D O C U M E N T 3 7 9 O C T O B E R 1 9 2 6 3 7 1 central personality and themselves as the first of his apostles. Arnold Schönberg is deified by all. I understand that. I in no way share your dislike of Arnold Schönberg.[5] I believe it is based on a lack of professional expertise. I urgently ad- vise you to read Arnold Schönberg’s “Theory of Harmony.”[6] I have not read it. According to the assertions of Schönberg’s disciples, it’s like a second Bible. Schönberg’s theory starts from the following assumptions: The harmony of the past is actually nothing that is specially privileged. It is also only a means to an end: be- cause it enables relating each ¢tonic² tone to the tonic, it effects a certain unification of the whole, “which can, however, also be achieved in other ways,” as Schönberg quickly adds and fortifies this assertion by a clever metaphor of a flying machine and gravity.[7] Arnold Schönberg thus writes pieces in which the twelve semitones are treated as completely equal. Yet he composes pieces of 8–10 measures.[8] It is depressing that Schönberg’s ideas have a terribly convincing effect on the impartial reader. If asked, I could actually not assert anything substantial against them. I hope that this only results from the fact that Schönberg writes in a truly virtuosic style and, furthermore, anticipates and refutes any and all objections of the reader. I hope that Schönberg starts from false premises. I hope so since the consequence of his theory is that his own works are beautiful, a gruesome and loathsome paradox. Arnold Schönberg cleverly dedicated his last and most terrible work to his small grandchild,[9] a subtle indication of the fact that the third generation will be the first to comprehend it. I thank you very much for your letter which you sent to me, so far as I remember, a few months ago, and for the Kerr column,[10] which you enclosed (a good and completely exemplary idea!). I believe both pleased me very much. I send you etc., your Teddy
Previous Page Next Page