ARNOLD SCHOENBERG

My thanks go to Karl Malik for the photo.

13thSeptember 1874 --- 13thJuly 1951

Along with Debussy and Stravinsky, Schoenberg was one of the great musicians responsible for the precipitate evolution which was to change the face of European music at the beginning of the 20th century.

His early works, up to about the year 1907, are strongly tinged with Romanticism in the idiom of Wagner, Brahms and Mahler, though he pushes still further their use of chromatic harmonies, while still making use of key signatures.
By degrees, however, these disappear from his work, as his music progresses from athematic to radically atonal compositions, Finally, in the year 1912, when Schoenberg was thirty-eight, all pretence of key is abandoned.

Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) Was born of Jewish parents in Vienna. His father was a prosperous shopkeeper and his mother gave piano lessons. He gave early indications of his musical talent, writing his first compositions when he was seventeen. Although he took some lessons in counterpoint from the Polish-born conductor and composer Alexander von Zemlinsky, his future brother-in-law who was only two years his senior, he was virtually self-taught.

His beginnings were difficult and he was obliged to support himself by hack work, orchestrating the light operettas of other composers. In 1901 he was in Berlin as conductor of the Buntes Theater, and while there received the Liszt prize at the instigation of Richard Strauss. But in 1903 he returned to Vienna to teach.

During eight years in Vienna, as a conductor, as well as a teacher, he became the friend of Mahler and attracted Berg and Webern into his circle of pupils. In 1911 Strauss provided him with the opportunity of returning to Berlin as teacher of composition at the Stern conservatory.

In 1912 his Pierrot Lunaire, for 'speechsong', piano and flute, finally drew public attention to his work. But his creative activities were interrupted for some ten years, first by his theoretical researches and secondly by his service (1914-17) in the First World War.
In 1921 he broke his long silence and published his Twelve Note System of Composition which is also illusstrated with examples of his own works. In 1925 he was appointed professor of composition at the Academy of Arts in Berlin, in succession to Busoni. Henceforth his influence extended over all Europe.

When the Nazis came to power he left Germany, he took refuge for a while in Spain, then in Paris, where his presence remained unnoticed. He had become a convert to Roman Catholicism, but in 1933 he reverted to his original faith as a mark of solidarity with the Jewish victims of Hitler's persecution. In 1934 he travelled to the United States where he was successively professor at the Malkin Conservatory of Boston and then director of the department of music as the University of California, Los Angeles (1936 - 44).

The end of his life was marked by financial difficulties, and work became more and more arduous for him due to his delicate health and failing eyesight.
He died in Los Angeles in 1951.

Extract from "The Larousee Encyclopedia of Music"

Last Updated on 29nd July 2000

And now for the Music

(1564)"Klavierstück 2, Opus.19". Sequenced by Peter-Jan van Dijk

(1563)"Klavierstück 6" Opus.19. Beauitfully Sequenced by Peter-Jan van Dijk

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