No Apologies for Dodecaphony


Every single time I hear it, A Survivor from Warsaw knocks the wind out of me. It has been sixty-six years since Arnold Schoenberg composed it, yet there are still listeners, both musically sophisticated and unsophisticated, who find it “difficult” and question the validity of its modernist musical language.

I hope hearing the piece today helps to convince the students in my Choral Literature class that we don’t need to explain or apologize for “challenging music.” It is a vital part of the expressive continuum.

One thought on “No Apologies for Dodecaphony

  1. Why should anyone apologize for their musical language? Music that is compelling, is compelling not because of its harmonic language but because of its content. There is plenty of uninteresting, uncompelling, even difficult tonal music, and there are many beautiful atonal and 12 tone works. We do our students a disservice if we don’t teach them this.

    More importantly, I can’t believe I’d never listened to this piece. I may have found a piece of Schoenberg’s that I can say I LIKE. What a powerful work!

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