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Influence of the Second Viennese School and Techniques Used

1. Discuss the influence of the Second Viennese School on mid and late 20th Century composition. Which techniques did they develop and how were they received? Reference at least 6 musical works in your response.


Question 4.   influence of the Second Viennese School and techniques used.

The starting of 20 century saw the rise of classical symphony and gradually graduated to an era of transformation of classical tonality. The entire credit of this transformation was given to the Musician, teacher, mentor called Arnold Schoenberg. Along with his students, Alan berg and Anton Webern they formulated the Second Viennese school of composition. Alan  Berg and Anton Webner being the first composition pupils of Arnold Schoenberg.

Both of his students had marked their existence in making romantic and talented music yet they gained heights in refinement and discipline under the influence of Arnold Schoenberg. Both his students, Berg and Anton contributed majorly  in the development of the Second Viennese school of composition with modern creative ideas. All three were so close to each other that they together came to be known  "The Second Viennese School". Both the pipils regarded Schoenberg their mentor, teacher and advisor. Even after their formal training was over, both established their name as famous 20th century composers.

The Second Viennese composers closely  associated with the beginning of the  20th century in Vienna, Arnold  schoenberg taught music here from 1903 to 1925 (Auner & Joseph, 1993). Since  1917, Schoenberg  totally abandoned composing and  gave six years in developing the twelve tone system which brought about a complete revolution in the second Viennese school system and the composers of that era (McCoy & Marilyn, 1999). Concentrating  chromatic harmony and lush orchestration, Schoenberg did not discard tonality completely until 1908. During the  expressionist period of 1908-1917 Schoenberg started drifting towards atonality 

Heinrich Jalowetz,  Egon Wellesz, Erwin Stein and somewhat later Hanns Eisler, Eduard Steuermann, Ernst Krenek, Roberto Gerhard,  Paul A. Pisk, Norbert von Hannenheim,, Karl Rankl, Josef Rufer, Rudolf Kolisch, Viktor Ullmann, Winfried Zillig and Nikos Skalkottas were  other music lovers that added their contribution to Second Viennese composition.

The second Viennese music  was specially emphasised by tonality  that was romantic which later reformed to   expressionism that was  chromatic without firm tonal centre described as Schoenberg's own evolution and given a new name  as atonality. Working on this many years Schoenberg came out with  twelve-tone serial  technique. Though this development  of his did not have either  a cooperative path or a common timeline. This did not come directly as a result of   teachings Schoenberg's , as his various literature  revealed his teachings were highly traditional and conservative. The Second Viennese school thus took birth form unleashed creativity.

Most of Schoenberg’s pupils imbibed twelve tone technique in their mannerisms in their own convenience and creative mode and many even waited a long time to adjust to this method of  learning. Some other students like as Catalan Gerhard, Zillig, the Greek Skalkottas and the Transylvanian Hannenheim  studied the similar terminology under Schoenberg but In Berlin not Vienna.

 John Cage, Leon Kirchner and Gerald Strang, were a few pupils of  Schoenberg's  from 1993 in United States,  who penned compositions evocative of the Second Viennese style from 1933. Canadian pianist Glenn Gould is also regarded as apart of them.  Webern's pupils  Leopold Spinner, René Leibowitz, Ludwig Zenk and  Hans Erich Apostel who were extensions students of schoenberg, being pupils of berg and Anton also carved remarkable name in this section.

Arnold Schoenberg music had its own conceptual details and contrapuntal principles. His tones expressed complex relationships between  the horizontal and vertical. His major works included Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night) in 1899 based on, string sextet,"Pelleas und Melisande" in 1903, a symphonic poem focusing on  denser thematic argument and contrapuntal richness,"Gurrelieder"  in 1901-03), a  symphonic cantata (Shawn & Allen, 2002). His creation of Chamber Symphony no.1 depicts  an ensemble of 15  harmonic strangeness intensified with formal complexities that were formal and density contrapuntal, the absolute limits of traditional chromatic tonality

String Quartet no.1  and String Quartet no.2, op.10 composed in 1905 and 1908 respectively were signs of new musical revolutions.

"Das Buch der hängenden Gärten" op.15 was the song  which was the first piece written in the new style

"Five Orchestral Pieces" op. 16 done in 1907 and "Three Piano Pieces" op. 11, compiled between 1907 to 1909 justified  the term 'expressionist' working with dramatic content he released 

"Erwartung" in 1909  depicted the rage, despair and sorrow  of a lady in search of her love."Pierrot lunaire" was a collection of stories, melancholy of a few people written in mixed quintet. "Die Jakobsleiter" explained the progress of the soul towards God."Die glückliche Hand" in 1913 was a one act musical drama

 After Suite for piano in 1924, String Quartet no.3 in 1927 was the first complete work in 12 tone language. The second viennese school introduced the technique of combinatoriality in an extended setting in the compositional Variations for Orchestra in 1928 . Returning to his tonal style Schoenberg composed something like "Suite in G" in  1934, in the form of a Baroque suite."Chamber Symphony no.2" IN 1939  integrated harmony and textures of romanticism with a neo classic spirit and lively rhythm. Schoenberg suffered an heart attack in 1945 after which he stopped teaching and returned to expressionism

 Despite their common musical  attitudes and links with Schoenberg, both Berg and Webern working under the influence of Schoenberg  developed their own  unique musical styles to blend in the second Viennese school criterias. Berg had no musical training before he started learning under Schoenberg in 1904. Berg Used tradition and physiological insight to expand the Schoenberg’s chromatic vision and actually expanded to a great extent. Berg worked on the conservative techniques of Schoenberg's doctrine. His art focused the  world of German Romanticism. The twelve-tone language of his compositions incorporated tonal elements

His music carried a character and action and crafted its own mood and atmosphere. He made his first tonal debut in 1908 as Piano Sonata op.1.but “four songs op.2’ was totally far  from tonality and  string quartet op.3 was completely atonal released in 1910. His first orchestral score, ‘Five Songs for Soprano op.4’ depicted the glimpses of Schoenberg  12-note serialism. He even started an opera in 1917 and finished it in 1922. His work “Wozzeck” brought a lot of financial success to Berg and framed ways to his classical styled work. ‘The Chamber Concerto for  piano, violin and 13 winds came in 1925. Then came the ‘Lyric Suite’ in string quartet in 1926, which was Berg’s complete  12-tone work with quite diatonic flow of movements.

