We recently received archive material from a private collection (in Sun Valley, California) belonging to the late violinist Helen Swaby Rice, who died in February 2019.

Swaby and pianist Frances Mullen had played Schönberg’s Violin Concerto Op. 36 for him at his home on Rockingham Avenue in February 1940, to receive coaching from him. Following that encounter, the two artists played the concerto’s second movement on NBC Radio (before the work’s official premiere on December 6, 1940 with Louis Krasner and Leopold Stokowski).
Another coaching for the entire concerto ensued at Rockingham Avenue in May 1941, since the two women were slated to play it at the Evenings on the Roof concerts. Schönberg took the opportunity to write a letter of recommendation for Helen Swaby, which has now been conveyed to the archive as a gift from her son, together with the violin part containing Swaby’s annotations. The part also bears a dedication from Schönberg, who had overseen the annotations.

Literature: Dorothy L. Crawford: Peter Yates and the Performance of Schoenberg Chamber Music at “Evenings of the Roof”, in: Journal of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute (November 1989)

Image: Letter from Arnold Schönberg to Gustav Otto Arlt, May 29, 1940 © Belmont Music Publishers, Pacific Palisades
Foto: Helen Swaby Rice, c. 1930 © Arnold Schönberg Center