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MY WAR YEARS: ARNOLD SCHOENBERG

Germany, 1992 (MIFF 1993, Documentaries)

Director: Larry Weinstein

Few musicians have been more revered, and at the same time, more despised, more controversial, more discussed, and ultimately more influential than Arnold Schoenberg.

This adventurous, and beautifully recreated, docu-drama centres around the explosive years of 1904 to 1923 when Schoenberg, little by little, began to abandon tonality in his music (later developing his revolutionary method of composing with all 12 notes of the chromatic scale). To contemporary ears, his music from the Vienna years, (for example, Tiansfigured Night) is sublime. However the stormy rage expressed by audiences at his concerts, and the insulting attacks of contemptuous music critiques drove Schoenberg into increasing isolation and bitter poverty — often the fate of those destined to introduce radical ideas into a conservative world.

Interweaving documentary and dramatic technique, the filmmakers have taken great delight in capturing the flavour of those remarkable times, provocatively creating an 'Arts programme' as it might have been envisioned in 1923!

Archival footage, rare photographs and dramatic re-enactments, with friends and enemies come back from the grave to speak directly to the camera — in the form of 'interviews' and 'Schoenberg's home movies' — combine to paint a portrait of the composer that will ensure the scandal will never cease.

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