Arnold Schönberg

The colossus of the twentieth century ARNOLD (FRANZ WALTER) SCHOЕNBERG is the most radical artist in music history, who has opened a new, completely different path in the compositional thinking of his time and far ahead in time. It is no coincidence that Theodor Adorno in “Philosophy of New Music” considers his aesthetics the embodiment of Progress, and Thomas Mann identifies him with the main character in his novel “Doctor Faustus”. There is hardly another artist who is perceived with such polarly contradictory reactions – from apologetics to complete negation. And there is hardly another person with such a diverse creative activity, who has left indelible traces on several different planes. He is the Composer who outlined both the first steps and the most mature opuses of musical expressionism – from the monooperas “Expectation” and “The Hand of Fate” and the melodrama “Moonstruck Pierrot” to the cantata “The Warsaw Survivor”, and discovered unsuspected fields of expression of human voice as a vocal recitation – with the introduced Conversation (spoken singing) and Sprechstimme (speaking voice). He is also the Artist whose paintings take place alongside Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Mark in the exhibitions of expressionist artists from the Munich group “The Blue Horseman”. The only educator who created a school in the twentieth century – the so-called Neue Wiener Schule or Second Viennese school, whose circle includes his students Alban Berg, Anton Webern, Ernst Krenek, Hanns Eisler, Egon Wellesz, Nikos Skalkottas, and later John Cage, Louis Harrison and a number of other great names of the century. The Theorist who blew up the whole tradition of compositional writing by creating the new 12-tone system – dodecaphony (that all 12 notes of the chromatic scale are sounded as often as one another in a piece of music while preventing the emphasis of any one note- a series that becomes the main construction material to form transfigurations of compositions). The possibilities of 12-tone writing do not bypass almost any of the “classics” of the century, even its antipode – the neoclassical Stravinsky. Schoenberg is also the musical philosopher who left opuses such as the opera Moses and Aaron, the oratorio Jacob’s Ladder, dozens of chamber, orchestral and vocal works and theoretical works.

Due to his Jewish origins and the banning of his music by Goebbels’ cultural policy as “declining” (Entartete Musik) in 1933, he was forced to emigrate to California, where he remained for the rest of his life. But his work and the concept of dodecaphonic and serial composition became a model for the new post-war musical avantgarde and determined the searches of generations of artists around the world.

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