Analyzing Schoenberg's War Compositions as Satire and Sincerity: A Comparative Analysis of Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte and A Survivor from Warsaw

Joon Park
2020 Music Theory Online  
This paper presents a comparative analysis of Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte op. 41 (1942) and A Survivor from Warsaw op. 46 (1947) to show that Schoenberg's compositional decisions for each piece reflect the public's (and his) change of attitude regarding the historical events surrounding World War II. In particular, I argue that Ode frequently features humorous depiction of the Nazi regime through various types of musical satire whereas Survivor's overall compositional planning and execution are
more » ... and execution are more in line with his other compositions without a satirical tone, for example, the String Trio op. 45. The analyses in this paper show humorous elements in Schoenberg's Ode to Napoleon and demonstrate how these elements are avoided in Survivor from Warsaw to make space for the sincere criticism of the Nazi party and to raise awareness for the survivors. I begin by interpreting satirical passages in Ode as instances of incongruent juxtapositions and then examine the different ways the incongruence manifests. I then discuss the leitmotivic partitioning of various twelve-tone row forms in Survivor to show the compositional congruence between the text, musical textures, and partitioning schemes. Given the change of compositional mood between Ode and Survivor (in addition to the historical evidence), this paper speculates that Schoenberg's motivation for composing Survivor was to rectify the narrative tone he adopted in Ode.
doi:10.30535/mto.26.4.5 fatcat:yq6ay2uatrb6vjldhfz5m6moue