Area of Study 2 - Schoenberg - Peripetie

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Schoenberg - Peripetie


Schoenberg was an Austrian composer who founded the Second Viennese School- a group of composers (including Berg and Webern, who were taught by Schoenberg in Vienna) who wrote Expressionist music. Peripetie is the fourth of his Five Orchestral Pieces, and this piece was of an experimental nature, and required a large orchestra. The first performance was given in 1912 in Proms, London. The title means ‘A sudden reversal. This refers to the fact that ideas from the start of the movement return in reverse order towards the end. Schoenberg later developed serialism- 12 tone technique using a tone row. This tone row can be transformed in 3 ways- retrograde, inversion, retrograde inversion.


In the piece, melody is a big part of the piece. There are many angular or disjunct melodies, and Schoenberg uses octave displacement (unexpectedly moving individual notes of a main melody into a different octave). The piece is made up of short, fragmented motifs, that are combined in different ways. In the first 18 bars alone, 7 different motifs are quickly introduced. He uses very large intervals, with no predictability, the melodies are short and motivic developed quickly, and many of the melodies are often played simultaneously. The full range of the orchestra and its instruments is used.


The tonality of the piece is a fascinating subject. There is much dissonant harmony, the


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