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VR29

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Aufnahmedatum: 1949 November 2
Dauer: 41:53
Beschreibung: Lecture delivered at the University of California at Los Angeles on Schoenberg's musical development. With musical examples. In English.
Signatur: 22/C (24:45); 52/R7 (41:53); 53/R7 (29:04); 54/R7 (4:32); 55/R7 (0:31); 56/R7 (3:28); 100/R7 (15:25)
Publikationen:
Schoenberg, Arnold. "Rückblick" Stimmen 2/16 (1948-1949): 433-438. -- In German.
Schoenberg, Arnold. "Mi evolución" Nuestra música 4 (1949): 239-249. -- In Spanish.
Schoenberg, Arnold. "Rückblick" Österreichische Musikzeitschrift 4 (1949): 245-252. -- In German.
Schoenberg, Arnold. "My evolution" Musical Quarterly 38 (1952): 517-527. -- In English.
Schoenberg, Arnold. "Meine künstlerische Entwicklung" Österreichische Musikzeitschrift 24 (1969): 282-292. -- In German.
Schoenberg, Arnold. "My evolution." In: Style and idea, edited by Leonard Stein, pp. 79-92. New York: St. Martins, 1975. -- In English.
Schoenberg, Arnold. "Rückblick." In: Stil und Gedanke: Aufsätze zur Musik, edited by Ivan Vojtech, pp. 397-408. Arnold Schönberg Gesammelte Schriften 1. Germany: S. Fischer Verlag, 1976. -- In German.
Schoenberg, Arnold. "Meine künstlerische Entwicklung" Monatshefte Musiktheater Frankfurt 5 (1977-1978): 5-14. -- In German.
Arnold Schoenberg: My evolution, produced and directed by Bill Wolfe. UCLA Instructional Media (Office of Instructional Development, Prod. no. 6769) (available from: Films for the Humanities & Sciences, Princeton, NJ, Catalog no. ANL2665), 25 January 1990. VHS (NTSC) color, 49:59.

Transkription:

SCHOENBERG: Of the 75 years of my life I have devoted almost 90 percent to music. I had begun violin at the age of eight and almost immediately I had started composing. All my compositions to about my 17th year were nothing more than imitations of such music as I could become acquainted with since my only sources had been violin duets and duet arrangements of operas, on the one hand, and the repertory of military bands which played in public parks, on the other hand. One must not forget that at this time printed music was extremely expensive, that there were not yet records nor radios, and that Vienna had only one opera theater and one cycle of eight Philharmonic concerts a year. Only when I had met three young men of about my age and had obtained their friendship my musical and literary education started. First Oscar Adler, whose talent as a musician was as great as his capacities in science. Through him I learned that there exists a theory of music, and he directed my first steps therein. He also stimulated my interest in poetry and philosophy and all my acquaintance with classic music derived from playing quartets with him, who already then was an excellent first violinist. My second friend was David Bach. A linguist, philosopher, connoisseur of literature, and a mathematician, who was also a good musician. He was very influential in assisting me to become an upright straight-forward character whose ethic and morale furnishes the power of resistance against vulgarity and common-place popularity. The third friend is the one to whom I owe most of my knowledge of the technique and the problems of composing: Alexander von Zemlinsky, a great opera composer. I had been a "Brahmsian" when I met him. His love embraced both Brahms and Wagner, and soon thereafter, I was an addict of the same color. No wonder that the music composed at that time mirrored the influence of both these masters, to which a flavor of Liszt, Bruckner and perhaps of Hugo Wolf, was added. This is why in my Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night) the thematic construction is based on Wagnerian "model and sequence" above a roving harmony on the one hand, and on Brahms' technique of, as I call it, of "developing variation," on the other hand. Also to Brahms must be ascribed the imparity of measures, as for instance in the first example:
[Example 1: Verklärte Nacht excerpt]
So here is another example which comprises eight measures in the next line. You see the irregularity of the phrases in that the first phrase and the second phrase consists of two-and-a-half measures each and the third, of three measures, which makes eight measures, but of a very peculiar composition.
