News has come of the passing of the composer and teacher Ruth Schonthal. She was born in Hamburg in 1924 of Viennese parents, began composing at five and became the youngest student ever accepted at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin where she received piano and theory lessons. In 1935, as a Jew, she was banished from the Conservatory. The persecution of Jews by the Nazi regime in Germany led the family into exile, and they settled in Stockholm. Because of her exceptional talent she was accepted at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, in spite of not meeting the standard regulations for admission, a fact the Swedish press noted and duly protested. In 1940 her first Piano Sonatina was published. At the Academy Ruth Schonthal studied piano with Olaf Wibergh and composition with Ingemar Liljefors.
In 1941 the political situation became too dangerous again, and the family was forced to flee a second time, this time to settle in Mexico City. There Ruth Schonthal continued her studies of composition with Manuel Ponce. When she was nineteen years old she was the soloist at the world premiere of her own Piano Concerto in the Palacio de Bellas Artes. In 1946 she met Paul Hindemith, who was on a concert tour in Mexico City. She accepted his offer to study with him at the Yale University on a scholarship that Hindemith procured for her. She graduated in 1948, one of the few who graduated with honors.
Ruth Schonthal never followed the prevalent contemporary aesthetic fashions. At a time when Anton Webern and John Cage were the American role models, she followed her own musical path, never denying her own classic-romantic heritage. The extraordinarily varied impressions she absorbed in the course of her life in the different parts of the world provided the foundation of her musical style. Through the exposure to diverse influences and methods in Germany, Sweden, Mexico and the USA, Ruth Schonthal was able to extrapolate from these experiences an unusually rich mixture of compositional techniques. She used these to form a comprehensive stylistic synthesis. For the latter part of her career Ruth Schonthal was on the composition faculty of New York University.
* Follow this link for Ruth Schonthal's website
* Ruth Schonthal's music is published by Furore-Verlag
Image credit - Klassik.com Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk
If you enjoyed this post take An Overgrown Path to BBC Proms 2006 lacks the eternal feminine