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Violinist Alice Schoenfeld's $10-million gift to USC continues a legacy of mentoring

It's no surprise that a conversation with Alice Schoenfeld would go deep into the traditions and legacies of classical music. She has been teaching the violin at USC's Thornton School of Music since 1960, having played her first recital more than 30 years earlier, at age 5.

What's astonishing, as one sits in the large studio of her home in La Canada Flintridge, listening to her talk about her life in music in a clear, lilting, German-accented speaking soprano, is just how deep Schoenfeld's classical lineage goes. Because of who she is and where she's been, the $10 million she recently donated to the Thornton School is a legacy whose meaning goes far beyond what the sum may buy.

The first $3 million, given last fall, went toward renovating a former USC film school facility as a space for orchestral rehearsals — the Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld Symphonic Hall, named for Schoenfeld and the cello-playing younger sister who, until her death five years ago, was her housemate, her partner for decades in the Schoenfeld Duo, and her fellow music professor at USC.

An additional $7 million, announced Feb. 21 as the cornerstone gift of a $75-million fundraising campaign for the Thornton School, creates the Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld Endowed Scholarship Fund, whose earnings will cover tuition and other costs for students studying string instruments.

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