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American music and art critic at the San Francisco Chronicle and program annotator for the San Francisco Symphony.

Career Summary

Alfred Victor Frankenstein was born in Chicago and graduated from the University of Chicago (PhB) in 1932. He played clarinet in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago 1923‒30, then worked as assistant music critic of the Chicago American 1931‒34, while lecturing in the history of music at the University 1932‒34. He was music and art critic of the San Francisco Chronicle 1934‒65 and program annotator for the San Francisco Symphony from 1935. In the 1960s and 1970s he was a professor of Art History at Mills College, California, and in the 1970s also at the University of California, Berkeley. In the 1960s, he wrote five books on 18th- and 19th-century American art, and a guide to symphonic music.


Arnold Schoenberg provided Moriz Violin (who had emigrated to the USA and settled in San Francisco in 1939) with letters of introduction to several people including Frankenstein, who is mentioned in three of Violin's letters to Schoenberg (LC ASC 27/45, [12], [15], [33]). Frankenstein proved the most helpful, though it is unclear whether he assisted him in procuring a position, and also whether the two men ever met. Communication between Frankenstein and Moriz Violin clearly took place, though no correspondence is known to survive. One undated letter from Frankenstein to Oswald Jonas is preserved as OJ 36/125, [1]. (Seven letters from Schoenberg to Frankenstein, and six from Frankenstein to Schoenberg, from the period 1939 to 1949, exist in in the Library of Congress.)


  • Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (1971)
  • wikipedia
  • The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980)


  • Ian Bent

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