Department of Music to present symposium and concert dedicated to the work of Arnold Schönberg Feb. 24

Events to explore composer’s influence on Wassily Kandinsky; include the rarely performed *Herzgewächse* for soprano

In 1912, the painters Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc published their Blaue Reiter Almanac, a revolutionary journal of art, literature and music. Notably, the journal included a new musical composition by Viennese composer Arnold Schönberg titled Herzgewächse (Foliage of the Heart), written expressly for this publication.

Yet over the years, relatively few public performances of Herzgewächse have taken place, due to its unusual instrumentation (high soprano, celesta, harp and harmonium) as well as the extreme demands the piece makes on sopranos, who must sing at the top of their registers. (Indeed, the premiere scheduled for 1912 had to be cancelled because of performers’ difficulties with the work; its first hearing occurred sixteen years later, in 1928.)

On Feb. 24, Washington University’s will present a symposium and concert dedicated to Schönberg’s work, with particular focus on his relationship with Kandinsky and the Expressionists. A highlight of the event will be a rare performance of Herzgewächse by students and faculty in the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences.

Schedule of Events

The symposium, titled “Schönberg and the Blaue Reiter Almanac,” will take place from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, in the university’s Alumni House.

Gerald N. Izenberg, Ph.D., professor of history in Arts & Sciences, will speak on “Painting Like Music: How Schönberg’s Atonalism Midwifed Kandinsky’s Abstraction.” Pianist and historian Bonny Hough Miller, Ph.D., will speak on “Sounding the Soul: Schönberg, Herzgewächse and the Blaue Reiter Almanac.”

At 8 p.m., music students and faculty will be joined by members of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra for a concert of “Chamber Works of Arnold Schönberg” in the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum’s Steinberg Hall.

The performance of Herzgewächse will feature soprano Megan Higgins, who holds a master’s degree in vocal performance from Washington University. Jared Hartt, a doctoral student in the Department of Music, will play the harmonium. Harpist for the concert is Sue Taylor, Ph.D., who teaches in the department. Hough Miller is celestist.

Also on the program will be Schönberg’s Four Songs, Op. 2, sung by soprano Emily Heslop, a member of the staff of Gaylord Music Library; and Three Piano Pieces, Op. 11, performed by Martin Kennedy, assistant professor of theory and composition.

Four members of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, including Silvian Iticovici — also an instructor in violin for the Department of Music — will join soprano Tamara Miller-Campbell for String Quartet No. 2 with voice.

Both the symposium and the concert are free and open to the public and are made possible with assistance from the Department of Comparative Literature in Arts & Sciences. Alumni House is located on Wallace Drive near the intersection with Forsyth Boulevard. Steinberg Hall is located near the intersection of Forsyth and Skinker boulevards.

For more information, call (314) 935-4841 or email

Arnold Schönberg

Although his pioneering works were composed almost 100 years ago, segments of the musical world still shudder at the mention of the compositions of Arnold Schönberg (1874-1951). Along with his renowned students Alban Berg and Anton Webern, who make up what is labeled the “Second Viennese School” (distinguished from the classical Viennese school of Haydn and Mozart), Schönberg proceeded down a path initiated by Richard Wagner and furthered by Claude Debussy and others in the latter 19th century, in which the language of music became more chromatic, creating a blurred sense of key, or tonal center.

By 1907, with the composition of his String Quartet no. 2, op. 10, Schönberg had formulated his atonal approach to harmony, resulting in greater amounts of unresolved dissonance; abandonment of traditional harmonic progressions; less emphasis on melodic content; and the loss of a strict rhythmic pulse or beat.

The music of the Second Viennese School coincided with the Expressionist movement — the paintings of Kandinsky, Marc and Oskar Kokoschka; the poetry of Georg Trakl — to generate an artistic trend approaching full bloom in the second decade of the 20th century. Eventually, Schönberg’s compositional style would evolve into one that lessens even further the hierarchy of musical pitches in a work, yielding what is now labeled “12-tone” or “dodecaphonic” music.


WHO: Washington University Department of Music in Arts & Sciences

WHAT: Symposium and concert on work of Arnold Schönberg

WHEN: Symposium: 2:30 to 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24; Concert: 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24

WHERE: Symposium: Alumni House; Concert: Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Steinberg Hall

COST: Free

INFORMATION: (314) 935-4841 or