From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
During his Dadaist phase, Schulhoff composed a number of pieces with absurdist elements; notable among these is "In futurum" (from the Fünf Pittoresken for piano) -- a completely silent piece made up entirely of rests that anticipates John Cage's 4′33″ by over thirty years.
Schulhoff went through a number of distinct stylistic periods. His early works exhibit the influence of composers from the preceding generation, including Debussy, Scriabin, and Richard Strauss. Later, during his Dadaist phase, Schulhoff composed a number of pieces with absurdist elements; notable among these is "In futurum" (from the Fünf Pittoresken for piano) -- a completely silent piece made up entirely of rests that anticipates John Cage's 4′33″ by over thirty years. (Schulhoff's work is itself predated by Alphonse Allais's Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man, written in 1897; unlike Allais's and Cage's pieces, however, Schulhoff's composition is notated in great rhythmic detail, and employs bizarre time signatures and intricate, though silent, rhythmic patterns.)
Schulhoff's third style period dates from approximately 1923 to 1932. These were his most prolific years as a composer, and the pieces composed during these years are generally the most frequently performed of Schulhoff's works. Examples include the String Quartet No. 1 and Five Pieces for String Quartet, which integrate modernist vocabulary, neoclassical elements, jazz, and dance rhythms from a variety of sources and cultures.
The final period of his career was dedicated to pieces classifiable as socialist realism, with Communist ideology frequently in the foreground.
In general Schulhoff's music remains connected to Western tonality, though—like Prokofiev, among others—the fundamentally triadic conception of his music is often embellished by passages of intense dissonance. Other features characteristic of Schulhoff's compositional style are use of modal and quartal harmonies, dance rhythms, and a comparatively free approach to form. Also important to Schulhoff was the work of the Second Viennese School, though Schulhoff never adopted twelve-tone serialism as a compositional tool.