Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), acknowledged as one of the most significant figures in modern music history and the controversial creator of twelve-tone composition technique, seems to have had a great fear of the number thirteen. Legend has it that he had predicted the date of his own death, which occurred on Friday 13 July at the age of 76 (7+6=13). Schoenberg was largely self-taught as a musician, but studied briefly with Alexander Zemlinsky, his eventual brother-in-law. His early works are clearly in the high German Romantic tradition – this is still very much the case in his first important composition, Verklärte Nacht (1899). With works like Pierrot lunaire (1912), Schoenberg entered a more forward-looking phase of his career, trying to write what he wished to call "pantonal" music, something that did not please many critics at the time. Among his followers were Alban Berg and Anton Webern, who together with their mentor formed the core of the Second Viennese School, the cradle of atonal, serial music. In 1923 Schoenberg finished his first strict 12-tone composition, the Suite for Piano. Following the death of Busoni in 1924, Schoenberg was offered the post of Director of a Master Class in Composition at the Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin. He continued in this post until the election of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in 1933, when he was forced into exile. The composer spent most of the remainder of his life in the U.S. Despite much critical resistance, Schoenberg always stuck to his ideas, insisting that the death of tonality was an inevitable step in the evolution of music. He was a brilliant teacher, partly through his method of engaging with the methods of the great classical composers, partly through his focus on bringing out the musical and compositional individuality of his students. He published a number of books, for example the famous Harmonielehre (Theory of Harmony, 1911).
Verklärte Nacht, Op.4 (1899) (string sextet)
Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21 (1912) ("melodrama" for narrator and five musicians)
Violin Concerto, Op. 36 (1935-1936)
Piano Concerto, Op.42 (1942)
A Survivor from Warsaw, Op.46 (1947)
Fantasy for Violin and Piano Op. 47 (1949)