Berg  completely resonated  Schoenbergian style  in his music structure and perceptual variation (Brand, Julianne,  Hailey & Harris, 1987).

Berg under the second Viennese school succeeded in humanizing  the abstract methods of the Schoenberg methodologies and made them easily adaptable to the   listeners.

Berg composed  "Lulu" which remained unfinished at his death and was an outstanding palindrome musically and dramatically. The composition had elaborate formal schemes with unloose lyricism that depicted bergs personal interpretation of 12 note serialism 

Webern though was also learning under the same mentor but had totally opposite direction of concepts. Schoenberg explained the technique of  more precise compositions. Webern got a total control over it and followed that path obsessively (Wright, James &  Gillmor , 2009). He dedicatedly followed Schoenberg's doctrine of radical portion. He worked in building the doctrine of perpetual variations by suppressing all repetitive material, using extreme compression in place of spacious classical format, complete expression on each sonority and  using instructions to emphasis on the usage on individual tones.

Schoenberg's principle of the non repetition of pitches of color was effectively put to practice by Weben.  Many of his works show passages where different instruments are used to play different tones in melodic lines. 

Webern out of the three of second Viennese school totally abandoned himself from the tonal past. Unlike  Schoenberg and Berg he never came terms to the coexistence of tonal and atonal elements. The most remarkable intervals in his music constitute the  Major sevenths and ninths, major and minor thirds and their derivatives.

His Music showed an appreciable  fusion of Brahms, Reger and tonal trends (Gur & Golan, 2009). Before serialism he reintroduced traditional formal patterns in his songs in 1910 to 1925. His ‘The Three Traditional rhymes depict the flawless adoption of 12 note method.

Webern actually totally adapted to the 12 note symphony and never again used any other method in his compositions. His great  geometric perfection towards music is seamlessly depicted in his instrumental work where he uses series of similar motifs to proceed the movements. 


 The Second Viennese school included high famed music personalities. The techniques of Berg and Webern influenced it drastically. Schoenberg stated a rule throughout all movements of a composition of using only just a single row. The first book on Schoenberg was written by Wellesz. The technique of twelve-tone composition was compiled in a book by  Rufer and Spinner. The image of the school was upgraded in france and abroad after the world war -2 by  Schoenberg et son école.

Both Berg and Weber under the guidance of Schoenberg changed the face of music in the 20th century although they faced a lot of disapproval and criticism. Their radical approach towards composition was not well appreciated. The Second Viennese School excelled in the the idea of serialism and  thus it gave birth to a new genre of music and compositions (Schoenberg & Arnold, 1967). Bringing  many new developments into the world of music in the 20th century, the Second Viennese School was superbly influenced by  Arnold Schoenberg. Despite the atonal works created by Schoenberg, his early compositions were not marked nearly as much by atonality. and  developed techniques such as Klangfarbenmelodie, Pierrot lunaire and Sprechstimme (Byron & Avior, 2006)

Klangfarbenmelodie is a style  in which in order to create a sparse and angular sound the notes of a melody are distributed among several instruments.

 The technique of Sprechstimme  refereed to the  vocal technique used by the singers in which the singer uses pitch speaking on a specific mark on the stem of a note. This method became associated with the second Viennese school composers.

 Before 1971 the melodies of Schoenberg compositions were disjunct and often spanned over a wide range. Polyphonic procedures were masked by the dissonance in his music. After he returned from his six years of abstinence as a composer, he composed using  strictly the twelve-tone system. Equal importance was given to all the 12 tones on the keyboard this lead to lose all tonality in his compilations. In  his composition of ‘Variations for Orchestra’ one can justify his classical formats as sonatas, rondos and other variations using twelve tone approach. After ten years of dedicated work on 12 tone system he used more liberal approach by composing in style in connection to his jewish faith (Hyde & Martha, 1982). Creating the twelve tone system and its various methods of implementation in which he included inversion, retrograde and diminution as well as developing Klangfarbenmelodie. 

 Schoenberg  contributions to music in the early 20th century was definitely remarkable and a trend setter (Orenstein & Arbie, 1975). Following  Schoenberg's footsteps, Berg also imbibed  atonality in his compositions. However he never abandoned tonality completely, he continued to explore various facets of music compositions in his serial works which was quite unlike his contemporaries. That became  a major reason for Berg being a popular name in The Second Viennese school and influenced a large number of newcomers (Small & Christopher. 1977). In his early compositions he was  influenced by Wagner in using leitmotifs, orchestral colors, chromatic harmony and librettos in his own settings . His  natural  interest in serialism and the twelve-tone technique was highly influenced by the teachings of SchoenbergHe made use of Klangfarbenmelodie and Sprechstimme  techniques in various works (Floirat & Bernard, 2001).

 Music had been following a trend of increasing lack of harmony  dissonance and l tonality becoming less prominent towards the completion of Romantic period and into the early 20th century. However music never truly reached a point in which tonality was abandoned until the creation of the Second Viennese School, pioneered by Arnold Schoenberg.

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