Guide for Tape 1

Contemporary Era


{Handwritten in red ink: These are the original tapes on reel to reel = the cassettes do not coincide, etc. but on the cassettes are directions. . . }



(side 2 begins with example 34)

1) Mozart String Quartet K.465, opening with an unclear tonality (rationally chromatic introduction) before a clear structure appears in the key of C Major exhibiting the Sonata form which stemmed purely from strong, almost simple, and diatonic key relations (listen to it move away from C Major and settle into a new key and after a strong cadence and pause : The development which means passing through keys, i.e. not settling for long in any keys, until it finds its way back home : The key of C Major and its recap. and coda which really makes it end). If it wasn’t for the extraordinary and instructive introduction, this Quartet would not have been chosen : it might very well be the most routine of the Mozart Quartets. Written c.1783.  [listen]

2) Beethoven Piano Sonata op. 2, n. 2 : opening of first movement showing where for the first time, after a normal first group within a key and a preparation for a new key, a highly chromatic passage occurs when one expected the solid new key to appear (c.1796)   [listen]

3) Opening bars of Beethoven’s Sonata op. 31, n. 3 showing a colouristic and somewhat vague harmony on the first chord and repeating after the first cadence (purely colour and not functional chord).   [listen]


4) In the development section from the “Eroica” (Beethoven) we hear tension created through both dissonant harmony and syncopation (caused by those dissonant chords occurring on the weak part of the beat within the meter of three) and could only be the result from using the musical language in a rational, functional, and structural manner; i.e., when a tone present within a triad that is not a member of that triad, one hears conflict and waits for that non-chord tone to resolve (to consonance). (c.1803).   [listen]


5) In one last movement from Beethoven’s last completed work (op. 135), one hears a series of conflicting chords that need to be resolved. (c.1826).   [listen]


6) The latter half of Chopin’s fourth Prelude (1839) listen to the bass line, how it falls chromatically downward (similar to the Beethoven op. 2, no. 2, where it goes up chromatically and not downward) showing how unstable each chord is (compare this with ex. 1) The sonata form at this date hasn’t the validity it had just twenty years previous. Particularly when hearing this excerpt:    [listen]

7) From the Liszt b minor Sonata, where stable harmonic relations hardly exist. Now this is 1852. In spite of it being externally with in the Sonata form, the content is now the strongest aspect hence themes are transformed through constant harmonic changes. Also virtuosity is by now playing more and more a part, i.e., externals are becoming more and more a thing in themselves.   [listen]

8) Schubert in 1822 composed the first “Symphonic Poem” without knowing it, i.e., now the form is a series of episodes in spite of resemblances to the Sonata form, Scherzo, etc. One hears one theme through all these sections that seem like the normal movement scheme found in Haydn, Beethoven, etc. Liszt redid this for piano and orchestra (the second excerpt shows Liszt’s treatment of the opening excerpt). Four opening “movements” are heard (plus the Liszt).   [listen]

9) Opening phrase from Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde” (1857-59) which is really only a classical half-cadence (but almost all the tonal emphasis is on the non-chord tones).   [listen]

10) Within the 1926 composed “Lyric Suite” by Berg (12 tone composition), one hears an exact quote of ex. 9). Why is it quoted?   [listen]

11) Waves of sound and at the ultimate, they are interrupted (what about time here? Compared to Mozart?)   [listen]

12) Tristan sings that Day has come and it is his last. Remember this specific orchestral sound when we get to Berg. Notice all the echoes and the chromatic bass line. How massive and powerful it all is!   [listen]


13) An extraordinary deceptive cadence!  [listen]

14) Tristan cursing day (the light)!  [listen]


15) Tristan longing.  [listen]


16) One of the longest phrases (performed by a single instrument).  [listen]


17) Tristan longing for eternity through I.  [listen]


18) I. Longing for eternity through the (already dead) T. (finally the peace and tranquility in the final cadence).   [listen]


19) Mahler in 1880 (20 years of age).  [listen]


