Essay Example on The Life of Arnold Schoenberg: An Aussie-American Composer's Rise From Humble Beginnings

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  1035 Words
Date:  2023-02-12

Arnold Schoenberg is an Australian-American composer who was born in September 1874 (Frisch 1). He was born into a lower-middle-class, in which his father ran a small shoe shop. He was the second born out of four children in his family. They lived in a small house. Schoenberg seems like he took piano lessons from her mother due to their close bonding. However, at eight years, he had violin lessons from a professional teacher. Little is known about his education, but he was an average student in school. He became friends with Oskar Adler while studying in the secondary school, and they developed friendship all through, that is, during the course of learning musical instruments, playing string quartets, teaching each other rudiments of music, to mention but a few.

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At the age of fifteen in 1889, Schonberg's father passed away (Frisch 10). His mother requested him to leave school in 1891 since he was earning. He became an apprentice working until he became bankrupt in 1895. Since he was a rising younger composer, he met a new teacher Alexander von Zemlinsky, who taught him lessons in composition, harmony, and counterpoint. Such as experience inspired him, and in 1901, he moved to Berlin to search for better economic prospects. He married Mathilde Zemlinksy, his teacher's sister, and the couple was blessed with two children; a son and daughter. He created his symphonic poem in 1903, shortly after returning to Vienna. This is the time his work was too radical due to rejections from the audience. While in Berlin, he found a job as a music director, although it was not rewarding. He was not happy but since he was had no financial freedom, he continued writing songs for the group. This presented him into stressful conditions, but he was lucky since Richard Strauss a Germany composer recognized him and encouraged him to compose a big orchestra (Strang and Leonard 59).

In 1915, he did return to Vienna to join the military (Frisch 261). As he spent time in the Army, he perfected his skills, and after World War I, his music had gained appreciation. By now, he discovered 12 different tones, a new method of composition, which made him well-known (Strang and Leonard 9). In 1924, he married Gertrud Bertha Kolisch, who again has two sons and a daughter. He was appointed as a teacher and director of a master class composition at Prussian Academy where he worked from 1926-33. He moved to the USA in 1933 until 1947 (Covach 156). At the age of 76 years in 1951, Schoenberg felt sick. He developed depression and anxiety, something that is assumed to be the cause of his death. It was superstitious since when he was laid in bed he was extremely fearful. His legacy inspires several musicians in contemporary society.

Composer's Musical Style

Schoenberg is the greatest antihero composer, who is known for his classical music. He developed and used expressionism musical style, which is a flair that helps express emotions rather than impressions to the audience (Kim 7). He avoided all forms of romance and traditional beauty since he wanted to convey powerful feelings of his music to the outside world. Expressionism musical style seeks to resent truthfulness without subjection of feelings or illusions. It assists predominate dissonance hence driving out the affirmative element of music. Schoenberg used expressionism style of music between 1908-1921, a period of free tonal, which directed him to develop a twelve-tone technique. However, it is believed that Schoenberg applied expressionism to his music art and paintings in 1918. Expressionism technique creates lurid effect, while alternating reality, that is, colors and shapes.

Kim highlights that expressionism originates from the modern movements of the 20th century in Germany (Kim 3). Its key goal is to evoke moods from the audience. It moves away from traditional rules suggesting that all notes and keys are equal and of importance. This makes music look ambiguous since by rejecting tonality, the music could concentrate on conveying emotions, thereby, affecting the way music is supposed to be experienced. Other composers such as Anton Webern and Alban Berg are important expressionists who applied this tyle of music to their arts and paintings (Schoenberg 105). Schoenberg was different because he used varied techniques across his spectrum of genres. For example in the fantasy for Violin and Piano Concerto, he repeats rhythms to reinforce a string tonal clarity. Most of his music os very dissonant, and he even expresses dark emotions or anxiety.

Expressionism technique made Schoenberg's music have profound importance. At first, much of his music did not receive appreciation but when he applied expressionism style, he attracted all varieties of praise. Perhaps, twelve-tone technique was the greatest contribution., a method that helps integrate 12 notes on chronic scale, which emphasizes classical harmony. Examples of the twelve-tone method include; No.4 string Quartet, Piano 1921, and fantasy for Violin (Kim 37). The twelve-tone method was also decorated by Luigi Nono and Pierre Boulez. Schoenberg in collaboration with Anton Webern and Alban Berg were given titles due to their musical influence in the Second Viennese School.

Works Cited

Covach, John. "The Americanization of Arnold Schoenberg? Theory, Analysis, and Reception." Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft fur Musiktheorie [Journal of the German-speaking Society of Music Theory] 15.2 (2018): 155-175,

Frisch, Walter, ed. Schoenberg and his World. Vol. 29. Princeton University Press, 2012,

Kim, Sohee. The study of the relationship between Arnold Schoenberg and Wassily Kandinsky during Schoenberg's expressionist period. Diss. The Ohio State University, 2010,!etd.send_file?accession=osu1269203770&disposition=inline

Schoenberg, Arnold, and Joseph Auner. Style and idea: selected writings. Univ of California Press, 2010,,+Arnold.+1975.+Style+and+Idea:+Selected+Writings+of+Arnold+Schoenberg.&ots=kavdX1Gu0n&sig=VdI4QZGMCDp6a0YNTaUBReY4-Q0

Strang, Gerald, and Leonard Stein, eds. Fundamentals of musical composition. Faber & Faber, 1999,

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