What Schoenberg did on Yom Kippur

What Schoenberg did on Yom Kippur


norman lebrecht

October 07, 2011

A fascinating blog in the LA Times fills in some of the gaps as to how Arnold Schoenberg came to write an atonal version of the opening Yom Kippur invocation, Kol Nidrei.

Recordings needs to state clearly on the can: This is the Schoenberg version. Not to be mistaken for Bruch.

Read all about it here.


  • David Snyder says:

    And to those of you who don’t know, that’s Jolson in The Jazz Singer in the photo.

  • GW says:

    Schoenberg’s Kol Nidre is complex and highly chromatic but tonal, not atonal. The LA Times article is clear on this point: “his “Kol Nidre,” which is not one of his atonal works, but nevertheless sounds nothing like the traditional medieval chant. “

  • Daniel Plante says:

    To clarify the above description, Schoenberg’s Kol Nidre is not, strictly speaking, atonal, but actually written in reference to its key signature. Like Schoenberg’s other late tonal works, and, for that matter, the early tonal works as well, such as the First Chamber Symphony and First String Quartet. the music is often chromatic and intensely so in certain spots, but it is still composed in reference to a tonic chord. In the case of the Kol Nidre, the key is G minor throughout and the works ends on a G major chord.