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Glossary: Expressionism

German Expressionism Art Literature Film Music

Expressionism in Music

While some classify the composer Arnold Schoenberg as an Expressionist because of his contribution to the Blaue Reiter almanac, musical Expressionism seems to have found its most natural outlet in opera. Among early examples of such Expressionist works are Paul Hindemith's operatic settings of Kokoschka's proto-Expressionist drama, Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen (1919), and August Stramm's Sancta Susanna (1922). Most outstanding of the Expressionist operas, however, are two by Alban Berg: Wozzeck, performed in 1925, and Lulu, which was not performed in its entirety until 1979.

The decline of Expressionism was hastened by the vagueness of its longing for a better world, by its use of highly poetic language, and in general the intensely personal and inaccessible nature of its mode of presentation. The partial reestablishment of stability in Germany after 1924 and the growth of more overtly political styles of social realism hastened the movement's decline in the late 1920s. Expressionism was definitively killed by the advent of the Nazis to power in 1933. They branded the work of almost all Expressionists as degenerate and forbade them to exhibit or publish and eventually even to work. Many Expressionists went into exile in the United States and other countries.

Source:

"Expressionism" Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
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