Arnold Schoenberg has not had the greatest press in recent months, thanks to noisy explosions from the anti-modernist backlash department, so it's time to fight his corner by hearing from him in person. For Friday Historical, here is a three-part exploration: first of all, a fascinating interview with him about art, music and more, recorded at the University of California in July 1949 (thanks to Brendan Carroll for alerting me to it).
After that, an interview with Schoenberg's wife Gertrud, their son Larry and his brother-in-law, violinist Rudolf Kolisch, who seems rather disappointed that American premieres did not produce the same passionate reactions/riots as the ones in Vienna!
And finally soprano Christine Schafer in a filmic interpretation by Oliver Hermann of the first part of Pierrot Lunaire, which is 98 years old this year, but even now sounds as fresh and startling as if it were composed yesterday. Boulez conducts the Ensemble Intercontemporain.
I would like to suggest the following:
1. Schoenberg was one of the greatest composers of the 20th century - not because he invented dodecaphony, but because of his strength of personal voice, his endless questing inventiveness and the way his works encapsulated the very essence of their time. And please listen to the section of the interview in which he talks about his chief influences...
2. It isn't his fault if his system was taken in vain after his death and used to suffocate other types of new classical music. Others must shoulder that responsibility.
3. Like it or loathe it, Schoenberg's music is crucial, indelible, seminal...
Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.
- Recruiting at Policy Exchange - Sponsored Content
- We Told You So
- Sir Raymond Carr in Standpoint
- Conduct Unbecoming: The Classical Commentaries of Norman Lebrecht in Standpoint
- Chronicling The Crash: A Standpoint Ebook
- Grounds for Hope
- Is Islam a Peaceful Religion? Daniel Johnson at the Oxford Union
- Standpoint's Autumn Salons
- Is Hunter's History Bunk?
- Lawson Collects on Climate Change Bet
- The Cabinet meeting that kept Salman Rushdie alive
- Friends of Russia or Friends of Putin?
- Russia's Win-Win Election
- The Kremlin Plays Old Tricks With Pussy Riot
- A Pyrrhic Victory for Georgian Democracy
- Abandoned in Moscow
- Standpoint's New Facebook Page
- No need to pander to the Bear, Mr Obama
- Standpoint Recommends: The Tacitus Lecture 2012
- Goodbye, Vienna
- Friends Indeed — Daniel Johnson on Gertrude Himmelfarb
- New Culture Forum Lecture: Jeremy Hunt
- Kangaroo Courts Arrive Down Under
- The BBC's painful novelties
- Money can't buy you love - Nichi Hodgson
- World Youth Day Diary: Day Four