Arnold Schoenberg: Pierrot Lunaire
Schoenberg might not seem an Expressionist when initially compared with the other artists of the movement, yet upon further examination, his work, especially Pierrot Lunaire: 18. Mondfleck fit the descriptions of Expressionist work.
Although most of his words follow a rhythm that suggests a regular speech pattern, Schoenberg uses pitch to emphasize the syllables and words that aren’t stressed when the word is spoken, such as “und” or the second syllables of “plotzlich”, “Mondes”, “richtig”, etc. While this might be expected in lyrics that had been translated from the language in which they were put to music, since Schoenberg used the German translations of the poems when he wrote the pieces, this adds to the text painting of the music in the piece. It creates the sense of something slightly chaotic or not quite making sense, like the man who can’t figure out that the spot on his jacket is merely light. In this way, his piece reveals the inner mental state, and not the exact events of the scene depicted, one of the main characteristics of Expressionism.
Another main idea of Expressionism was the lack of emphasis on whether or not the work was aesthetically pleasing by traditional standards. Schoenberg’s music certainly fits this criteria, as well: he rejected the traditional tonality of music that is still widely accepted today, and created a work that completely countered the standards. This was part of the appeal to Schoenberg and his followers: they had the ability to create music that didn’t fit what anyone else’s idea of music was; rather, they had much more freedom in how to express their thoughts.