This system of atonal composition became the dominant musical idiom at music conservatories in America and Europe during the latter half of the twentieth century. Though the influence of twelve-tone composition appears to be waning, its impact on the music of the last century is enormous. Love it or hate it, the music of Schoenberg walks large on the stage of history. Biography Early Life Figure 1. Arnold was largely self-taught.
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This system of atonal composition became the dominant musical idiom at music conservatories in America and Europe during the latter half of the twentieth century. Though the influence of twelve-tone composition appears to be waning, its impact on the music of the last century is enormous. Love it or hate it, the music of Schoenberg walks large on the stage of history.
Biography Early Life Figure 1. Arnold was largely self-taught. He took only counterpoint lessons with the composer Alexander von Zemlinsky, who was to become his first brother-in-law. He later made an orchestral version of this, which became one of his most popular pieces. Strauss turned to a more conservative idiom in his own work after , and at that point dismissed Schoenberg. Mahler worried about who would look after him after his death.
He would self-identify as a member of the Jewish religion later in life. In October , he married Mathilde Zemlinsky, the sister of the conductor and composer Alexander von Zemlinsky, with whom Schoenberg had been studying since about Mathilde bore him two children, Gertrud — and Georg — During the summer of , his wife Mathilde left him for several months for a young Austrian painter, Richard Gerstl.
This was the first composition without any reference at all to a key. Also in this year, he completed one of his most revolutionary compositions, the String Quartet No. Both movements end on tonic chords, and the work is not fully non-tonal. Breaking with previous string-quartet practice, it incorporates a soprano vocal line. During the summer of , Schoenberg wrote his Harmonielehre Theory of Harmony, Schoenberg , which remains one of the most influential music-theory books.
In he met Edward Clark, an English music journalist then working in Germany. Another of his most important works from this atonal or pantonal period is the highly influential Pierrot Lunaire, Op. Utilizing the technique of Sprechstimme, or melodramatically spoken recitation, the work pairs a female vocalist with a small ensemble of five musicians.
Wilhelm Bopp, director of the Vienna Conservatory from , wanted a break from the stale environment personified for him by Robert Fuchs and Hermann Graedener. Having considered many candidates, he offered teaching positions to Schoenberg and Franz Schreker in At the time Schoenberg lived in Berlin. He was not completely cut off from the Vienna Conservatory, having taught a private theory course a year earlier. He seriously considered the offer, but he declined. A couple of months later he wrote to Schreker suggesting that it might have been a bad idea for him as well to accept the teaching position.
World War I Figure 2. Military service disrupted his life when at the age of 42 he was in the army. Now we will throw these mediocre kitschmongers into slavery, and teach them to venerate the German spirit and to worship the German God.
He sought to provide a forum in which modern musical compositions could be carefully prepared and rehearsed, and properly performed under conditions protected from the dictates of fashion and pressures of commerce. From its inception through , when it ended because of economic reasons, the Society presented performances to paid members, sometimes at the rate of one per week.
During the first year and a half, Schoenberg did not let any of his own works be performed. Development of the Twelve-Tone Method Figure 3. This technique was taken up by many of his students, who constituted the so-called Second Viennese School. Schoenberg viewed his development as a natural progression, and he did not deprecate his earlier works when he ventured into serialism.
In he wrote to the Swiss philanthropist Werner Reinhart: For the present, it matters more to me if people understand my older works.
They are the natural forerunners of my later works, and only those who understand and comprehend these will be able to gain an understanding of the later works that goes beyond a fashionable bare minimum. I do not attach so much importance to being a musical bogey-man as to being a natural continuer of properly-understood good old tradition! His first wife died in October , and in August of the next year Schoenberg married Gertrud Kolisch — , sister of his pupil, the violinist Rudolf Kolisch.
Following the death of composer Ferruccio Busoni, who had served as Director of a Master Class in Composition at the Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin, Schoenberg was appointed to this post the next year, but because of health problems was unable to take up his post until While vacationing in France, he was warned that returning to Germany would be dangerous.
Schoenberg formally reclaimed membership in the Jewish religion at a Paris synagogue, then traveled with his family to the United States. However, this happened only after his attempts to move to Britain came to nothing. He enlisted the aid of his former student and great champion Edward Clark, now a senior producer with the BBC, in helping him gain a British teaching post or even a British publisher, but to no avail.
He moved to Los Angeles, where he taught at the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles, both of which later named a music building on their respective campuses Schoenberg Hall. The Schoenbergs were able to employ domestic help and began holding Sunday afternoon gatherings that were known for excellent coffee and Viennese pastries. He lived there the rest of his life, but at first he was not settled. In around , he applied for a position of teacher of harmony and theory at the New South Wales State Conservatorium in Sydney.
During this final period, he composed several notable works, including the difficult Violin Concerto, Op. Along with twelve-tone music, Schoenberg also returned to tonality with works during his last period, like the Suite for Strings in G major , the Chamber Symphony No.
During this period his notable students included John Cage and Lou Harrison. In he became a citizen of the United States. Later Years and Death Figure 4. The composer had triskaidekaphobia the fear of the number 13 , and according to friend Katia Mann, he feared he would die during a year that was a multiple of Rudhyar did this and told Schoenberg that the year was dangerous, but not fatal.
This stunned and depressed the composer, for up to that point he had only been wary of multiples of 13 and never considered adding the digits of his age. He died on Friday, 13 July , shortly before midnight. Schoenberg had stayed in bed all day, sick, anxious and depressed. Then the doctor called me. Traditionally they are divided into three periods though this division is arguably arbitrary as the music in each of these periods is considerably varied.
His first explicitly atonal piece was the second string quartet, Op. The urgency of musical constructions lacking in tonal centers, or traditional dissonance-consonance relationships, however, can be traced as far back as his Chamber Symphony No. Third Period: Twelve-Tone and Tonal Works In the early s, he worked at evolving a means of order that would make his musical texture simpler and clearer.
Shelves: music While my general feeling is that Schoenberg is much too academic, he does make some good observations about composition that remain contemporary. The structure of our brains to comprehend musical sequences is innate and therefore there are patterns that we should follow for the sake of the "consensus of brains". Jun 03, Dennis rated it liked it Written as a companion and outgrowth of his music courses at USC and UCLA, this book, contrary to what its title may imply, will not teach you how to compose. Let me clarify; this book, by itself, will not teach you how to be a composer. To benefit from the wisdom of this text, you must have some substantial musical experience or a good teacher.
Fundamentals of Musical Composition