Degree Name

Bachelor of Creative Arts (Hons.)


School of Creative Arts


The Second Viennese School was one of the most patriarchal groups of composers since J.S. Bach and his sons. They saw twelve-tone composition as "strictly a family matter", with Schoenberg as "the father of atonal thought" (Smith, 270; Reich, 201). Papa Schoenberg continued to give fatherly advice to his "children", little Alban and Anton, even after both had reached an age when they should have been ready to make their own way in the world. Yet behind the respectable facade of this family group lay the shameful secret of two illegitimate children - one literal, the other metaphorical. The first, Albine Berg, was born on December 4, 1902 to Marie Scheuchl, a servant in the Berg house (Perle, 256). The second, John Cage, was taught (and metaphorically "fathered") by Arnold Schoenberg in 1935-36 (Hicks, 128). Schoenberg and Berg were both reluctant to publicly acknowledge their indiscretions, but on closer inspection, the family resemblance becomes apparent. In establishing a metaphorical connection between Cage's relationship with Schoenberg and Berg's relationship with his daughter, I intend to establish the following facts: 1) Schoenberg's relationship with his students generally was patriarchal. 2) Cage was to some extent rejected by Schoenberg, and thus unable to enter into the sort of relationship Schoenberg had with his "legitimate sons" - Berg and Webern. 3) The reason for this rejection was that Schoenberg did not consider Cage's music to be legitimate, possibly because Cage's Dada and Zen influences were too incompatible with Schoenberg's teaching for a successful "marriage" to take place. 4) Despite their difficult relationship. Cage did "inherit" some things from Schoenberg. Certain similarities derive from Cage's studies with Schoenberg, and are analogous to the resemblances between Alban and Albine Berg. Some aspects of the inheritance were free of intentions: Cage was as incapable of totally rejecting Schoenberg's teaching as Albine Berg was incapable of choosing which genes to inherit from her father. 5) In some aspects of his compositions and his books. Cage deliberately set out to oppose Schoenberg's teaching. However, a child who intentionally does the opposite of what his parents tell him to do is still clearly showing their influence (even if it is manifested in a negative way). In acting as a rebellious child. Cage can be seen as rebelling against the father who has condemned him as illegitimate.