The Second Viennese School is the term generally used in English-speaking countries to denote the group of composers that comprised Arnold Schoenberg and his pupils and close associates in early 20th century Vienna, where, with breaks, he lived and taught between 1903 and 1925. Their music was initially characterized by post-romantic expanded tonality and later, following Schoenberg's own evolution, a totally-chromatic expressionism without firm tonal centre (often referred to as atonality) and later still Schoenberg's serial twelve-note technique. This although Schoenberg's teaching (as his various published textbooks demonstrate) was highly traditional and conservative, and did not include discussion of his serial method.
The principal members of the school, besides Schoenberg, were Alban Berg and Anton Webern, who were among his first composition pupils. Both of them had already produced copious and talented music in a late-romantic idiom but felt they gained new direction and discipline from Schoenberg's teaching. Other pupils of this generation included Heinrich Jalowetz, Erwin Stein and Egon Wellesz, and somewhat later Eduard Steuermann, Hanns Eisler, Rudolf Kolisch, Karl Rankl, Josef Rufer and Viktor Ullmann. Though Berg and Webern both followed Schoenberg into total chromaticism and both adopted twelve-tone technique soon after he did, each in his own way, not all of these other pupils did so, or waited for a considerable time before following suit. Schoenberg's brother-in-law Alexander Zemlinsky is sometimes included as part of the Second Viennese School, though he was never Schoenberg's pupil and never renounced a traditional conception of tonality. Several yet later pupils, such as Winfried Zillig, the Catalan Roberto Gerhard, the Transylvanian Norbert von Hannenheim and the Greek Nikolaos Skalkottas, are sometimes covered by the term, though (apart from Gerhard) they never studied in Vienna but as part of Schoenberg's masterclass in Berlin. Membership of the 'School' is not generally extended to Schoenberg's many pupils in the USA from 1933, such as John Cage, Leon Kirchner and Gerald Strang, nor to many other composers who, at a greater remove, wrote compositions evocative of the 'Second Viennese' style, such as the celebrated Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. By extension, however, certain pupils of Schoenberg's pupils (such as Berg's pupil Hans Erich Apostel and Webern's pupils René Leibowitz, Leopold Spinner and Ludwig Zenk) are usually included in the roll-call.
Though the 'school' included highly distinct musical personalities (the styles of Berg and Webern are in fact very different from each other, and from Schoenberg, while Gerhard and Skalkottas were closely involved with the folk music of their respective countries) the impression of cohesiveness was enhanced by the literary efforts of some of its members. Wellesz wrote the first book on Schoenberg, who was also the subject of several Festschriften put together by his friends and pupils; Rufer and Spinner both wrote books on the technique of twelve-tone composition; and Leibowitz's influential study of Schoenberg, Berg and Webern, Schoenberg et son école, helped to establish the image of a 'school' in the period immediately after World War II in France and abroad. Several of those mentioned (eg Jalowetz, Rufer) were also influential as teachers, and others (eg Kolisch, Rankl, Stein, Steuermann, Zillig) as performers, in disseminating the ideals, ideas and approved repertoire of the group. Perhaps the culimination of the 'school' took place at Darmstadt almost immediately after WWII, at the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, wherein Schoenberg - who was invited but too ill to travel - was ultimately usurped in musical ideology by the music of his pupil, Webern, as composers and performers from the Second Viennese School (eg Leibowitz, Adorno, Kolisch, Stadlen, Stuckenschmidt, Scherchen) converged with the new serialists (eg Boulez, Stockhausen, Maderna, Nono, et al.).
German musical literature refers to the grouping as the 'Wiener Schule' or 'Neue Wiener Schule'. The existence of a 'First Viennese School' is debatable. The term is often assumed to connote the great Vienna-based masters of the Classical style working in the late 18th and early 19th century, particularly Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert. However, Mozart and Schubert did not study with Haydn, and though Beethoven did for a time receive lessons from the older master, he was not a 'pupil' in the sense that Berg and Webern were pupils of Schoenberg.
numerous studies of the composers named
René Leibowitz, Schoenberg et son école (Paris, Editeur J B Janin, 1947) translated by Dika Newlin as Schoenberg and His School: The Contemporary Stage of the Language of Music (New York, Philosophical Library, 1949)