In this completely rewritten and updated edition of his long-indispensable study, Malcolm MacDonald takes advantage of 30 years of recent scholarship, new biographical information, and deeper understanding of Schoenberg's aims and significance to produce a superb guide to Schoenberg's life and work. MacDonald demonstrates the indissoluble links among Schoenberg's musical language (particularly the enigmatic and influential twelve-tone method), his personal character, and his creative ideas, as well as the deep connection between his genius as a teacher and as a revolutionary composer.
Exploring newly considered influences on the composer's early life, MacDonald offers a fresh perspective on Schoenberg's creative process and the emotional content of his music. For example, as a previously unsuspected source of childhood trauma, the author points to the Vienna Ringtheater disaster of 1881, in which hundreds of people were burned to death, including Schoenberg's uncle and aunt-whose orphaned children were then adopted by Schoenberg's parents. MacDonald brings such experiences to bear on the music itself, examining virtually every work in the oeuvre to demonstrate its vitality and many-sidedness. A chronology of Schoenberg's life, a work-list, an updated bibliography, and a greatly expanded list of personal allusions and references round out the study, and enhance this new edition.