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He was born in New York City into an upper class German-Jewish family, the son of Clara (née Liebmann) and Julius Rosenfield. He studied at Riverview Military Academy, Poughkeepsie, and Yale University, graduating in 1912. After further education at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, he became a prolific journalist, writing on literature and art as well as music. He was one of the Alfred Stieglitz circle, and favored a heavy intellectual and European approach to criticism. His friend Edmund Wilson, writing two years after Rosenfeld's death, expressed the thought that his articles had become too uncompromising for the public taste, as time went by. Magazines which published Rosenfeld's writing included The New Republic, Seven Arts, Vanity Fair magazine, The Nation, The Dial and Modern Music.