Arnold Schoenberg

He began violin lessons when he was eight and almost immediately started composing, though he had no formal training until he was in his late teens, when Zemlinsky became his teacher and friend (in 1910 he married Zemlinsky's sister). His first acknowledged works date from the turn of the century and include the string sextet Verklaerte Nacht as well as some songs, all showing influences from Brahms, Wagner and Wolf. In 1901-3 he was in Berlin as a cabaret musician and teacher, and there he wrote the symphonic poem Pelleas und Melisande, pressing the Straussian model towards denser thematic argument and contrapuntal richness. He then returned to Vienna and began taking private pupils, Berg and Webern being among the first. He also moved rapidly forwards in his musical style. The large orchestra of Pelleas and the Gurrelieder was replaced by an ensemble of 15 in Chamber Symphony no.1, but with an intensification of harmonic strangeness, formal complexity and contrapuntal density: like the String Quartet no.1, the work is cast as a single movement encompassing the characters of the traditional four and using every effort to join unconventional ideas (a sequence of 4ths in the Chamber Symphony, for instance) into a conventional discourse. When atonality arrived, therefore, as it did in 1908, it came as the inevitable outcome of a doomed attempt to accommodate ever more disruptive material. However, Schoenberg found it possible a quarter-century later to return to something like his tonal style in such works as the Suite in G for strings, the completion of the Chamber Symphony no.2 and the Theme and Variations for band.

That, however, was not possible immediately. The sense of key was left behind as Schoenberg set poems by Stefan George in the last two movements of String Quartet no.2 and in the cycle Das Buch der haengenden Gaerten, and for the next few years he lived in the new, rarefied musical air. With tonality had gone thematicism and rhythmic constraint; works tended to be short statements of a single extreme musical state, justifying the term 'expressionist' (Five Orchestral Pieces; Three Pieces and Six Little Pieces for piano). The larger pieces of this period have some appropriate dramatic content: the rage and despair of a woman seaching for her lover (Erwartung), the bizarre stories, melancholia and jokes of a distintegrating personality (Pierrot lunaire, for reciter in Sprechgesang with mixed quintet), or the progress of the soul towards union with God (Die Jakobsleiter).

Gradually Schoenberg came to find the means for writing longer instrumental structures, in the 12-note serial method, and in the 1920s he retumed to standard forms and genres, notably in the Suite for piano, String Quartet no.3, Orchestral Variations and several choral pieces. He also founded the Society for Private Musical Performances (1919-21), involving his pupils in the presentation of new music under favourable conditions. In 1923 his wife died (he remarried the next year), and in 1925 he moved to Berlin to take a master class at the Prussian Academy of Arts. While there he wrote much of his unfinished opera Moses und Aron which is concerned with the impossibility of communicating truth without some distortion in the telling: it was a vehement confrontation with despair on the part of a composer who insisted on the highest standards of artistic honesty.

In 1933 he was obliged as a Jew to leave Berlin: he went to Paris, and formally returned to the faith which he had deserted for Lutheranism in 1898. Later the same year he arrived in the USA, and he settled in Los Angeles in 1934. It was there that he returned to tonal composition, while developing serialism to make possible the more complex structures of the Violin Concerto and the String Quartet no.4. In 1936 he began teaching at UCLA and his output dwindled. After a heart attack in 1945, however, he gave up teaching and made some return to expressionism (A Survivor from Warsaw, String Trio), as well as writing religious choruses.

Macmillan Press Ltd., London.

Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1895-1896 Ei, du Luette 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Simon Joly Chorale cond Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 2

1897 String Quartet D-Dur 4.00 stars LP

Comments:

LaSalle Quartet

This is part of the 5 disk set  Neue Wiener Schule: Die Streichquartte.
Including a 185 page book with an introduction.

1899 Verklärte Nacht Sextett für 2 Violinen, 2 Violen und 2 Violoncelli 4.00 stars LP

Comments:

This is the version for string orchestra 1917/1943

CBC Symphony Orchestra Members cond. Robert Craft

1899 Verklärte Nacht Sextett für 2 Violinen, 2 Violen und 2 Violoncelli 4.00 stars LP

Comments:

This is the version for string orchestra 1917/1943

Chamber Orchestra of Europe cond. Heinz Holliger

1899 Verklärte Nacht Sextett für 2 Violinen, 2 Violen und 2 Violoncelli 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

This is the version for string orchestra 1917/1943

Salzburg Camerata Academica Mozarteums cond. Sandor Vegh

1899 Verklärte Nacht Sextett für 2 Violinen, 2 Violen und 2 Violoncelli 4.00 stars DVD-R

Comments:

This is the version for string orchestra 1917/1943

Orchestre de Paris cond. Pierre Boulez

Recorded from Mezzo TV

1902 Pelleas et Melisande 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Philharmonia Orchestra cond Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 2

1903-1904 Six Songs Opus 8 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Jennifer Welch-Babidge - Soprano
Philharmonia Orchestra cond Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 2

1904 Brettl Lieder 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
Measha Brueggergosman Soprano
BBC Symphony Orchestra cond., David Robertson
1905 String Quartet No 1 4.00 stars LP

Comments:

LaSalle Quartet

This is part of the 5 disk set  Neue Wiener Schule: Die Streichquartte.
Including a 185 page book with an introduction.

