Oral Histories

Interview of Gertrude S. Zeisl

German emigre and wife of composer Erich Zeisl.
Eric Zeisl: His Life and Music
German Émigrés
Biographical Note:
German emigre and wife of composer Erich Zeisl.
Cole, Malcolm S.
Zeisl, Gertrude S.
Persons Present:
Zeisl and Cole.
Place Conducted:
Zeisl's home in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Malcolm S. Cole, associate professor of music, UCLA. B.A., music, UC Berkeley; M.F.A., Ph.D., music, Princeton University.
Processing of Interview:
A verbatim transcript of the recordings was edited by Malcolm S. Cole between April and December 1976. In substance, the manuscript agrees closely with the tapes. There are no significant cuts. There is no rearrangement for chronology. For clarity, considerable shifting of clauses was done, in addition to minor editing for regular punctuation and small deletions. Zeisl reviewed the manuscript, clarifying words and phrases, completing some unfinished thoughts, and making occasional word substitutions. Lawrence Weschler, Assistant Editor, Oral History Program, compiled the index. Malcolm S. Cole wrote the introduction and, with the assistance of Program staff, prepared the front matter.
12 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Family background -- Grandparents -- Parents -- Family circumstances -- Eric's position in the family -- Environment -- Family attitude toward music -- Eric's attempts at jobs -- His decision to study music -- His formal training.
Eric's self-instruction -- His pianistic proficiency -- Life as a young composer and music teacher in Vienna -- Early friendship with Gertrude ("Trude") Jellineck -- Anecdotes.
Eric's circle of friends -- The name Zeisl -- Early works (1922-30) -- Drei Lieder and the formative role of song -- The unpublished songs -- Early opera: Die Sunde -- Die Heinzelmannchen -- Early critical reviews.
Early works (1922-30) [cont'd] -- Song cycle: Aus der Hirtenflote -- Piano Trio -- Mondbilder -- Pierrot in der Flasche -- Three African Choruses -- First String Quartet.
Eric's romances -- Psychoanalysis -- Romance with Trude -- Growing recognition (1931-36) -- The song year, 1931 -- Kinderlieder -- Sechs Lieder (Baritone Songs) -- Unpublished Nietzsche and Ringelnatz songs -- Kleine Messe.
Continuation of the years 1931-36 -- "Der tote Arbeiter" -- Passacaglia-Fantasy for Orchestra -- Scherzo and Fugue for String Orchestra -- Requiem Concertante -- Die Fahrt ins Wunderland -- Little Symphony.
More on period 1931-36 -- Little Symphony [cont'd] -- Cantata of Verses -- "Liebeslied" -- Sieben Lieder (Soprano Songs) -- Three Antique Choruses -- Farewell to Youth and to Vienna, (l937-38) -- Leonce und Lena-November.
The Hitler menace -- The flight from Vienna -- Exile in Paris -- Incidental music for Job -- The flight from Paris.
Early days in New York (1939-40) -- Success with performances and publications -- Birth of daughter Barbara -- Happiness in Mamaroneck -- A new style: Job, Act I.
Job, Act I [cont'd] -- Earning a living -- The lure of Hollywood -- Music for travelogues -- Disenchantment -- The Return of Ulysses -- Delight with Barbara.
Meetings with other emigre composers -- The years 1944-49 -- Organ prelude -- Pieces for Barbara -- Reguiem Ebraico -- Misfortune with publishers -- Prayer -- Fanfare (for Hollywood Bowl anniversary) -- The search for performances -- Teaching positions.
Appointment at Los Angeles City College -- Years 1944-49 -- Uranium 235 -- Four Songs for Wordless Chorus -- The struggle for survival -- Conductors who performed Eric's music -- To the Promised Land -- Kinderlieder revived and Evenings on the Roof -- The chamber music cycle (1949-55) -- Sonata Barocca.
1949-55 [cont'd] -- Brandeis Sonata for Violin and Piano -- Viola Sonata -- Music for Christmas -- "The Transplanted Composer" article -- Cello Sonata -- Piano Concerto -- Premiere of Leonce und Lena -- Tenor Psalm.
1949-55 [cont'd]--Second String Quartet -- The Vineyard -- Jacob and Rachel -- Publications by Doblinger -- Fiftieth birthday tributes -- Orchestras that performed Eric's music -- The pursuit of grants -- Cello Concerto -- The last years (1956-59) -- Arrowhead Trio -- Eric's work habits -- Social life -- Roles of Barbara and Trude.
Job, Act II, Hanns Kafka -- Better circumstances -- Huntington Hartford Foundation grants -- Heat and tension -- Eric's death -- Memorial concert -- Plans for further works.
More plans -- Eric's citizenship -- Meeting Arnold Schoenberg -- Family life after Eric's death -- Barbara and Ronald Schoenberg -- The eclipse of Eric's music -- The uniqueness of his music -- The Zeisl revival -- The Zeisl legacy.