Contemporary Music in Evolution; 5; 1912
This is going to show her with the 28 program in the series contemporary music in evolution. And with this program we move ahead to the year one thousand nine hundred twelve and two three vocal works one by each of the three famous Viennese totalist bag and Schoenberg Albon Beggs five orchestral songs composed to postcard texts of Peter Alconbury is to my mind one of the most perfect and most beautiful works of this era in music. It is all the more regrettable that the piece was virtually unperformed in Europe and here until very recently. Everyone who came to the Stravinsky craft concert in town hall in New York two years ago when Stravinsky's trainee was first performed and when these songs received what was probably their first performance in America was simply as stunned by the extraordinary beauty of these songs. And yet at the occasion of their world premiere in 1913 in Vienna they unleashed such a scandal that they were
never performed again and remained unpublished and unknown to but a few at least must be given credit for having written about these songs lovingly around 947. I believe in the British literary magazine horizon. Fortunately the entire aforementioned Town Hall concert was recorded by Columbia Records including the glowing performance of these songs by Bethany Beardsley and the first great orchestra of hand-picked New York musicians led by Robert Kraft. To those of you who have listened with regularity to this program the connection between these songs and the many earlier songs of Barry have featured will be quite clear at the same time the present work will reveal a great deal of the future composer of Arctic for in these Opus 4 songs begs dramatic talent really came to the fore in a radiant burst of inspiration. Equally amazing to me is the masterful orchestration in its concise and less
ambitious form actually more perfect than well or any of the other orchestral works except perhaps the violin concerto. This orchestral mastery in Opus 4 is all the more stunning when we realized that this was Baird's very first orchestral work. Not only is buried in consummate control of the conventional instrumental palette but he even invents a few new sounds that had not been used before. Once again the perpetual variation principle dominates. Indeed the fifth song is in the past form undoubtedly influence pressure and various incorporation of the same form earlier that same year for work which we will by the way hear later on in the program. The first song is conceived in three large sections. The first a purely instrumental section which with its emphasis on cellist a piano muted trumpets and high winds has a decidedly Stravinsky and patristic alike sound.
The second section is a kind of melodic recitative the climax of which leads to a coda in which a long four part a chord held softly very softly on the harmonium ties the otherwise disjointed instrumental fragments together. The last of these fragments is an upward glissando in harmonics on the violin. An unheard of effect in those days. Here it is more than a sound effect However it serves as a kind of final evaporation of the music into silence.
Finding. Doing. Anything new. Yeah yeah man. Yeah. The less
you know. In the. Atl. And. With it and you're. Would.
The seconds it takes to motivate cells one of three notes the other four notes and develops them into a beautifully poignant statement. Good morning Mary. Mary.
Be the third song is quite remarkable in that it anticipates 12 tone procedures by utilizing at its beginning and end. A 12 tone chord that is a chord in which the total of 12 notes in the chromatic scale are sounded simultaneously that is vertically in a wide spacing. Moreover this 12 tone chord undergoes five changes of color in the manner of Schoenberg's melody. Listen.
1. The fourth song is another marvel of orchestration and subtle voice leading starting with single lines in the voice flute and English horn. The piece gradually expands into three part and then four part harmonies. These
common aid into phrases one four four clarinets and one for four trombones a pair that always loved the similar sound of instrumental groups. The subsequent coda combines such unusual sounds as a cellist the tremolo attempt any role a trumpet flutter tongue roll and the cello harmonic. As the instruments drop out one by one towards the end they do so with fade away glistened those most notably the temp in the glissando at the very end. The very first use of this particular effect. Again a typically Berrigan fading away idea.
The fifth and last song is the Passacaglia. Just as the third song employs a vertical pileup of all 12 tones so the fifth song achieves a 12 tone complex but this time in horizontal that is melodic fashion. Again anticipating the serial procedures of a decade later.
Bit. More. Than. Just.
Hurt. Move. A week. Home.
You just heard the five out in bag songs of his opus 4 sung by Bethany Beardsley was an orchestra conducted by Robert Kraft. While Barrett was flexing his dramatic talent and Schoenberg was experimenting in all directions was delving into the possibilities of the Mei noticed of formal structures such is the case with his two songs Opus 8 concise not only in their form but also in the instrumental ensemble consisting of eight instruments a clarinet horn trumpet and harp violin viola and cello. Here is concern is for absolute textural clarity and conciseness. That is the elimination of all extraneous or non essential matter. As Robert Kraft has pointed out it is literally possible to hear every note in these minute works. Something you cannot say of large orchestral works where
doublings and myriad balancing is make this a virtual impossibility. The two songs by They've been based on texts of the real King are sung by grace Lynn Martin with an ensemble of Hollywood musicians conducted by Mr. Kraft.
