The preceding chapters treated it as axiomatic that Schoenberg’s music possesses a significance beyond the sum of its note rows and counterpoints; in Schoenberg’s own phrase: the presentation of an idea. But what was the idea? This chapter explores the meaning and significance of Schoenberg’s musical works. With their graphic exploration of emotional extremes, their will towards clarification, and refusal to entirely despair, they chart a passionate man’s twentieth-century-pilgrimage, and remain, as all life works should, the last repository of essential information about their creator. Through them, Schoenberg is seen to embody the ethic of the dedicated artist, in its most uncompromising form.
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