Second Viennese School
The Second Viennese School is the group of composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

s that comprised Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg was an Austrian composer, associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School...

 and his pupils and close associates in early 20th century Vienna, where he lived and taught, sporadically, between 1903 and 1925. Their music was initially characterized by late-Romantic
Romantic music
Romantic music or music in the Romantic Period is a musicological and artistic term referring to a particular period, theory, compositional practice, and canon in Western music history, from 1810 to 1900....

 expanded tonality and later, following Schoenberg's own evolution, a totally chromatic expressionism
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas...

 without firm tonal centre (often referred to as atonality
Atonality in its broadest sense describes music that lacks a tonal center, or key. Atonality in this sense usually describes compositions written from about 1908 to the present day where a hierarchy of pitches focusing on a single, central tone is not used, and the notes of the chromatic scale...

) and later still, Schoenberg's serial
In music, serialism is a method or technique of composition that uses a series of values to manipulate different musical elements. Serialism began primarily with Arnold Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique, though his contemporaries were also working to establish serialism as one example of...

 twelve-tone technique
Twelve-tone technique
Twelve-tone technique is a method of musical composition devised by Arnold Schoenberg...

. Though this common development took place, it neither followed a common time-line nor a cooperative path. Likewise, it was not a direct result of Schoenberg's teaching - which (as his various published textbooks demonstrate) was highly traditional and conservative. Schoenberg's textbooks also reveal that the Second Viennese School spawned not from the development of his serial method, but rather from the influence of his creative example.


The principal members of the school, besides Schoenberg, were Alban Berg
Alban Berg
Alban Maria Johannes Berg was an Austrian composer. He was a member of the Second Viennese School with Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern, and produced compositions that combined Mahlerian Romanticism with a personal adaptation of Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique.-Early life:Berg was born in...

 and Anton Webern
Anton Webern
Anton Webern was an Austrian composer and conductor. He was a member of the Second Viennese School. As a student and significant follower of Arnold Schoenberg, he became one of the best-known exponents of the twelve-tone technique; in addition, his innovations regarding schematic organization of...

, who were among his first composition pupils. Both of them had already produced copious and talented music in a late Romantic idiom but felt they gained new direction and discipline from Schoenberg's teaching. Other pupils of this generation included Heinrich Jalowetz
Heinrich Jalowetz
Heinrich Jalowetz was an Austrian musicologist and conductor who settled in the USA. He was one of the core members of what became known as the Second Viennese School in the orbit of Arnold Schoenberg.A musicology pupil of Guido Adler, Jalowetz was among Schoenberg's first students in Vienna,...

, Erwin Stein
Erwin Stein
Erwin Stein was an Austrian musician and writer, prominent as a pupil and friend of Schoenberg, with whom he studied between 1906 and 1910. He was one of Schoenberg’s principal assistants in organizing the Society for Private Musical Performances...

 and Egon Wellesz
Egon Wellesz
Egon Joseph Wellesz was an Austrian-born British composer, teacher and musicologist, notable particularly in the field of Byzantine music.- Life :...

, and somewhat later Eduard Steuermann
Eduard Steuermann
Eduard Steuermann was an Austrian pianist and composer. The actress Salka Viertel was his sister...

, Hanns Eisler
Hanns Eisler
Hanns Eisler was an Austrian composer.-Family background:Eisler was born in Leipzig where his Jewish father, Rudolf Eisler, was a professor of philosophy...

, Rudolf Kolisch
Rudolf Kolisch
Rudolf Kolisch was a Viennese violinist and leader of string quartets, including the Kolisch Quartet and the Pro Arte Quartet. He played a right-handed violin left-handed—an extremely rare occurrence in classical music settings....

, Paul A. Pisk, Karl Rankl
Karl Rankl
Karl Rankl was a British conductor and composer of Austrian birth. A pupil of the composers Schoenberg and Webern, he conducted at opera houses in Austria, Germany and Czechoslovakia until fleeing from the Nazis and taking refuge in England in 1939.Rankl was appointed musical director of the...

, Josef Rufer
Josef Rufer
Josef Rufer was an Austrian-born musicologist. He is regarded as a significant figure mainly on account of his association with and writings on Arnold Schoenberg....

 and Viktor Ullmann
Viktor Ullmann
Viktor Ullmann was a Silesia-born Austrian, later Czech composer, conductor and pianist of Jewish origin.- Biography :...

