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Dissonance among the exiles

Oct 10, 2010 3:00:00 AM - latimes.com
Some of Germany's and Austria's most creative minds fled the Nazis and settled in Los Angeles. They would gather at a Pacific Palisades villa, but not all was harmonious.

"I have made a discovery," the composer Arnold Schoenberg said in 1921, "which will ensure the supremacy of German music for the next one hundred years!" These ecstatic words ushered in the birth of the Austrian's radically innovative 12-tone method of composition and unleashed a near-century's worth of dissonance and atonality in avant-garde classical music. But if Expressionism in music was considered disturbing and "decadent" by many in Weimar Germany, Schoenberg was just one of many cultural avant-gardists who were marked for harassment, imprisonment or even death once Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists rose to power.

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