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Theory of Harmony (Harmonielehre) By Arnold Schoenberg


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This translation of Schoenberg’s largest and most important treatise is well-focused, expansive, reflective, and wittily down-to-earth. The heart and soul of the book is to be found in Schoenberg’s vivid and penetrating digressions–they are the fascinating reflections of a great and humane musician.

There are good reasons for today’s musicians and performers, composers and listeners to revisit Theory of Harmony aside from its value as an historical document: in addition to the insight it affords into the (musical) development of one of modern music’s most important figures, it sets ground rules which have yet to be superseded for this area of the interface between theory and aesthetics. Its tone kept the informality of its roots… in the teaching (and the learning – as the book’s celebrated first sentence attests) which Schoenberg undertook in Vienna in the early years of the last century.

Schoenberg’s approach, both in terms of harmony and development, is among the major landmarks of 20th-century musical thought; at least three generations of composers in the European and American traditions have consciously extended his thinking or, in some cases, passionately reacted against it.

I have included Schoenberg’s complete forward in the samples. Give it a read then grab an immeidate 350+ page PDF download above.

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