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Arnold Schoenberg (1874 - 1951)

Related: new tonality - art music - Modernist music - Vienna - twelve tone music - classical music


Arnold Schoenberg, (the anglicized form of Schönberg—Schoenberg changed the spelling officially when he became a U.S. citizen) (September 13, 1874 – July 13, 1951) was a composer, born in Vienna, Austria. He is particularly remembered as one of the first composers to embrace atonality, and for his twelve tone technique of composition using tone rows. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_Schoenberg [Jan 2005]

Art means New Art

There is no great work of art which does not convey a new message to humanity; there is no great artist who fails in this respect. This is the code of honor of all the great in art, and consequently in all great works of the great we will find that newness which never perishes, whether it be of Josquin des Pres, of Bach or Haydn, or of any other great master. Because: Art means New Art

--Arnold Schoenberg, Style and Idea, Selected Writings (London: Faber and Faber, 1975), p.115. [Jan 2006]

A Synopsis of 20th Century Art Music (1990) - Rhys Chatham

Toward the end of the last century, equal-temperament and chromaticism presented composers with a new musical challenge, which Arnold Schoenberg liked to call the "emancipation of dissonance." The equal-tempered system, with its placement of semi-tones at equidistant intervals exploded previous notions of harmony, conceptions of chordal progression, and the tyranny of the triad. Pitch no longer had to relate to a tonal center implied by a key, but could exist as a thing-in-itself. The beginning of this century saw the invention of a new key: the key consisting of 12 semi-tones.

Although composers such as Busoni, Debussy, Ives, Mahler, and Scriabin intuited the implications of this new key, it was Arnold Schoenberg who first formulated a comprehensive theory for the manipulation and ordering of the twelve tones. Twelve-tone theory was extrapolated upon by Anton Webern and continued to be evolved by composers through the fifties, when it developed into the form known as serialism, or the International Style. By this time not only pitch was subjected to systematic organization, but other parameters of music as well: rhythm, amplitude, timbre, and dynamic. --Rhys Chatham, 30 September 1990, Paris, France [Jun 2006]

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