Arnold Schoenberg

This Vienna-born composer is mainly known as the innovator of a technique involving tone rows (the twelve-tone system). The music he composed was frequently associated with Expressionism in art and poetry. Having taken only counterpoint lessons with composer Alexander von Zemlinsky, Schoenberg orchestrated operas in his twenties. In 1899, he composed 'Transfigured Night', one of his most famous pieces. His talent was later recognised by Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler. In 1904, Schoenberg began an academic career teaching composition harmony and counterpoint. His personal life influenced his later work, as in the summer of 1908 when his wife Mathilde left him for a couple of months for a young Austrian painter, Richard Gerstl. His compositions of that time, 'You Lean Against a Silver-Willow' and 'String Quartet No. 2', were considered revolutionary. 'Pierrot Lunaire, op. 21', was also a unique cycle of songs in the Expressionist mood, in which a speak-singing recitation technique was used. In 1933, Schoenberg emigrated to Paris and later to the USA.