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DURATION: ca. 1:30 Min.

PUBLISHER: Belmont Music Publishers

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Arnold Schönberg was self-taught both as a composer and as an artist. The urge to compose was awoken in him by a study of scores by earlier composers such as Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. Until he was seventeen, his attempts at composi­tion were confined – according to his own statements – to 'imitations of such music as I had been able to become acquainted with – violin duets and duet­arrangements of operas and the repertory of military bands that played in public parks.'  (My Evolution,  1949). The only tuition that Schönberg can be said with certainty to have received came from his future brother-in-law, Alexander von Zemlinsky, with whom he had become acquainted in the autumn of 1895. Zemlinsky was then the director of an amateur orchestra in Vienna, the 'Musikalischer Verein Polyhymnia'. According to Zemlinsky, the orchestra consisted just of a couple of violins, a viola, a cello (Arnold Schönberg) and a double bass.
Schönberg's Piece in D minor for Violin and Piano was probably written around 1893/94, when he was employed by the Viennese bank of Werner & Co. The theme of the work is of conventional eight-bar design, although its second part goes against the grain with its regular, off-beat rhythm. The eight-bar idea is followed by a passage that takes the theme onwards, reducing it to seven bars in length by condensing its musical gestures. After a bar-long pause, a scherzando section in F major begins, with contrasting rhythmic and melodic writing. The young composer devoted special care to the return to the first section. Here, for the first time, the piano breaks forth from its purely accompanimental function and commences a dialogue with the violin. This short piece shows Schönberg's orientation towards his classical forebears combined with an eagerness to explore harmony and form.

Therese Muxeneder
© Arnold Schönberg Center