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4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  6 Ratings  ·  1 Review
In this completely rewritten and updated edition of his long-indispensable study, Malcolm MacDonald takes advantage of 30 years of recent scholarship, new biographical information, and deeper understanding of Schoenberg's aims and significance to produce a superb guide to Schoenberg's life and work. MacDonald demonstrates the indissoluble links among Schoenberg's musical l ...more
Hardcover, 366 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1976)
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Sep 19, 2011 Amanda rated it liked it
Shelves: biographies
I read an old edition of this book, one I snatched off a library sale table, so maybe someone who read the new edition can say whether my evaluation still holds. Anyway, the book is structured with a synopsis of Schoenberg's life in the first part, with the rest of the book dedicated to evaluating the theories and techniques of his music. I'm sure this is what a music student would be looking for if s/he read this book, but I'd picked it up out of curiosity about Schoenberg's life and the philos ...more
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“No subject was
more perfectly suited to the loosened formal framework and swift juxtaposition of disparate elements that marked his ‘totally chromatic’ style;
and it is generally agreed that in this Representation of (mental) Chaos
that style found its most impressive outlet. But a representation is not a
transcription. The music itself is not chaotic. There is a willed unity of
atmosphere, created through a myriad intensely visualized details, which
could only be achieved under iron control. Paradoxically, this is probably
the direct result of the spontaneity and intensity with which Schoenberg
must have been composing in order to have created the work in such a
short space of time. The monodrama possesses no clearly defined
structure, ranging so freely and juxtaposing lyricism, violence, and Angstridden terror in such uncompromising combination that it attains an
effect of continuous high-pressure improvisation; yet it combines this
with a powerful sense of continuity and tragic inevitability.
“This closely parallels aspects of Wassilly Kandinsky’s
own contemporary stage piece Der gelbe Klang (written about 1909 but
not published until 1912), which was once surmised to have been a direct
influence on Schoenberg’s work. It is now known, however—since the
publication of the Schoenberg-Kandinsky correspondence—that they
had conceived this idea independently of one another. ‘It is exactly the
same as what I have striven for’, wrote Schoenberg in August 1912,
having finally read Kandinsky’s text, ‘. . . only you go still further than I
in the renunciation of any conscious thought, any conventional plot’.
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