Guide for Tape 3

Contemporary Era


Tape III


1) “Pierrot Lunaire” by Schoenberg (1912). The moondrunk poet goes reeling with the holy water, “that wine which the eyes have drunk.” The whole piece is heard. One hears how ostinato binds this piece.   [listen]


2) The anxious lover who yearns to offer Columbine a bouquet of white blossoms of moonlight. The opening is only on tape.   [listen]


3) The dandy at the dressing table daubing his face with moonlight. The opening and closing are on the tape. (One hears “Bergamo” then a short silence, then the closing).   [listen]

4) In a woodland stream the pallid washerwoman “nightly washes faded fabrics” (the darkling meadows of light beam-woven linen). Opening and closing heard.   [listen]

5) A Chopin waltz is morbidly likened to a pale drop of blood on the lips of a consumptive. Part of it is heard (to where the strong three can be heard).   [listen]


6) The poet offers his verses as an alter to the Madonna, “Mother of all sorrows.”   [listen]


7) The pale moon is deathly ill of insatiable love yearnings. Part of this flute and voice piece is heard.   [listen]

8) Part II begins with a terrifying picture of the coming of night (wings of giant moths blotting out the sun). All of this is heard; this is a passacaglia.   [listen]

9) The poet wants to return to the simple (unconscious) farcical role of the Old Italian Comedy (“O give back…you moon-maharajah! Pierrot—my laughter!”)   [listen]

10) Pierrot is a grave robber. All of no. 10 is heard.   [listen]

11) A blasphemer (“Red Mass”), only part is heard.   [listen]

12) He will end on the gallows. All of this short one is heard.   [listen]


13) In terror he stares at the moon, a shining scimitar about to decapitate him. Whole of 13 is heard; also the instrumental music separating the text of 13 and 14.   [listen]

14) The poet is crucified on his verses by the Rabble.   [listen]

15) Part III. Pierrot yearns for the old pantomime, opening is heard, then the end, cello carries it to:   [listen]

16) Fills and smokes (screaming) Cassandra’s bald head, only part of 16 is heard.   [listen]


17) The cruel moon mocks an ageing lovesick duenna waiting for Pierrot in an arbor. About half is heard. The viola and clarinet have an inverted canon, and the voice follows the viola at exactly a bar’s distance.   [listen]

18) A white spot is discovered on the collar of his black jacket, he rubs until by early morning it (spot of moonlight) disappears. A piano introduces this 18th piece (canons and a “fugue” are heard) and it reversed itself in the middle. All heard.   [listen]

19) Cassandra interrupts Pierrot’s midnight serenade, hence Pierrot scrapes his viola bow back and forth across C’s bald head. One can hear the romanticism coming back.   [listen]

20) With a water lily for a boat, a moon beam for a rudder, P. travels homeward to Bergamo. Introduced by some instrumental music, we have a “Barcarole”. About half is heard. More instrumental music introduces:   [listen]

21) “Fragrance of yore from fairyland intoxicate anew my senses! …O make me drunk again…and dream beyond in blissful distance.”   [listen]

22) Only the choices of instruments (the form in which they are used) make “Pierrot Lunaire”, Ravel’s “Three Poems of Mallarmé” and Stravinsky’s “Three Japanese Lyrics” relate. Ravel wrote a letter on 2 April, 1913 proposing a concert make up of the three works. This tape follows that suggestion: Stravinsky wrote these three songs (2 fl., 2 cl., piano, 2 vl, 1 vla., 1 vc) in late 1912. The text concerns the coming of the Japanese spring.   [listen]

23) Hardly the first half of the first song of Ravel’s (and Mallarmé) is heard on this tape but it conveys “a high gushing fountain sighs toward the Azure! Toward the softened azure of pale, pure October which mirrors in great basins its infinite languor…” It is only worth a sigh, (it exhausts itself), of a sigh toward the azure. But the presence appears only because of their absence. Not that far from Wagner but certainly the means is quite different.   [listen]


24) The second song complete: the poem about kneeling “in silken breeches before the princess whose raspberry-hued lips are just about to touch the cup above the Hebé (goddess of youth) while the lambs imagined from her white teeth are frisking” to flutes (an 18th c. minuet) under discreet chestnut trees of Versailles. It might be about dreaming (the poet?) to be perpetuated by a Boucher, Watteau… This music certainly isn’t constructed the same way as the Pierrot Lunaire?   [listen]

25) The opening of the last song. Here you have a simple bitonal effect. The poem is about an empty glass vase, where a rose should be.   [listen]


26) “Five Orchesterlieder” (from Peter Altenberg’s postcard poems) by A. Berg (1912) Still strongly attached to Wagner (and influenced by op. 16 of Schoenberg), they are nevertheless, quintessential Berg! The poetry: (1) The soul is more profound and more beautiful after snow storms; melancholy remains till clouds blow away. At least six motives are superimposed here, working like mosaics. (2) Poetry is about how the rain gives birth to growth and hope. (3) a 12 tone chord simultaneously heard at the beginning will come in one by one at the end. The poetry reveals that this is about refusing the ordinary life, one looks beyond, a dream, wanting something more than life. (4) You’re waiting but nothing has come. Those great pitch distances are created because of the distance between what you’d like and what is, that “space” isn’t. (5) Lethe (the river of forgetfulness), my tears (snow) drop into pools of water… 9 variations on a ground bass (passacaglia). These 5 songs are held together by the same musical thematic ideas and motives found in all five move.   [listen]

