“Please don’t advertise! I have no wish for publicity! I do not wish to be one of those people who stop at nothing to promote themselves. You must understand this!” Sending an insistent plea to concert agent Emil Gutmann at the end of September 1912, Schönberg urgently requested that the final rehearsal of his “Pierrot lunaire” be attended solely by invited guests, and not open to music critics.

“But your announcement invites critics to the final rehearsal!!! And so in all seriousness, I must emphasize: it is unacceptable. I will not sacrifice my good reputation because of you! I have not spent over 15 years showing no consideration for critics, or even being in conflict with them, just to suddenly change sides now.”

The open rehearsal of the melodrama cycle op. 21 took place on October 9, 1912 in Berlin’s Choralionsaal, which held an audience of approx. 450 people (Bellevuestraße 4).

According to the composer, the circle of individuals to be invited to the event was to specifically include artists, acquaintances, and his peers – and exclude official music and art critics. Art historian and writer Carl Einstein was one of the people who received a special invitation, as documented on the reverse of a calling card recently purchased for our Archive:

“P. T. [pleno titulo] Concert bureau Gutmann, Please send the writer Mr. Carl Einstein an invitation for 2 persons to the final rehearsal of Pierrot lunaire.”

Einstein himself had expressed his request for an invitation in an earlier letter to the composer addressed to Zehlendorf:

“Esteemed Mr. Schönberg,
Receiving two tickets from you to your performance on October 9 would give me a special pleasure. I am presently quite overloaded with work – but by the middle of October the most pressing of the tasks will have been finished. I look forward to seeing you then.”

The writer and composer presumably first came into contact when in 1911 Einstein asked Schönberg to contribute to the “Neue Blätter,” a periodical that was edited by him and published by Erich Baron Verlag from early 1912 onward. Schönberg’s series of lectures on aesthetics and theory of composition at Stern Conservatory in Berlin had previously attracted a group of followers to his theories beyond musical circles.

Einstein’s postulate of a new vision or a “transformation of vision” demanded in many places found an equivalent in Schönberg’s exploration of new sounds and new listening. In his novel “Bebuqin” published in 1912 in an expressionist journal, the writer subjected his prose to a radical liberation from traditional norms. In a similar manner to Schönberg’s “Pierrot,” fantastic situations are illuminated that elude any distinct action.