We turn now to a work by Schoenberg that many consider to be his most inspired composition namely his be a holy name. It is also still today nearly 50 years after its creation a controversial work which still infuriates some and charms are this be that as it may it can be said without fear of contradiction that within the context of Schoenberg's total output. People in there represents the peak and culmination point of his second period the period of free at anality that was then followed by a seven year hiatus and the subsequent emergence of his so-called 12 tone system. And if people occupies such a prominent place it will be of some consequence to look at the work a little more closely. It is based on 21 serialist poems by I would be I was in a German translation of course and it scored for a quintet a flute clarinet
violin cello and piano. Also three of the players have to alternate instruments the flute sometimes plays Piccolo the clarinet bass clarinet and the violence which is occasionally to Viola. So that all in all Schoenberg had access to eight basic instrumental colors the most prominent voice in the work however is the vocal part which is delivered in what is called in German which simply means speaking voice. This was undoubtedly the most controversial aspect of the piece in the foreword to the score. Schoenberg asks the recycler to speak the lines but to follow the general pitch level and rhythm as noted in the part. In other words the vocal part looks like other vocal parts. It has notes and rhythms but it should not actually be sung. But in tone and according to the melodic contours and rhythmic patterns indicated by the composer
Schoenberg further asks that the speaking tone unlike a singing tone should fall or rise in pitch immediately after its inception which accounts for the curious sliding effect in the voice part. If you hear this for the first time I suspect it will take some adjusting. And of course Reams have been written about the decadence. I suppose that decadence and ugliness of this aspect of the piece. I remember when I was in high school
the then mayor of New York banned people in there from being played on the city's radio station WNYC. And yet all that this questioner represents is an extension of an old concept first used in the 18th and early 19th century German where quite often spoken lines were declaimed over background music. Of course in those works no pitches or rhythms were indicated they were left up to the performer. The earliest use of Schoenberg's concept of this question occurs to my knowledge at least in the opera the clinic's kinda composed in 1897 by home but I think certainly a harmless and ingratiating composer. The whole concept of special or mellowed as the Germans called The Works employing this technique was very popular in Germany before and after World War One due to the great popular success of several such melodramas by a minor composer named Max fun Schilling's. So Shirin Berg simply took this
typically expressionist idea and applied it to the slightly unreal bizarre and ironic poems of biology of all. From a formal point of view people in there is very interesting to us who have watched his development work by working on this series up to this point through the six piano pieces and the little piece has given. We have seen Schonberg follow it past towards a completely free form based on symmetry and a process of free musical non thematic Association here in Oh certainly we hear the first examples of a tendency which was to pursue sure and the rest of his life namely a return to to symmetry and symmetrical or at least classical forms have for example brought Schoenberg to the threshold of a new musical world one of complete freedom based on internal rather than ex Journal relationships. People on the other hand while radical and forward looking in terms of harmony melody and to a lesser
extent Rhythm is a piece in which formally speaking. Schoenberg returns to such strict forms as the Passacaglia the canon the fugue and such looser but nevertheless circumscribed models as the waltz the Barcarolle and the German leader form. In this work too we hear for the first time an inclination towards a sort of stiff march like rhythmic figures a tendency which was to reach its peak with Sternberg in his middle period and which went contrary to the other liberating aspects of Schoenberg's musical thinking. However I believe that it is this rhythmic squareness as well as the architectural simplicity of its forms that made people a greater success than any of his previous works and even a decided influence on certain works by none at all in lists like Ravel and Stephen ski. My personal opinion however is that seen historically this split between on the one hand Schoenberg's rhythmic approach and his adherence to classical
forms and on the other hand his ruthless destruction of the older harmonic and melodic order is the one serious dichotomy in his music. I think the outstanding aspect of it is masterly handling of the instruments. Each of the 21 poems has a different instrumentation and it's ability to find new instrumental combinations with his five players is truly astounding. Furthermore Schoenberg displays here in unequivocal form I think an understanding of the essential characteristics of each instrument. That is simply the revelation of genius. Even though the instrumental parts are difficult they are completely true to the basic nature of each instrument. The lack of this quality is a serious failing of so much contemporary music. Here for example the flute part is a real flute part. It couldn't be a clarinet part or a violin part in so much contemporary music a flute part could be played by any other
instrument capable of that particular range. Especially outstanding is the idiomatic use of the cello and the bass clarinet. This instrumental nohow makes this music also very rewarding for players. The performance we had to hear was supervised by Schoenberg himself indeed led by him Erica steed the wife of the conductor perform the question him apart and the instrumentalists were Edward Steinman who created the piano part in the original performance in 1912. The root of Polish plays violin and viola. Stefan Alba the cello Leonard Purcell a flute and piccolo and common block clarinet and bass clarinet. The first poem is called Moon drunk and has an instrumental combination of flute violin cello and piano. The following Columbine is accompanied at first only by a violin and piano. And later a
flute and clarinet enter for a sort of coda.
They're. Married. To a man. Oh. Yeah. You. Did.
Oh. Oh. Oh oh. Yea. Yea. You. Know. What. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. The third poem The Dandy is scored for Piccolo clarinet and piano while the ensuing pale washerwoman switches to flute
clarinet violin. This time without piano. Notice how marvelously Schoenberg's Schoenberg blends the sonorities of these three instruments into a real homogeneous sound. The fifth song follows without pause. And it is called the Chopin and its chord for flute clarinet. Later bass clarinet and piano. I don't. Know that.
