Life of the composer Arnold Schoenberg inspires Tod Machover’s latest opera ‘Schoenberg in Hollywood’


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Boston Lyric Opera

By Jody Feinberg

When groundbreaking composer and Jewish refugee Arnold Schoenberg met MGM film producer Irving Thalberg in Hollywood, he turned down an offer to write the score for the blockbuster “The Good Earth.”

That decision is the inspiration for the new opera “Schoenberg in Hollywood” by avant-garde composer Tod Machover, commissioned by the Boston Lyric Opera. Machover, known for his use of new technologies to expand music, was moved by Schoenberg’s commitment to maintain his artistic integrity amidst the opportunities in America in the 1930s.

“I think he’s one of the greatest composers who ever lived,” said Machover, professor of Music and Media and director of the Opera of the Future Group at MIT’s Media Lab. “He stuck to what really mattered to him. It was a complicated life, but it centered around the idea that each of us needs to do something that reaches out to others.”

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