When introducing the music of Arnold Schoenberg, people often tell others to start with Pierrot Lunaire. While that is a fascinating and important work, I think a better introduction would be Five Pieces for Orchestra. Schoenberg composed the piece in 1909, before he invented the twelve-tone technique. Schoenberg was then focusing on motivic development, and his music became highly chromatic and eventually “atonal.” While “atonal” has come to be an almost derogatory term - essentially meaning “ugly” - it simply means that the music will not necessarily begin and end on a major or minor triad. Some of this piece is violent and ugly, while some is beautifully and serene. Expressing a wide range of deep emotions while maintaining a rigorous compositional method, Schoenberg was an unfairly maligned artist whose music deserves to be enjoyed as well as merely studied.
Movement I: Premonitions
Movement II: The Past
Movement III: Colors (Summer Morning by a Lake)
Movement IV: Peripetia
Movement V: The Obbligatory Recitative