Second Viennese School

You're now in the room of the so-called "Second Viennese School", when Vienna once again turned the music world upside down, if not completely reshaped it.

The term "Second Viennese School" describes the works and achievements of Arnold Schönberg and his pupils Anton Webern and Alban Berg. Strictly speaking, we mean the period between 1903 and 1911, when Webern, Berg, Egon Wellesz and Heinrich Jalowetz studied under Schönberg. The term "Viennese School" first came into use after the Second World War; by the "First Viennese School", we mean the 18th century composers, Wagenseil, Muffat, Monn and Gaßmann, who were, in contrast, members of the "Mannheim School" in Vienna.

Schönberg's opponents described his compositional style as "atonal music", but it would be more accurate to call it the twelve-tone technique: each octave consists of twelve semi-tones, of which only eight in each key are used in traditional music, whereas the four remaining ones, which the ear perceives to be discordant, are only used very selectively and exceptionally. From 1907, however, Schönberg placed equal importance on all twelve tones, meaning that discords are not explicitly avoided. From 1920, Schönberg continued to develop this new style into a strict compositional technique: each piece of music, even an entire opera, was based on a single twelve tone row, so a single sequence of the twelve available tones, which was extended to 48 possible combinations by applying almost mathematical rules; Schönberg made a note of these combinations for his "Moses and Aaron" opera on the file cards hanging to the right of this room, before the exit.

The achievements of Schönberg's circle were to bring an end to late Romantic tonality and create a new musical beginning. At the computer terminals, you can listen to music from the Second Viennese School and read biographical information about Berg, Schönberg and Webern, along with an analysis of the 2nd movement of Anton Webern's Symphony, Op. 21 - to understand the twelve-tone technique.

Did you know that …

the composer, Alban Berg, dedicated a violin concerto to Alma Mahler's daughter from a second marriage, Manon Gropius - who died very young in the same year as Alban Berg, with the words "…in memory of an angel"?

Alban Berg: Three pieces for orchestra, 0p. 6

Performed by the Vienna Philharmonic 2014, under the baton of Pierre Boulez.