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Object #31 / Arnold Schönberg: Landscape

Oil on board
Catalogue raisonné 145

Belmont Music Publishers, Pacific Palisades/CA

“At this point it is necessary to mention that the artistic process of transformation, which forced Schönberg to listen to the voice within and obey it, was accompanied by a need for an increased power of expression, and this very need led him to give to his vision concrete form. With a perfectly astonishing talent he learnt the technique of painting, and in the time between 1907 and 1910 he painted a large number of pictures. His pictures fall into two clearly defined groups, namely, portraits and nature studies on the one hand, and on the other “color visions.” Whatever one’s attitude towards these may be, one is, nevertheless, amazed at the power and directness of the artistic will that is behind them. One feels that they had to be painted in order to dominate the exuberant fancy within.
As Schönberg acquired the mastery of the new musical technique, which he himself had created, the need to express himself in color gradually disappeared and finally ceased altogether. An exhibition of his pictures in the autumn of 1910 at Heller’s Art Gallery had the result that even people who had nothing to do with music, on the strength of the impression they gained from the exhibition, now believed they had the right to express an opinion on Schönberg the composer. Only a few felt the inner necessity that urged the solitary artist to express himself visually, and were thus able to penetrate more deeply into his music. […]
There was a good deal that prevented Schönberg from a rapid completion of his work, corresponding indeed to the natural rhythm of his creative activity. Outward circumstances, such as the moving into Ober-St. Veit, a suburb of Vienna, intensive work of painting, the resumption of the orchestration of the ‘Gurre-Lieder’, and the beginning of the writing of the ‘Theory of Harmony’, all hindered it. This additional and many-sided work on the one hand, and on the other his living outside the city, resulted in Schönberg’s spending the summer in Vienna. In the autumn he journeyed to Berlin, where, in October, Oscar Fried conducted a performance of ‘Pelleas and Melisande’; this was the first performance abroad of any orchestral work by Schönberg. After his return there was a performance of both quartets by Rosé, in connection with the exhibition of Schönberg’s paintings in Heller’s Art Gallery already mentioned, Mrs. Gutheil-Schoder singing the vocal part. On this occasion, Schönberg saw Gustav Mahler for the last time before his voyage to America, and he told him that he intended to dedicate the ‘Theory of Harmony’ to him. Mahler was delighted at this; but no one who saw him at the time had the least idea that he would be seen no more.”

(Egon Wellesz: Arnold Schönberg. Wien 1921)

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