Arnold Schönberg

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Schönberg, Arnold


Born Sept. 13, 1874, in Vienna; died July 13,1951, in Los Angeles, Calif. Austrian composer.

From 1901 to 1903, Schönberg taught composition at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin. In 1903 he moved to Vienna, where he became known as a composer, conductor, and teacher and as an organizer and director of choral groups. He was a professor at the Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin from 1925 to 1933. After the fascists came to power, he was forced to emigrate to the USA, where from 1936 to 1944 he taught composition at the University of California at Los Angeles.

In his early works, most notably in the string sextet Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night; 1899) and the symphonic poem Pelleas und Melisande (1903), Schönberg continued the traditions of German and Austrian romanticism and of R. Wagner. Later he developed the dodecaphonic, or twelve-tone, system of composition. Schönberg was the founder of atonal music and the most prominent representative of musical expressionism. His theories greatly influenced several generations of composers, notably—in addition to such students and followers of his as A. Berg and A. von Webern—E. Wellesz, E. Křenek, and R. Leibowitz.

Schönberg most consistently applied the twelve-tone system in such works as the Fünf Klavierstücke (1923), the Serenade for Septet and Baritone (1923), the concerti for violin (1936) and piano (1942), the monodrama Erwartung (1909, staged 1924), and the opera Moses und Aron (1932; concert performance, 1954). The music of these works, marked by artificiality and expressionist angst, is devoid of melody.

Shaken by the fascists’ destruction of the Warsaw ghetto, Schönberg wrote the story for speaker with orchestra and male chorus A Survivor From Warsaw (1947), in which he departed from his characteristic subjectivism. In his works Schönberg protested against the inhuman laws of the bourgeois state, but his overriding theme remained the tragic isolation of the artist in an alien and hostile world.

In addition to Pierrot Lunaire (1912), written for voice with chamber accompaniment, Schönberg’s other principal works include two chamber symphonies (1906 and 1939), four string quartets, compositions for voice and for piano, and numerous theoretical works.


Sollertinskii, I. Arnol’d Shenberg. Leningrad [1934].
Til’man, I. “O dodekafonnom metode kompozitsii.” Sovetskaia muzyka, 1958, no. 11.
Pavlyshyn, S. “Misiachnyi P’ero” A. Shenberga. Kiev, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
This desire and existential need to discover negative harmony (in the spirit of human rescue) begins to explain why Adorno, a consummate critic of music, is attracted to the difficult twelve-tone music of Arnold Schonberg, who articulates in music much of what Adorno writes as philosophy.
4 and Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen ("Songs of a Wayfarer") is of arrangements made so that Arnold Schonberg and his musical circle could get together to play and appreciate Mahler's music in the dreary days following World War I.
This period saw the birth of Karl Menger's economics of marginal utility, the logical positivism of Otto Neurath, the 12-tone harmonics of Arnold Schonberg and the psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud.
(Once you start this metaphor business, you can go anywhere - if he wants us to have his own interpretation, Libeskind will have to write a manual, but that's not the point in a Decon world, and his rather vague references to the influences of Arnold Schonberg and Walter Benjamin explain little.) On gallery floors, the Berlin building offers far fewer route alternatives than the Edinburgh one: basically, you are required to progress along the long thin plan in one direction or the other with a few short cuts allowed here and there.
Arnold Schonberg, who was not only a composer and music theorist, but also a painter, was in contact with Vassili Kandinsky.
Faustus, in which a great composer, Adrian Leverkuhn (modeled on the inventor of atonal music, Arnold Schonberg), struggles to write a new kind of music: a dark tone poem, based on the legend of Faust's pact with the devil, to reflect the growth of German fascism, which famously bent the public will to its own ends with the aid of a charismatic leader.
The first of "4 Piezas para Piano" comes across as bar music in the style of Arnold Schonberg, as does his "Composicion para Violin, Violoncello, y Piano." Gestures are easy to recognize, but melodies and harmony are not tonal.
It was Arnold Schonberg who perceived this problem at the source of his creative impasse of 1915-1923.
She says the composer Arnold Schonberg once told her that if he had not developed 12-tone music, someone else would have, and that his work was a natural and historical extension of Mahler's.