ARNOLD SCHOENBERG: Appreciating his music

Arnold Schoenberg (photo Tully Potter Collection)

Gramophone Magazine write: Schoenberg may fairly be said to have been one of the most influential musicians in history with his advocacy of the 12-note technique.

The events in the life of this brave giant can be briefly sketched; his music and his ideas need a book to themselves. His father Samuel, who ran a shoe shop and sang in local choral societies, died when Schoenberg was 16, forcing him to take a job in a bank to support his mother and sister. For the man who was to become the most revered musical theoretician of the age and a great teacher, Schoenberg had remarkably little formal training, mainly gained from counterpoint lessons with Alexander Zemlinsky, who became his brother-in-law in 1901.

To those who think of Schoenberg as a purveyor of ‘squeaky-gate’ music, it comes as a surprise to hear his first two undoubted masterpieces, Verklärte Nacht (‘Transfigured Night’, 1899) and the ...

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