Contemporary Music in Evolution; 12; 1926
Good evening to works on this program dealing with compositions of 1926 Schoenberg's third string quartet and Aaron Copland's early piano concerto. Let's take the music piece first. Last week I played a tiny snippet of a Schoenberg work which showed the composer in a mood of vengeful satire. It was a very insignificant work. By contrast the next few Opus numbers were to produce a complex of compositions which many feel include trained by the finest works and which many people consider Sternberg's so-called classic period. These works comprising the third string quartet his suite Opus 29 the extraordinary orchestra variations and the opera fan height of mod.. And it is curious how the relatively experimental works of the earliest 12 tone period followed by two in significant choral works suddenly erupted into a full flowering of the
style. It is often the case in certain great composers lives that their masterpieces are preceded by much lesser efforts to seem to be reserving his strength for one tremendous creative effort which would carry him. As it turned out through four great compositions the third string quartet is not only one of Schoenberg's very finest works it is also one of his happiest and most accessible. I know that many of my colleagues feel that Schoenberg's fourth quartet is his most significant quartet and that may be so. But I believe that the Third Quartet is most perfect as an aural musical experience. The argument runs parallel to the old one between those who feel that Beethoven's Ninth though imperfect is more significant than let us say Mozart's Don Giovanni which is perfect. Certainly Schoenberg's fourth quartet his last quartet is often used as the
quartet excellence for purposes of analysis exemplifying 12 tone orthodoxy. Yet as you listen now to the third quarter and see if you don't agree with me that here we have that all too rare creature. The work of art in which technique and structure are in perfect harmony with language and style. There is a oneness of concept in this work and the freshness of approach to this concept that Schoenberg was never able to surpass in my opinion for the listener This reveals itself as an ease and naturalness of expression which goes beyond discussions of technical analysis. In this work Schoenberg came closest to the spirit of the great Mozart and Beethoven string quartets. Indeed the latter were his model. More than that I think it is precisely this brand of neo classicism which accounts for the sunny perfection of this Third Quartet. However the honeymoon with late 18th century classicism lasted only a short
time. Fortunately the four works of Opus 29 through 32 fell into a period which marked the first bloom of this relationship. It was soon to turn into a formula to some extent or else to gradually subvert Schoenberg's original earlier vision. Historians and philosophers tell us that in all human activity there is a record of gradual deterioration after the initial fresh impact of discovery and innovation. Perhaps it is nothing other than this law which began to function in output with some notable exceptions to be sure. And in any case the Third Quartet represents to my ears that a rare circumstance in which inspiration technique imagination and inventive inventiveness are all borne simultaneously out of one pregnant creative impulse. And gone are the experiments and partial failures of the woodwind quintet of two years earlier. Gone is the groping to find a place for his new 12 tone
technique within the new tone of the universe. The classical forms still out of focus with his style in the woodwind quintet have suddenly come into line in the string quartet creating a sharp clearly detailed picture. There is a relaxation between language and technique which is noticeable in every bar of the work but is perhaps strongest as a specific mood in the lighthearted third movement which called intimate song. It is my pleasure to present this work in an exemplary recording. One of the very few authoritative and relaxed performances of 12 tone music known to me as in the work itself the performance is one in which technique has become one with the essence of the work. There is a kind of radiance and ease in this performance a kind of optimism if you will that one hardly ever hears in performances of twelve tone or serial music which is music generally. Your
erroneous lead associated with a furrowed brow and the uneasy feelings of misfits none of that here and in this respect this recording differs significantly from that of the Juilliard Quartet who God knows. One of America's better quartets but they play their Schoenberg quartets with too much surface tension. Her you know relaxation achieved at the right moment as in the final cold of the last movement for example. Is the quality of the quartet was not yet capable of when they recorded the Schoenberg Baird and they've been quite tense in their playing there is or at least was then the all too superficial eagerness and busyness of youth superimposed on the music whether it warranted such attention or not. The prologue to quartet led at the time of this recording by Schoenberg's friend Rudolf Corliss somehow managed to find that level of complete immersion in the work.
Personal style and personal ego are completely at the service of the work of a mind and the result was probably the finest recording Ross Russell ever got from his old dial catalogue of nearly 15 years ago.
Man I. Knew.
When we. Were little.
Eat. Eat. Eat.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Yeah. Yeah. Arnold Schoenberg's third string quartet was 30 played by the pro Arctic quartet under the inspired leadership of Rudolf college.
At the same time one hundred twenty six. Aaron Copeland was a 26 year old youngster and making a name for himself in America by producing music which was strikingly original and unmistakably American. This style has become all too familiar to us by now and it has lost most of its jazz age freshness. Not only in some of Copeland's own subsequent works but also by way of the constant imitation of this style by a host of lesser composers. One thousand twenty six was the peak of the jazz age and it was natural for a young 20th century born American composer to come to grips with this new music. It was something in the air and because of its gay who had been impressed by Copeland earlier music for the theatre commissioned Copeland to compose a sort of jazz concerto for piano. Gershwin's piano concerto of course was already history having been performed in nineteen twenty five and even though one phrase in Copeland's
concerto either by design or accident comes directly from Gershwin. On the whole the concerto is much more the creation of a real composer a composer who controls his technique enough to play with the jazz elements at will. At times the solo piano part sounds like James P. Johnson gone mad which I mean as a kind of a compliment. There are overtones of the young French School of the 20s of course notably mellow Copeland had just come back from Paris and the work has something of the spirit of simplicity and studied banality that he tried to imbue in the Persian musical atmosphere before he died in one thousand twenty five. But on the whole Koblenz concerto gives more than it takes. And on that score my only further comment is that those of you who know Leonard Bernstein music of the early and mid 40s will hear where it came from in this work. Aaron Copland's 1926 piano concerto is played now in a vanguard recording
the pianist Earl Wilde and the composer conducts an unidentified orchestra. To me it sounds like the symphony of the air orchestra basically.
Ya. Ya. Ya. Ya. Ya.
Yes. I am the boss. I own. Us.
Yeah where. Keith. They're. Saying. Eh eh. Eh but.
Thank. You. Thank you. Thank you. For. Your. Mom. Thanks thanks.
- Episode Number
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Series Description
- 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.
- Media type
Host: Schuller, Gunther
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 64-36-12 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
- Chicago: “Contemporary Music in Evolution; 12; 1926,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 3, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-mc8rgw18.
- MLA: “Contemporary Music in Evolution; 12; 1926.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 3, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-mc8rgw18>.
- APA: Contemporary Music in Evolution; 12; 1926. 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-mc8rgw18