Tonight, Let's Fight Over Schoenberg in the Lobby of Benaroya
by Jen Graves
on Fri, Feb 15, 2013 at 10:37 AM
It's time! Tickets are 17 bucks, showtime is 10 pm, things kick off with a bass trombone concerto (!), and the last time Seattle Symphony gave its buttoned-down, liberatory version of a late-night concert, it was sparklingly packed and sold out, plus nobody has a neutral reaction to this music...
"The most ear-splitting combination of tones that ever desecrated the walls of a Berlin concert hall," one critic wrote at the Berlin world premiere [of Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire] on October 16, 1912. There was whistling and at least one person laughing and jeering. Yet another witness declared it "an unqualified success."
It tore New York down the middle when it arrived nine years later, at the (wonderfully named) Klaw Theatre. It "disrupted families, severed lifelong friendships, incited critics to unbrotherly remarks about one another, and filled whole pages in the Sunday music sections of the newspapers," Lawrence Gilman wrote. The New York Times' morning-after reviewer wrote, "There were other compositions, also said to be musical, associated with it on the program" (emphasis mine). More critical response from New York: "To many the music is an indelicate sort of intolerable ugliness, lacking in the first elements that make music. To others it was the evangel of a new art, tidings of great joy.