View Poll Results: Whose Music Do You Prefer: Schoenberg or Bartok?

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  • I prefer Bartok's

    42 53.85%
  • I prefer Schoenberg's

    9 11.54%
  • Both equally

    13 16.67%
  • I dislike both

    3 3.85%
  • I don't know one or both well enough to decide

    0 0%
  • I am indifferent to them, I seldom listen to their music

    6 7.69%
  • I have not listened to any of either or both

    0 0%
  • I hate ArtMusic's polls

    9 11.54%
  • Who cares

    3 3.85%
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Thread: Whose Music Do You Prefer: Schoenberg or Bartok?

  1. #1
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    Default Whose Music Do You Prefer: Schoenberg or Bartok?

    Schoenberg's exploration of continuities between tradition and innovation (i.e. atonality) provided persuasive evidence of the power of tonality to retain a positive role even in the much less stable harmonic contexts of music since 1900.

    Béla Bartók was one of many composers active during the first half of the 20th century to explore such continuities, and his Concerto for Orchestra (1943, later revised in 1945) came at the end of a career devoted to a remarkably resourceful modernist rethinking (at that time of the mid-20th century) of the elements of tonality.

    Both were contemporaries, Schoenberg was active between 1874 to 1951 and Bartok was active between 1881 to 1945. The mid-20th century was a pivotal time for the history of classical music.

    That aside, whose music to you prefer?

  2. #2
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    I prefer Bartok's music, which I think is more accessible than Schoenberg's considering, both wrote extensively in atonal music.

    Here is Bartok's Viola Concerto (1945).


    Versus Schoenberg's Violin Concerto composed about a decade earlier in 1934 or so.

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  4. #3
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    I prefer Bartok, but I like Schoenberg as well:

    Works I like from Bartok:
    String Quartets (all 6)
    Concerto for Orchestra
    Cantata Profana
    Piano Concerto Nos. 1 and 2
    Out of Doors
    Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta
    Viola Concerto
    Violin Duos
    The Miraculous Mandarin
    Piano sonata
    Divertimento for Strings

    Works I like from Schoenberg
    Moses und Aron
    Chamber Symphonies
    Five Pieces for Orchestra
    Piano Concerto
    Gurrelieder
    After Handel
    Orchestration of Brahms' First Piano Quartet
    String Quartets nos. 3 and 4
    Variations for Orchestra
    Jacob's Ladder
    Violin Concerto

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  6. #4
    Senior Member HenryPenfold's Avatar
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    Dear sirs

    I voted 'both equally', although I don't know how I can prefer Bartok to Schoenberg and Schoenberg to Bartok in an equal way.

    Yours

    confused

    London April 2021
    My new year's resolution is to buy less new music and listen more to the absolutely STUPID amount of music I already have.

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  8. #5
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    I voted for Schoenberg because I think that Schoenberg was such a great craftsman, had a more powerful and revolutionary vision, and was also a more powerful teacher and influence. Berg and Webern were so devoted to Schoenberg, that the three practically come as a set that are often programmed together on LPs and CDs: The Music of Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern. The names come together like a Vienna Law firm. Then you have all the other composers who went full-blown serial or adopted a near-serial method of atonal expression: Messiaen, Dallapiccola, Berio, Boulez, Sessions, Carter, Takemitsu; as well as, composers such as Stravinsky and Copland who jumped on the serial bandwagon late in their careers, or Bernstein and Rochberg who occasionally used serial elements within works that were otherwise tonal. Likewise, if we are to believe the words of Testimony to be accurate, even Dmitry Shostakovich identified Schoenberg's disciples, Berg and Webern among his favorite composers, and Shostakovich worked in a style that was basically tonal and traditional compared to what others of his times were doing.

