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Arnold Schoenberg's Journey
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In this text, Allen Shawn puts aside ultimate judgements about Arnold Schoenberg's place in music history to explore the composer's world in a series of linked essays that are searching and suggestive. Approaching Schoenberg primarily from a listener's point of view, Shawn plunges into the details of some of Schoenberg's works while at the same time providing a broad overview of his involvements in music, painting and the history through which he lived.
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Table of Contents

Foreword Introduction: Six Little Piano Pieces BRIDGE PASSAGE, 1874-1908 1. First Loves 2. Transfigured Night 3. Dawn: The Gurre-Lieder 4. Berlin Cabaret 5. Coming Apart 6. An Inner Compulsion A NEW FORM OF EXPRESSION, 1909-13 7. Farben 8. Listening to Five Pieces for Orchestra 9. Paths to (and in) Erwartung 10. Wrong Notes 11. Six Little Pieces 12. Theory of Harmony 13. Pierrot 14. Die gluckliche Hand SILENCE, ORDER, AND TERROR, 1914-33 15. Incident at Mattsee 16. Critics and Disciples 17. A Clearing in the Forest: Twelve-Tone Music 18. Satires 19. Catastrophe 20. Moses and Arnold AMERICA, 1933-51 21. Exodus 22. 1940: Stravinsky and Schoenberg 23. Games 24. On Being Short 25. Piano Concerto 26. Death and Rebirth 27. Seventy-fifth Birthday AFTERLIFE 28. Death and Rebirth II 29. Writings about Schoenberg 30. Last Notes: Portrait in Retrograde Suggested Readings Notes Acknowledgments Index

About the Author

Allen Shawn, a composer, is on the faculty of Bennington College.

Reviews

Much has been written about Arnold Schoenberg, one of the most important composers of the past century, but there is nothing quite like this remarkable little book. Pianist and composer Shawn has written a series of linked essays that effectively demystify and humanize Schoenberg, generally considered to be one of the most challenging of all modern composers. Shawn's ironic goal, stated at the conclusion of his introduction, is to give Schoenberg's work "a more superficial treatment than it has hitherto received." As Schoenberg's music has been analyzed far more than it has been listened to, Shawn presents, by contrast, a personal, nonanalytical, nonscholarly, but still learned appreciation of the man and his music. He discusses each of Schoenberg's works in chronological order, always within the larger context of his life and times. We learn of Schoenberg's numerological superstitions, embrace of Judaism and Jewish causes, complex relationship with Stravinsky, and often quaint domestic pursuits, such as carving his children's sandwiches into the shapes of musical instruments. Intended for the lay reader, the book is written in engagingly direct prose, and the few musical examples presented are not overlaid with obfuscating technical analyses. Recommended for all collections. Larry Lipkis, Moravian. Coll., Bethlehem, PA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

A collection of elegant and persuasive essays: analytic discussions of single works and vivid accounts of phases and facets of Schoenberg's life...Shawn is an engaging writer. -- Anthony Tommasini New York Times One of the best things to have happened to the composer in a long time. Allen Shawn, a composer himself, is an admirer of Schoenberg. He gives us the whole man seen from within his cultural environment and from within his music too...Shawn invites us to share with him a spontaneous and warm response to Schoenberg's music rather than a purely analytical one...Shawn is exceptionally felicitous at finding words for music, which makes him an ideal companion on this journey of discovery. -- George Perle Wall Street Journal Nothing in recent years has filled me with an urgent desire to re-engage with [Schoenberg's music] so much as this sensitive and personal book. -- Bayan Northcott BBC Music Magazine 20031001

There is not much that is reader friendly written about the great serialist composer just as many music lovers would argue that most of his music is not listener friendly. Composer Shawn has filled a real gap with this short, gracefully written introduction to the man and his music (what he disarmingly and correctly describes as "a mere handshake with its subject"). In alternating chapters that fill in the highlights of the life and encapsulate the composer's major works, Shawn helps readers listen anew to music that can be forbidding to an untutored ear; he is particularly eloquent on Pierrot Lunaire, Erwartung and Book of the Hanging Gardens, and, with his enthusiasm and judicious use of music examples, gives the composer as sympathetic a hearing as he has received in print. He also makes clear that Schoenberg was a difficult, if often admirable, man, who was deeply suspicious of others (often with reason), rigid in his beliefs, largely humorless, while at the same time principled, deeply honest and capable of great efforts in a noble cause: after he fled the Nazis to American refuge, he was tireless in his embrace of Jewish relief efforts. Shawn also examines Schoenberg's peculiar nonrelationship with Stravinsky the two great leaders of modern music virtually ignored each other for 40 years and notes the irony of the Russian's eventual conversion to the serialist persuasion. An intriguing final chapter, "Afterlife," analyzes Schoenberg's influence on his contemporaries and successors, and the course of 20th-century music. (Jan.) Forecast: Listeners of Schoenberg will welcome this valuable addition to scholarship on a still surprisingly neglected figure. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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