Discipline: Literature

Alfred Frankenstein

Discipline: Literature
Region: San Francisco, CA
MacDowell Fellowships: 1930

Alfred Frankenstein (1906-1981) was an author, teacher, and music and art critic for The San Francisco Chronicle.

Frankenstein combined a keen mind, lively writing style, and profound sympathy for American and contemporary art and music into a distinguished critical sensibility. His influence far transcended the San Francisco area. He contributed to many music and art periodicals, wrote several books, and lectured widely.

Frankenstein attended the University of Chicago, where he developed his abiding interest in American culture. He took his first newspaper job as assistant music critic of the now-defunct Chicago American and moved to San Francisco to become music critic of The Chronicle in 1934. Soon after, he began to review art as well, and contributed reviews in other fields.

But his activity went beyond journalism. He wrote program notes for the San Francisco Symphony for many years, and they were collected in his only book on music, A Modern Guide to Symphonic Music. His art books included several studies of American painting; After the Hunt, about American still life and trompe l'oeil painting of the late 19th century, is perhaps the best known.

In 1977, 47 years after his MacDowell residency, Frankenstein was the introductory speaker on the occasion of Virgil Thomson's being awarded the Edward MacDowell Medal for Music Composition.



Alfred Frankenstein worked in the Cheney studio.

Cheney Studio was given to MacDowell by Mrs. Benjamin P. Cheney and Mrs. Karl Kauffman. Like Barnard Studio, Cheney is a low, broadly massed bungalow. Sited on a steep westward slope, its porches are supported on wooden posts and fieldstone with lattices. Although it still retains its appealing character, the original design of the shingled building…

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