1906 Chamber Symphony No 1 Opus 9 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Twentieth Century Classics Ensemble cond Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 2

1939 Kammersymphonie Nr. 1 Opus 9
4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Chamber Orchestra of Europe cond. Heinz Holliger

1939 Kammersymphonie Nr. 1 Opus 9
4.00 stars DVD-R

Comments:

West–Eastern Divan Orchestra cond. Daniel Barenboim

Recorder from BBC Proms 2015

1907 Friede auf Erden fuer gemischten Chor a cappella Opus 13 4.00 stars SACD

Comments:

Rundfunkchor Berlin cond. Kent Nagano

1907 Friede auf Erde Opus 13 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Simon Joly Chorale cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 2

1908  String Quartet No 2 Opus 10 4.00 stars LP

Comments:

LaSalle Quartet

This is part of the 5 disk set  Neue Wiener Schule: Die Streichquartte.
Including a 185 page book with an introduction.

1908 String Quartet No 2 Opus 10 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Fred Sherry String Quartet

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 2

1909 Erwartung Opus 17 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Anja Silja - Soprano
Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 2

1909 Five Pieces Opus 16 4.50 stars LP

Comments:

From the Philips Modern Music Series
The performance, the recording, the presentation, it all oozes tender lovin' care. This is one of the most important collections of 20th century music.
It introduces a new concept: Klangfarbenmelodie.

London Symphony Orchestra cond. Antal Dorati

Comments:

From the Philips Modern Music Series

London Symphony Orchestra cond. Antal Dorati

Release on CD from the same recording as above.

1909 Five Pieces Opus 16 4.50 stars DVD

Comments:

Berliner Philharmonik cond. Simon Rattle

Original 1909 version

Recorded in 2010 from BBC TV

1909 Five Pieces Opus 16 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

London Symphony Orchestra cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 1

1909 Five Pieces Opus 16 4.00 stars DVD

Comments:

Performance and Rehearsal

Netherlands Radio Philharmonic cod. Michael Gielen

1910 The Book of the Hanging Gardens Opus 15 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Based on the Stephan George poems

Jennifer Lane - Mezzo Soprano
Christoper Oldfather - Piano

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 1

1910 Three Little Orchestral Pieces 3.50 stars LP

Comments:

CBC Symphony Orchestra Members cond. Robert Craft

1900-1911 Gurre-Lieder 4.50 stars LP

Comments:

This is very moving music from Schonberg's pre 12 tone music period. History tells that he was a real SOB. It does not show in this music. The performance is great Arroyo, Baker, Young, Patzak, Danish Radio Orchestra and Choir with Janos Ferencsik

1900-1911 Gurre-Lieder 4.50 stars LP

Comments:

Live recording
Solists, Choir and Sinfonie-Orchester des Bayrischen Rundfunks cond. Rafael Kubelik

1900-1911 Gurre Lieder 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Solists, Choir and Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Robert Craft

1911 Pierrot Lunaire opus 21 4.50 stars LP

Comments:

This is one of the landmark compositions of the early 20th century.
Based on text by Albert Giraud. Considered "Strangely decadent".
Galgenlied:
Die dürre Dirne
Mit lange Halse
Wird seine letzte
Geliebte sein.
In seinem Hirne
Steckt wie ein Nagel
Die dürre Dirne
Mit lengem Halse
Schlank wie die Pinie,
Am Hals ein Zöpfchen-
Wollüstig wird sie
Den Schelm umhalsen
Die dürre Dirne!
Schoenberg introduces a new technique; Sprechgesang. And further develops his dodecaphony. Written for five instruments only, it is an example of minimalism.
Ravel and Stravinsky were very impressed. Debussy less so.

