Degree Year


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Annemarie Sammartino


Schoenberg, Moses und Aron, Music, Franz Rosenzsweig, Jewish, German, Modernism, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Sigmund Freud, Opera, Dialectics


This thesis attempts to understand Schoenberg and his opera Moses und Aron as important participants within the philosophical debates of their time, but also to understand that participation as necessarily musical—his music is analogous to, rather than representative of, the surrounding philosophy of his era. The first chapter addresses the broader relevant trends in Jewish philosophy, coming to focus specifically on parallels between Schoenberg and the philosopher Franz Rosenzsweig. It does not attempt to understand Schoenberg as a Jewish philosopher per se. Rather, it explores the ways in which the problems facing Jewish philosophers of Schoenberg’s generation—namely, debates about the merits of Jewish folk traditions and the disintegrating relationship to German philosophy—set up questions that Schoenberg must reckon with in his approach to composition. The second chapter has a similar goal, but focuses on questions of modernism, specifically regarding Ludwig Wittgenstein and Sigmund Freud. Chapter three switches the focus from explaining the opera to utilizing the opera as a participant in a key feature of twentieth century philosophy, namely the development of dialectics.

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