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Thursday 10 - 15
Closed on legal holidays.
Museum with permanent exhibition
Arnold Schönberg’s residence in Mödling (1918 – 1925), where he conceived a new method of composition, is being called the “birthplace of twelve-tone music.” A permanent exhibition with pictures, panels, video and audio stations, as well as original furniture and music instruments presents Schönberg’s life and work, his Mödling period and the history of the Schönberg-House.
Adults Eur 3; discount Eur 1,50
10 % discount: members of Club Ö1
Children under 12 have free admission.
Guided tours for group-visits and other opening hours: (+ 43 1) 712 18 88-31
Schönberg and Mödling
1896 - 1898
Arnold Schönberg’s first documented connection to Mödling dates from 1896 when he took over the direction of the Worker’s Male Chorus “Freisinn” (formed in 1893), after he had quit his job as a bank employee at Werner & Co. in Vienna. According to his son Georg´s (1906–1974) account, Schönberg always walked part of the way from Vienna to Mödling because the job paid so little that he couldn’t afford to take the train both ways.
Although the Glee-Club performances in Mödling were extremely successful – supposedly 350 to 1,000 people attended – they were threatened with being disbanded because of their questionable politics. Some of the texts of the compositions even had to be rewritten after the Austrian imperial authorities intervened. Along with choirs by Johannes Brahms, arrangements of works by Strauß and German folksongs, the programmes consisted mainly of patriotic songs, soldier’s songs and hymns to freedom. “Afterwards, a dance followed that lasted until the next morning.” (Mödlinger Bezirks-Bote, 8 January 1899)
Performances took place in Hotel Eisenbahn as well as in Hotel Bieglerhütte, where the last Male chorus meeting with Arnold Schönberg’s participation took place on New Year’s Eve 1898 and was deemed “a satisfactory performance.” Egon Wellesz, who was Schönberg’s first biographer and one of his students, reported in 1921 about something Schönberg experienced following one of those choral evenings, which demonstrates a relationship between Mödling and the composition of a part of the Gurreliedern: “After a night in Spring spent partying with the Mödling Male chorus, he climbed the nearby Anninger mountain. Hiking through the forest that was covered with early morning fog and then watching the sun rise, inspired his version of the melodram ‘Des Sommerwindes wilde Jagd’ in the third part, and the final chorus, ‘Seht die Sonne.’
In July and August, he lived in the house of the parents of his childhod friend, David Josef Bach at the Brühlerstraße 104. At that time he was working on a commission of the Publisher, Josef Weinberger, and parallel to his brother-in-law, Alexander Zemlinsky, to prepare the instrumentation and piano reduction of Robert Fischhof’s opera, “Bergkönig,” which was published in the following year with the title, “Ingeborg.” But this was also a time of working on his own compositions such as the First String Quartet in D minor, op.7 and the Six Songs for Voice and Orchestra, op.8: “I started a new song for orchestra (the fourth one). I believe it will be very good! (...) I’ve had to leave my quartet. But maybe I’ll get around to it too. Unfortunately, I have to devise a lean Fischhof for the piano and a fat one for the orchestra! I recently said that if someday a memorial plaque like you often see in the country, were to be placed on this house for me, it would have to say ‘he did the instrumentation here’ instead of the usual ‘he composed here...’” (Letter to Oscar C. Posa, dated 13 July 1904)
With the help of Baroness Pascotini (“Aunt” Olga), whom Schönberg’s parents had taken in as an orphan and, who lived at Schillerstraße 22 in Mödling, Schönberg was able to find an apartment for his family at Bernhardgasse 6, for the monthly rent of 200 Crowns. The furniture was already moved in January and Schönberg reported to his brother-in-law, Zemlinsky, on 1 April, “We’re in Mödling but without a maid! (Ohn=Mädling)!”
“Schönberg has another magnificent idea (...) to establish a society that sets itself the task of performing for its members every week musical works from the period ‘Mahler to the present.’” (Alban Berg to his wife, Helene, 1 July 1918) The idea for the "Society for Private Musical Performances" was conceived in Mödling and the society founded the following November. The general meeting in December that established the Society created a board with Schönberg as president and 19 members from his Viennese circle of friends and students. The Society set standards not only as a haven for innovation but also for its unconventional structure. The precise program was kept secret (“to assure a uniformity of audience size”); works were repeated; the Society concerts were not public; both applause and booing were prohibited – all in order to “provide artists and art lovers with a genuine and accurate acquaintance with modern music.” For rehearsals and Society concerts, which were held in the Konzerthaus, the Musikverein, the Festsaal des Kaufmännischen Vereins as well as in the Klub österreichischer Eisenbahnbeamter, the Schwarzwald School and the Festsaal des Ingenieur- und Architektenvereins, Schönberg’s Mödling harmonium was often brought to Vienna.
