University of Denver students tackle Schoenberg’s ‘Pierrot Lunaire’

· May 28, 2014, 10:07 pm

Photo: Arnold Schoenberg (Photo: Florence Homolka/Schoenberg Archives)Arnold Schoenberg’s atonal masterpiece “Pierrot Lunaire” often represents one of the more unusual -- and challenging -- pieces of repertoire encountered by students of classical music.

Written in 1912, the piece features dissonant harmonies, distinctive sprechstimme vocals blending speech and singing, and accompaniment from five instrumentalists playing different combinations of eight instruments.

“Pierrot” caused a sensation after its premiere, and the musicians toured Europe. Igor Stravinsky later described the influential piece as “the solar plexus as well as the mind of early 20th century music.” 

Photo: Paul Klee's A handful of University of Denver students learned about “Pierrot” recently and decided they wanted to perform it. The musicians asked for guidance from University of Denver professor Richard von Foerster, who teaches theory, musicology and composition.

The musicians will unveil the results in a free concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Our Father Lutheran Church, 6335 S. Holly St. in Centennial.

Click the audio above to hear two of the musicians, flutist Nick Booker and clarinetist Philip Strom, discuss "Pierrot Lunaire" with von Foerster.

Watch a video of Chicago Symphony musicians performing the piece:


Colorado Spotlight will also feature a recording of "Pierrot Lunaire" at 7 p.m. Monday.


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