Music as a Medium for Social Change: a comparative analysis of Berio and Schoenberg

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Throughout the twentieth-century, we as a culture seem to remove the scope that bounds the limitations of human intellectuality. Through this metaphorical scope, it can be seen the social and political angst that is pushing for radical change to be imposed on cultured people across the globe. Immediately, with the negativity pressed against the Bourgeoisie, the rise of Marxian Philosophy, European Fascism, and the American Gusto; we are provided the foundational premise for music-art to follow the trends in which there is tension within new ideology. Amongst these movements brings us Dadaism, Avant-Garde, Expressionism, and Futurism to name a few. In response to the rising manifestos that carry the practical knowledge behind these movements brings a shift in cultural perspective. To serve the climate of this social change, much of art will shape itself around these happenings. Examples of such actions being the Dadaists anti-appeal to the warfare. Dadaism, the art-form that was consequential to the anti-war attitude was such of mockery. With the Cabaret Voltaire events, the art that was presented appeared to lack character or purpose but this was in parallel to how the Dadaists viewed World War I. This essay will discuss how music is used as a tool for social change and how it is reflective of the events that surround it based on its time period. I will be taking an analytical stance on Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire and Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia – Mvmt II: O King. The discussion will amplify the similarities and discerning the differences between these two works. With these beliefs, I will also illuminate the circumstances in which makes these works prevalent in the societal milieu of the time period. Arnold Schoenberg ... ... middle of paper ... ... but I have highlighted on the most important details ranging from the push of the new philosophy, to the mourning of a very important social figure. While the intentions behind the pieces are of drastic difference, the methods in which the purposes are expressed are of very parallel origin. There are many ways for a composer to represent their music as a tool for a change in the occurrences of socio-political thought, but the method in which they choose to pursue this change glorifies their technique in being a participant in the time period in which they lived. There is much complexity that is shared between Pierrot Lunaire and Sinfonia which is contained in the social climate, the purpose of the pieces is very different – but at the roots of the art objects, the manner in which the piece is composed creates the social context for the piece to live and breathe in.

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