Ilona Steingruber - Soprano
Solist cond. Vladimir Golschman

1911 Pierrot Lunaire 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Anja Silja - Sprechstimme
Twentieth Century Classics Ensemble cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 2

1911 Pierrot Lunaire 4.50 stars CD

Comments:

Yvonne Milton - Voice
Solists cond. Pierre Boulez

1911 Pierrot Lunaire 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Sophie Boulin - Voice
Ensemble 2e2m cond. Paul Mérano

1911 Pierrot Lunaire 4.00 stars LP

Comments:

Cleo Laine - Voice
The Nash Ensemble cond. Elgar Howarth

1911 Pierrot Lunaire 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Marni Nixon - Voice
London Symphony Orchestra cond. Charles Prince

1911 Herzgewaechse 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Eileen Hulse - Soprano
Members of LSO cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 2

1908-1913 Die gluckliche Hand Opus 18 3.50 stars CD

Comments:

Mark Beesly - Bass
Simon Joly Choir
Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 1

1916 Four Orchestral Songs Opus 22 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Chaterine Wyn-Rogers - Mezzo Soprano
Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 2

- 1917 unfinished Die Jacobsleiter 4.00 stars SACD

Comments:

Rundfunkchor Berlin
Symphonie-Orchester Berlin cond. Kent Nagano

1909-1922 rev. Fünf Orchesterstücke in der Originalfassung für großes Orchester Opus 16 4.00 stars LP

Comments:

BBC Symphony Orchestra cond. Pierre Boulez

1920-1923 Serenade for Septet and Bass Voice Opus 24 3.00 stars LP

Comments:

I am noit enough of a Schoenberg expert to judge if de Leeuws interpretation of the sextet is according to Schoenberg's ideas.
But this romantic, almost Sturm und Drang version is not my favorite.

Lodewijk Meeuwsen - Bass
Schoenberg Ensemble cond. Reinbert de Leeuw

1920-1923 Serenade for Septet and Bass Voice Opus 24 4.50 stars LP

Comments:

A very fine recording of on of Schonbergs first 12 tone works.
The famous Melos Ensemble and their conductor, Bruno Maderna,
show a very good insight and affinnity with this music.

The result is a very playful interpretation which occasionally sounds a lot like Stravinsky in his Swiss period. (Histoire du Soldat, Renard)

John Carol Case - Bass
Melos Ensemble of London cond. Bruno Maderna

1920-1923 Serenade for Septet and Bass Voice Opus 24 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Nicolas Isherwood- Voice
Ensemble 2e2m cond. Paul Mérano

1920-1923 Serenade Opus 24 4.0 stars CD

Comments:

Stephen Varcoe - Bass
Ensemble cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 1

1921-1923 Suite for Piano Opus 25 3.50 stars CD

Comments:

Christopher Oldfather - Piano

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 1

1923 Lied der Waldtaube from Gurre Lieder 3.50 stars CD

Comments:

Chamber Orchestra Version

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 1

Jennifer Lane - Mezzo Soprano
Twentieth Century Classics Ensemble cond. Robert Craft

1923-1924 Wind Quintet Opus 26 3.50 stars LP

Comments:

Czech Philharmonic Wind Quintet

1923-1924 Wind Quintet Opus 26 3.50 stars CD

Comments:

New York Woodwind Quintet cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 1

1924-1926 Suite Opus 29 4.00 stars LP

Comments:

Schoenberg Ensemble cond. Reinbert de Leeuw

1927  String Quartet No 3 4.00 stars LP

Comments:

LaSalle Quartet

This is part of the 5 disk set  Neue Wiener Schule: Die Streichquartte.
Including a 185 page book with an introduction.

1922-1928 Bach Orchestrations 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

BWV 552, BWV 654, BWV 667

Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 1

1926-1928 Variationen für Orchester Opus 31 3.50 stars LP

Comments:

CBC Symphony Orchestra Members cond. Robert Craft

1926-1928 Variations for Orchestra Opus 31 4.0 stars CD

Comments:

Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 1

1929-1930  Begleitungsmusik zu einer Lichtspielscene (Drohende Gefahr, Angst, Katastrophe) Opus 34 4.00 stars LP

Comments:

BBC Symphony Orchestra cond. Pierre Boulez

1929-1930 Six Pieces for Male Chorus a Cappella Opus 35 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Simon Joly Chorale cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 2

1929, 1931 Klavierstucke Opus 33a en Opus 33b 4.0 out of 5 importance CD

Comments:

Paul Jacobs, Ursula Oppens - Piano

1926-1932 Moses und Aron 3.50 stars LP

Comments:

Schoenberg wrote the libretto from the bible. He had great difficulties to avoid all kinds of inconsistencies in the story.
This 12-tone piece was considered to be unplayable, both musically and economically. Now, there are quite a few recordings.