20) Wagner in 1877 (64 years of age).  [listen]


21) a) Mahler in 1884: the opening bars of the second song from “Songs of a Wayfarer” and then almost immediately, the opening
b) of the First Symphony (1889) depicting “the awakening of nature at early dawn” where eventually the song heard first in this excerpt (n.21) is heard. Notice how slowly this awakening occurs. Awakening of what? Only the very beginning of the first movement is heard here. c) The ending of this symphony. How does it compare with the end of “Tristan”? It certainly is bound to a key! Is there pathos?   [listen]


22) Satie in 1887. (21 years of age) (Beginning the first Sarabandes from “Trois Sarabandes”—unresolved chords may be heard).  [listen]


23) The opening and ending from “Don Juan” by R. Strauss in 1888 when he was 24 yrs.  [listen]


24) “Death and Transfiguration” by Strauss written in 1890 (beg. & end.) Notice the titles of both Strauss works. Music different from Wagner? Notice those “waves” at the end; maybe more externally perceptive than Wagner but less depth? Why? [listen]


25) Debussy at 25: “Printemps”. Style fresh to some extent and somewhat naïve (Delius “appears” in the latter part of this excerpt). But quite different from what was happening to the east?  [listen]


26) Again Satie but a little more original and direct (from the same year as the Sarabandes: 1887): “Gymnopédies” (first one) and then one hears the Debussy orchestration done a little later…quite a difference from Wagner?  [listen]


27) The opening of each movement except the last of the Symphony in c minor “Resurrection” by Mahler, actually the second symphony written in 1894 and conducted by Strauss in 1895. Only the end of the last move. (the fifth) is heard. Still strongly connected to tonality, its ideals and possibilities?  [listen]


28) Here is that first great bloom of Debussy’s “Afternoon of a Faun” 1892-94.  [listen]


29) Hugo Wolf song, “Wer nie sein Brot” (Goethe), c. 1890.         [listen]


30) An 1893 song by Arnold Schoenberg (at 19).  [listen]

31) Strauss in 1896: the opening of “Also Sprach Zarathustra” (this work goes on for 33 minutes!) and the end of it (notice the unresolved appoggiaturas producing the feeling of bitonality).   [listen]


32) From the second variation of “Don Quixote” by Strauss. Sancho warns that it is only a flock of sheep, but Don has already charged. Hence all this sound curiosity that somehow almost sounds similar to Luigi Nono in the early 1950’s is the result of tone painting. 1897.   [listen]


33) Now we finish side I with Italy in 1895. The ending of La Bohème: still tonal but decidedly different from all the other examples on this tape. Mimi is dying of consumption (tb) and it is about people living near poverty not conforming to social customs. Puccini’s music is direct and understood.   [listen]



34) 1897 and an early non-opused Schoenberg Quartet (1st movement: very Brahms-like).   [listen]


35) 1893 and a Debussy Quartet: not so successful (too much looking backward) but here one certainly hears the whole tone influence working up into a fine lather. Quite a difference between the 2 ex.’s if one can generalize here.   [listen]


36) A Schoenberg Song in 1898 (op. 1) What a difference exists between it and    [listen]


37) the first two of the “Trois Chansons de Bilitis” by Debussy. The text for the second song here: “He told me: Last night I had a dream, your hair around my neck like a black collar, on my nape and on my chest. I caressed it and it was mine. Thus, lips upon lips, we were bound together by the same hair, just as laurel trees have but one root. And little by little so were our limbs mingled—it seemed to me that I was becoming your own self, or that you were merging into me as did my dream. Having spoken thus, he laid his hands gently upon my shoulders and looked at me so tenderly that with a shiver (a delighted shiver?) I lowered my eyes.” The first is about being taught how to play the syrinx but done with great togetherness and tenderness and almost everything is silent. What differences exist between those and Schoenberg. These are from 1897. The harmony over all has now become somewhat ambiguous (non-functional) and is now beginning to free itself form the root progression and now exists more purely for itself. What about the manner of presenting the words and text? Almost parlando in style! [listen]


