Schönberg to C. F. Peters, 3 January 1914 (Staatsarchiv Leipzig)

The Arnold Schönberg Center has received digital copies of Arnold Schönberg’s correspondence with the publisher C. F. Peters from the Leipzig State Archives. These important documents, including the publication history of the Five Orchestral Pieces, op. 16, are now available online.

"Dear Sir! Please allow me to inquire whether you have a free hand in the publication of your works and whether – if the answer is in the affirmative – you would be prepared to entrust manuscripts to Edition Peters. I am interested in your works and would not be averse to [...] publishing one or the other of your opus in Edition Peters." On October 12, 1911, the Leipzig publisher C. F. Peters began a correspondence with Arnold Schönberg, whose detailed reply is kept in the Leipzig State Archives alongside numerous other documents. On the initiative of musicologist Florian Giering, who is working on a hybrid edition of this correspondence as part of his master’s thesis, digital copies of the entire collection have been handed over to the Arnold Schönberg Center and made available via the correspondence database.
Schönberg was happy to receive the letter, but warned that "my music looks so unusual on the page that the best musicians cannot get an idea of the sound and the effect, which is why one must actually acquire my works without looking at them, merely out of trust in the person who speaks through them." (October 19, 1911) Publishing director Henri Hinrichsen was not discouraged: "The fact that a large number of our musicians are ‘afraid’ of your works for the time being and make the sign of the cross [Kreuz = German for sharp] three times (although not in a musical sense) is well known to me, but does not frighten me." (October 23, 1911)
The correspondence primarily deals with the publication and reception history of the Five Orchestral Pieces, op. 16 – including documents such as a receipt signed by conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler for loaned orchestral parts intended for a performance with the Berliner Philharmoniker in December 1922. Further correspondence concerns arrangements of folk songs which Schönberg contributed to the "Volksliederbuch für die Jugend," published by C. F. Peters in 1930. The last piece of correspondence from the Leipzig publishing house dates from June 1940: it concerns the release of these arrangements for republication by Schönberg while he was living in exile in America. By that time, Hinrichsen’s publishing house had already been confiscated by the Nazis, since he was Jewish. Henri Hinrichsen was arrested in Brussels in 1942, and deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where he was murdered on September 17. Schönberg held Hinrichsen in high regard. When the latter paid him a generous fee in 1914 for the sale of material from his orchestral pieces, Schönberg replied: "Your noblesse oblige has given me extraordinary pleasure. [...] I regard it as a positive sign of the effect my music has that it awakens in those who like it the need to give me joy. George’s wonderful poem 'Rapture' (which I used in the fourth movement of my Second Quartet) expresses exactly how I feel: 'I am but a spark of the holy fire. [...]' I wish to tell people willing to believe about the holy fire, and if afterwards they greet me with friendship and sympathy, I would like not to take it personally and instead give credit to the cause; I wish people will perceive a cause through me; the cause I am striving for: to be a sounding expression of the human soul and its longing for God."

Arnold Schönberg and C. F. Peters – Correspondence and documents in the Leipzig State Archives