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Jack Boss

Jack Boss is professor of music theory and composition. His book Schoenberg’s Atonal Music: Musical Idea, Basic Image, and Specters of Tonal Function shows how Schoenberg’s atonal music can be understood in terms of pitch and rhythmic motives and pitch-class sets that flesh out the large frameworks of “musical idea” and “basic image.”

"Award-winning author Jack Boss returns with the 'prequel' to Schoenberg's Twelve-Tone Music (Cambridge, 2014) demonstrating that the term 'atonal' is meaningful in describing Schoenberg's music from 1908 to 1921. This book shows how Schoenberg's atonal music can be understood in terms of successions of pitch and rhythmic motives and pitch-class sets that flesh out the large frameworks of 'musical idea' and 'basic image'. It also explains how tonality, after losing its structural role in Schoenberg's music after 1908, begins to re-appear not long after as an occasional expressive device. Like its predecessor, Schoenberg's Atonal Music contains close readings of representative works, including the Op. 11 and Op. 19 Piano Pieces, the Op. 15 George-Lieder, the monodrama Erwartung, and Pierrot lunaire. These analyses are illustrated by richly detailed musical examples, revealing the underlying logic of some of Schoenberg's most difficult pieces of music." -description from publisher website

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"Schoenberg's Atonal Music offers a study of the endlessly fascinating and enigmatic music Schoenberg wrote from around 1908 to roughly 1920. Jack Boss is a complete master of the music and the surrounding literature; he has an appropriate and effective analytical methodology, and he offers a synoptic understanding of these challenging musical works that greatly enriches our understanding of them. This book is an important prequel to Schoenberg's Twelve-Tone Music (Cambridge, 2014), which deservedly received the Wallace Berry award from the Society for Music Theory."

– Joseph Straus, City University of New York