Ruth Crawford-Seeger – String Quartet (1931)
Arnold Schoenberg – String Quartet No. 3
“If people speak of me, they at once connect me with horror, with atonality, with composition with twelve tones. Generally it is always forgotten that before I developed these new techniques, there were two or three periods in which I had to acquire the technical armament that enabled me to stand distinctly on my own feet, in a manner that forbade comparison with other composers, either predecessors or contemporaries…It is seldom realized that there is a link between the technique of forerunners and that of an innovator and that no new technique in the arts is created that has not had its roots in the past.”
– Arnold Schoenberg
If Elon Musk had left it at creating PayPal, most of us wouldn’t fault him for lacking in the work-ethic department. If Arnold Schoenberg had continued riffing on the harmonic envelope-pushing of his first quartet, we’d likely still remember him as an innovator. And yet Mr. Musk is currently testing out rockets for space tourism, and Herr Schoenberg funneled his dissonance breakthrough into a full-blown, sophisticated system. Here’s where we really go back to the future.
As Schoenberg designs the blueprints of his infamous 12-tone system, the connections to Mozart and Beethoven become even more apparent. This third quartet is modeled on Schubert’s Rosamunde for crying out loud! The absolute cutting edge of classical music is still making late-night phone calls to old boyfriends from previous centuries. And now too we see the impact of Schoenberg’s deviation amongst his contemporaries. Chicago’s own Ruth Crawford-Seeger may have only met Schoenberg once, but it’s safe to say her stunner of a string quartet would not have been possible without his path-carving. This is a mind-melter of a program, and you should expect an electric conversation on the ride home.
Join us for a pre-concert talk at 6:30pm with UChicago professor Seth Brodsky
This concert is FREE and open to the public.
Persons with disabilities who need an accommodation in order to participate in this event should contact the University of Chicago Music Department for assistance (Music
773-702-8484). Information on Assistive Listening Device