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Second Viennese School and its Legacy

The Second Viennese School Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern

Period of Atonality:
Schoenberg (1874-1951) Pierrot Lunaire, No. 18 Moonfleck (1912)
No. 18 The Moonfleck (for voice, piano, piccolo, clarinet, violin, cello)
Einen weien Fleck des hellen Mondes Auf
With a snowy fleck of shining moonlight
dem Rcken seines schwarzen Rockes, So
On the shoulder of his black silk frock-coat. So
spaziert Pierrot im lauen Abend, Aufzusuchen walks out Pierrot this languid evening. Seeking
Glck und Abenteuer.
everywhere for loves adventure. But what!
Something wrong with his appearance?
Pltzlich strt ihn was an seinem Anzug, Er
beschaut sich rings und findet richtig - Einen
He looks round and round and then he finds it
weien Fleck des hellen Mondes Auf dem
Just a snowy fleck of shining moonlight on
Rcken seines schwarzen Rockes.
the shoulder of his black silk frock-coat.
Warte! denkt er: das ist so ein Gipsleck!
Wischt und wischt, doch - bringt ihn nicht
herunter! Und so geht er, iftgeschwollen,
weiter, Reibt und reibt bis an den frhen
Morgen - Einen weien Fleck des hellen

Wait now (thinks he) tis a piece of plaster,

Wipes and wipes, yet cannot make it vanish.
So he goes on poisoned with his fancy, Rubs
and rubs until the early morning at a snowy
fleck of shining moonlight.

Pierrot Lunaire:
-song cycle with 21 songs
-scored for: mezzo-soprano, 5 instrumentalists playing 8 instruments in total
(violin/viola, cello, flute/piccolo, clarinet/bass clarinet, piano)
-Pierrot sad clown character from Italian commedia dellarte

Trends, styles, and techniques in Pierrot Lunaire

1) Expressionism: artistic movement (centred in Austria Germany) which sought to express
the most extreme human feelings by divorcing art from everyday literalness. Inner
psyche and extreme psychic states (hysteria, nightmares, insanity) are projected onto out
2) Use of Sprechstimme Speech-song
3) Atonality and the Emancipation of Dissonance
The distinction between [consonance and dissonance] is only a matter of degree,
not of kind. They are no more opposites than the numbers 2 and 10 are opposites,
and the expressions consonance and dissonance which signify an antithesis are
false...It all simply depends on the growing ability of the analyzing ear to
familiarize itself with [dissonant sounds], thereby expanding the conception of
what is suitable for art...
-atonality: lack of systematization, intuitive in character, immediately

Kirchner Self portrait as Soldier (1915)

Munch The Scream

Period of Serialism
Schoenberg 1917-1923: period of silence
- 1923: method of composing with twelve tones, twelve-tone music,

1) the composer arranges all 12 pitches of the octave in a row or series

2) the series may be used successively as melody, or simultaneously as
3) the row may be treated to 4 different procedures:
1) transposition
2) retrograde
3) inversion
4) retro-grade inversion
4) the composer uses all twelve pitches of the series, in the order of the
series, before going on to use the series either in its original form or one of the
permutations again

-by serializing the 12 pitches of the octave, composers:

1) can avoid creating the impression of a principal note, thereby
suggesting a tonic area
2) completely eradicate any distinction between consonance and

Webern Symphony Op. 21 (1928), 1st movement


-Klangfarbenmelodie (tone-colour melody): musical pointillism

Seurat Bridge at Courbevoie (1886-7)

-Extreme aphorism

Total Serialism: submitting all elements of music (pitch, rhythm, dynamics, accents) to serial
procedures; WWII, Post-WWII generation: Messaien, Boulez, Babbitt.