Although I had intended to get back to the Schoenberg Center much sooner, in my last couple of working weeks in Vienna I finally made contact with the archivist there, Theresa Muxeneder and she welcomed me with great hospitality! A great deal of this museum’s holdings have been digitized and are now available online or by request to the archivists, so it’s a real treasure trove for researchers. She and her colleague Eike Feß encouraged me in my idea to do research on Freud’s Moses and Schoenberg’s Moses. (I wouldn’t be the first – Rabbi Yerushalmi wrote a major book on the subject). But with my dissertation work on ‘Moses und Aron’ over 30 years ago and my current research on Freud and religion, I want to explore whether there might be some new things to say! My interest in that opera was prompted especially because of its religious meaning – both personal and cultural. It was written around 1933-34 when Schoenberg fled the Nazis and emigrated to the Los Angeles via Paris and New York, and formally re-entered the Jewish community after having converted to Protestantism as a young man. That story has many parallels with Freud’s late-life obsession with Moses, and his working on “Moses und Monotheismus” before and after the time of his own emigration to London in 1938.
The Schoenberg Center is housed in another historisch style building just off the Schwarzenbergplatz, whose main tenant is Lukoil. The current exhibit is a timeline of Schoenberg’s life and works, with audio stations along the way, and many good photographic reproductions.
Schoenberg with his daughter Nuria just after emigration
Therese wrote a fine paper on the ethics (and politics) of repatriating the entire Schoenberg archive from Los Angeles (where I worked on it) back to Vienna. This move involved both a lawsuit on the part of Schoenberg’s heirs (still living), and a major fundraising effort. Paradoxically, Schoenberg’s Los Angeles study is now recreated with many original artifacts behind a glass wall in this Vienna location.