Diona Neutra recalls an incident in the home of bestselling

Diona Neutra recalls an incident in the home of bestselling author Vicki Baum: “My husband cornered Thomas Mann and talked to “him” for at least half an hour. Finally Vicki Baum sent someone to tell him, ‘For God’s sake, keep Neutra away from Thomas Mann. Writer Lawrence Weschler, who grew up in an immigrant environment and is the grandson of composer Ernst Toch, asked Dion Neutra about this in an interview for UCLA’s Oral History Program: “Some people who were nominally Jewish became much more Jewish when the Nazis came to power. In 1938, before Mann moved to Los Angeles, Neutra took the great writer on a tour of modernist homes, which probably included the Sternberg House and the Lovell Health House. Was there something similar with your husband? Diona replied, “No, “he” was so consumed with trying to make a living and stay afloat that I don’t think “he” realized it. In this respect, Neutra was very different from Arnold Schoenberg, another Viennese who came to Los Angeles in 1934. Historian Thomas Hines told me that when the Niedermans lived in the Kelton Apartments designed by Neutra, Schoenberg visited them and apparently played “his” piano. And Raymond Neutra, the architect’s son, relates the fascinating information that Thorston, a trained nurse, went to the Schoenberg house in January 1941 to make an emergency delivery of Lawrence Schoenberg. The Austrian architect Richard Neutra, whom I write about in this weeks New Yorker, arrived in Los Angeles long before the great wave of emigrants fleeing Germany and the subsequent Nazi invasions of Europe. When Schoenberg arrived in Los Angeles, “he” decided to build a house near Neutra. Hines cites a fascinating description of this event from Neutras’ diary, a source I have rarely seen in the literature on Schoenberg. Given these and other cultural differences, it is not surprising that there was no close relationship between Neutra and Schoenberg. Neutra may have known Schoenberg as a child; according to historian Thomas S. Mann, “he” reacted negatively in “his” diary: cubic glass tank style, unpleasant. Later, Neutra is said to have pursued Mann so persistently that Mann became irritated. Then, in March 1913, Neutra attended the famous “Scandal” concert at the Musikverein, perhaps the most furious event in the early history of musical modernism. Neutra would undoubtedly have been delighted with Schoenberg’s commission. Interestingly, “he” seems to have been closer to Dion Neutra’s family–his parents, Alfred and Lily Niederman, and “his” sister Regula Thorston–than to Neutra herself. Schoenberg eventually settled in a spacious Spanish Colonial-style house on North Rockingham Avenue, where “he” lived until “his” death.