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Class Proposal – Early Twentieth-Century Classical Music

August 15th, 2006 by David Kronemyer · No Comments

Fin de siècle Vienna was a hotbed of creative activity. Figures such as Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Thomas Mann, James Joyce, and Gustav Mahler started to make an incredible cultural impact. All of this was interrupted by the Great War, which in many respects signaled the end of an age of innocence that had begun as far back as the Enlightenment. The period between the Armistice and the commencement of hostilities leading to WWII therefore had few markers or sign-posts to guide it; it was a time of innovation and experimentation, ungoverned by previous conditions and restraints. This particularly was true for music. Arnold Schoenberg blazed the trail, followed by Alban Berg and Anton Webern. In this class we will focus primarily on these three great composers – their techniques and works. We will explore in detail the nuances and intricacies of Schoenberg’s “twelve-tone” composing technique, and other innovations introduced by this group. The course requirement is a paper of approx. 10 – 15 pages in length, analyzing a particular musical work using the theories that will be developed in class.