. Though Berg and Webern both followed Schoenberg into total chromaticism and both adopted twelve-tone technique soon after he did, each in his own way, not all of these other pupils did so, or waited for a considerable time before following suit. Schoenberg's brother-in-law Alexander Zemlinsky is sometimes included as part of the Second Viennese School, though he was never Schoenberg's pupil and never renounced a traditional conception of tonality. Several yet later pupils, such as Winfried Zillig
Winfried Zillig
Winfried Zillig was a German composer, music theorist, and conductor.Zillig was born in Würzburg. After leaving school, Zillig studied law and music. One of his teachers there was Hermann Zilcher. In Vienna he was a private pupil of Arnold Schönberg, later following him to Berlin...

, the Catalan
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

 Roberto Gerhard
Roberto Gerhard
Robert Gerhard i Ottenwaelder was a Catalan Spanish composer and musical scholar and writer, generally known outside Catalonia as Robert Gerhard.-Life:...

, the Transylvania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical...

n Norbert von Hannenheim
Norbert von Hannenheim
Norbert Hann von Hannenheim was an Austro-Hungarian-born German and Romanian composer. He is seen as one of the most brilliant later pupils of Arnold Schoenberg....

 and the Greek
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 Nikolaos Skalkottas
Nikolaos Skalkottas
Nikos Skalkottas was one of the most important Greek composers of 20th-century music. A member of the Second Viennese School, he drew his influences from both the classical repertoire and the Greek tradition....

, are sometimes covered by the term, though (apart from Gerhard) they never studied in Vienna but as part of Schoenberg's masterclass in Berlin. Membership in the school is not generally extended to Schoenberg's many pupils in the United States from 1933, such as John Cage
John Cage
John Milton Cage Jr. was an American composer, music theorist, writer, philosopher and artist. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde...

, Leon Kirchner
Leon Kirchner
Leon Kirchner was an American composer of contemporary classical music. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his String Quartet No. 3.Kirchner was born in Brooklyn, New York...

 and Gerald Strang, nor to many other composers who, at a greater remove, wrote compositions evocative of the Second Viennese style, such as the Canadian
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 pianist Glenn Gould
Glenn Gould
Glenn Herbert Gould was a Canadian pianist who became one of the best-known and most celebrated classical pianists of the 20th century. He was particularly renowned as an interpreter of the keyboard music of Johann Sebastian Bach...

. By extension, however, certain pupils of Schoenberg's pupils (such as Berg's pupil Hans Erich Apostel
Hans Erich Apostel
Hans Erich Apostel was a German-born Austrian composer of classical music....

 and Webern's pupils René Leibowitz
René Leibowitz
René Leibowitz was a French composer, conductor, music theorist and teacher born in Warsaw, Poland.-Career:...

, Leopold Spinner
Leopold Spinner
Leopold Spinner was a Ukrainian-born, British-domiciled composer and editor.-Biography:Spinner was born of Austrian parentage in Lemberg...

 and Ludwig Zenk) are usually included in the roll-call.


Though the school included highly distinct musical personalities (the styles of Berg and Webern are in fact very different from each other, and from Schoenberg—for example, only the works of Webern conform to the rule stated by Schoenberg that only a single row be used throughout all movements of a composition—while Gerhard and Skalkottas were closely involved with the folk music of their respective countries) the impression of cohesiveness was enhanced by the literary efforts of some of its members. Wellesz wrote the first book on Schoenberg, who was also the subject of several Festschrift
In academia, a Festschrift , is a book honoring a respected person, especially an academic, and presented during his or her lifetime. The term, borrowed from German, could be translated as celebration publication or celebratory writing...

en put together by his friends and pupils; Rufer and Spinner both wrote books on the technique of twelve-tone composition; and Leibowitz's influential study of Schoenberg, Berg and Webern, Schoenberg et son école, helped to establish the image of a school in the period immediately after World War II in France and abroad. Several of those mentioned (e.g. Jalowetz, Rufer) were also influential as teachers, and others (e.g. Kolisch, Rankl, Stein, Steuermann, Zillig) as performers, in disseminating the ideals, ideas and approved repertoire of the group. Perhaps the culmination of the school took place at Darmstadt almost immediately after WWII, at the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik
Darmstadt New Music Summer School
Initiated in 1946 by Wolfgang Steinecke, the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, Darmstadt , held annually until 1970 and subsequently every two years, encompass both the teaching of composition and interpretation and include premières of new works...

