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DURATION: ca. 9 Min.

Fassung für Kammerorchester (Johannes Schöllhorn)

PUBLISHER: Heinrichshofen

In 1929 Schönberg was commissioned by the Heinrichshofen Verlag in Magdeburg to write film music. The composer, who - as subsequent experiences in Hollywood were to reveal - even in financially difficult situations would never have agreed to play a subordinate role to a director's or producer's conception of art or even relinquish his formal independence for a pre-produced film, ignored the possible guidelines and oriented himself exclusively towards the key words "threatening danger, fear, catastrophe." As a result of this, the work can in fact be attributed to the broad sphere of programme music, but without describing precise situations or groups of people. There is also a lack of repeated leitmotivic material. The difficulty in assigning the three sections of the subtitle to specific parts of the composition suggests that Schönberg seems never to have intended that these words should summarise the form of his composition. The film therefore remains imaginary. As in the Variations for Orchestra, Schönberg's Opus 34 does not begin with a linear presentation of the twelve-tone theme, but rather with a short introductory passage. The subsections or episodes of the work (introduction - twelve-tone theme - song form - rhythmic ostinato - four contrasting episodes - subdivision into tetrachords - climax - reflection on the beginning of the work) only partially correlate with one another through clear connecting elements. Schönberg forms the climax of the "Begleitungsmusik" from the confrontation of a successive sequence of smaller components which are sometimes in sharp conflict with each other.

© Arnold Schönberg Center