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Arnold Schoenberg

Arnold Schoenberg
This nOde last updated May 13th, 2002 and is permanently morphing...
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Schoenberg, Arnold

Schoenberg, Arnold, 1874-1951, Austrian composer. He became a U.S. citizen in 1941. Schoenberg revolutionized modern music by establishing the 12-tone technique of SERIAL MUSIC as an important organizational device. His early works, e.g., Verklärte Nacht (1899), expanded WAGNER's and MAHLER's use of the chromatic scale. His later works are highly contrapuntal. In 1908 he completely abandoned TONALITY in a set of piano pieces and a song cycle. He first employed the 12-tone technique in a work in his Suite for Piano (1924). Schoenberg's other compositions include two chamber SYMPHONIES (1906; 1906-40), a piano CONCERTO (1942), various chamber works, and an unfinished opera, Moses und Aron (1932-51), considered his masterpiece. He was also a teacher; his students included Alban BERG and Anton von WEBERN.

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"...In his internal linkyouth, Schoenberg had pursued the post-Tristan & Isolde path of internal linkintense lyricism in composition, warmly encouraged by Gustav Mahler. He responded to the atmosphere of disintegration and inner despair pervading the last days of the Austro-Hungarian empire by composing increasingly atonal, dissonant, and expressionistic works. Driven perhaps by a psychic as well as intellectual need for order, he developed his famous 12-tone system, which for a long time dominated 20th century music, both directly and through Anton Webern's serial and atomistic works...."

"...If by tonality we mean loyalty to a tonic, or even preference for the tonic as the tonal centre to which all others are related, the concept of atonality (the absence of tonality) can be very meaningful. The basic issue is the quality of the relationship (or loyalty) to a tonic or any single tone. In classical Europe such a relationship in music paralleled the relationship of the people with their king, whose rule was religiously sanctioned by the convenient idea of "divine right." If tonality means the divine right of the tonic, then the rise of individualism in the Romantic era was bound to manifest in music as the breakdown of tonality. Liszt and Wagner became powerful agents in fostering such a internal linkprocess. Chromaticism was used by these composers not in a decorative sense as in Bach's "Chromatic Fantasia & Fugue"; it rather was meant to convey to a stolid, materialistic, and egocentric bourgeoisie the usually tragic consequences of asocial love and of longing for an elusive transcendence of biocultural patterns..."

"...Schoenberg's profound error was to cling to the belief that rigid rules and patterns were needed to replace the discarded tonality order. It was like substituting totalitarianism for the divine right of kings. It meant replacing the attachment of a people to a king and religion with a deliberate, computative structural order enforced by the analytical and formalistic mind. It meant a change from a collective cultural order to the artificial rule of an overly deliberate and, to a large extent, fashion-inspired intellectual system. The psychocultural ground of Schoenberg's atonalism and its complex procedures was the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian empire. His system can be related to the psychological reductionism of Freud; and internal linkJung's psychology is not alien in practice, even if not in its deepest spirit, to Neo-classicism. Jung actually promoted a freer, more individualised and conscious return to the great aristocratic European tradition, especially in its more esoteric aspects, gnosticism and internal linkalchemy)..."

 "...The Viennese school of music from Mahler to Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern, is the musical expression (that word again!) of the breakdown of the European spirit in its Germanic aspect, and in Webern's music its almost total atomisation. ... In the more recent avant-garde music, however, a basically different trend is at work. It affects not only the outer form of music and the musical relationship between notes, but the *consciousness* seeking expression and communication in musical organisation. It is a revolutionary endeavour to find a new answer to the question "what is music *for*?"

"European music in the past gave to this question three successive answers: the religious medieval answer, the Baroque/Classical answer, and the Romantic and later Expressionistic answer. But the answer given by the most genuine and deeply motivated avant-garde musicians has an essentially non-European character, and the same can be said of at least some aspects of recent popular music. It is the music of youths eagerly, emotionally, and also tentatively and sometimes confusedly, seeking to experience a process of Deconditioning. Such a process has been catalyzed by Oriental philosophies and practices, and by the consciousness destructuring effects of internal linkpsychedelic drugs.
dissolution of boundaries...

"Deconditioning and destructuring are, however, indications that a process of radical transformation is at work. What is occurring in music today is more crucial than the process that transformed church plainchant into the music of the fifteenth century and into the music of the classical era. What occurred some six centuries ago was an integral part of the internal linkevolution of the European culture. Today there are very strong indications that this culture and its prolongations in the Americas and elsewhere are disintegrating, perhaps much as the Roman Empire broke down 1500 years ago. Moreover, every other culture in the world is also disintegrating. A new planet-wide revival of creative spirit may therefore be taking place, a release of "seed ideas" which sooner or later may inspirit a radically new kind of musical as well as social organisation."

  - Dane Rudhyar - _The internal linkMagic Of Tone And The Art Of Music_

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Arnold Schonberg suffered from triskaidecphobia, the fear of the number 13. He died 13 minutes from midnight on Friday the 13th.

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Only 24 hours in a day
Only 12 notes a man can play
Music for all and not just one people

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