2024 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Arnold Schönberg. In collaboration with Haus der Musik we are using this as an opportunity to make a more detailed presentation of this great innovator. This time the focus is on Schönberg’s period of upheaval. The Book of Hanging Gardens – a selection from Stefan George’s cycle of the same name – marks the beginning of Schönberg’s atonal period. On a personal level, the composer was going through a serious crisis, mainly because of his wife Mathilde’s liaison with the painter Richard Gerstl – a friend of the couple – and Gustav Mahler’s move to the USA. Schönberg immersed himself in painting and broke with the musical tradition between 1907 and 1908, with the dissolution of tonality and his transition to the expressionist period. Both the musical caesura and inner agitation are evident in his String Quartet No. 2. Most unusually, Schönberg added a voice part in the third and fourth movements. His setting of two poems by Stefan George can be interpreted symbolically. Perhaps the third movement reflects Schönberg’s inner withdrawal from a broken marriage: Kill the longing, close the wound! Take love away from me, and give me your happiness!, and the fourth movement a vision of distant worlds: I feel a breath of air from other planets.

Sarah Maria Sun – vocals
Michael Schöch – piano
Quatuor Diotima:
Yun-Peng Zhao, Léo Marillier – violin
Franck Chevalier – viola
Pierre Morlet – cello

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