You. Are A. Boy. What. Role. Did now. What do. We. Do for the dice. On a. Rig.
Or. Not. I fly the. Flag. I know. That. They are.
Hot. The sixth poem done the achieves another remarkable texture by combining flute mostly in its lower warmer register with the dark hues of bass clarinet and cello short overlapping passage using all five instruments leads to the seventh piece which is called the sick moon and which is scored for flute and voice alone.
Need I've. Read. That to. Be. True.
If. You. Want to know where I was. Was I. Was. Aware. We. Owe. What. We did. This was the.
Thing. That I loved. The lolo. Rather than. The room that. Was on. Night of the eighth piece is a passage and in its adherents to a certain into Valley set is a precursor of Schoenberg's later 12 tone concept night is logically scored for bass clarinet cello and piano primarily kept in the lowest register. Without pause prayer follows one of the freest of the pieces. It is for clarinet and piano and this is succeeded by a fast moving piece called robbery. Again with marvelous sounds this
time for the two wins in two strings without piano. The red mass follows again without pause. And the diversity of instrumental colors is continued by a switch to piccolo bass clarinet Viola cello and piano. The handling of the instruments here is most beautiful and virtuosic. Why. Then. Did. They have. To. Go. Through the whole. Oh. Oh.
Oh wait. They're. Honing. All. Home. For. That. A. Thing. Where. You meet. Me. On. This. We even agree. To narrow it. Down that.
He'd. Rather. Cut. That. We burn. If no. One. Week I will never. Be able. To. Own. Up. To. Your food and. Eat.
More. Of A. Role. Going. To. Be. A good read. I'd. Write a. Novel. That. You're. Around. If I'm. Not.
Next the song of the gallows the 12th poem very short ostinato like piece for a trio of Piccolo Viola and cello. The beheading follows written for a bass clarinet Viola and cello and this piece develops towards its climax with a five part fast moving contrapuntal web played pianissimo without expression. A very unusual sound. The abrupt ending leads to a purely instrumental interlude which consists of the previous flute solo of the seventh poem the moon drunk this time supplied However with an instrumental accompaniment no voice. This interlude connects to the fourteenth poem the cross at first piano and alone and later using all five instruments.
It. Might. Be. Fine. For him. To. Go. On. That. Plan.
To. Write you know the. Whole. Thing. If homesick a slow piece of improv is a tare in character it's good for a trio of clarinet
violin and piano than a four bar cadenza for cello leads to a poem called Minas. Its text is so morbidly pair of this tic that I'd like to quote it to you. Into the bald head of Cassandra who screams pierce the air hole with a hypocritical expression bores a hole. Thereupon he stuffs his genuine Turkish tobacco into Cassandra's head who screams pierce the air. He then screws a pipe Reed into the bald head and calmly smokes his genuine Turkish tobacco from the bald head. Cassandra first homesick then mean.
Yeah you. Got. To. Do it.
Where. Are you. Going to feed. The night. Where. Do you. Live.
The 17th poem is called parody a flamboyant piece with some of the square rhythms I spoke of earlier. Over here of course they used in a parrot estate man or moon spider follows an ingenious double cannon. Structurally after the manner of Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata. But don't try to pick out individual parts it's much too complicated for that. Just listen to the whole complex contrapuntal Web in its totality as one forward moving stream of sound.
Oh. Yeah. That.
Serenade is instrumental in one of the most outstanding of the pieces being a serenade or more accurately a kind of long cadenza foot cello accompanied by the piano. It is rather amazingly played by Stefan Alba. And I'll. Go. Right. On through. The.
Whole. Thing. Why don't you. Get. Them to. Us. Yes Canada. When. Are you. Going.
To. Go out. That's. The 20th poem is the aforementioned Barcarolle. It is called The Return Home. A clarinet melody is accompanied by it's a catto violin and cello imitating a harp of course the standard Bach or all accompaniment since the Tales of Hoffmann. The last poem. Oh I thought doffed translatable as roughly Oh ancient sand is a fitting finale since it almost gives the feeling of a key the major and this has a kind of cadential effect. It is
also the only piece which resorts to all and 8 instrumental colors. Schoenberg had access to that peace and quietness thousand note of great beauty.
You. Mean. There.
Fire it. And it. Will. You just heard Schoenberg's Pioli neer played by an instrument instrumental ensemble conducted by Arnold Schoenberg composer whatever you may have thought of this work I believe you undoubtedly sensed the tremendous conceptual unity and flow of inspiration.
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- Contemporary Music in Evolution is a radio program hosted by Gunther Schuller, which traces the evolution of Western classical music from 1899 to 1961. Each episode focuses on a specific year and chronicles some of the significant works, schools, and composers of the time. Schuller introduces several performance recordings in each episode, and gives commentary and analysis that also touch on previous episodes.
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Host: Schuller, Gunther
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 64-36-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Contemporary Music in Evolution; 5; 1912,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 26, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-p55dh18x.
- MLA: “Contemporary Music in Evolution; 5; 1912.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 26, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-p55dh18x>.
- APA: Contemporary Music in Evolution; 5; 1912. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-p55dh18x