    Works I like by Schoenberg are Transfigured Night, which is NOT serial. Also, I like Survivor from Warsaw and Moses and Aaron, both full scale 12-tone works that are very powerful, emotionally. The Serenade is also a favorite of mine, and for a serial composition it is actually a bit easy-going and quite listenable, and demonstrates that master craftsmanship I was talking about earlier.

    Now Bartok is also a very fine composer, roughly a contemporary of Schoenberg, and both escaped Europe and the Nazis and ended up here in the USA, where I wonder if they ever bumped into one another. As an influence, Bartok is the opposite of Schoenberg, leaving no dedicated disciples or heavy impact on the music scene that followed into the post-World War II era. Still, Bartok, is widely popular, curiously "Modern" but still fairly accessible to the masses. I read in a biography of the concert cellist, Jacqueline DuPre, that when asked about "Modern" music, she said that "Bartok is about as far as I go." Even so, there are some Bartok pieces that do get kind of thorny despite his basically tonal center.

    I think of Bartok as the last of the great Nationalist composers. The were many great Nationalistic composers who relied heavily on the folk music and folklore of their native lands, among them: Janacek, Smetana, Grieg, Dvorak, and Rimsky-Korsakov. Though not usually identified as a "Nationalist" you could probably throw Tchaikovsky in there too, as despite a more cosmopolitan approach, the "Russian" in Tchaikovsky is integral. And what about Vaughan Williams whose style is also intertwined with English folk music? As different as Ives is from any of those (and as different as Ives is from any other composer in general), Ives can't be enjoyed without entering his American, Yankee/New England world of sound. There were many, many other American composers such as Copland, Virgil Thomson, Randall Thompson, William Schuman, Lukas Foss, Roy Harris and others who tried to create an "Americana" sound, which though very enjoyable, I think of as more-or-less contrived.

    But I think that Bartok is the one that takes the incorporation of folk-elements to the limits of Modernism. He doesn't quote anything directly but it's all in the undercurrent of the music, and I while I think that the more popular Bartok works such as Concerto for Orchestra and Music for Percussion, Celeste and Strings what I really like by Bartok are the six String Quartets where everything becomes more abstract and is boiled down to just a few instruments. You don't hear the gypsy violin or see the Hungarian folk dancers but the colors remain.

    download - 2021-04-22T080540.895.jpeg download - 2021-04-22T080708.024.jpeg

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  10. #6
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    I prefer Schoenberg. Though I'm not huge on either.

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    Like both, forced to choose would go with Bartok

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    Both in my top 5. Schoenberg told a student that Bartok was the 2nd greatest living composer (did he see himself as No. 1? Don't know). Bartok was a large influence on Ligeti. Agree with Coach G that Bartok was not as revolutionary as Schoenberg.

    From an article:
    In 1942, Bartók told an audience at Harvard University that he’d had an epiphany about the compression of diatonic melodies into chromatic melodies, a realization that composition is more about evolution than revolution. “When I first used the device of extending chromatic melodies into diatonic form, or vice-versa, I thought I invented something absolutely new, which never yet existed,” he said. “And now I see that an absolutely identical principle exists in Dalmatia [in modern-day Croatia] since heaven knows how long a time, maybe for many centuries.”
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Oh, shucks, I don't have time for an insightful comment, but in a contest, I would choose most of Bartok over Schoenberg (I can't get into the Mikrokosmos), but it's very close. It's a visceral thing more than compositional.

    A lot of people complain about Schoenberg's dodecacophony. It is true that Schoenberg wrote a lot of thorny music, but he also wrote very beautiful tonal music, and he even made arrangements of other composers' tonal music.

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  16. #10
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    I like Bartok, the string quartets, the Sonata for two pianos and percussion .... I can't think of any other works off the top of my head. I respect Schoenberg more than like his music. I voted for Schoenberg based on my affection for his op. 11 piano pieces - but that is a small meal.

    Neither composer figures large in my listening.