, wherein Schoenberg - who was invited but too ill to travel - was ultimately usurped in musical ideology by the music of his pupil, Webern, as composers and performers from the Second Viennese School (e.g. Leibowitz, Rufer, Adorno
Theodor W. Adorno
Theodor W. Adorno was a German sociologist, philosopher, and musicologist known for his critical theory of society....

, Kolisch, Stadlen
Peter Stadlen
Peter Stadlen was a composer, pianist, and musicologist, specializing in the study and interpretation of Beethoven....

, Stuckenschmidt
Hans Heinz Stuckenschmidt
Hans Heinz Stuckenschmidt was a German composer, musicologist, and historian and critic of music.- Life :...

, Scherchen
Hermann Scherchen
Hermann Scherchen was a German conductor.-Life:Scherchen was originally a violist and played among the violas of the Bluthner Orchestra of Berlin while still in his teens...

) converged with the new serialists (e.g. Boulez, Stockhausen, Maderna, Nono, et al.).

First Viennese School

German musical literature refers to the grouping as the "Wiener Schule" or "Neue Wiener Schule". The existence of a "First Viennese School
First Viennese School
The First Viennese School is a name mostly used to refer to three composers of the Classical period in Western art music in late-18th-century Vienna: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven. Franz Schubert is occasionally added to the list.In German speaking countries, the...

" is debatable. The term is often assumed to connote the great Vienna-based masters of the Classical style working in the late 18th and early 19th century, particularly Joseph Haydn
Joseph Haydn
Franz Joseph Haydn , known as Joseph Haydn , was an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the Classical period. He is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of his important contributions to these forms...

, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

, Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

 and Franz Schubert
Franz Schubert
Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer.Although he died at an early age, Schubert was tremendously prolific. He wrote some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies , liturgical music, operas, some incidental music, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music...

. Though Mozart and Schubert did not study with Haydn, Mozart and Haydn were fans of each other's work and evidence suggests that the two composers fed off the other's compositional craftsmanship. Beethoven, however, did for a time receive lessons from the older master, though he was not a pupil in the sense that Berg and Webern were pupils of Schoenberg.

Third Viennese School

The term "Third Viennese School" is occasionally used to refer to the composers surrounding the Viennese new music ensemble Klangforum Wien
Klangforum Wien
The Klangforum Wien is an Austrian chamber orchestra, based in Vienna at the Konzerthaus, which specialises in contemporary classical music.Founded by composer and conductor Beat Furrer in 1985, it is run on collective principles, having no official principal conductor. Sylvain Cambreling is...

, including its founder Beat Furrer
Beat Furrer
Beat Furrer is an Austrian composer and conductor of Swiss birth.Born in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, Furrer relocated to Vienna in 1975 to pursue studies with Roman Haubenstock-Ramati and Otmar Suitner . In 1985 he co-founded what is now one of Europe's leading contemporary music ensembles,...

 and other late modernists
Modernism (music)
Modernism in music is characterized by a desire for or belief in progress and science, surrealism, anti-romanticism, political advocacy, general intellectualism, and/or a breaking with the past or common practice.- Defining musical modernism :...

 such as Helmut Lachenmann
Helmut Lachenmann
Helmut Lachenmann is a German composer associated with musique concrète instrumentale.-Life and works:...

, Olga Neuwirth
Olga Neuwirth
Olga Neuwirth is an Austrian composer.As a child at the age of seven, Neuwirth began lessons on trumpet. She later studied composition in Vienna at the Vienna Academy of Music and Performing Arts under Erich Urbanner, while studying at the Electroacoustic Institute...

 and Bernhard Lang
Bernhard Lang
Bernhard Lang is an Austrian composer of the experimental and avant-garde school, particularly advocating a style he has self-termed "repetition-perpetrator"....


Further reading

  • René Leibowitz, Schoenberg et son école (Paris, Editeur J B Janin, 1947) translated by Dika Newlin
    Dika Newlin
    Dika Newlin was a pianist, professor, musicologist, composer and punk rock singer. She received a Ph.D from Columbia University at the age of 22. She was one of the last living students of Arnold Schoenberg, a Schoenberg scholar and a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond from...

    as Schoenberg and His School: The Contemporary Stage of the Language of Music (New York, Philosophical Library, 1949)

External links

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