38) The last climax and into the last cadence from the 1899 “Transfigured Night” by Schoenberg. Still strongly attached to Tristan and Wagner.   [listen]


39) 1895 and 1899 Ravel: The former “Menuet Antique” with its meter of three and tonal cadence in spite of unresolved ninth chords and “Pavane pour une Infante Defunte” with its strong square meter and traditional harmonic rhythm.   [listen]


40) Between 1893 and 1899, Debussy composed three “Nocturnes” The title was conceived in a very special decorative sense (“impressions and of special lights”) “Nuages” “is the unchangeable aspect of the sky…melancholy march of the cloud”. “Fêtes”: “motion, the dancing rhythm of the atmosphere…” “Sirènes” is “the sea and its innumerable rhythm…” Debussy here renounces schemes. “Sirènes” is made up of subtly coloured chords and tiny motives, athematic except for transformed reappearances. Chorus uses only vowels. Now Debussy has perfected his instrumental technique.   


41) The year 1900: at bar 51 from Mahler’s Fourth Symphony (first movement). A new theme appears; quickly following Mahler example is part of the first theme of the second group from the Mozart Quartet (k.387), first movement. Obviously, a relation—immediately, please hear the beginning of the slow movement (third) from the same Mahler fourth; immediately juxtaposed one hears almost startlingly, the vocal quartet aria form Beethoven’s “Fidelio” (1805). Terribly obvious, this relation. Immediately after this is cut off, you hear this movement closing.   [listen]


42) Puccini and Italy, 1900. You first hear the ‘Scarpia’ motive and its association (easily perceived through the whole tone scales used) at the opening of this opera “Tosca”: next comes late in the first act: again this material which is always associated with this evil chief of the Roman police. The opera is about political struggle and sexual struggle and takes place in 1800. Obviously, Puccini has heard Debussy. Tosca (a famous soprano) is in love with the painter, Cavaradossi and Cavaradossi has just taken the newly escaped political prisoner to this villa to hide him from the police. Scarpia has made her jealous and they follow her to this villa. Example three begins right before Tosca enters. Police are questioning the painter about the political escapee’s whereabouts. Then the painter is sent to the torture chamber. Ex. Four is a short one and is a few moments later when Tosca is horrified when told that her friend is being tortured (she has just heard a groan). Ex. Five gives a load groan (the window has been opened). Notice the musical material.
At this moment Tosca gives in by telling them where the political prisoner is hiding. Ex. 6 opens with the Scarpia material and is where Scarpia is giving orders for a mock execution for the painter (but secretly conveying the opposite). Ex. 7 is after Scarpia has sung: ‘Tosca, at last thou art mine.’ But she has picked up a knife and plunges it into his heart. You hear Tosca repeating the word ‘die’, etc. Before all of this happened, Scarpia wrote a deceptive note giving both her and the painter a safe-conduct out of the county, hence in the last example (goes to the end) she thinks she is victorious. Here she has been with the painter and both sing of their love. At the moment when this last example begins, she has shown her friend the safe-conduct and told what had happened, but now he is called for the “mock-execution” and he must “come la Tosca in Teatro” (‘just like Tosca on stage’). She watches tensely, shots are heard. He falls realistically and does not move. Soldiers depart and she comes to realize it really happened. Police arrive telling what Tosca has done and go for her but she manages to get up on a parapet and jumps to her death. This Italian opera development was called verismo (realism but with a truth about it). This is truly Italian in nature and Fellini and the movement to neo-realism in film certainly contains an element of this. But what is interesting and important in this development is that it shows how an age is coming to an end and/or the beginning of something new. Puccini’s relation to Verdi almost exactly paralleled that of Strauss and Wagner. In each case we can observe the characteristic marks of decadence—the replacing of strength by violence, objectivity by subjectivity—or is it that man must exploit the human psyche before we can reach some kind of ultimate understanding? Wagner was idealistic and now we have with Puccini—something more like life itself? But what has this to do with musical material and form?   [listen]


