New Exhibition at the Exilarte Center beginning December, 2023: Triangel of Viennese Tradition I Zemlinsky – Schönberg – Hoffmann

Triangel of Viennese Tradition
Zemlinsky – Schönberg – Hoffmann

Inspired by Arnold Schönberg’s 150th birthday, celebrated around the world, the new exhibition at the mdw’s Exilarte Center sheds light on the social and cultural environment of the founder of the Second Viennese School. In particular, attention is paid to Alexander von Zemlinsky, who taught Schönberg and introduced him to the Viennese music circles, and to Richard Hoffmann, who was a pupil of Schönberg and later became his assistant.

These three personalities, their professional, friendly and musical connections as well as their fates during the time of the Nazi regime are brought closer using life documents, photos and music manuscripts.

Countless other free spirits of the early 20th century from music, literature, fine arts and architecture as well as wealthy art lovers and patrons met for artistic exchange and lavish festivals in the artists’ colony planned by Josef Hoffmann in what was already the posh 19th district of Vienna. Most of them had Jewish roots and were persecuted by the Nazis. Many were able to emigrate, many died in the concentration camps.

Dazzling personalities such as Alma Mahler-Werfel, Gustav Mahler, Carl Moll, Koloman Moser, Hugo Henneberg, Sigmund Freud, Egon and Emmy Wellesz, Emil and Yella Hertzka, Richard Gerstl, Adolf Loos and Arnold Schönberg inspired one another in this Art Nouveau villa colony, which will be recreated as a model for the exhibition.

House of Zemlinsky ( Drawing by Walter Loos)

Arnold Schönberg was one of the first to emigrate in 1933, Richard Hoffmann in 1935 and Alexander Zemlinksy after the “Anschluss” in 1938… How much does the forced exile change a person, an artist in his work? In the exhibition we take a look at the respective oeuvre before and after fleeing into an uncertain future.

The score for one of Arnold Schönberg’s best-known works, A Survivor from Warsaw, written in the USA in 1947, is contextualised in the exhibition. Alexander Zemlinsky, who had previously written large symphonic works, has almost fallen silent as a result of the persecution: on display are the two song collections that he created in New York from 1938 (op. 27) and 1940 (without op.).

The question of what life in Europe would have been like for millions of people affected without Hitler’s National Socialist racial doctrine can no longer be answered and the loss of artistic potential in Europe as a result cannot be measured. We show the arbitrary bureaucracy with which Jews and people critical of the system were harassed. Documents such as Zemlinsky’s Reich Flight Tax Notice and Alien Registration Receipt Card with fingerprint can be seen in the original.

Zemlinsky and Schönberg managed to escape to the USA by transatlantic steamship, Richard Hoffmann emigrated to New Zealand. Other flight fates, paths to places of exile for women, men and children are reconstructed in the exhibition.

Many composers and musicians from the society around Zemlinsky, Schönberg and Hoffmann did not succeed in finding freedom. They lived underground (e.g. Josef Polnauer, Olga Novakovic and others) or were murdered by the Nazis (e.g. Schönberg’s family members or Schönberg’s friend and publisher Henri Hinrichsen).

“Triangle of the Viennese Tradition” is the title of the connection between three musicians who shared a similar fate as composers, educators and friends: they were of Jewish origin and therefore outcasts and exiles.

Admission free!

Opening hours:

Tuesday – Friday 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Saturday 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m

Holidays: closed

Exilarte Center of the mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna Lothringerstrasse 181. Floor 1030 Vienna