Along with his activities at the Schwarzwald School (until 1920), he also gave private instruction in the Bernhardgasse after moving to Mödling. More than 100 students studied compo-sition with him at that time including Alban Berg and Anton Webern, Max Deutsch, Hanns Eisler, Hanns Jelinek, Fritz H. Klein, Rudolf Kolisch, Paul Amadeus Pisk, Josef Polnauer, Karl Rankl, Erwin Ratz, Josef Rufer, Rudolf Serkin and Viktor Ullmann. “He often took long walks to the Anninger on Sundays with Webern, who also moved to Mödling in 1918. Berg and his wife, as well as other friends and students visited him regularly. The apartment was located on the first floor (Hochparterre) and consisted of a number of rooms. Eventually, father remodeled the bathroom, the entrance hall, and the glassed-in veranda. He had his own study, where there was a piano, a harmonium, violins, a viola and a cello, as well as his entire library and a desk; he worked at a standing pult.” (Georg Schönberg, 1971)
His students traveled on the electrical or steam-engine streetcar to Mödling but they also walked there during the days after the war when trains went at irregular intervals. Max Deutsch described the situation in a television documentary in 1970: “We hiked the 15 kilometers on foot, going there and back on the same day, to be able to study with Schönberg. He taught us as a group at least twice a week. Schönberg sat at the piano and we stood in a semicircle in back of him and gave him our compositions which he then corrected and discussed.”
Arnold Schönberg left his home in Mödling in the following years for numerous concert tours in other countries, as well as for summer vacation at Traunkirchen in the province of Upper Austria. The conditions for participating in his composition classes for a period of at least six months were specified accordingly. The students “could only expect to have an average of seven hours of instruction a month” because he “is unable to be present for classes from time to time due to trips or rehearsals.”
In March, begins work on a Passacaglia for Orchestra (fragment) and arranges the Five Orchestral Pieces, op. 16, for chamber orchestra, for the “Society for Private Musical Performances.” In July, composes the first two Piano Pieces, op. 23, and sketches No. 4. In August, begins composition of the Serenade, op. 24.
Along with the circle of his students, he had visitors from other countries, such as Francis Poulenc and Darius Milhaud, both members of the Groupe-de-Six. “He invited us to his home in Mödling near Vienna. We had a wonderful afternoon there. (...) Schönberg spoke in detail about his work, especially about his operas, ‘Glückliche Hand’ and ‘Erwartung,’ the score of which I had just bought. (...) The walls of his apartment were full of pictures that he had painted himself: Faces and eyes, everywhere eyes!”(Milhaud about his visit in June 1922)
In February, drafts the opening of a violin concerto. Sketches for two pieces for chamber ensemble (March and May) remain equally fragmentary. Orchestral arrangements of Bach’s Chorale Prelude “Komm, Gott, Schöpfer, heiliger Geist” (“Come, God, Creator, Holy ghost,” end of April in Mödling).
In November started work on “Gerpa,” Theme and Variations for horn, piano, two violins and harmonium (breaks off after the fourth variation), which Schönberg conceived for himself and his son Georg, who studied horn. “Lied der Waldtaube” (“Song of the Wooddove”) from “Gurrelieder,” Version for Chamber Orchestra and Voice (completion of written copy on 14 December in Mödling).
Arnold Schönberg's composition classes in Mödling achieved historic importance with the development of the “Method of Composing with Twelve Tones Which are Related Only with One Another,” which he first used in the waltz from the Piano Pieces, op.23, the Serenade, op.24, the Suite for Piano, op.25, and the Quintet for Winds, op.26. “When Arnold Schönberg gathered together some friends and pupils in his house in Mödling on a February morning in 1923, to talk about the basic ideas of his method and to demonstrate them with some examples from his latest compositions, a new chapter in the history of music began.” (Josef Polnauer in his speech on the occasion of the unveiling of a memorial plaque at the Schönberg house, 1959)
After the death of his wife, Mathilde, on 18 October 1923, Schönberg was planning to move to Vienna because he found the apartment in the Bernhardgasse “not only too small but also too far out of town.” He shared the apartment with his son, Georg, his daughter, Trudi, her husband, Felix Greissle, and their son, Arnold, who was born there in 1923. He explained the reasons that made moving to Vienna necessary in a request addressed to the Vienna Municipal Senator, Anton Weber, dated 28 December 1923: “My apartment has become too small; a) I don’t have a sitting room; b) I need another bed-room; c) my study (which also has to be used as a bed-room!) isn’t large enough to keep all the books, music and musical instruments that I need and is completely unsuited for holding rehearsals. (...) We have 7 rooms altogether, which doesn’t go beyond the legal limits since we are 5 inhabitants, but 3 of them have to use the apartment to practice their profession.” Senator Weber and the mayor (“the current ‘Super Snob’ of Vienna,” Schönberg to Zemlinsky) turned down the request. The composer was informed that he should try to find his own private solution because there are “certain people, who would be glad to move from Vienna to Mödling if they only knew of a suitable apartment.”