43) By now (1900) Debussy has experimented further with ‘absolute’ music. His middle movement in the “Pour le piano”, a sarabande, one finds side-slipping chords of the seventh and added-note chords.   [listen]


44) Schoenberg took the “Tristan” element (carried further by Strauss, Mahler, etc.) as far as he could with this enormous work “Gurre-Lieder” (enormous not so much because of length, but from a tonal-chromatic nature plus the actual numbers involved in its performance). Two excerpts, the first near the opening just to show how tonal in a direct sense it is and the second near the end for the same reason although forces and dynamics are increased. This oratorio has words that have something to do with the death of longing of an infatuated young poet and a rebellion (in the outburst against God) of a convicted follower of Darwin, and probably displays a weary and pessimistic resignation of an era aware of its decadence. 4 flutes, 4 piccolos, 5 oboes, 7 clarinets, 3 bassoons, 2 contra-bassoons, 10 horns, 7 trumpets and 7 trombones, 4 harps, celesta, 11 percussion, enormous body of strings, all joined by soloists, 3 four-part male chorus, and an 8 part mixed chorus. Those last words speak of “Awake, awake… see the sun rise…” The music was completed by 1901 but the orchestration wasn’t completed until 1911.   [listen]


45) In 1901 Schoenberg wrote many cabaret songs (“Brettl-Lieder”) and this excerpt has these words: “My girlfriend’s a lady of the voluptuous sort, she lies on the sofa the whole year round, quite busily stroking the cat’s fur for sport. My God, how she dotes on that soft furry mound.” They aren’t all that way, but most are rather teutonic and out of the past. [listen]


46) Here is Ravel in 1901, an impressionistic “Jeux d’eau” (claims were made that Debussy was indebted to Ravel for such a piece but similarly were counter-balanced by the fact that it was marked by Debussyan procedures) that Ravel later remarked (17 years later) that it was worthwhile to point out that it was “the starting-point of all the pianistic novelties” of his music but that it is “based on two themes in the manner of a first movement of a sonata, though not however subjected to the class key-theme.” Ravel’s String Quartet (1903) was even more obvious in this ground-plan but still emancipated from the key-theme (2 ex. heard).   [listen]

47) 1901 in the USA: Ives (“From the Steeples & the Mountains” only the ending is heard) musically educated by both his father and Yale, not having a real identity both musically (in an artistic sense as it had been displayed for centuries in each important European country) and psychologically (art in the US was purely a commodity, something to use or for the sissy, as Ives would understand it, or for the museum: All this became an incredible draw-back or burden for Ives’ development as an artist). This gave Ives a “freedom” that Europeans hadn’t, namely he was not bound to this dialectical developmental process that this tape attempts to display. Hence, “anything goes!” so to speak, musically. Emancipated but at times, in quotes. It is something more complicated than that, but…   [listen]  


48) Excerpts (3 different recordings used) from Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande (1891-1902), an opera in five acts (Acts 1 and 2 each contain 3 scenes; Acts 3 and 4 each contain 4 scenes; Act 5 has but one scene). After the orchestral opening (first, sounding an echo of ecclesiastical males, then the first real leitmotiv occurs in the third phrase and is Goland’s theme; it occurs once again, although they always go in pairs, and then the first theme that will be associated with the lovers is heard in its first state and is announced by the oboe on top: the leitmotivs have no symbolic meaning until they are constantly threaded to specific characters in the unraveling of the plot scene by scene), Goland is seeking a way out of the forest; the beast he has wounded has led him to where he knows not (this excerpt is cut after two lines sung by Goland); he hears a sob and as he approaches Melisande at a well, he asks her why she weeps; next excerpt is at the moment where Goland tells M. not to fear him but M. speaks “Ne Me Touchez pas!” (“Don’t touch me!”) It goes on in the same manner until G. asks her has anyone done her wrong. She says, yes, everyone has done her wrong. She won’t tell anything (one will never know anything of M’s past) except that she ran away and now she is lost. She lost a crown that “he” (we’ll never know who “he” is) gave her in the well and she refuses to retrieve it. She finally will agree to go with him to the castle and they marry (he’s been married once). End of second excerpt.   [listen]


