USC Gets $7 Million for Violin and Cello Students

Alice Schoenfeld’s latest gift to the USC Thornton School of Music is sure to tug on some (heart) strings. (See Grants for Higher Education: Performing Arts).

The violin professor is donating $7 million to found the Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld Endowed Scholarship Fund for Strings Students. The gift, which is the largest donation ever made by a USC faculty member, will be for scholarships for violin and cello students at USC.

USC President C. L. Max Nikias said, "Alice Schoenfeld's new commitment to establish a scholarship fund for string musicians at USC Thornton reflects her profound dedication to her students. Her students have gone on to brilliant careers in orchestras around the world, creating a legacy of excellence that will grow in perpetuity thanks to her generous gift. This scholarship fund will further enhance USC Thornton's ability to attract the finest students, regardless of their financial circumstances, and ensure that new generations of aspiring musicians receive a first-rate music education at USC." (See Grants for Music).

The scholarship is named after Alice and her sister, Eleonore (who passed away in 2007), both world-renowned classical performers. The sisters, combined, taught more than a century at the Thornton school.

USC Thornton Dean Robert A. Cutietta noted that the scholarship fund will help fuel the school’s success even further. "To be truly competitive, music scholarships must go above and beyond the usual support to provide benefits, such as artistic and scholarly projects, tours and travel to national and international festivals and competitions," Cutietta said. "Alice, as a teacher and performer, knows this well. Her generosity will ensure that USC Thornton continues to attract and support strings students of extraordinary talent and potential."

There are 74 students enrolled in the school, which was established in 1884. Because of the prestige associated with Thornton, USC has been able to attract past acclaimed faculty like violinist Jascha Heifetz, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, and violist William Primrose. Current faculty, along with Schoenfeld herself, includes violoncello player Ralph Kirshbaum and violinist Glenn Dicterow (who will join the school in the fall).

Schoenfeld also contributed to USC as recently as last October, when she gave the school $3 million to remodel the main symphonic rehearsal space for the musicians. The space, named the Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld Symphonic Hall, is a 3,700-square-foot-space that is being renovated with the help of an acoustician. There will be audio and video recording opportunities, better lighting, and suspended floors for sound isolation.

Due to Schoenfeld's knowledge as a performer, she knows how important rehearsal (as well as scholarship opportunities) can be for a budding musician. "True excellence in performance requires long hours, and the more support students can receive, the more they will be able to excel," she noted. "Performance and competition opportunities around the globe are invaluable in honing their craft and teaching them about the demands of a professional life."