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The Dijon Opera’s ensemble-in-residence Les Dissonances is led by its foundeing violinist David Grimal in a performance of Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony. Performing in a flexible instrumentation and without a conductor at the podium, the ensemble chooses its own programs and in doing so pursues its primary goal: connecting with new audiences intimidated by classical music.
With this early work that bridges the gap between tonality and atonality, Schoenberg broke with the symphonic formula by fusing the four traditional movements—allegro, andante, menuet/scherzo, allegro/presto—into a single unit. The composer was convinced that he had created his “own style” by making “considerable progress in the liberation of dissonance”. Composed in 1906, Schoenberg conducted the chamber symphony’s premiere at a 1913 concert that is perhaps best remembered for the scandal it created: at the famous “concert of the slaps” the operetta composer Oscar Straus challenged Schoenberg to a duel by giving him a slap in the face!