  17. #11
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    2 of my favorite composers, no doubt. I think I listen to Bartók more because his highlights are much better than Schoenberg's. Those are: the miraculous mandarin; the wooden prince; duke bluebeard's castle; music for strings, percussion and celesta; the sonata for two pianos and percussion; the concerto for orchestra; the six incredible string quartets (which tied with Beethoven's cycle for the first spot on a recent game in this forum for the best string quartet composers); and many many more. Schoenberg has many works that I love, but not head over heels as with some of the works by Bartók that I listed. But that's also something that works in Schoenberg's favor: there are no works by him that I find uninteresting or uncaptivating, whereas Bartók has his fair share of those, albeit they're few of course.

    On the question of influence (which doesn't influence my regard for any composer), I want to dispute this notion that Bartók is not so influential: on the contrary I think he is among those composers who want to be adventurous, but don't want to align themselves with any dogma, that is the case of Ligeti, but it could also be the case for (off the top of my head) a Rautavaara, or composers who are "modern" but not serialist, or, let's say, "extremists". Of course Schoenberg founded a whole school of disciples and also a school of thought, and in that he has Bartók beat, no question about it, but let's not downsize Bartók's figure in this matter. Also, influences are most frequently indirect, and in that, I think Bartók has the upper hand over Schoenberg.

  18. #12
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    I like lots of pieces by Schoenberg - the piano music, Verklarte Nacht, Chamber Symphonies, Pierrot Lunaire, Variations for Orchestra, concerti, and Moses und Aron - and find him a more accessible composer than he is often made out to be, though I prefer Berg and Webern within the 2VC. However, Bartok is one of my absolute favorites, composing my favorite string quartet cycle of the 20th century, one of my favorite operas, orchestral works (Music for SPC) and some truly outstanding violin and piano concerti. Also, he was the composer that opened up my ears to more modern soundscapes, and I will be forever grateful for that.
    "If we understood the world, we would realize that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances." - Jean Sibelius

    "Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere." - G.K. Chesterton

    "Ceaseless work, analysis, reflection, writing much, endless self-correction, that is my secret." - Johann Sebastian Bach

  19. #13
    Senior Member chu42's Avatar
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    I like Schoenberg. But Bartok is probably my favorite composer of the 20th century, next to Ligeti.

    Quote Originally Posted by ArtMusic View Post
    I prefer Bartok's music, which I think is more accessible than Schoenberg's considering, both wrote extensively in atonal music.
    Another instance of ArtMusic not knowing what he is talking about! This is happening very frequently.

    Bartok wrote almost no atonal music if any at all. He dealt with extended tonality, folk music, and metatonality.
    Last edited by chu42; Apr-22-2021 at 15:42.

  20. #14
    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chu42 View Post
    I like Schoenberg. But Bartok is probably my favorite composer of the 20th century, next to Ligeti.



    Another instance of ArtMusic not knowing what he is talking about! This is happening very frequently.

    Bartok wrote almost no atonal music if any at all. He dealt with extended tonality, folk music, and metatonality.
    Over the last two decades, maybe longer, there has been school of thought that teaches that there is no such thing as "atonality." They base this idea on the fact that the hallmark of tonality was the resolution of dissonance. However, atonal works also revolve around resolution, not from dissonance to consonance, but from heightened instability to more relative stability. Or to put it another way from relative hard dissonance to softer dissonance.

  21. #15
    Senior Member mbhaub's Avatar
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    I like the early works of both: Bartok's Kossuth and Schoenberg's Pelleas und Melisande are just wonderful music. But as they progressed, Bartok I still like: Bluebeard, Concerto for Orchestra, Wooden Prince, piano concertos and more. As Schoenberg went on I like his works less and less: Pierrot Lunaire is godawful, so is Survivor in Warsaw. Some of the music is interesting, but that's all I can say for it. The best thing he wrote after Gurrelieder is the arrangement of the Brahms op. 25 quartet.
    "It is surprising how easily one can become used to bad music" - F. Mendelssohn

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