In January, Schönberg conducted a benefit concert at the request of the Mödling municipal government to help “Germans in distress.” It was such a big success, that it had to be repeated. The program included parts of the “Gurrelieder,” the orchestral version of “Verklärte Nacht” of 1917, as well as Beethoven’s violin concerto with Rudolf Kolisch as the soloist. “Arnold Schönberg was the guiding light of the evening as well as of the people, who follow his divine talent in musical humility, and moreover, he proved that he understood how to express the heart of Dehmel’s most poignant poem.” (Critique in the Mödlinger Nachrichten of 26 January, 1924) On 28 August of the same year, Schönberg married Gertrud Kolisch, the sister of his student, Rudolf Kolisch, in the Lutheran parish church in Mödling. On the occasion of his 50th birthday on 13 September, 1924, the local newspapers printed a tribute to him: “May Mödling someday realize to whom it was a home for so many years.”
Takes up work again on the Wind Quintet, op. 26, begun between April and July of the preceding year but interrupted due to the illness and death of his wife, Mathilde. Completes the fourth movement of Bläserquintett op. 26 on 26 August, dedicating it to his grandson »Bubi« Arnold, born in 1923 in Schönberg’s home in Mödling.
Arrangement of the “Emperor Waltz” of Johann Strauß for the tour of Spain by the “Pierrot”-Ensemble (dated 1 April). Works on the Suite, op. 29, between June and August. On 30 September begins the Four Pieces for Mixed Chorus, op. 27, the last composition from Mödling.
In August Schönberg is appointed Ferruccio Busoni’s successor as director of a master class in composition at the Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin. At the beginning of October relinqui-shes his apartment at Bernhardgasse 6 and moves in with his brother-and-law Rudolf Kolisch in Vienna until his final move to Berlin at the end of 1925/beginning of 1926.
Schönberg’s home in Mödling remains unnoticed for many years, and is in danger of being torn down at the beginning of the seventies. Thanks to the initiative of Walter Szmolyan and Elisabeth Lafite, virtually in the last minute the building is purchased by the International Schönberg Society and preserved as an historical monument. Subventions by Lower Austria, the Cities of Mödling and Vienna, as well as the Federal Ministry of Education and Art make possible the purchase and general restoration of the property which subsequently becomes the quarters for the office of the ISG and a site for research.
On 6 June 1974, with Nuria, Ronald and Lawrence Schoenberg present, opening ceremonies are conducted by Minister of Education and later Federal Chancellor Fred Sinowatz. Maurizio Pollini plays Arnold Schönberg’s Piano Pieces, op. 19 and op. 23 on the Ibach piano of the composer.
In addition to exhibiting Schönberg’s instruments, a gift from the heirs, the structure also provides a research library with duplicate microfilms of the archives housed in Los Angeles. As a result of its function both as a museum and as a scholarly institution, it becomes an important venue for Schönberg research in Austria. Concerts featuring works of the Viennese School, among them regularly scheduled Schönberg-Serenades, as well as the resumption of instruction in the spirit of Schönberg’s teaching methods comprise the activities of the International Schönberg Society.
1974 - 1977
A series of annual courses on interpretation is held in Mödling under the direction of Schönberg’s pupil, Rudolf Kolisch (until his death in 1978). His presence provides especial authenticity to the program, and his collaboration with the director of the complete edition of Schönberg’s works, Rudolf Stephan, results in attracting a constant stream of young, international music scholars.
Die Internationale Schönberg Gesellschaft nimmt den Mödling-Besuch des Schönberg-Schülers und -Schwiegersohns Felix Greissle zum Anlaß, im Juli in der Bernhardgasse 6 eine Schönberg-Woche zu veranstalten.
Richard Hoffmann, pupil and Schönberg’s assistant in America, provides instruction to classes in the Schönberg House – since 1987 in cooperation with Oberlin College.
At the occasion of its 10-year anniversary, the ISG celebrates the “Mödling Schönberg-days” from 8 to 10 October.
1983 - 90
In the summer months 1983 - 1990, at the invitation of the municipality of Vienna, Ernst Krenek, who had made Arnold Schönberg’s acquaintance in Mödling in 1922, and who had remained in contact with him until his death, moves into the second story apartment of Bernhardgasse 6 with his wife Gladys, where he composes his later works.
In March, 1997, as one of its founders, the International Schönberg Society deeds the house to the newly founded Arnold Schönberg Center Private Foundation. The Schönberg-apartment is to become a living monument for intellectual activity, and several bachelor apartments will be provided international scholars and students for research projects.
Funds for the total restoration of the Schönberg House are provided by the Schönberg Foundation, the City of Mödling, Lower Austria, the Federal Ministry for Education and Art, Shopping City Süd as well as other donors and sponsors.
Restoration of the Garden in Mödling.
Presentation of the Schönberg Wine
In memory of the preserver of the Schönberg-House in Mödling, Prof. Elisabeth Lafite
(1918 – 2007), the “Lafite Hall” is beeing established.