Sedimentations: Some Thoughts on Schoenberg’s Musical Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene

David Ryan


This article examines Arnold Schoenberg’s Begleitmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene of 1930. This, essentially, is a soundtrack in search of a film (no film was actually created with it in mind), and clearly speaks of Schoenberg’s bleak premonitions of the coming decade with its cue titles of ‘threatening fear’ – ‘danger’ – and ‘catastrophe’. The article further explores Schoenberg’s music in relation to the musical/ cinematic practices of his day. This leads to a discussion of Jean-Marie Straub and Danielle Huillet’s utilization of the score from 1973 which uses film as a self-reflexive device to explore the personal, cultural and the political. Having received permission  to create a new film for this piece (currently in planning) the author of this article hopes to explore how the cities of Vienna and Berlin might form a visual hinge through which to view the tumultuous exile of the composer from Vienna to Berlin and on to the USA after the rise of National Socialism in 1933. Like Straub and Huillet the author aims to use, and discuss, the potential of film to map the historical onto the present.

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This journal is published by the University Library System, University of Pittsburgh

ISSN 2159-2411 (print) 2158-8724 (online)