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A Special Zócalo Music Presentation: How Immigrants Composed L.A.


In 1933, Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg immigrated to the United States, settling in Los Angeles; he would spend the rest of his life writing music and teaching composition at USC and UCLA. Following him, in 1940, came Russian-born composer, pianist, and conductor Stravinsky, who settled in Hollywood after making the move from France. Then, in 1942, fellow Russian-born composer, pianist, and conductor Sergei Rachmaninoff arrived in Beverly Hills. These immigrants—and others who followed them—fused L.A.’s free-spirited culture with the traditions they brought with them from their homelands.

A string quartet of four Los Angeles Opera musicians—cellist Evgeny Tonkha and violinists Roberto Cani, Ana Landauer, and Erik Rynearson—visits Zócalo to perform the music of L.A.’s immigrant composers, from Schoenberg to contemporary Indian American composer Reena Esmail, who continues in this proud tradition today by merging the worlds of Indian and Western classical music.

Illustration by Joycelyn Cabrera. From left to right: Ana Landauer, Erik Rynearson, Roberto Cani, and Evgeny Tonkha.