Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Happy Birthday, Arnold Schoenberg!

Kevin Wetzel & Arnold Schoenberg

Less than an hour after we posted that it was a slow news day, we received an email bemoaning the fact that we weren't celebrating Arnold Schoenberg's birthday. Better yet, we got introduced to a new barihunk, Kevin Wetzel. 

Arnold Schoenberg remains one of the most controversial figures in the history of music. From the final years of the nineteenth century to the period following the World War II, Schoenberg produced music of great stylistic diversity, inspiring fanatical devotion from students, admiration from peers like Mahler, Strauss, and Busoni, riotous anger from conservative Viennese audiences, and unmitigated hatred from his many detractors.

Born in Vienna on September 13, 1874, into a family that was not particularly musical, Schoenberg was largely self-taught as a musician. Early in his career, Schoenberg took jobs orchestrating operettas, but most of his life was spent teaching, both privately and at various institutions, and composing.

The composer's early works bear the unmistakable stamp of high German Romanticism, perhaps nowhere more evident than in his first important composition, Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4 (1899). With works like the Five Orchestral Pieces (1909) and the epochal Pierrot lunaire (1912), Schoenberg embarked upon one of the most influential phases of his career. Critics reviled this "atonal" (Schoenberg preferred "pantonal") music, whose structure does not include traditional tonality.

Schoenberg fled the anti-Semitic political atmosphere of Europe in 1933 and spent the remainder of his life primarily in the United States, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1941. For Schoenberg, the dissolution of tonality was a logical and inevitable step in the evolution of Western music. Schoenberg is acknowledged as one of the most significant figures in music history. The composer, a well-known triskaidekaphobe (fear of the number 13), died in Los Angeles on July 13, 1951.
Here is Kevin Wetzel performing Schoenberg's Dank, Op. 1, No. 1:

Kevin Wetzel earned his master’s degree in 2006 and his graduate performance diploma in 2008 at The Peabody Institute. After graduating from The Peabody Institute, Kevin became a member of the Virginia Opera Association’s Spectrum Resident Artist program. Most recently, he was a resident artist with the Arizona Opera Company. He can next be seen in November with Houston's "Opera in the Heights" performing Guglielmo in Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte."

Contact us at Barihunks@gmail.com

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