Arnold Schönberg Center, Wien

On October 9, 1912 Arnold Schönberg performed his new opus in Berlin’s Choralionsaal for guests who received tickets by invitation only. The work was Pierrot lunaire op. 21 for chamber ensemble and Sprechstimme, with three sections of seven melodramas each. That evening, the audience was propelled into a wholly new dimension of hearing.

In late September 1912, Schönberg’s concert agent Emil Gutmann sent out printed invitations to the final rehearsal to a number of artist friends. The official premiere was planned for October 16.

Berlin, October 1912

P. T. [pleno titulo]
You are kindly invited to attend the final rehearsal of Arnold Schönberg’s latest work “Pierrot lunaire” in the Choralionsaal on Wednesday, October 9, punctually at 8 p.m., for members of the press and invited guests.
Concert Bureau Emil Gutmann
Berlin W 35.

(for two persons)

The wording of the invitation provoked vigorous opposition from the composer, as is evident in his letter to Gutmann:

You mentioned a final rehearsal for invited guests. I understood that to mean musicians, artists, etc., and I assumed that (with me turning a blind eye!) members of the press would come as well, or rather the better critics who want to hear the work twice. I allowed this for the Conzert as well, where their attendance is also unavoidable.
But your announcement reads: the final rehearsal is for members of the press!!!
And so in all seriousness, I must emphasize: it is unacceptable. I will not sacrifice my good reputation because of you! I have not spent over 15 years showing no consideration for critics, or even being in conflict with them, just to suddenly change sides now. And so I must ask you to write in the next announcement: for invited guests only! And please do not advertise! I have no wish for publicity! I do not wish to be one of those people who stop at nothing to promote themselves. You must understand this! Best wishes, Your Arnold Schönberg

We were recently able to purchase an invitation sent to Alban Berg’s sister Smaragda (formerly von Eger, divorced) for our archive. The pertinent words have been crossed out. Three times!