On the Road from Earth to Heaven: Symphony and <i>Die Jakobsleiter</i>

Bryan R. Simms

in The Atonal Music of Arnold Schoenberg 1908–1923

Published in print November 2000 | ISBN: 9780195128260
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199848843 | DOI:
                   On the Road from Earth to Heaven: Symphony and Die Jakobsleiter

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Schoenber's encounter in the summer of 1911 with Balzac's Séraphita marked the start of a period when he explored his capacity for spirituality. In early 1914, he tried to create a grandiose Symphony, akin to Mahler's symphonies in its enlarged scale, use of voices, and overt treatment of metaphysics. By the summer of 1915, he had lost interest in this work and turned his attention to an oratorio based on his own philosophical text, Die Jakobsleiter, which he had earlier contemplated as the finale of the Symphony. Die Jakobsleiter, contains a great synopsis of Schoenberg's recent compositional experiments in thematic formation, which he merges with traditional ideas concerning genre, form, and development.

Keywords: Die Jakobsleiter; Seéraphita; Symphony; Balzac; Dehmel

Chapter.  13136 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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