The Arnold Schönberg Center digitizes public domain records, including covers and accompanying material, and makes them freely available.

The Arnold Schoenberg Institute at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles had already begun documenting the steadily growing supply of commercial recordings of Arnold Schönbergʼs music. Until the late 1980s, the focus of this collection was on records, which were gradually replaced by CDs, while nowadays streaming services are at the center of music consumption. Some recordings continue to be available despite the changes in recording media, while others can at best be found in the second-hand market. Since European copyright law declares records released up to 1963 to be in the public domain, they can be made accessible. In the coming months, we will present some examples of such recorded documents that are worth listening to.

We will start with an LP of the Marlboro Music Festival released in 1961. The artistic director at the time was Rudolf Serkin, who served as a pianist in Schönbergʼs Verein für musikalische Privataufführungen (Society for Private Musical Performances) around 1920. Together with his father-in-law Adolph Busch, Serkin emigrated from Germany to Vermont in the United States in 1940. In the small rural town of Marlboro, they jointly founded the festival bearing the same name, which to this day is a meeting place for notable performers and has exerted a considerable influence on musical life in the USA. In addition to Gabriel Fauréʼs song cycle La Bonne Chanson, the present record also contains a performance of Schönbergʼs string sextet Verklärte Nacht, op. 4. Columbia Records, later acquired by Sony Music, probably regarded the LP primarily as a means of documenting the festival - after the first pressing, released simultaneously in both mono and stereo versions, it was not reissued. Yet it is unquestionably of historical significance as well: the first violinist in Schönbergʼs successful early piece is Felix Galimir (1910–1999). Galimir was familiar with the music of the Second Viennese School: in 1935 he and his string quartet made the first recording of Alban Bergʼs Lyrische Suite (Lyric Suite), which received the Grand Prix du Disque. In 1936 he was supposed to take up a position with the Vienna Philharmonic – but despite winning the selection process, he was turned down due to the anti-Semitism that was prevalent among the board and orchestra members, who resisted his appointment. After a stopover in Tel Aviv, he settled permanently in the United States in 1938, where he remained active as a musician until 1993. A good sixty years after it was recorded, we can experience once again his participation in the performance at the Marlboro Festival.