still so little known.
14:30 Harbison asks Stein how it might have affected Schoenberg's conception of or revisions of the work had he heard an orchestral performance of it. Stein describes his observations of Schoenberg conducting his own works. He had very high standards because he worked with the best players.
17:10 Harbison asks R.M. Harbison how well she thinks this piece will fare in the violin repertoire in the future. She acknowledges the help she has received from those who have performed the piece before her, then poses the same question to Krasner. He agrees that the technical difficulties become less challenging over time. R.M. Harbison appreciates the piece for the rigorous training it provides the performers' ears.
Harbison asks Stein how practical Schoenberg was with regard to performances and performers. Stein describes Schoeberg's experiences conducting his own works and his comments on orchestration.
25:25 Harbison asks Krasner what he thought when he first saw the Schoenberg concerto. Krasner: "Well, I was horrified." He spent many long hours wrestling with it. He has performed it many times but feels that he has only come to know it really in the last few years.
30:00 Questions from the audience: one person asks about the work's first performance. Krasner responds that he performed it with Stokowski and describes the difficulties they had with the orchestra's management to program the work. The orchestra pleaded that it had no more money for soloists, but Stokowski paid Krasner's fee himself (despite protests from Krasner).
33:00 To Krasner: Did Schoenberg hear you play the work himself? Did he ask you to change anything? Yes, he heard it with piano accompaniment. Krasner studied the work with Eduard Steuermann, and they performed it for Schoenberg. Schoenberg agreed, because of Krasner's performance, that one passage should be less staccato than he had originally indicated.
36:00 Several audience members attended the first perfomance; they relate their memories of the event. Another audience member asks if it might be a good idea to perform the work with the piano reduction in order to make it better known. Krasner is "all for it." Harbison comments that the piano part is very difficult, especially the outer movements. The reduction was completed by Steuermann, who included as much of the orchestral part as possible.
39:00 An audience member asks the panel to discuss the relationship between Berg and Schoenberg. Stein recommends that he read the Berg-Schoenberg correspondence. Harbison observes that the success of Berg's violin concerto goaded Schoenberg into finishing his own violin concerto.
41:00 Harbison thanks the audience for coming and the panelists for sharing their thoughts.
42:50 End