“I want: The utmost unreality!” Arnold Schönberg’s drama with music in one act “Die glückliche Hand” (1910–13) – a model of musical expressionism – was premiered in Vienna’s Volksoper as many as eleven years after its completion.

The reviews of the premiere and all other scenic performances during Schönberg’s lifetime have now been integrated into the library database and can be accessed both as digital copies (where available) and as full text. The Vienna premiere was followed by productions in Breslau (Stadttheater, 1928), Duisburg (Stadttheater, 1929), and Berlin (Krolloper, 1930), before the work was first presented to US audiences in Philadelphia and New York in 1930. Predictably, the reviews by art critics reflect the highly divisive opinions of Schönberg’s contemporaries, who wrote about this “relentless fanatic” (Vossische Zeitung, 1930), whose “work was born out of a feverish dream and was whipped into the world like a storm” (Neue Freie Presse, 1924).

“It is not meant symbolically, but merely observed, felt. Not thought at all.
Colors, noises, lights, sounds, movements, looks, gestures should be… lined up one after the other in colorful array.
I do not want to be understood.
I want to express myself.
Most of all I would like to write for a magic theatre.”

Arnold Schönberg, composer and librettist