Solists, Choir and Orchestra of the Austrian Radio cond. Michael Gielen

1926-1932 Moses und Aron Experts from: The Golden Calf and The Altar 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Solists
Simon Joly Chorale
Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 2

1932 Cello Concerto 3.50 stars CD

Comments:

After G.M. Monn

Fred Sherry - Cello
Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 1

1933 Concert for String Quartet and Orchestra 3.50 stars CD

Comments:

After Concerto Grossi Opus 6 No 7 by Handel

Fred Sherry String Quartet
Twentieth Century Classic Ensemble cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 1

1934 Suite for String Orchestra 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra cond. John Mauceri

DECCA ENTARTETE MUSIK

1934 Suite for String Orchestra 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Tentieth Century Classics Ensemble cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 2

1936  String Quartet No 4 4.00 stars LP

Comments:

LaSalle Quartet

This is part of the 5 disk set  Neue Wiener Schule: Die Streichquartte.
Including a 185 page book with an introduction.

1936 Concerto for Violin and Orchestra Opus 36 3.50 stars CD

Comments:

Rolf Schulte - Violin
Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 1

1937 Brahms Piano Quartet Orchestrated by Schoenberg 3.50 stars CD

Comments:

Fred Sherry - Cello
Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 1

1938 Kol Nidre, for Rabbi-Narrator Opus 39 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

David Wilson-Johnson
Simon Joly Chorale
Philharmonia Orchestra cond Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 2

1939 Kammersymphonie Nr. 2 (in es-Moll) fuer kleines Orchester op. 38
4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Berlin Deutsches Symphonie Orchester cond. John Mauceri

DECCA ENTARTETE MUSIK

1939 Kammersymphonie Nr. 2 (in es-Moll) fuer kleines Orchester op. 38
4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Chamber Orchestra of Europe cond. Heinz Holliger

1939 Kammersymphonie Nr. 2 (in es-Moll) fuer kleines Orchester op. 38 3.50 stars CD

Comments:

Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 1

1942 Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte Opus 41 3.50 stars LP

Comments:

For Reciter, Piano and String Quartet

Bernard Jacobson - reciter
Joanna Nickrenz - violin
The Claremont Quartet

1942 Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte Opus 41 3.50 stars CD

Comments:

For Reciter, Piano and String Quartet
David Wilson-Johnson - Reciter
Jeremy Denk - Piano
Fred Sherry Quartet
Cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 1

1943 Theme and Variations for Full Band Opus. 43a
4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Opus 43b is version for Brass Band

Berlin Deutsches Symphonie Orchester cond. John Mauceri

DECCA ENTARTETE MUSIK

1943 Theme and Variations for Full Band Opus. 43b
4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra cond. Timothy Reynish

1945 Prelude for Mixed Chorus and Orchestra Opus 44 4.00 stars LP

Comments:

Composed as part of The Genesis Suite

CBC Symphony Orchestra cond. Robert Craft

1945 Prelude for Mixed Chorus and Orchestra Opus 44 3.50 stars CD

Comments:

Composed as part of The Genesis Suite

Simon Joly Choir
Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 1

1947 A Survivor from Warsaw for Narrator, Men's Chorus and Orchestra Opus 46 3.50 stars LP

Comments:

Günter Reich - Speaker
BBC Symphony Orchestra cond. Pierre Boulez

1947 A Survivor from Warsaw for Narrator, Men's Chorus and Orchestra Opus 46 3.50 stars CD

Comments:

David Wilson-Johnson - Speaker
Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 1

1947 Variations on a Recitative 3.50 stars LP
 

 Comments:

Marilyn Mason - Organ

1928-1948 Six a Capella Mixed Choruses Opus 49 4.00 stars CD

Comments:

Simon Joly Choir cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 2

1949 Dreimal Tausend Jahre for Mixed Choir a capella Opus 50A 3.50 stars CD

Comments:

Simon Joly Choir cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 1

1949 Psalm 130 De Profundis Opus 50B 3.50 stars CD

Comments:

Simon Joly Choir cond. Robert Craft

Part of The Works of Arnold Schoenberg 1

 Compilation  Piano Works 3.00 stars  LP

Comments:

Three Pieces Opus 11
Six Little Pieces Opus 19
Five Pieces Opus 23
Suite for Piano opus 25
Two Pieces Opus 33

Marie-Françoise Bucquet - Piano

Compilation The Works of Arnold Schoenberg Volume 1 4.00 stars 5 CD

 Comments:

Part one of the Naxos collection of Robert Craft recordings of Schoenberg works.

Compilation The Works of Arnold Schoenberg Volume 2 4.00 stars 6 CD

 Comments:

Part two of the Naxos collection of Robert Craft recordings of Schoenberg works.