[Example 2: Verklärte Nacht excerpt]
But the treatment of the instruments, their composition and the sonority was strictly Wagnerian. I think there was also some Schoenbergian to be found in the length of melodies, as for instance in the next example.
[Example 3: Verklärte Nacht excerpt]
Other instances might be found in the sonority, in the contrapuntal and motival combinations and in the semicontrapuntal movement of the harmony and its basses against the melody.
[Example 4: Verklärte Nacht excerpt]
But last, not least, there are already some passages of unfixed tonality which may be considered as premonitions of a future.
[Example 5: Verklärte Nacht excerpt]
True, at this time I had already become an admirer of Richard Strauss, but not yet of Gustav Mahler, whom I started to understand only much later, at a time when his symphonic style could no more exert its influence on me. But it is still possible that his strongly tonal structure and his more sustained harmony influenced me considerably. There were not many unusual melodic progressions requesting clarification through the harmony. Qualities of this kind might be found in the First String Quartet, opus 7, and in the Six Songs with Orchestra, opus 8, while the earlier composed symphonic poem, Pelleas and Melisande, suggests advancing more rapidly in the direction of extended tonality. Here are many features which have contributed to build up the style of my maturity. Many of the melodies contain extra-tonal intervals which request extravagent movement of the harmony:
[Example 6: Pelleas and Melisande excerpt]
This example shows the movement of harmony against the melody. It's always characteristic already at this time that my basses are not sustained but move like secondary melodies. In example 7, which is based on a strongly extended tonality, is the theme of Pelleas.
[Example 7: Pelleas and Melisande excerpt]
In example 8, in which the intervals of the melody request rich movement of the accompanying voices.
[Example 8: Pelleas and Melisande excerpt]
The rhythmical texture is interwoven with syncopations and a tendency of avoiding accentuation of a strong beat. It seems to be predominant in these examples.
[Example 9: Pelleas and Melisande excerpts]
But most significant are a number of sections of undetermined tonality, of which the following may be quoted.
[Example 10: Pelleas and Melisande excerpt]
The climax of my first period is definitely reached in the Kammersymphonie, opus 9. Here is established a very intimate reciprocation between melody and harmony in that both connect remote relations of the tonality into a perfect unity, draw logical consequences of the problems into which they engage and simultaneously contribute a great progress in the direction to the emancipation of the dissonance. It is here the postponement of the resolution of "passing" dissonances to a remote point, where finally, the preceding harshness becomes justified. This is also the place to speak of the miraculous contributions of our subconscious. I was at this time able to write a theme which I thought not to be related to the main theme, but nevertheless it seemed so logical to me that I didn't cross it out. And, as I said, years later I found the solution in that I saw the relation. I speak about this more thoroughly in my lecture on "Composition with Twelve Tones". And I say, if there is a composer capable of inventing themes on the basis of such a remote relationship, I am not one of them. However, a mind thoroughly trained in musical logic might function logically under any circumstances.
Externally, coherence manifests itself through an intelligible application of the relationship and similarity inherent in musical configurations. What I believe, in fact, is that if you have done your duty with the utmost sincerity and have worked out everything as near to perfection as you are capable of doing, then the Almighty presents you with a gift, with additional features of beauty such as you never could have produced by your talent alone. My Two Ballads, opus 12, are immediate predecessors of the Second String Quartet, opus 10, which is the transition to the second period, this period which renounces a tonal center, what is falsely called "atonality." Already in the first and second movement there are many sections in which the independent movement of the individual parts ignores the fact whether their meeting results in catalogued harmonies. Still here and in the third and fourth movement the key is presented distinctly at all crossroads of the formal organization. Yet, the overwhelming multitude of dissonances could not be counterbalanced any longer by occasional returns to such tonal triads as represent a key. It seemed inadequate to force a movement into the Procrustian bed of a tonality without supporting it by such harmony progressions that pertain to it. This dilemma was not only my concern, but should have occupied the minds of all of my contemporaries. That I was the first to venture the decisive step will not be considered universally as a merit, a fact which I have to ignore. This first step occurred in the Songs, opus 14, and thereafter in the Fifteen Songs of the Hanging Gardens [op. 15], and in the Three Piano Pieces, opus 11.
