USC Told to Comply in Schoenberg Case


In a decision that both sides claim as a victory, the University of Southern California was ordered Monday to comply with some counts of a preliminary injunction filed by the heirs of composer Arnold Schoenberg. The Schoenberg family has been seeking to maintain control of how the university uses both its Schoenberg Institute building as well as the collection of donated Schoenberg manuscripts and memorabilia the building houses.

According to the Los Angeles Superior Court order, the university, which has been under a temporary restraining order since July 19, must comply with a 1985 agreement to limit use of the building to music-department concerts, classes and activities consistent with maintaining the Schoenberg legacy, as well as to do no further copying of Schoenberg materials in the collection without the permission of the heirs.

The decision is the latest development in an ongoing battle between the Schoenberg family and USC that resulted in a family decision earlier this year to seek a new home for the extensive Schoenberg holdings, most of which were donated to USC by the family and which have been housed and maintained by the university since 1977.

USC officials accepted the family's decision, saying the financially strapped university was unable to comply with the family's desire to limit use of the building to concerts and classes dealing only with Schoenberg's music or to agree to family requirements as to the use and duplication of archival material for scholarly purposes. The university has offered to maintain the collection for two years while the family seeks a new home for it.

Richard Mosk, attorney for the Schoenbergs, said that the family is "satisfied that steps have been taken [to ensure] that USC had better be careful in their use of this facility, and to protect the collection."

USC attorney Scott Edelman, however, said that the court order, which allows music classes and concerts dealing with composers other than Schoenberg to continue in the building, supports the university's belief that the family's interpretation of proper use of the building is too limited.

Attorneys for both sides expect a trial within two years that will determine whether the university must maintain the collection indefinitely until a new home can be found. That trial will also determine the fate of the so-called "satellite collection" of Schoenberg materials that have been donated or purchased by the university since the original donation. The Schoenberg family has argued that the additional material should remain with the collection if and when it moves elsewhere.

Neither side foresees a reconciliation.

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