Sponsored by the Ministry of Kultur und Wissenschaften des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen in cooperation with the NRW KULTURsekretariat
Hermann Scherchen, who conducted the German premiere at Städtische Oper Berlin (today Deutsche Oper Berlin) in 1959, had his car tyres slashed in the run-up to the performance; after the interval, it took a thunderous call to order by the conductor to even be able to begin the second part – it may justifiably be said that MOSES UND ARON made massive waves in post-war Europe.
Arnold Schönberg, who had chosen to be baptised a Protestant in 1898, began his work on this theme in 1923. He himself described this time as a preparatory period for this step, once he renewed his exploration of his religious roots. He composed the first two acts between 1930 and 1932 and only returned to the opera in 1937, when he was in exile in the US. He never managed to complete it before his death in 1951, so that the fragmentary version is considered to be the valid version today.
One might speculate whether Schönberg would have completed MOSES UND ARON if he had not been forced to emigrate. These, however, are pointless ruminations: Schönberg was one of the National Socialists’ main targets in their ideology of “degenerate music” and therefore his work, including his opus summum, would never have been performed before 1945.