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MUAR 211 Lecture Notes - Second Viennese School, Anton Webern, Atonality

Music-Arts Faculty
Course Code
MUAR 211
Jerry M.Cain

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MUAR 211 The Art of Listening Winter 2013
March 21st, 2013
expressionism is a style of art, music & theatre, primarily popular in Germany & Scandinavia
between 1880-1925
often stresses intense, subjective emotion, isolation, madness or some intense and/or derange
psychological state
stylistic reaction against pleasant subjects & soft pastel colours of impressionism
use bright, clashing colours infused with darkness colours that are “wrong
took form of social commentary & protest
expressionist painters to know Ernest Ludwig Kirchner (German); Edvard Munch (Norwegian)
expressionist composers to know The Second Viennese School (Arnold Schoenberg, Anton
Webern, Alban Berg)
o not a formal school group of composers who worked for each other
o closely associated but developed different compositional styles Webern = abstract;
Berg = romantic; Schoenberg = somewhere in the middle
term expressionism only applies to music of these composers created prior to 1920
Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)
o one of the 2 most important composers of 20th century
o influential teacher, author, & innovator
o music became one of several trends classified as modernist
o master of the Second Viennese School
o very influenced by highly chromatic music of late-Romantic composers
o early successful works are late-romantic in style Verklarte Nacht
o abandoned tonality altogether around 1908 & composed first works of atonal music
still composed the genres using this
o music strongly rejected by many contemporaries disruptive & riotous audience
reactions led to assaults, arrests & law suits; music critics waged “uglier brawl” in press
o taught at Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin until 1933 resigned after learning all
Jewish instructors were to be fired (he was Jewish)
o emigrated to United States in 1933 when Nazis ascended to power music banned by
o taught music composition & basic theory at University of California Los Angeles
atonal music (pantonal music, free atonality)
o Schoenberg referred to advent of atonal music as “emancipation of dissonance”
o intentional avoidance of any pitch center through careful avoidance of chord patterns
common in tonal music
o no rules about harmonies that are used in music today
o there is no “home key” (the tonic)
o today we use tonality because it is more pleasing to the ear
o free atonal music, all 12 pitches of equal-tempered octave may be used at any time & in
any combination
Pierrot Lunaire
o written as a cabaret piece
o entire work has 21 movements divided into 3 categories of 7
o poems relate to antics of commedia dell’arte clowns in sometimes horrifying &
nightmarish way
o scored for chamber ensemble (soprano, flute/piccolo, clarinet/bass clarinet, violin/viola,
cello, piano)
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