Example Assignment

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Schoenberg and his Critics

1).        Go to: http://dukeu.naxosmusiclibrary.com.proxy.lib.duke.edu/

Enter your NetID

In the search field, type “Schoenberg Op. 16”

Choose any recording of Schoenberg’s Five Pieces for Orchestra (Fünf Orchesterstücke in German) Op. 16.

Listen to movement 1, title “Premonitions” or “Vorgefühle.” It should be about 2:15 in length.


2.)        Write a short reaction to the movement. It need not be in complete sentences – nobody will read this except you. Consider the following questions:

  • What were you expecting to hear?
  • What elements did you like or dislike?
  • Were you interested in hearing the other four movements?
  • If you had to write a concert review for your peers, what would you include in your article?
  • Based on this short listening, what would you infer about the composer?
  • If you had written this piece of music, how would you describe it to your potential audience so that they would want to attend your concert?


3.)        Read:

– Schoenberg, Arnold. “About Music Criticism.” 1909.

– “Promenade Concert: An Essay in Dissonance.” London Times. 4 September 1912.

– Huneker, James. “Schoenberg, Musical Anarchist, Who Has Upset Europe.” New York Times. 19 Jan 1913.

-Lebrecht, Norman. “Why We’re Still Afraid of Schoenberg.” La Scena Musicale. 8 July 2001.


-Pincus, Andrew. “Who’s Afraid of Schoenberg.” Berkshire Eagle. 10 April 2012.



4.)        Think:

  • Who is the author of each sample?
  • What is their main point?
  • What are their motivations for their argument?
  • Are they convincing?


5.)        Listen to Five Pieces for Orchestra Op. 16 movement 1 again. Do you still have the same reaction? What has changed for you?