Perpetual postponement – such was the fate of this post. It just never seemed right, the muse took more than two years to come up with an idea. Today is the day, no, tonight is the night to write something about Arnold Schönberg’s Five Piano Pieces, Op. 23. A special piece requiring a special mood, and perhaps I first had to write that post about Schubert’s String Quartet in C major and its link to Mozart’s “Dissonant Quartet” before I could write anything about this work.
50 years ago revolution was in the air. French students were demonstrating against a government they perceived as autocratic, German students against the Vietnam war and the overwhelming power of the United States in world affairs. Young people stood up against discrimination of all sorts, an antiquated sexual morality, they wanted to be seen on the “right” side of history. In Germany the growing awareness of the complicity of many ordinary Germans in the Nazi atrocities and the fact that many Nazi officials had remained on their post after 1945 added to the cultural clash between young and old.
Sturm und Drang – this is Sturm und Drang cast in music. The expression denotes a German proto-Romantic literary style en vogue during the late 18th century. Young poets embued by what they called “innate genius” emphasized instant inspiration instead over a formalized way of writing. Emotions mattered over rational ideas in terms of content, creativity mattered over established rules in terms of form.
Not too long ago I took you for a dive into the Abyss of the Unknown and made you discover and perhaps even enjoy a piece of chamber music by Paul Hindemith. Let’s do this again, another dive, but this time we go into a completely different direction. Today’s post is about a philosophical question: Music or… noise?