49) (Scene 2 is skipped: the mother of Goland and Pelleas—his half brother—reads a letter form G. explaining his recent marriage; Pelleas enters and is persuaded to stay at the castle because his father is gravely ill). The 3rd excerpt is the third scene where G. and P’s mother is [sic] discussing with M. how accustomed she is of the darkness that surrounds the castle on account of the trees within the gardens; immediately one hears the fourth excerpt, where Pelleas meets them and they talk of how they believe a storm will come that night, although the sea is very quiet. The last line before the close of this excerpt is “Pelleas, one now could sail without a thought never to return.” (How symbolic this Maeterlinck play was!) The fifth ex. is at the end of this scene: the mother has left (and asked P. to accompany her home, as it is getting dark). He offers her his arm but she avoids touching. He says he may leave tomorrow and M. shows regret and asks him why. (Please note the musical material here: the love thread.)   [listen]

50) Act II, Scene 1. The love excerpt (number 6) takes place at the Fountain of the Blind (not visited anymore because the King has become almost blind, hence its miraculous powers are no longer believed in). P is attracted to M. and he questions her about her first meeting with G. while she takes her ring off and throws it in the air. Despite his advice, she loses it and it falls into the water (right here the harp has a glissando). The Ring is lost M. sings.   [listen]


51) Act II. Scene 2. Goland has fallen from his horse. The first ex. is at the opening of the scene—Theme of Goland is heard (as is 48). These two excerpts take place in a room in the castle—Goland fell from his horse at exactly noon—exactly the time the ring fell—of course! M. is nursing and is in conversation with G. All of a sudden, she begins to cry. Perplexed by her sadness, G. tries to find out the root of her tears. She says she wants him to take her away. The word pacing is tremendously controlled here: G. is very much “in the world” and guesses that someone must be disturbing her. M. Doesn’t answer, until he suggests Pelleas. It is quick! She also quickly denies when asked if she would like to leave him. She betrays her true feelings. She remarks that she won’t live long—ex. closes when conversation turns to Pelleas.   [listen]


52) Skipping scene 3, we go far into scene 1 of Act III. From a tower (it is night, M. is combing her hair) P. has plunged his face into her long golden hair and expresses his love for her. They sense danger, her hair becomes tangled in branches, she pleads for stillness. G. arrives and scolds them for being “children”. The ex. ends with a scene change (and with G.’s motive).   [listen]


53) G. showing P. the vaults of the castle. First words from G., “Now be careful…” Next ex. is a little later (P. doesn’t want to stay) and G. asks “Do you see the chasm, Pelleas?” “…see the very bottom? …Can that be the light that is flickering so… I waved the lantern to throw it on the walls…” The music shows the light returning (They come out to daylight) and P. says “I can breathe again” Symbolism!   [listen]


54) Scene 3 has passed (G. warns P. to pay less attention to M.) In Scene 4, G. and his child, Yniold, are together. He questions his son about P. and M. but the child is innocent. He hurts him and then conciliates by promising to give him a quiver of arrows. A light appears in M’s room and he holds the child up in order to have it report whether P. is there with her, etc. This ex. is right at the end where G. grips his child even tighter than before and actually frightens the boy. He roughly takes him from his shoulders (Actually nothing is happening in the room).   [listen]


