Essay on Arnold Schoenberg's Musical Influence

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Arnold Schoenberg's Musical Influence

Arnold Schoenberg was one of the greatest musical influences of the mid 20th Century. He was born on September 13, 1874, to a Jewish family in Vienna, Austria (Schoenberg 1). Schoenberg was a young Jewish man during World War I (WWI) living in Berlin. He was directly affected by the invasion of the Nazis. In 1933, he had to leave Berlin and desert his faith for Lutheranism later on taking on the faith of Judaism. At the early age of eight, he began violin lessons and almost immediately started composing music (Schoenberg 1). He was self-taught until the age of 10 when he began formal training (Schoenberg 1). He earned a living by orchestrating operettas, directing a cabaret orchestra, and teaching.
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In 1920, Schoenberg formulated his twelve-tone technique which can be heard in his one-movement Piano Concerto. One of the warmest and richest harmonies Schoenberg created was The Chamber Symphony No. 2 (1939) which had late Romanticism harmonies with neo-classic spirit (Schoenberg 1). Through Schoenberg and his students, the twelve-tone method became a dominating force in the mid 20th century composition and strongly influenced the course of western music. Schoenberg made a radical break in music with his un-orthodox pitch combinations and his unique rhythms. Schoenberg stated: “Whether one calls oneself conservative or revolutionary, whether one composes in a conventional or progressive manner, whether one tries to imitate old styles or is destined to express new ideas-one must be convinced of the infallibility of one’s own fantasy and one must believe in one’s own inspiration. The desire for a conscious control of the new means and forms will arise in every artist’s mind; and he will wish to follow consciously the laws and rules that govern the forms he has conceived “as in a dream (Norton 1).”
Schoenberg was not only a musician but also a writer and painter. This variety of talent allowed him to construct a larger audience. As a musician he only reached those who loved music. With his other talents he was able to attract art lovers and readers. This allows various vehicles of passing on
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