Special Exhibition
7 May – 13 September 2004

An exhibition in collaboration of the Arnold Schönberg Center and the University of Applied Arts Vienna and Wiener Festwochen

The chess board has 10 x 10 squares. This chess is played by four players: yellow and black are super powers, red and green are lesser powers. Each player is assigned space for formation. Pilots, canons and machine guns are ready for the offensive – the goal: to overthrow the king. By inventing a coalition chess at the beginning of the 1920’s, Arnold Schönberg threw out the rules of chess; with his invention of a “method of composing with twelve tones which are related only with one another,” he toppled the established and traditional rules of Western music.

Schönberg’s urge for expression was not driven by a desire to attain a “greater or lesser degree of beauty” of traditional understanding, but rather by the impulse of “inner necessity.” With the twelve-tone method, a visionary plan for construction of future compositional order, Schönberg laid the cornerstone of what was to be the emancipation of traditional hierarchical organizing principles for 20th century music. This pivotal way of thinking, emerging as it did in the years from 1918 onwards, was historically consistent with a time of collapse and new beginnings in political and social hierarchies in Vienna of the First Republic. The claim for hegemony was the impetus behind the Twelve-tone Method (or Dodecaphony), for the visionary Schönberg understood the significance for the future of his creative innovations.

The exhibition will show original manuscripts for all of Schönberg’s twelve-tone works in the archival legacy, from autograph sketches to holograph fair copies of scores. These give insight into Schönberg’s musical world and, above all, demonstrate the connection between artistic and structural ideas and the conscious will for form and expression. The legendary twelve-tone artifacts, designs for furniture, as well as games created by Schönberg, his “inventions,” such as a typewriter for musical notation, his tennis notation, and coalition chess all serve to enhance a view of a complex compositional œuvre, which distinguishes itself through its use of the strictest construction and playful association with the musical material.