Most critics of this new style failed to investigate up to which degree the ancient "eternal" laws of musical aesthetic were observed, spurned, or merely adjusted to changed circumstances. Such superficiality brought about these accusations of anarchy and revolution, while it was distinctly evolution, no more exorbitant than that which always has occurred in the history of music. In my Harmonielehre (1911) I contend, the future will certainly prove that a centralizing power, comparable to the gravitation exerted by the root, is still operative in these pieces. Taking into consideration that, for example, the laws of Bach's or Beethoven's structural conditions or of Wagner's harmony have not yet been established in a true scientific manner, it is not surprising, that no such attempt has been made with respect to "atonality." What a composer can contribute to the solution of this problem, even if his mind is capable of research, is not of much consequence. He is too much prejudiced by the intoxicating recollection of the inspiration which enforced production. Nevertheless, just such psychological details might open an avenue of approach toward an explanation.
I have once mentioned that the accompanying harmony, in my atonal--so called "atonal"--pieces, came to my mind in a quasi melodic manner, like broken chords. A melodic line, a voice part or even a melody derives from horizontal emanations of tonal relations. A chord, in contrast to that, results similarly from emanation in the vertical direction. Dissonant tones in the melody, that is, tones of a more remote relationship with the occasional center, cause difficulties of comprehension. Similarly are such remotely related tones an obstacle to intelligibility. The main difference in this respect is: harmony requires faster analysis, because the tones appear simultaneously, while in a melodic line more time is granted to synthesis, because the tones appear successively. In other words: melody, consisting of slowly dissemenated progressions of tones, offers more time for comprehension of the relationship and logic than harmony, where analysis has to function many times as fast. This might be at least a psychological explanation, why an author who is not supported by a theory and, on the contrary, knows how inimical his work will be to contemporaries, how such an author can feel an aesthetic satisifaction in writing this kind of music. One must not forget that, theory or no theory, a composer's only yardstick is his sense of balance and his belief in the infallibility of the logic of his musical thinking.
Nevertheless, educated in the spirit of the classic schools, which provided one with the power of control over every step, and in spite of the loosening of the shackles of obsolete aesthetics, I did not cease to ask myself for the theoretical foundation of the freedom of my style. Coherence in classic compositions is based, broadly speaking, on the unifying factors of such structural formulations as rhythms, phrases, motives, and the central reference of all melodic and harmonic features to the center of gravitation to the tonic. Renouncement of the unifying power of the tonic still--and this is important--still leaves all the other factors in full operation. Usually when changes of style occur in the arts, a tendency can be observed to overemphasize the difference between the new and the old. Advice to followers is given in the form of exaggerating rules, originating from a distinct trend to "epater le bourgeois," that is "to amaze mediocrity." Fifty years later, the finest ear of the best musician has difficulties to hear these characteristics which the eyes of the average musicologist see so easily. Though I would not pretend that my Piano Piece, opus 11, number 3, looks similar to a string quartet of Haydn, I heard many a good musician, when listening to Beethoven's Great Fugue, cry out: "This sounds like atonal music." Also, in my Harmonielehre, some of my statements have been too strict, others superfluous. Intoxicated by the enthusiasm of having freed music from the shackles of tonality, more remote liberty of expression seemed to offer itself.
