BRAHMS in Our BACKYARD: Reflecting on the Piano Music of Arne Oldberg

By Muniz, Jennifer | American Music Teacher, February-March 2018 | Go to article overview

BRAHMS in Our BACKYARD: Reflecting on the Piano Music of Arne Oldberg


Muniz, Jennifer, American Music Teacher


History can be fickle. We collectively remember celebrated artists, writers and composers that represent a fraction of the activity in their time. American pianist and teacher Arne Oldberg earned respect and recognition for his composition in the early 20th century, but his contributions today are largely seen in the legacy of his teaching. However, his piano compositions deserve a second look.

Oldberg (1874-1962) was bom in Youngstown, Ohio. He lived much of his life in the Chicago/Evanston, Illinois area, and often composed in Estes Park, Colorado, during the summer months. Oldberg taught at Northwestern University for 41 years, and several of his notable students include Howard Hanson, longtime director of the Eastman School of Music; and John W. Schaum, founder of the piano method series started in the 1940s and still used today. Oldberg also taught one of only a few African Americans enrolled at Northwestern in the 1920s, Margaret Bonds, who later became a well-accomplished composer and collaborator with author Langston Hughes.

As a pianist, Oldberg studied with the legendary Theodor Leschetizky for two years in Vienna (1893-1895) and performed as a soloist with the Theodore Thomas Orchestra at the Mozart Centennial Concert in Central Music Hall, Chicago, in 1891, at age 17. After a year of study in Vienna, Oldberg wrote to his family: "I know I have profited in strength, rapidity, evenness, quietness, in time and rhythm, and in tone; in short--in all that a piano player needs to be an artist." (1)

Oldberg recounted in his letters the intrigue of striving to be an artist in a competitive studio: the moment of moving on from lessons with the assistant to the sage; the value of the master classes versus the individual piano lessons; and updates on the mood and health of Leschetizky. After his years in the Leschetizky piano studio, Oldberg reflected, "Do you know, I think I will make a better composer than piano player." (2)

Oldberg gained the most recognition for his orchestral works and piano solo pieces, although he wrote significant chamber works as well, such as his Quintet in C-sharp Minor, Op. 24, for piano and string quartet. Conductors of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) Frederick Stock and Ftitz Reiner often programmed his works, with performances of 15 different works, spanning from 1908 to 1956. (3) In addition to performances by the CSO, his orchestral works were performed by the Symphony Orchestras of Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Los Angeles; and his chamber works were performed in Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C. Oldberg's Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major, Op. 43, won a composition award, which included a performance by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. One of his early piano pieces was performed at a meeting of the Illinois Music Teachers' Association in 1896. (4) Oldberg was involved with the Chicago Manuscript Society, the Cliff Dwellers (a Chicago arts club), and he was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters. At the time, 1915, only two other Chicago musicians held the honor: Frederick Stock and composer John Alden Carpenter. (5)

Like many American composers of his generation, including Horatio Parker (Charles Ives's teacher at Yale), Oldberg went to Germany to study with Joseph Rheinberger, whom Oldberg described as "one of these crystallized old fellows who froze up tight as soon as they had heard all nine of Beethoven's symphonies." (6) However, he added that he admired his teacher immensely.

Pvheinberger's grueling routine of regular counterpoint exercises made a deep impression on the young Oldberg, and he wrote largely fugue-based forms in his early works. The intricate use of polyphony prevails in his piano pieces, along with a sincerity of melodic writing, and an instinct for harmonically lush, large-scale dramatic climaxes. Oldberg's Piano Sonata in B-flat Minor, Op. 28, was dedicated to concert pianist Fannie Bloomfield Zeisler, who premiered it in 1910, and played the piece frequently, including at Carnegie Hall as part of her national tour that season. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

BRAHMS in Our BACKYARD: Reflecting on the Piano Music of Arne Oldberg
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.