An exploration of the implications, musical and social, of Arnold Schoenberg’s decision to renounce traditional tonal practice. Students will study the musical works, aesthetic goals, and personal philosophy of the composer within his cultural surroundings, and more specifically within Vienna of the fin-de-siècle and the first two decades of the twentieth century. We will consider examples of the literature, philosophy, science, art, music, film, and politics that surrounded Schoenberg and inquire how these may have influenced his aesthetic beliefs and his approach to musical composition. We will also discuss Schoenberg’s influence by looking at two of his pupils (Berg and Webern), as well as the further development of serialism after the Second World War both in Europe and the United States. Excursions to historic sites will complement course material.