In fact, I myself and my pupils Anton von Webern and Alban Berg, and even Alois Haba, believed that now music could renounce motival features and remain coherent and comprehensible in spite of that. True, new ways to build phrases and other structural elements had been discovered and their mutual relationship, connection and combination was balanced by hitherto unknown means. New characters had emerged, new moods and more rapid changes of expression had been created, and new types of beginning, continuing, contrasting, repeating, and ending had come into usage. Forty years have since proved that the psychological basis of all these changes was correct. Music without a constant reference to a tonic was comprehensible, could produce characters and moods, could provoke emotions and was not bare of being gay or humorous. Time for a change had arrived. In 1915 I had sketched a symphony, the Scherzo of which accidentally consisted of twelve tones. Only two years later, a further step in this direction occurred. I had planned to build all the main themes of my unfinished oratorio Die Jakobsleiter out of the six tones of this row.
[Example 12: Die Jakobsleiter row]
When I took the next step in this transition toward composition with twelve tones, I called this "working with tones," not yet "twelve-tones." This became more distinct in some of the Piano Pieces, opus 23.
[Example 13: Op. 23 excerpt]
They still do not constitute a real basic set as we can hear from the twelve-tone composition. I had at this time not yet discovered all the technical tools which furnish such abundance of variety as is necessary for expansive forms. The closest approach happened in the Serenade, opus 24, which besides, contains already one piece of real twelve tones.
[Example 14: Serenade, Op. 24, Movement 5 excerpt]
Then the six tones are later used, in the later part of this movement as accompaniment of a Valse part. The clarinet adds the remaining six tones.
[Example 15: Serenade, Op. 24 excerpt]
Still closer to the twelve-tone composition is the variation movement.
[Example 16: Serenade, Op. 24 excerpt]
Its theme consists of fourteen notes, because of the omission of one note and the repetition of others. Here, for the first time, the "consequent" consists of a retrograde repetition of the "antecedent." The following variations use already inversions and retrograde inversions, diminutions and augmentations, and canons of various kinds and rhythmic shifts to different beats, in other words, all the technical tools of the method are here, except the limitation to only twelve different tones. The method of composing with twelve tones substitutes for the order granted by the permanent reference to tonal centers an order according to which every unit of a piece being a derivative of the tonal relations in a basic set of twelve tones, the "Grundgestalt," is coherent because of this permanent reference to it. Shall I repeat this? I mean instead of relating every configuration in a piece to a tonal center, every configuration in a twelve-tone piece is related to the Grundgestalt in that it consisted of always the same tone relation as this Grundgestalt provides. Reference to this set offers also the justification of dissonant sounds.
Contemporary music has taken advantage of my adventurous use of dissonances. Let us not forget that I came to that gradually, as a result of a convincing development, which enabled me to establish the law of the emancipation of the dissonance, which I mentioned before already, according to which the comprehensibility of the dissonance is considered tantamount to the comprehensibility of the consonance. I do not say the dissonance is the same as the consonance. I say the comprehensibility of both is tantamount. Thus, dissonances need not be a spicy addition to dull sounds. They are natural and logic substantiation of an organism. And this organism lives as vitally on its phrases, rhythms, motives and also melodies, as ever before. It has happened in the last years, that I have been questioned whether certain of my compositions are "pure" twelve-tone, or twelve-tone at all. In fact, I do not know always. I am still more a composer than a theorist. And when I compose, I try to forget all theories, and I continue composing only after having freed my mind. It seems to me urgent to warn my friends of orthodoxy. Composing with twelve tones is only in a rather small way a forbidding, an excluding method. It is in first respect a method ascertaining logical order and organization, of which comprehensibility should be the main result. Whether certain of my compositions fail to be "pure" because of the surprising appearance of some consonant harmonies (surprising even to me), I cannot, as I said, decide. But I am sure that a mind trained in musical logic will not fail, even if it is not conscious of everything it does. And I hope that again an act of grace might come to my rescue, and help me out of the problem in which I have engaged against my own will like that in the Kammersymphonie why I only much later discovered that my inspiration was right from my mind also. Thank you.
[audience applause]

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