Welcome back to Austin classical music / San Antonio classical music 101! Today we’re discussing part FIVE (of five) in our series of symphony terms to help the unacquainted become more familiar with this rich and treasured musical art form.
Second Viennese School – This represents the three Austrian composers in the first half of the 20th century who utilized the twelve-tone technique: Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern and Alban Berg.
Song-cycle – A group of songs devised by the composer to be unified in subject or mood.
Symphonic poem – A descriptive or programmatic work for an orchestra, which usually deals with subjects from Romantic literature.
Thematic inter-relationship – A musical device, similar to cyclical form, where a theme from one movement of a large-scale work returns in subsequent movements.
Tonality – The adherence to a certain key throughout a composition.
Twelve-tone – This is a compositional method invented by Arnold Schoenberg, in which the 12 notes of the chromatic scale are treated equally, and the traditional key structure longer applies. The premise behind twelve-tone composition (or dodecaphony) is the idea of the ‘tone-row.’ A tone-row is an arrangement of the 12 notes of the chromatic scale in an order that does not suggest a key or tonality. This row can then be repeated, transposed, inverted or played backwards.
Wagner, Richard – German composer, poet, and conductor born in 1813. His output consists almost entirely of opera. Wagner was one of the most influential composers of all time, redefining the foundations of opera into a new, organic form of ‘music-drama,’ as well as introducing revolutionary harmonic and structural ideas, most notably the use of chromaticism and leitmotifs. He died in 1883.
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