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(Franz Walter)

(b Vienna, Sept 13, 1874; d Los Angeles, July 13, 1951). Austro-Hungarian composer.

His father Samuel (1838–89) was born in Szécsény, his mother (née Nachod, 1848–1921) in Prague. They came to Vienna from Pressburg (Bratislava). Schoenberg accordingly inherited Hungarian nationality, which was converted to Czech on the formation of the state of Czechoslovakia in 1918. He became an American citizen in 1941. The family was Jewish, and the three children, Arnold, Ottilie and Heinrich, were brought up in the orthodox faith. Neither parent was particularly musical; Schoenberg remembered his uncle Fritz Nachod, who wrote poetry and taught him French, as the main cultural influence of his childhood. But his sister and brother showed musical talent, and the latter, like their cousin Hans Nachod, became a professional singer. Schoenberg’s musical education began when he was eight with violin lessons, and he very soon began composing by the light of nature, imitating the violin duets by such composers as Pleyel and Viotti that he was given to learn, and arranging anything that came his way – operatic melodies or military band music – for the same combination. Somewhat later, having met a schoolfellow who played the viola, he was able to spread his wings to the point of writing trios for two violins and viola....