Saturday Schoenberg (1)

Schoenberg with the violinist Adolf Koldofsky, 1949

No explanation; no apologetics; no theoretical or historico-critical apparatus…

Just Schoenberg works in performances that have caught my ear for what, rightly or wrongly, I think of as the best of musical reasons…

… Plus, wherever possible, a related photograph or two…

You don’t have to like the piece. You don’t even have to listen to it. It’s simply here.

*          *          *

Today’s work:

Phantasy for Violin with Piano Accompaniment, Op. 47 (1949)


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2 thoughts on “Saturday Schoenberg (1)

  1. Vacuous aural doodlings, beautifully played.
    Music is language – Schoenberg writes to express, not to communicate.
    Could do better …


  2. [spoiler alert: this comment contains some “theoretical or historico-critical apparatus”]

    A remarkable performance, exemplifying the manifold fantastical contrasts of character and timbre whilst maintaining a smooth coherence, of a demanding and sophisticated work which stretches some of the definitions and precepts of dodecaphony as expounded in Schoenberg’s theoretical writings (including considerable repetition, elision, and overlaps in the rows), eschewing an unambiguous articulation of the whole row (instead exploring the inverse hexachordal combinatoriality and whole-tone-mode potential of the row). For his part, Schoenberg insists that, for all such ambiguity, there is only one governing row, although he concedes, in a letter to Josef Rufer dated 05/02/1951, that there may have been slips in its implementation (“Es gibt nur eine Reihe, aber vielleicht, manche Irrtümer” — note that he uses the term “Irrtümer” and not “Fehler”). For those who read German, this letter expounds somewhat on this and other issues (it seems that Rufer had suggested the existence of a second row), and gives further insights into Schoenberg’s conception for the work; see:

    Scans of the original pages at:

    Of particular interest — even if wishing to ignore the stated intentions of the composer — is that the violin part was, according to this letter, composed in its entirety *before* the pianoforte part.

    On an anecdotal note, when analysing this work for my Master’s dissertation back in 2014, I spent many hours playing through the pianoforte part (alas, I could not find a violinist with sufficient time to learn the more onerous violin part), and, when I played some extracts of the pianoforte part to my mother (who is not a musician), she remarked that it sounded jazzy!


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