Leonard Stein

Leonard Stein
Born (1916-12-01)December 1, 1916[1][2]
Los Angeles, United States
Died June 23 or 25, 2004 (aged 87)
Genres 20th-century classical
Occupation(s) Musicologist, pianist, conductor, and educator
Instruments Piano
Years active 1946–2004
Associated acts Arnold Schoenberg, John Cage

Leonard David Stein (December 1, 1916 – June 23 or 25, 2004) was a musicologist, pianist, conductor, university teacher, and influential in promoting contemporary music on the American West Coast. He was for years Arnold Schoenberg's assistant, music director of the Schoenberg Institute at USC, and among the foremost authorities on Schoenberg's music. He was also an influential teacher in the lives of many younger composers, such as the influential minimalist La Monte Young.


Stein studied piano under the Busoni disciple Richard Buhlig at Los Angeles City College, and composition and theory under Schoenberg at USC (1935–36) and UCLA (BA: 1939, MM: 1941, MA: 1942).[3] Stein was an assistant to Schoenberg at UCLA from 1939 until Schoenberg's retirement in 1942, thereafter until Schoenberg's death nine years later Stein was his personal assistant, working closely with Schoenberg on the editing of his scores,[4] and later, completing four of Schoenberg's posthumously published theoretical writings pertaining to counterpoint, harmony, and composition, including an extended compilation to the second edition (1975) of Schoenberg's thought (Style and Idea). Lawrence Schoenberg, the youngest of Schoenberg's children, considered Stein the most important advocate of Schoenberg's music.[4]

Stein later returned to the University of Southern California for post-graduate studies, receiving a DMA in 1965 with a dissertation titled "The Performance of Twelve-Tone and Serial Music for the Piano",[1] which included analyses of important piano works by Schoenberg, Anton Webern, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Boulez, and others. Beginning in 1946 he taught at Occidental College, Los Angeles City College, Pomona College, UCLA, UC San Diego, Cal State Dominguez Hills, and primarily at the California Institute of the Arts, and what is now Claremont Graduate University.

Highly regarded among peers and composers, such as Igor Stravinsky, Robert Craft, and Pierre Boulez,[4] Stein's pedagogy, which stems directly from the teachings of Schoenberg, was a historical turning point in the cross fertilization of European art music in the development of mid-to late 20th-century music in America. For his students, See: List of music students by teacher: R to S#Leonard Stein.

Stein also created and directed the Encounters concert series in 1960 with Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and John Cage in attendance.[4]Described as "legendary" in a 2009 Los Angeles Times article by Josef Woodard, John Harbison composed a work of thirteen pieces for piano as a tribute to Stein, based on word permutations of Stein's name, entitled Leonard Stein Anagrams, which was premiered by Gloria Cheng at the Colburn School of Music on October 13, 2009.[5]

While working as an adjunct professor Stein was the music director of the Schoenberg Institute at USC from 1975 to 1991, where he played a seminal role in promoting Schoenberg's music and his legacy to the American public by also organizing seminars and performing in concerts devoted to Schoenberg and new music.[3] Stein was also editor of the Journal of the Schoenberg Institute from 1977 to 1991.[3] At his retirement in 1991 Stein was awarded the Phi Kappa Phi Diploma of Honor for Lifetime Achievement. The UC San Diego houses the Leonard Stein Papers,[3] consisting of a collection of his voluminous correspondence with major composers from the late twentieth century, including Ernst Krenek, Elliott Carter, Olivier Messiaen, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Milton Babbitt, György Ligeti, Pierre Boulez, Iannis Xenakis, Luciano Berio, et al. He also toured as a conductor and pianist.[1]

Stein died of natural causes at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, on June 23[4] or June 25,[3] 2004.






  1. 1 2 3 Paula Morgan. 2001. "Stein, Leonard". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
  2. "The Register of Leonard Stein Papers, 1942 - 1983", UCSD.edu.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 (July 01, 2004). "Leonard Stein, Pianist and Music Scholar, 87", USC News (accessed October 28, 2013).
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Swed, Mark and Pasles, Chris (June 25, 2004). "Leonard Stein, 87; Schoenberg Institute Chief, Pianist, Teacher", Los Angeles Times. Accessed October 28, 2013).
  5. Josef Woodard, "Gloria Cheng and Piano Spheres at Zipper Hall", Culture Monster blog site of the Los Angeles Times (October 14, 2009; accessed May 7, 2014).

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