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· The term Expressionism was originally
borrowed from visual art and literature.
Artists created vivid pictures, distorting
colours and shapes to make unrealistic
images that suggested strong emotions.
Expressionist composers poured intense
emotional expression into their music
exploring their subconscious mind.…read more

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Expressionist music often features:
· High level of dissonance
· Extreme contrasts of dynamics
· Constantly changing textures
· `Distorted' melodies and clashing harmonies
· Angular melodies with wide leaps
· Atonality ­ no clear tonal centre
· Instruments in extreme registers
· Highly emotive ­ representing inner struggle
· `Sprechstimme' in vocal music…read more

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Arnold Schoenberg
· Arnold Schoenberg was born in Vienna
in 1874. He was a Professor of
Composition in Berlin and later Los
Angeles. He was a gifted composer, teacher and
· Schoenberg, together with two of his pupils, Berg and
Webern, are known as the Second Viennese School
(`school' here means a group of people whose work
shares a common style).
· Schoenberg's first compositions were Romantic in style
eg `Transfigured Night'. His style of composition later
changed.…read more

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· His music became increasingly dissonant and
chromatic in the style of Expressionism.
· The sense of key became less and less obvious
eventually resulting in atonality.
· Audiences and critics found Schoenberg's atonal
music difficult to understand. There was so much
unrest at one concert that the police were called.
· Some years after the composition of Five Pieces
for Orchestra, Schoenberg evolved a new
system to replace tonality in his music…read more

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