Arnold Schoenberg's Journey by Allen Shawn

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A composer's study and celebration of a difficult but influential artist, his work, and his time

Proposing that Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) has been more discussed than heard, more tolerated than loved, composer Allen Shawn puts aside ultimate judgments about Schoenberg's place in musical history to explore the composer's fascinating world in a series of "linked essays--soundings" that are more searching than analytical, more suggestive than definitive. In an approach that is unusual for a book of an avowedly introductory character, the text plunges into the details of some of Schoenberg works, while at the same time providing a broad overview of his involvements in music, painting and the history through which he lived. Emphasizing music as an expressive art of rhythms and tones, Shawn approaches Schoenberg primarily from the listener's point of view, uncovering both the seeds of his radicalism in his early music and the traditional bases of his later work. Although liberally sprinkled with musical examples, the text can be read without them. By turns witty, personal, opinionated and instructive, "Arnold Schoenberg's Journey" is above all an appreciation of a great musical and artistic imagination in a time unlike any other.

About Allen Shawn

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Allen Shawn grew up in New York City and currently lives in Vermont, where he is on the faculty of Bennington College. He started composing music at the age of ten, and has produced a large catalogue of orchestral, chamber, and piano works, as well as music for ballet, theater, and film. He performs frequently as a pianist, and he has contributed articles to The Atlantic Monthly. He is the father of Annie and Harold Shawn.
Published February 7, 2002 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 272 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Arts & Photography, Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Shawn occasionally lapses into jargon, as when he writes that Schoenberg’s essays into cabaret music “ironize the irony of the idiom they imitate, and as everybody knows, two ironies make a truth.” Witty indeed, however, is the chapter entitled “On Being Short,” which hypothesizes that the artist...

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Publishers Weekly

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There is not much that is reader friendly written about the great serialist composer—just as many music lovers would argue that most of his music is not listener friendly.

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Project MUSE

(Nor has the general public been entertained by any literature concerning Schoenberg comparable to the many volumes about Igor Stravinsky written by the composer with Robert Craft.) Arnold Schoenberg's Journey does not dwell on the procedures of the twelve-tone system, although it provides a clea...

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