Special Exhibition
13 May – 14 September 2003

Arnold Schönberg's vision that Gustav Mahler was “a saint” is the point of departure of the 7th special exhibition at the Arnold Schönberg Center, which will attempt to trace the paths of friendship and artistic encounters of four extraordinary Viennese composers, whose spheres of influence lay between Romanticism, Fin-de-Siècle and Expressionism.

By way of a comprehensive multimedia presentation of documents, music manuscripts, paintings, as well as historical visual and sound documents, the aura of one of the most significant epochs of Viennese cultural history will be recreated. Around 1900, Gustav Mahler was a common point of reference for a young, progressive generation of composers. By way of numerous papers from Schönberg’s legacy, Mahler’s importance as a guiding light will be impressively documented. The exhibit permits insight into the genesis of Schönberg’s famous Mahler lecture, and his engaged dedication to the formation of an international Mahler alliance, while also shedding light on both Schönberg’s reactions to criticism of his most revered master and Mahler’s influence on Schönberg’s own artistic path. Manuscripts in Mahler's hand are among the highlights of the presentation.

It was Alexander Zemlinsky who brought Schönberg into contact with Mahler. Although Zemlinsky was only four years older than Schönberg, the latter considered him to be his only real teacher. Both were bound by a friendship which lasted over decades. In addition to numerous original manuscripts, portraits painted by Schönberg of both Zemlinsky and his sister Mathilde, Schönberg's wife, will be exhibited.

Franz Schreker was the youngest of the four composers and unquestionably the most successful during his lifetime. Wide-spread performances and the success of Schreker’s operas even exceeded Gustav Mahler’s popularity. Schreker vehemently championed his friends and colleagues. As the director of the Vienna Philharmonic Chorus, he was instrumental in achieving the first performance in 1912 of Schönberg’s choral work, “Friede auf Erden,” and, in 1913, the “Gurre-Lieder” in Vienna’s Musikverein. Arnold Schönberg thanked Schreker in numerous texts as well as in paintings, to be shown in Vienna for the first time, in which he underscores his esteem for the composer.