Essay Sample on A Survivor from Warsaw by Arnold Schoenberg

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  1090 Words
Date:  2022-10-14


As an Austrian-American composer, Arnold Schoenberg has always been at the behest of music. Moreover, the latter element managed to ensure that he emerged as one of the top pioneers in the music industry in the mid-20th century. He also managed to forge an expressionist movement at Viennese School having utilized some aspects such as the concept of serialism, 12-tone row and atonality. "A Survivor from Warsaw" is an excellent example of Schoenberg`s twelve-tone rows as will be elaborated in the course of this essay.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

There is no better way to remember the holocaust victims than through A Survivor from Warsaw. The memorial was composed 2 years after the culmination of the Nazi rule. This is an exceptional form of symphony bearing elements such as: Men`s chorus, orchestra, and a narrator. The latter individual manages to initiate orchestral rejoinders that align in a remarkable fashion with the already recited poetry. Moreover, the narrator further indorses this by speaking with wavering intensity.

The depth of the music is definite, with minor sounds further elaborating some element of darkness within. The set begins with trumpets blaring, and the violins playing half notes with tremolos. The clarinets, boson and flutes then accompany the music notes. Moreover, the twelve-tone row appears to have been utilized in this case. For instance, one can note the first four notes in the commencement fanfare like motives in trumpets ensemble fortissimo (F#-G-C-Ab). Violins, on the other hand, play E and Eb following the trumpets` lead, and thus end up introducing two additional notes to this row, with the first six notes now being (F#G-C-Ab-E-Eb). This notwithstanding, the contrabass further introduces notes C# and D in the first measure, leading the latter to complete the twelve-tone collection row. As a result, the resonance created registers an exceptional sound. Further still, the music`s background sounds a warning on Nazi`s approach in regards to the concentration plan by signaling that something bad is bound to happen.

It is also fundamental to note that this outstanding work is made up from of three distinct languages: German, Hebrew and English. Each of the languages manages to represent some ideal characters such as the, prisoner, German soldier and also a survivor. At measure 12, the song`s narrator appears to be speaking in English. Furthermore, he narrates a story about a person who survived the WWII, while in a concentration camp. The latter survivor appears not to remember how he ended up in a sewer. Measures 12-14 of Schoenberg`s work appears to highlight what the narrator was trying to bring out. The idea of softening the oboes, bassoons in addition to the string parts evident in measure 14 further express his intention. Also, regardless of the idea that the tutti with the arco are the main features representing the rhythm of the violin they are also expressed in pianissimo.

The narrator speaks amidst the fast rising tempo in measure 14, indicating his recollection of the moment when they sang some form of agreed prayer that the participants appeared to have neglected for a long duration of time. During this instance, one can depict the impending measures 80-97 where God declares his supreme nature to the Israelites. Also, at measure 15 the orchestration appears more involved with sheer passion and determination from the narrator. The tremolos and staccato are also played in measure 17 as the narrator offers an account of the Jew`s togetherness as they sang in the absence of predetermination. At measure 18, the violin moves even higher by incorporating aspects of pianissimo in a legato style. At this point it appears as if the listeners are being offered a reminder on the kind of experiences their ancestors had to go through.

Later afterwards, the narrator takes the music a notch higher to level 25 as they further increase their projection. Also, the trumpets join in rapidly as if to indicate the existence of a dangerous occurrence. The loud voice of the narrator at this point could be mistaken for anger. Schoenberg then incorporates 16th notes with triplets 27-28 with were to cater for measures 27-30. Additionally, the fortissimo can be depicted in the clarinets and string parts. The sounds abruptness leads to a scenario depicting a German soldier shouting at the Jews commanding them to wake up regardless of whether they were awake the entire night. The cruelty of this commander can be portrayed by the prisoners who rush to get out of the camp. The pizzicato and arco technique has been utilized by Schoenberg during that instance, with an intention of creating fear.

The rhythmic staccato 16th notes further emerges at measure 35, and 43-61, with the trumpets reverberating in an urgent response resonance. The main intention here is to offer an account of the manner in which the Jewish prisoners emerged from the camp. A lot of frustrations can be viewed in this scenario with a number of them being old, sick and others bearing signs of nervous agility. Measures 36 and 37 then follow in close tandem as they manage to elicit some sharp surprising sound. This is further enhanced by the flutes and bassoons which serve to show the agony and struggle being experienced by the Jews. The pianissimo and staccato is engaged by the clarinets with the bassoon and horn representing a legato style. The listener can manage to imagine the pain and suffering the Jews had to endure by closely referring to the sounds.

It later emerged that German soldiers were unwilling to let go off the Jewish prisoners until they had tortured them. Measure 63 works best in bringing out this scenarios in the midst of flutes, oboes and clarinets. All which manage to establish frightening music sounds. The loud sounds of German soldiers shouting "Abzahlem!" further exacerbate the already frightful scenario. Further orchestration in between measures 72-79 creates a mental picture of the entire scenario more so, because of the fast tempo in which the sounds were fashioned.


In the final scenario the men`s chorus ends up being established in measure 79. This is a point where the tempo assumes the initial instance (160-80). The doctrine of the men singers appears to bring back memories of the Jews who believed in one God. Additionally, woodwinds play at measure 93, with the string parts deepening the Jewish principle. This further continues until measure 99 with the sforzando (sf) being attained. This ends up bringing up the belief that the Jews are bound to continue trusting in their creed no matter how difficult the situation may appear to be.

Cite this page

Essay Sample on A Survivor from Warsaw by Arnold Schoenberg. (2022, Oct 14). Retrieved from

Free essays can be submitted by anyone,

so we do not vouch for their quality

Want a quality guarantee?
Order from one of our vetted writers instead

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the ProEssays website, please click below to request its removal:

didn't find image

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience and 25% off!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism