ca. 3 minutes

Portrait of Arnold Schoenberg. He is looking directly towards the viewer, with a half-smile.
Arnold Schönberg, ca. 1930 | Picture: Arnold Schönberg Center Wien

Arnold Schoenberg, one of the most important composers of the 20th century, left behind a legacy of innovative works. His pioneering method of composition “with twelve tones related only to one another” revolutionised western compositional techniques. In addition to his work as a composer, Schoenberg was also a painter, an inventor and a theoretician who dealt with music, politics and current affairs in his writings.

As part of our focus on Schoenberg during this season, we invite you to an exhibition in the foyer of the Philharmonie exploring the artistic and private aspects of Schoenberg’s life and his lesser-known facets.

The inventor

Schoenberg was someone who could not leave things as they were. He tirelessly intervened to put things to rights whenever he saw a need for improvement, not only in music but in every possible field. For example, he invented a tennis notation system, a library chair, a typewriter for musical notation and a chess game for four players.

A chessboard with four game sets on each side in different colours.
Schönberg developed his coalition or alliance chess in the first half of the 1920s. | Picture: Belmont Music Publishers Los Angeles

The painter

Arnold Schoenberg’s artistic oeuvre includes portraits, landscapes and visions dealing with human insight and perspective. “I never was very capable of expressing my feelings or emotions in words. I don’t know whether this is why I chose music and painting. Or the other way around: since I chose these forms of expression, I could really live without having to use words.”

Schoenberg was an autodidact. His paintings impressed contemporaries such as Oskar Kokoschka, Franz Marc and Wassily Kandinsky, who made him a member of the “Blaue Reiter” (Blue Rider) group.

Gertrud Schönberg, the artist’s daughter, 1910 | Picture: Arnold Schönberg (artist), Birgit and Peter Kainz (photographer), CC BY 4.0, <a  href="">Wien Museum</a>

Berlin Moments

In September of 1911 Arnold Schoenberg moved with his family into an apartment in the former studio of the sculptor Ferdinand Lepcke in Zehlendorf, where they lived until May 1913. During this time, the composer worked on the final drafts of Gurre-Lieder, Herzgewächse op. 20 and Pierrot lunaire op. 21.

On 1 October 1925, Schoenberg was invited to take charge of the masterclass in composition at the Prussian Academy of the Arts. At the time he lived at the Pension Bavaria in Charlottenburg. In March of 1928, the family moved to Nussbaumallee in the Berlin neighbourhood of Westend.

Black and white photo of an old house
At the end of September 1911, Schoenberg moved into a flat in the former studio of the sculptor Ferdinand Lepcke in Zehlendorf near Berlin, where he lived with his family until May 1913. | Picture: The Library of Congress Washington