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Arnold Schoenberg

Arnold Schoenberg

By Mark Berry 

"Berry’s perspective on the controversy (still) surrounding the composer is clear-eyed, empathetic, and pleasingly free of polemics of its own . . . Berry's survey of the individual works is comprehensive and exemplary."—BBC Music Magazine

"A superb piece of writing: informative, engaging and compact. It wears its considerable research with a winning lightness of touch. The best introduction to the composer."—Thomas Hyde, composer and Lecturer in Music at Worcester College, Oxford

"Arnold Schoenberg lived a “critical life” by any standards, and his entry here into the Critical Lives series of compact volumes devoted to leading cultural figures of the modern period is very welcome. No composer has ever earned quite such a bogeyman reputation, one still widely held if concert and opera programming is any evidence, yet for those of us who actively crave the sound of his music there is also the fascination of the figure himself – and a deeply human side of the composer, to which those who knew him still testify."—Opera

The most radical and divisive composer of the twentieth century, Arnold Schoenberg remains a hero to many, and a villain to many others. Born in the Jewish quarter of his beloved Vienna, Schoenberg’s early career took him to Berlin, as a leading light of Weimar culture, before he fled in the dead of night from Hitler’s Third Reich. He found himself in the United States, settling in Los Angeles, where he would inspire composers from George Gershwin to John Cage. Schoenberg’s revolutionary approach to musical composition incorporated Wagnerian late Romanticism and the brave new worlds of atonality and serialism, and it changed the history of music forever.


In this refreshingly balanced biography, Mark Berry tells the story of Schoenberg’s life and work within the wider context of nineteenth- and twentieth-century history. He also introduces all of Schoenberg’s major musical works, from his very first compositions such as String Quartet in D Major to his invention of the 12-tone method. This book is essential reading for all those with an interest in the music and history of the twentieth century.

Paperback
240 pages
Reaktion Books, 2019
5 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
ISBN 9781789140873
Music, Biography 

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