Thursday, 9 August 2012

Having Fun with Arnold Schoenberg

OK, so I'm a fan of Schoenberg (the 20th Century composer), but this video I've just come across has shot to the top of my personal Youtube Top Ten - and not just because it's about him. It's so, well, cheerful - when it could just be dour and pedantic. And cheerfulness is a Good Thing (with a capital G and T):

It goes a long way to explaining the sense of fun in what might otherwise be considered by listeners to be one of his so-called "difficult" pieces of music (part of his Serenade, Opus 24):


hyperCRYPTICal said...

Love the jolly little video but found his 'difficult' piece too difficult to listen to...

Returned to the top video and clicked Verklaerte - ah, much better!

Anna :o]

tony said...

My Dream would be to hear it played by Brighouse&Raistrick on a sunny Sunday in Todmorden Park's Bandstand!
By the way Dominic,I bumped into Dave Rigg in Hebden Bridge Oasis and passed onto him Your Regards.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Schoenberg and jolly stuff are not words which I usually associate with one another, but I must say that I almost enjoyed these bits, although still feel they are too difficult for most people to listen to.

Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks for these comments, everyone.

hyperCRYPTICal: If you like Verklarte Nacht, you might like his Chamber Symphony.

It's more "modern" than Verkarte Nacht but less so than the Serenade. One can work up to the "hard stuff".

tony: You almost could! Not Schoenberg and B and R, but Harrison Birtwistle wrote Grimethorpe Aria for Grimethorpe brass band. And regarding the Schoenberg, I think it would arrange for brass band rather well, come to think of it. Re DR, thank you!

WG: It is fun, isn't it? I think people in general approach 20th century "classical music" expecting it to make "intellectual" demands on them when actually visceral is a more useful word to start with.

Raymond Coffer said...

I read your website with great interest and note your admiration for Arnold Schönberg. As such, I thought that I might make you aware that I have recently published a doctoral thesis, "Gerstl and Schönberg", in the form of a cultural history of the events that surrounded both the extraordinary works of the early Austrian Expressionist artist, Richard Gerstl and his relationship with Schönberg. In particular, this deals with the composition of Schönberg's 1908 Second String Quartet and especially with Schönberg's leap to atonality in the 4th movement. My account, which you may be interested in reading on my website,, finally demonstrates that, contrary to common musicological hypotheses, the notorious affair between Schönberg's wife, Mathilde, and Gerstl had no impact on Schönberg's composition of the work or on the "atonality" of its seminal 4th movement.

Both my thesis and website, each of which also acts as a complete monograph of Gerstl's works, has, I am delighted to say, received widespread recent acceptance from a number of eminent writers and observers, not least from the Schoenberg family themselves. (To see theirs and others' comments, please visit the press page of my website).

Of course, if you have interest in reading the thesis itself, please let me know and I will let you have the password that unlocks access.

In the meantime, I do hope that I might hear back from you soon and send my warm wishes from the UK,


Dr Raymond Coffer
Institute of German and Romance Studies, University of London