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Expressionism  Became popular during the years 1910-39  It evolved during a time of growing fascination with the unconscious and people’s inner feelings.

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Presentation on theme: "Expressionism  Became popular during the years 1910-39  It evolved during a time of growing fascination with the unconscious and people’s inner feelings."— Presentation transcript:


2 Expressionism  Became popular during the years 1910-39  It evolved during a time of growing fascination with the unconscious and people’s inner feelings  Painters and composers tried to focus on inner states of being and the evocation of extreme feelings  They may seem to concentrate on anguish, insanity, fear hatred, etc., but this may be their reaction against what was perceived as the prettiness and superficiality of the Impressionists.

3 Arnold Schoenberg  Most important Expressionist composer  Most radically innovative composers of the century  He evolved a completely new approach to musical harmony, which has had a profound influence on all music written up to the present day.  Born in 1874 in Vienna to a poor Orthodox Jewish family.  He took violin lessons as a child  He began composing around eight years old.  His early works continue in the Romantic tradition (The works composed before he was 25).

4 Atonality  Schoenberg felt that tonality had outlived its usefulness  He began to develop a completely new system of musical organization  At first he called this system atonality - a system without a key, or tonal center  In his atonal works, the feeling of key is avoided by using many chromatic notes  He wrote many atonal pieces between 1908 and 1915  Atonal music was not well-received.

5 Years after tonality  For the next several years, he wrote no music at all – this period coincided with WWI  He was not sure which direction his music should take, atonality freed music from the “straightjacket” of tonality, but it had no organizing principle  So far he solved this problem by either making the pieces short or holding the pieces together by a text.  He eventually thought of the twelve-tone system.

6 Twelve-tone system  Outgrowth of atonality, but has a strict unifying principle: the composer uses all the notes in a strict order, which must be followed throughout the piece  12-tone was first used in his Five Piano Pieces of 1923  From then on, he used the system in almost all of his compositions.

7 Nazis in Power  When Nazis came to power in 1933, many Jews lost their jobs, including Schoenberg, who was dismissed from his teaching job at the Academy of Arts in Berlin.  As a result, he embraced Judaism – many of his works are based on Jewish themes  After WWII, he wrote a cantata entitled A Survivor from Warsaw 1947, which relives the horror of the Warsaw ghetto (more than 400,000 Jews were systematically murdered.) This text is based on a personal account by one of the very few survivors.

8 Large-scale twelve-tone works  After he was fired from his job in Berlin, he moved to the United States (Los Angeles) where he taught composition at the University of California  This was the period of his large-scale twelve-tone works. He also wrote 2 “old-fashioned” tonal pieces for student ensembles.  Schoenberg died in 1951  During his life, his music was not often performed, as most audiences found it difficult and inaccessible.  He was, however, highly influential in 2 ways: 1 st he was the teacher of Berg and Webern, who both turned out to be great composers in their own right, and 2 nd his development of the 12-tone system. This system affected an entire generation of composers after him.

9 Schoenberg’s Music  3 Periods: Early Period, Atonal Period, and 12-tone Period  Early 1890-1907- wrote music in a late Romantic idiom – can see an increasing use of chromaticism and a dissolving of a central tonality.  Middle 1908-1915 – developed his idea of atonality, but the pieces are either short, or have a text that helps to organize the work.  12-tone 1923 - the end of his life – balanced his revolutionary ideas with traditional forms (uses sonata form or minuet – and – trio form) – he later creates works freer in form  Many later composers modeled their careers and musical styles on Schoenberg (For an entire generation composers were required to justify composing music that was not 12- tone. Even if they did not use this system, they had available to them a vocabulary of sounds to enrich their overall language.

10 LISTEN  “Madonna” from Pierrot Lunaire  Composed in 1912 for voice, flute, bass clarinet, viola, cello, piano  Sets poems by Albert Giraud  Individual movements share the viewpoint of Pierrot, a deeply troubled clown who seems to have a fascination with the mysterious powers of the moon.  Expressionist because it reveals the darker side of human nature.  Abandons tonality and normal singing style (uses Sprechstimme = speech-song - singer approximates the written pitches, merges singing with speaking)  “Madonna” – seems to be inspired by some of the more grotesque figures in cathedrals –lyrics speak of blood, wounds, redness of the eyes.

11 LISTEN  Theme and Sixth Variation from Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31  Composed in 1928  Employs Schoenberg’s 12- tone method and features a tone row See page 343  Used 4 times to make up the theme (in ternary form) 1 st section (A) made up of 5 &7 measures – Middle section 5 mm. (B) – Return is 7 mm (in inversion) (A)  The accompaniment is also numerically based  He uses a large orchestra, but scoring is sparse (like chamber music in texture)

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