The Second Viennese School (II)

 http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/25024?q=arnold+schoenberg&search=quick&pos=1&_start=1#firsthit

 

Heading: Arnold Schoenberg, Subheading: 6. Expressionist Works

 

     “Around 1908, a new season started in Schoenberg’s professional life. Mathilde’s (his wife) betrayal was actually one of the most influential incidences of Schoenberg’s life and this emotional crisis was reflected both in his music and paintings. Apparently, cordiality between Schoenberg and Kandinsky, as one of the forerunners of expressionist movement, was an encouraging element for Schoenberg to start painting. It is also worth considering, that Kandinsky was a prominent characters in the field of visual arts, who played an important role in building the relations between visual arts and music in the expressionist movement. Therefore, I would state that Schoenberg’s paintings and music moved in parallel towards expressionism and either of these mediums inspired the other, which resulted in an impressive maturity especially in his music later on.”

 My Comment:

     Broad usage of dissonances, delay in their resolution, lessening the use of structural harmony and eventually abandoning the tonality can be considered as different levels of moving towards expressionist music. Actually tonal music, with its conventional and logical criteria was not a proper was not anymore the proper field of expression for feelings such as fear, confusion, missing, feeling lost and unprotected. Simultaneously considerable changes started to be applied to textures, dynamics, and instead of balanced classical phrases and periods, motives started to became the composers’ centre of attention; Anton Webern’s works are brilliant examples for motivic and fragmental writing)

 

 

Questions:

  1. What does “the strange note of resignation” mean in the following paragraph?
  2. Does the problem (or let’s say issue!) stated in sentence indicated by asterisks all the works written in this style?

 

“Early in 1909 Schoenberg composed the first two piano pieces of op.11, before completing Das Buch der hängenden Gärten. The Fünf Orchesterstücke op.16 and the third piece of op.11 followed in the summer. The strange note of resignation that had sounded through the song cycle is still heard in op.11 nos.1 and 2 and op.16 no.2, but the unfamiliar territory of the new style now takes in the explosive turmoil of op.16 nos.1 and 4 and op.11 no.3, and the unique calm of op.16 no.3. Formal expansion does not accompany the extension of expressive range: as Schoenberg later observed, brevity and intensity of expression are interdependent in these pieces. **The disintegration of functional harmony appeared at the time to have destroyed the conditions for large-scale form.** But other features with roots in traditional practice, in particular fixed points of reference of various kinds (some of them reminiscent of tonality) and thematic or motivic development, survived to assume not only greater responsibility but new guises. These made possible swifter transformations and more abrupt contrasts than music had hitherto known. Moreover dissonance’s new independence permitted, at least in an orchestral context, unprecedented simultaneous contrasts. It is not only novelty of expression in itself but the power to bring seemingly irreconcilable elements into relation that gives the music its visionary quality, far beyond that of the painted ‘visions’.”

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