An Evaluation of Traditional and Innovatory Approaches in Arnold Schoenberg's <i>Verklarte</i> <i>Nacht</i> and 'Nacht' from <i>Pierrot Lunaire</i>

Yalciner I.

MUSICOLOGIST, vol.7, no.2, pp.213-237, 2023 (ESCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 7 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.33906/musicologist.1069010
  • Journal Name: MUSICOLOGIST
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.213-237
  • Anadolu University Affiliated: Yes


This study analyzes Arnold Schoenberg's particular perspective on tradition and innovation. Verklarte Nacht (1899), which he composed in his tonal period and which thus has a more traditional character, and Pierrot Lunaire (1912), from his 'free' atonal period, are discussed to illustrate the composer's different approaches. This article aims to show that these approaches do not represent two separate periods but rather create a single style and can be understood as mutually related within the composer's output. Schoenberg's Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4 and Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21, No. 8 will be interpreted in the context of tradition-innovation relations by means of descriptive analysis and literature review, and in the context of wider tradition and innovation relations in his other works. It is observed that the composer still adhered to 19th-century traditions at some points; however, as he himself argued, it is unrealistic to force Schoenberg into a specific mould. When examining the different compositional periods of the composer, it is possible to discern diverse features. It should be noted that the traditionalist and innovative tendencies in the composer's works are not distinguished as easily as may be thought, and that the composer should not be evaluated in terms of degrees of complexity. Results show that Schoenberg was not a composer who adhered to any one theory or technique, but rather a versatile composer. Describing him as a traditionalist on one hand or a radical innovator on the other does him a disservice.