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  • Schoenberg's Chamber Music, Schoenberg's World
  • Bryan R. Simms
Schoenberg's Chamber Music, Schoenberg's World. Edited by James K. Wright and Alan M. Gilmour. Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2009. [xiv, 258 p. ISBN 9781576471302, $54.] Music examples, illustrations.

A lively and continuing involvement with the music of Arnold Schoenberg has long characterized Canadian academic and artistic circles. This interest was evident in the July 2007 symposium "Schoenberg's Chamber Music, Schoenberg's World," sponsored by Carleton University in cooperation with the International Ottawa Chamber Music Festival and Austrian Cultural Forum. An international group of scholars lectured on Schoenberg, and thirteen articles—most originating at the symposium—make up Schoenberg's Chamber Music, Schoenberg's World. The volume begins with a foreword by Lawrence Schoenberg (the composer's youngest son) and preface by James Wright, organizer of the symposium. In a brief look at "The Young Arnold Schoenberg," Christian Meyer, Director of the Arnold Schönberg Center in Vienna, focuses on aspects of Schoenberg's life and music in the years before 1900. James Deaville's contribution, "Schoen berg's String Quartet No. 1 in Dresden (1907): Programming the Un-programmable," provides a history of Schoen berg's presence in the 1907 festival of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Musikverein in Dresden. The author draws upon hitherto unpublished correspondence from the Verein archive in Weimar to show that Richard Strauss, still in 1907, was an avid supporter of Schoenberg and his music. Deaville explains that the scheduling of Schoenberg's First String Quartet at the festival—a work of daunting complexity for the players—was the result of Strauss's intervention on Schoenberg's behalf.

Alexander Carpenter, in his article "A Bridge to a New Life: Waltzes in Schoenberg's Chamber Music," explores the significance of waltz-like passages in Schoenberg's String Quartets opp. 7 and 10; the Serenade, op. 24; and the Suite, op. 29. He interprets them as "meaningful personal signfiers that are connected to intimate and intense feelings" that "mark moments of crisis and change" (pp. 25–26) in Schoen berg's life. An example is the waltz-like folk tune "Alles ist hin!" in the Second Quartet, the unspoken text of which alludes to Schoenberg's feelings of alienation from his first wife, Mathilde. Schoenberg gazes in the opposite direction with the waltz tune "Ännchen von Tharau," which he quotes in the Suite, op.29, to look ahead to his years of happiness with his second wife, Gertrud.

Áine Heneghan's contribution, "The 'Popular Effect' in Schoenberg's Serenade," develops a theory also found in Severine Neff's article, "Juxtaposing Popular Music in Schoenberg's Second String Quartet, Op. 10." Both authors point to Schoenberg's conception of structure in popular music, expressed in his Gedanke fragments, by which phrases are juxtaposed or strung together without hierarchical or organic interrelation. This type of structure is sometimes found in Schoenberg's artistic music when a relaxed tone is intended or for some other rhetorical purpose. Heneghan finds the phenomenon at work in the Serenade, where its loosening effect is reinforced by repetition and symmetry. Neff locates the "crossover" principal in the second movement of the Second String Quartet, where themes encroach upon one another in an unbalanced manner and thus prepare for the intrusion of the "Alles ist hin!" tune toward the movement's end.

In his article "A Chronology of Intros, an Enthrallogy of Codas: The Case of Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony, Op. 9," Don MacLean develops a new vocabulary for describing musical form. He begins by assessing the openings of several late-nineteenth-century works, dividing them into "bangs" and "whimpers." He moves then to Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony op. 9, and uses Alban Berg's thematic analysis of the work as a point of departure. MacLean dissolves Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony into a succession of moments that he terms bang-up variants, scumbling cadences, pell-mell figures, annunciating markers, false counter-expositions, breached recapitulations, moonrise fourths, and codetta enthralls. Berg's analysis is light reading by comparison.

Allen Forte—the guest of honor at the conference—contributes a study of "Schoen berg as Webern: The Three Pieces for Chamber Orchestra, III (1910...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-150X
Print ISSN
0027-4380
Pages
pp. 134-136
Launched on MUSE
2010-09-04
Open Access
No
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