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Review: Speaking American: Language, Education, and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles by Zevi Gutfreund

Review: Speaking American: Language, Education, and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles... 472 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA QUARTERLY and twelve-tone music, and he seems to assume, incorrectly, that twelve-tone music is necessarily dissonant. He errs in claiming that Schoenberg’s Serenade, op. 24, reflects his “experimentation with jazz” (14). In further discussions of music, the author is often out of his depth. This lack of facility with music history and theory surely contributes to the tortured quality of Marcus’s explanations of musical modernism, as when he struggles to explain how Schoenberg’s Suite in G remains “modernist,” although it was composed in a tonal idiom (77–80). There is an important place for the personal in our narratives about modern- ism: Rita Felski addressed this in The Gender of Modernity (1995). But the core of the chapter on Schoenberg’s home life relies on interviews with his two American sons, Ronald and Lawrence, to whom Marcus accords more authority than he ought: the Schoenberg heirs are generous and helpful, but they are not disinterested observers of history, and their accounts should be balanced against other sources. In partic- ular, to refer to their mother (Gertrud, Schoenberg’s second spouse) as “completely devoted” (144) and then compare her to the composer’s first spouse, Mathilde (145), is ahistorical and sexist. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Southern California Quarterly University of California Press

Review: Speaking American: Language, Education, and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles by Zevi Gutfreund

Southern California Quarterly , Volume 101 (4): 4 – Nov 1, 2019

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Publisher
University of California Press
Copyright
© 2019 by The Historical Society of Southern California
ISSN
0038-3929
eISSN
2162-8637
DOI
10.1525/scq.2019.101.4.472
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

472 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA QUARTERLY and twelve-tone music, and he seems to assume, incorrectly, that twelve-tone music is necessarily dissonant. He errs in claiming that Schoenberg’s Serenade, op. 24, reflects his “experimentation with jazz” (14). In further discussions of music, the author is often out of his depth. This lack of facility with music history and theory surely contributes to the tortured quality of Marcus’s explanations of musical modernism, as when he struggles to explain how Schoenberg’s Suite in G remains “modernist,” although it was composed in a tonal idiom (77–80). There is an important place for the personal in our narratives about modern- ism: Rita Felski addressed this in The Gender of Modernity (1995). But the core of the chapter on Schoenberg’s home life relies on interviews with his two American sons, Ronald and Lawrence, to whom Marcus accords more authority than he ought: the Schoenberg heirs are generous and helpful, but they are not disinterested observers of history, and their accounts should be balanced against other sources. In partic- ular, to refer to their mother (Gertrud, Schoenberg’s second spouse) as “completely devoted” (144) and then compare her to the composer’s first spouse, Mathilde (145), is ahistorical and sexist.

Journal

Southern California QuarterlyUniversity of California Press

Published: Nov 1, 2019

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