55) Now the end of Act IV (Scenes 1, 2, and 3 in this act are, of course, building toward a climax: in the second scene, G. actually hurls M. to the floor and drags her across the room, laughing madly; Arkel (the King) tries to makes things happier; Scene 3 is somewhat symbolic and is about the son not understanding why the sheep have stopped bleating). P. and M. wait to meet on the night before P. is to leave for good. She is late getting to P. outside the castle gates (couldn’t get away from G.); they both express their love and that intense spark between them flares for a short moment before G. comes out (they hear him, suspect him, and fear what will happen but it doesn’t matter: they accept fate), then G. rushes in , slays P. and runs after M. into the forest.   [listen]


56) Act V. The Melisande motive now is transformed into a knell, hence the direct melodic theme which is a variant of excerpt 51. A physician is attending M. and says: “It is not from such a paltry little wound she is going to die…” Next ex. is a different recording, “…I think she is now waking” (notice the motive). M. sings and asks, “Open the windows”. Arkel asks, “this window?” M: “No, I mean the great window…I would see.” Next ex: Arkel asks how she feels and she answers that she has never felt better. But that she now knows something that she didn’t know before. And she doesn’t know what she knows. Please here the constant theme of Melisande in the orchestra. Next to the last excerpt: M. sings about her newly born child and she says, “she is going to weep as well, I’m sorry for her…” (Notice the love theme accompanying her). Then her theme returns with all of its implications. She does die, of course, and Arkel (the oldest and the youngest) speak of how her child must live on: “tis the turn of the poor little creature”.   [listen]


57) Other composers found Pelleas inspiring, hence you hear the end of Schoenberg’s Pelleas, finished in 1903. It is a symphonic poem in four movements like a symphony. Here is the end of this Pelleas, where Melisande dies. The work is more advanced harmonically and within it one can find whole-tone harmonies and prominent use of fourths. But still close to Wagner and more conservative in construction than Debussy.   [listen]


58) Ives in the USA. This work “Thanksgiving” was drawn from two organ works first performed in 1897, by Ives in church and orchestrated for full orchestra around 1904. It begins in 2 keys at the same time. This work is a prototype for his later symphonies (it has a definite form of which you only hear the first two (or three) ideas (sections): it opens struggling, reaches a peak and then struggles to get into some new flow with less conflict but having depth of superimposed ideas until it finally finds peace and a direct and less complicated flow. This is programmatic music but highly original. Notice how contradictory the material is at times: Ives was not “harmonious” in a dialectical way. He might be harmonious philosophically but not aesthetically from a European sense (as this tape attempts to make clear). This is not one of the first works that Ives wrote but one of his earliest and is to show how independent he was and how far removed from Europe (in a contemporary music sense).   [listen]


59) Ravel back in 1895-96 wrote a two movement work for 2 pianos. The first movement, the “Habanera” so impressed Debussy that he asked Ravel for the score. Here you hear the opening of this movement. Next you hear the second movement, “Soirée dans Grenade” from Estampie, composed in 1903. (Charges of plagiarism resulted). The “Habanera” a Cuban dance of Spanish origin, was used by Bizet in Carmen (1875) and many other composers. The tango was derived from it. Two ex. here (Ravel & Debussy)  [listen]

60) Debussy wrote a rather limited Habanera in 1901 for 2 pianos. This work “Lindaraja” is heard only in its beginning.   [listen]


61) Ravel scored many of his piano works for orchestra. Here you hear first, the opening of “Une Barque sur l’ocean” (from a set of 5 piano pieces written in 1905 called Mirrors) and then its orchestration prepared in 1906. Second ex. from this work is later on, then its orchestral version. As the title suggests, swells of colors are depicted. He aimed usually for a brilliant transparency and not so much in variegating the lines.  [listen]


62) Opening from the first two movements of “La Mer,” (1903-5) by Debussy, and the ending of the last movement. Notice the strength, power, the total control Debussy has now. The second movement is a kind of scherzo and its title (“Jeux de vagues”) suggests a late work: “Jeux”. The last movement drives to an end, something that Debussy didn’t always aim for. This accomplished work finds Debussy fully in command of his creative power. Its suggestiveness is fully realized.   [listen]



[home]     [about]    [classes]    [stories]    [contact]