TWO WORKS ON MOSES: FREUD'S AND SCHOENBERG'S
(Mosaic Prohibition of Representation and Renunciation of the Drive)
Nestor A. Braunstein
Two works inthe XX century reconstructed the myth of Moses and posited a new one. Both were written in the years of the Nazist uprising and both would find an analogous destiny; we are referring to the works ofSigmund Freud and Arnold Schoenberg.
Much has already been said about the parallelism in the trajectories of these two Viennese Jews who brought about an irreversible revolution, in psychology theone, and in music the other. Both opened new dimensions for caravans of disciples and followers; both were recognized as prophets, creators of unedited perspectives, visionaries of new worlds,legislators, travelers to promised lands which they never inhabited, exiled by destiny and by vocation, foreigners by nature, marked as much by glory as by tragedy.
Between 1930 and 1932, Schoenberg composedhis opera Moses and Aaron. Freud had no knowledge of the opera when wrote his testamentary text Moses and Monotheistic Religion between 1934 and 1938. Schoenberg never saw his opera staged; Freudreceived samples of his work in German from a Dutch editor in 1939 and died the following month.
Another coincidence I wish to point out and that, to my awareness, has not been remarked upon involves thethird act of Schoenberg's opera and part three of Freud's text.
The complete libretto that Schoenberg wrote for the opera included a third act, but, in the twenty years left until his death, he wasnever able to compose the music for it and the opera ends with the second act. However, the curious can easily find the text of this third act in different media. Lacking a musical score andconsidered weak, this third act is habitually eliminated but I hold that it forms an essential part of Schoenberg's project and that hidden within it is the neglected nucleus of the work, a nucleus with...