This is a short film of the Russian abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky at work in 1926, the first Year in Classical Music we studied. As always it’s fascinating to me, to think this video was shot while composers had just finished or were almost finished writing all the music I discussed in the podcasts.
It’s also interesting to contrast Modernist abstraction in painting to Modernist abstraction in music. It reminds me of a quote I’ve got written down:
“Eliminating tonality from music was a more wrenching matter for musicians than eliminating linear perspective seems to have been for painters, or abandoning the concept of cosmic ether was for physicists. Indeed, tonality had been around far longer than either of those concepts had been freight for their respective disciplines.”
-William Thomson, Schoenberg’s Error
Not to get into the argument over whether or not atonality in music is an “error,” but there’s no question that the musical Modernism being created at the same time — Berg’s Lyrische Suite, Schoenberg’s Septet-Suite, Webern’s op. 19 Drei Lieder — is much more difficult for people to appreciate than the piece Kandinsky creates in this film.