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Object #9 / Arnold Schönberg: Expectation, op. 2/1

Text: Richard Dehmel
August 9, 1899

Arnold Schönberg Center, Wien

As in the string sextet “Verklärte Nacht” [Transfigured Night], the text for Schönberg’s song “Erwartung” [Expectation] – which was written at almost the same time – originates from the volume of poetry entitled “Weib und Welt” [Woman and World] by Richard Dehmel. This love poem is embedded in natural scenery, spatially enclosed, and full of heavy symbolism. Colors are decorative material elements on the one hand, and their relationship with one another also creates a dimension that determines the expression. The natural setting and the interconnection of nature and human being are characteristic of Jugendstil aesthetics. The woman’s image is in the background, yet she is the main protagonist: her dark image is visible in the sea-green pond, and when the man kisses her, his eyes shine “like the sea-green depths” in which she is reflected. The basic sonority and essence of the song are the three opening piano chords, which can possibly be interpreted as a reference to the mirroring in the text.

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