Stravinsky vs. Schoenberg: Who Was More Gangsta?
[Editor's note: Deathmatch pairs two artists who have something in common, and determines who is better. It's a concept we sort-of ripped off from MTV, except that instead of claymation it's the printed word!]
In the left corner--Igor Stravinsky! In the right--Arnold Schoenberg! Geeeet rrrrrready to ruuuuuuumblllllle!
Towering classical music geniuses Igor Stravinsky and Arnold Schoenberg were pitted against each other as the two great rivals of the 20th century. But who was really better? The dour Austrian professor who emancipated dissonance (Schoenberg), or the tiny Russian conductor who lifted other composers' musical styles like a kleptomaniac (Stravinsky)? Let's compare them point by point.
Point: StravinskyWhose music is better known? Schoenberg and his pupils believed his 12-tone music would become commonplace, even among children, but last time I checked my nieces weren't humming selections from Moses und Aron.
Stravinsky's Firebird, meanwhile, can be heard at every goddamn Delta Air checkpoint line in the country. Igor's music was featured on Broadway, at the circus, and in Disney's Fantasia. The closest Arnie ever got to writing soundtracks was his Accompaniment Music, op. 34--for an imaginary film. Weak sauce.
Point: StravinskyWho was more original?
The Schoenster got rid of those wimpy major and minor chords in his harmonies, writing the first atonal music. He wrote pieces only nine bars long. He wrote music where the timbres of the instruments were more important than chords or melody, a device he called "sound color melody."
Stravinsky smashed rhythm in a hadron collider and reassembled the smallest particles in ways never heard before. He also remixed composers like Tchaikovsky and Pergolesi, decades before Jamaican producers and disco DJs pushed their first faders.