This German, Dutch and Jewish surname of SCHOENBERG was a nickname for a handsome or pleasant man, derived from the Old German SCHON (fine, beautiful, bright and refined). The name is also spelt SCHONBEIN (lovely tree) SHONFELD (lovely field) SCHONHOLZ (lovely house) SCHONEMANN (lovely man) and SCHONBLUM (lovely flower). It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries. The Dutch language is most closely related to Low German, and its surnames have been influenced both by German and French naming practices. The preposition 'van' is found especially with habitation names, and the 'de' mainly with nicknames. Surnames having a derivation from nicknames form the broadest and most miscellaneous class of surnames, encompassing many different types of origin. The most typical classes refer adjectivally to the general physical aspect of the person concerned, or to his character. Many nicknames refer to a man's size or height, while others make reference to a favoured article of clothing or style of dress. Many surnames derived from the names of animals and birds. In the Middle Ages ideas were held about the characters of other living creatures, based on observation, and these associations were reflected and reinforced by large bodies of folk tales featuring animals behaving as humans. A notable member of the name was Arnold Franz Walter SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) the Austro-Hungarian Jewish composer, conductor and teacher, born in Vienna. He learned the violin as a boy but, apart from encouragement and advice from his friend Alexander von Zemlinsky (whose sister he married in 1901), he was entirely self-taught. In his twenties he earned his living by orchestrating operettas, and from 1901 until 1903 he was in Berlin as conductor of a cabaret orchestra. He settled in Los Angeles in 1934 and became a popular teacher at the University of California.
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