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Second Viennese School - Heard of it ? jharper
Wed Mar 7 2001 14:46
I would like to converse with anyone who is remotely interested in this school of thought. I used to believe that all art music ended with Wagner and Mahler, that a great tune was all that mattered to appreciate great music. I was clearly wrong, and today I find it hard to imagine a world without atonal or serial music, much like a tonal world without Mozart.

I have met a pitiful few who admire the music of Webern, Berg, and Schoenberg, let alone those who actually understand it. So I thought I would try this forum and see what comes of it. Ideas, information, simple discussion or chat most welcome.

re: Second Viennese School - Heard of it ? Steven D. Brown
Wed Mar 7 2001 22:15
On first hearing music of the Second Viennese School when I was about fifteen, I couldn't make any sense of it. It sounded like the musicians were playing just any note that came to mind. But with continued exposure to the music of Schoenberg, Webern and Berg over the years my perception has changed considerably. We have lived with this music for nearly a century. It has become part of our aural universe. Just think of some of the music heard in films, and I don't mean John Williams!

Also worth considering is that today's musicians are simply playing this music better than those of the past. Check out the recent Boulez traversal of the works of Webern on DG for example.

re: Second Viennese School - Heard of it ? mcdade
Thu Mar 8 2001 08:16
I agree. Much of the early recorded history of this music was coloured by the aesthetics of the 60s and a result much of it came out sounding very grey and severe.
Webern may be difficult to grasp and make great demands of its listeners but it should be very brightly coloured - comparing the old style Boulez with the newer one is like watching in colour instead of black and white.
Also it seems amazing now that a piece like Berg's Violin Concerto should have ever seemed "difficult". I guess part of the problem was preconceptions - if you listened to it expecting it to weird and obtuse then it probably sounded so. Just experienced as music it is both ravishing and deeply moving. Few movements come to such a glorious conclusion as the 1st of this piece.
Even Schoenberg has been gaining ground in recent years so I would have to say that regarding the 2nd Viennese school as old hat seems very very dated - like people who don't think Bartok is music it seems like a historical curiousity to me.
re: Second Viennese School - Heard of it ? wfpier
Sat Apr 21 2001 16:52
When you write about Schoenberg you deal with three or four different composers as he worked his way upto tone rows and then back into late romantic. Berg was always a late romantic who pushed the style as far as he could into works such as his violin concerto and the operas.

Webern on the other hand is still a tough nut for many. I disagree that it sounds like old hat- I am not sure it will ever sound that way. I consider his Five Movements for String Quartet the finest 12 minutes of music written in the 20th century - I have spent hours listening to it and still find new things each time that amazes me. Someone mentioned the Boulez/Julliard survey of his work for Sony - truly a great way to explore Webern.

As to the performances improving. If you read the letters between Berg and Schoenberg you find this is a constant subject - the fact that not enough time it given to rehearsal so the works come out sounding as they were written. I imagine that is
still a problem for composers of complex music.

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