In his time of re-evaluation, those for whom art is the noblest expression of the human spirit must hold fast to one thing, safeguard it and pass it down to future generations, and that is knowledge of mastery. Although this knowledge was never common property, earlier generations did endeavor to understand just what it is that goes to make up the term “perfection” in a work of art. Nowadays the eye, the ear are often are drawn away from this fundamental concept and steered toward other factors having only peripheral value.
Every great artist carries within him a world of gestalts, of images, forms, aural ideas. And every work is a microcosm bearing the essence of the macrocosm within itself. Arnold Schönberg is a master; the evidence is in his works, his working for art. His mastery of craftsmanship is already astonishing in his early works, and it increases from work to work, occasionally leading to such stringent and terse formulations that the wealth of what he has wrought is only revealed after many hearings.
Richness of associations is characteristic of Schönberg’s artistic personality. Rarely does a musical idea appear in isolation; most often it is accompanied by one or more voices having a significance of their own. This artistic process – already distinct in the works of his youth – leads in a later epoch of his creativity to the dissolution of conventional form and the sequencing of a wealth of small motif forms, to distinguish between main and secondary voices in the next period, their relations to one another lending increased profundity to the work of art.
In terms of harmony, his mastery of the relations led him to exploit tonality to its very extremes by using neighboring degrees and then, later, to extend the limits of tonality so far that several tonal degrees developed tonic importance until, ultimately, every pitch could have the effect of a tonic degree within the twelve-tone system. Since this harmonic system grew from complete mastery of convention, theory later on will certainly be able to show that this system is organically interconnected with the traditional one, just as the significance of the harmonic system of Tristan has only recently become clear.
The richness of melodic and harmonic associations align with the rhythmic combinations through which the music’s pulsation is always changing anew. The listener is never allowed a single rhythm for any length of time; he is obliged to follow the composer’s design with unflagging attentiveness.
This dense joining of melodic, harmonic and rhythmical elements of the tonal world into a highly personal form attains completeness on the level of design, the extent of which is initially only comprehensible to a small number of listeners. But surely everyone who, with an open mind, lets Schönberg’s work have it effect, will be amazed at the mastery evident on every page, and realize that only a great architect of the sonic realm could achieve it.

Arnold Schönberg zum 60. Geburtstag, 13. September 1934. Wien 1934, 23–25