1924 - 2006
Ruth Schonthal was born in Hamburg in 1924. She began composing at five and became the youngest student ever accepted to the Stern Conservatory in Berlin where she received piano and theory-lessons. In 1935, because of her Jewish heritage, she was banished from the Conservatory. The persecution of Jews by the Nazi regime in Germany forced the family into exile and to settle in Stockholm. Because of her exceptional talent she was accepted at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, in spite of not meeting the standard regulations for admission, a fact that the Swedish press noted and duly protested. At the Academy Ruth Schonthal studied piano with Olaf Wibergh and composition with Ingemar Liljefors. In 1941 the political situation became again too dangerous and the family had to flee a second time, this time settling in Mexico City. There Ruth Schonthal continued her studies of composition with Manuel M. Ponce. At age nineteen, she was the soloist at the world premiere of her own Piano Concerto in the Palacio de Bellas Artes. In 1946 she met Paul Hindemith, who was on a concert tour in Mexico City. She accepted his offer to study with him at Yale University on a scholarship that Paul Hindemith procured for her. She graduated in 1948, one of the few who graduated with honors.
Ruth Schonthal never followed the prevalent contemporary aesthetic fashions. At a time when Anton Webern and John Cage were the American role models, she followed her own musical path, never denying her own classic-romantic heritage. The extraordinarily varied impressions she absorbed in the course of her life in different parts of the world provided the foundation of her musical style.
Ruth Schonthal has received commissions for chamber music, operas, symphonic works as well as for compositions for piano and organ. In 1994 she was the recipient of the ”Heidelberger Künstlerinnenpreis“ and was honored by the Prinz Carl am Kornmarkt Museum in Heidelberg with an exhibition about her life and work. Also in the USA she was the recipient of many honors and awards, amongst them ”Meet the Composer grants“ and ”ASCAP awards“. She was a finalist in the New York City Opera Competition with her opera “The Courtship of Camilla” (A. A. Milne) and a finalist in the Kennedy-Center-Friedheim Competition with her “In Homage of …” (24 Preludes). In addition she received a Certificate of Merit from the Yale School of Alumni Association for outstanding service to music and an Outstanding Musician Award from New York University as well as numerous honors and awards from local Arts and Cultural organizations. Ruth Schonthal died on July 10, 2006 in Scarsdale, New York. Since 1997 the publishing house Furore Verlag has been Ruth Schonthal’s exclusive publisher.
Biography taken from Furore Verlag.