Arnold Schoenberg fans--unite!
This may sound werid, but Arnold Schoenberg is totally my hero. For many years now I've wanted a big picture of Arnold to put on my wall. A nice photograph. There are few people whose art I admire more.
In case you've never heard of the man, he's a classical composer. His music from the late 19th century was tonal but still blazingly original. Then, in the 20th century, he pretty much invented atonal music. What's beyond dispute is that he invented the 12-tone method of composition, in which every tone of the Western scale must be used before it is repeated.
I was a cello and oboe player early in my life. This introduced me to classical music, and I was a total classical snob from age 10 or so until age 12. It was during this time that I checked out those nice Time/Life or whoever "Great Composer" or whatever boxed sets at the library. I heard that there was this "weird" composer called Schoenberg, checked out his set, and my life has never been the same since. Yes, I was an 11-year-old Schoenberg fan.
I love blues, country, rock, rap, and just about any type of music. I love George Clinton, Bootsy Collins--I love funk. But the thing is, Schoenberg is just as funky as Collins--no, it's true!
Listen to the 3rd string quartet. How about the slow movement, how it breaks into that fast and funky pizzacato partway through? If that isn't funk, then neither is The Mothership Connection. If you ask me, "Pierrot Lunaire" was the original funk masterpiece.
How about the "Wind Quintet"? That's a badass piece of music! Recently we were unpackaing the boxes in our apartment that had been sitting in my mom's basement for two years. Getting the wind quintet on the turntable made me finally feel at home.
But it's also true that a lot of people don't like Schoenberg. They say his music sounds like noise. It's true that it takes a little bit of getting used to (not me, though! I loved it at first hearing). Once you train your ear, however, the melodies that Schoenberg created come to life--they are more sophisticated than just about anything else ever created. My goodness, just listen to the piano concerto and the violin concerto. Stupendous!
Schoenberg was also a great teacher and helped two other great composers to greatness: Alban Berg and Anton Webern. The interesting thing about these two is the unique character they bring to 12-tone composition. Their pieces really don't sound anything like Schoenberg's. It's no coincidence that these composers are also in my top three. Yep, the Vienna Troika.
Pop Webern's Symphony into the CD player. Amazing!
Berg's Wozzeck is the greatest opera ever written.
So, you'd like to know my favorite composers. OK!
4. Prokofiev (string quartets!)
The order there is a little fuzzy after Berg/Webern. At any rate, please tell us your story of how you fell in love with Schoenberg and his great music!