Expressionism was a radical form of art at the start of twentieth century, totally different from previous norms of artistic expression. It is related to extremely emotional states of mind such as distress, agony, and anxiety. One of the most characteristic aspects of expressionism is the destruction of artistic boundaries in the arts. The expressionists approach the unified artistic entity with a point of view to influence the human subconscious. At that time, the expressionists were active in many arts. In this context, Wassily Kandinsky had a strong influence on Arnold Schoenberg.
Schoenberg’s attention to expressionism in music is related to personal tragedies such as his marital crisis. Schoenberg solved the issues of extremely emotional content with atonality, and devoted himself to painting works such as ‘Visions’ that show his anger and uneasiness. He focused on the expression of psychological depth related to Unconscious.
Both Schoenberg and Kandinsky gained their most significant artistic development almost at the same time while struggling to find their own voices, that is, their inner necessity, within an indifferent social environment. Both men were also profound theorists who liked to explore all kinds of possibilities and approached human consciousness to find their visions from the inner world. Interestingly, they both prepared for an evolution against the tradition for a long time based on strong knowledge of old and new artistic methods and theories.
Both Schoenberg and Kandinsky also embodied Gesamtkunstwerk idea throughout their artistic works, Die glückliche Hand and Der gelbe Klang. A comparison between Schoenberg’s opera, Die glückliche Hand and Kandinsky’s Der gelbe Klang is necessary to identify their similar artistic thoughts and goals that are found in these pieces.
An analysis of Schoenberg’s two compositions, Erwartung and Die glückliche Hand shows their similar use of extreme contrasts, and the changing emotional states of the characters. He consistently employs particular tone colors for the opera’s main characters, and specifies colors and lighting to highlight psychological impact. In both compositions, Schoenberg’s text plays an important role in psychologically evoking the internal state of the protagonists’ minds than merely conveying the meaning to music. Both Die glückliche Hand and Erwartung are great theatrical works as well as excellent expressionist musical compositions.