27) Several chords from“Tristan” and then a few more from the Berg Op. 4 (dif. record.)   [listen]

28) Schoenberg wrote a drama with music between 1909 and 1913 called “Die Glückliche Hand” (op. 18)—The Golden Touch. He wrote the text (mostly scenario). On tape you hear all of Scene I (a cat-like animal seems to have sunk its teeth into a man whom it has been lying on; 6 women and 6 men sing in sprechstimme like a Greek chorus; Colour is a main subject here: constant changes of colour as a counterpart to the story) and into Scene II (a “beautiful woman” appears but always out of his grasp: don’t take this literally the work is overly symbolic and it is about how this “man” struggles with the problem arising out of a conflict between the external and internal). The second excerpt (happens immediately after excerpt one) has a crescendo of light (changing colours) and music are in conjunction with one another (begins in darkness and reaches blood-red and into orange: jewels.)   [listen]

29) Webern in 1913 and his “Six Bagatelles” (for st. qt.) opus 9. Schoenberg wrote an introduction to this work and says, “You can stretch every glance out into a poem, every sigh into a novel. But to express a novel in a single gesture, a joy in a breath—such concentration can only be present in proportion to the absence of self-pity…” “These pieces will only be understood by those who share the faith that music can say things which can only be expressed by music.”   [listen]

30) Opus 10 of Webern, the “Five Pieces for Orchestra”. (4th was heard before). Finished 1913.   [listen]

31) Berg came from Berlin utterly downcast after Schoenberg had severely criticized his latest works. But soon after, he thanked his master for that criticism and soon commenced on a work in order to have it ready to dedicate to Schoenberg for his fortieth birthday. You bear the opening of this work (“Three Orchestral Pieces” Op. 6) in the middle of this first piece, and the ending (begins with “noises”, rhythmic sequences played on percussion instruments, then to the timpani where it is a precise sound, then on to a theme; the middle of that theme; the ending where it dissolves in “noise” once again. Then the last piece, a march, and you hear the climax of that march and then ending (where it bursts forth once again to a unison). An incredibly thick, textured work!   [listen]


32) Schoenberg’s “Four Lieder” op. 22: the last completed work for almost 8 years. Schoenberg wrote a radio talk on this work and in it he attempted to show his logic in constructing the melodic part, how each interval is carefully prepared for the listener to grasp, and how they constantly renew and vary each succeeding interval. The instrumentation for this first song (only the first is heard here) is very unusual: 6 clarinets, 1 trumpet, 3 trombones, a tuba, bells, percussion of cymbals, xylophone, and tam-tam, 24 violins, 12 cellos, and 9 double basses. He treats them soloistically and the clarinets give a line of different thicknesses, like a fan opened out and then closed. Hence, chords are more a phenomenon of timbre. The words are from the poem “Seraphita” by the poet E. Dowson and ask for help in not being totally drowned “before the great waves conquest…”   [listen]


33) A rather interesting look at late Scriabin, an Etude, op. 65. Only half of it is heard, showing its unresolved state and its hesitation.   [listen]


34) The ending of one of Debussy’s “Six Epigraphes Antiques” showing its odd sonority (1914).   [listen]

35) In 1915, Debussy wrote two books comprising “12 Etudes for Piano”. Each one solves a problem in the sense that they utilize a specific “tonal” property (not tonal in a key sense) but the form is not governed in direct relation to the property. Only a few samplings are heard here: one based on the interval of the third, then on fourths, then sixths, and then on an opposed sonority.   [listen]

36) Just part of a seldom heard late work of Debussy, the beginning of the third movement from “En blanc et noir” for 2 pianos (1915).   [listen]

37) The last works of Debussy (works that showed a more delicate, more austere art, freer of immediate seductions but unequaled in richness of inspiration) and here is the ending of the “Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp” (1915) and the opening of the “Sonata for Violin & Piano”   [listen]

38) Ravel in 1911 wrote a piano work involving 7 waltzes to different rhythms and when you hear the opening performed on piano and then in his orchestration, you’ll hear a clearer version. Point is, Ravel uses forms from the past and this is particularly pointed in:   [listen]

39) “Le Tombeau de Couperin” (began in 1914, finished in 1917). Six movements and all reverting to older forms (filling in the mold?) This movement (only beg. heard) is in dance tempo and it is heard in its orchestral version after the original piano version.   [listen]

40) In 1917 Prokofiev wrote the so-called “Classical Symphony.” It reverts backward some 135 years (from the time it was written): in the size of the orchestra, in length, and in shadowing the features of a Hayden Symphony. Prokofiev may have attempted to justify the return but in essence, many composers must have not been able to confront musical problems that existed at that time and a little later (as we shall see).   [listen]

41) Manuel de Falla’s “El Sombrero de Tres Picos” (the Three-Cornered Hat), 1917. Falla’s nationalistic material combined with Debussy’s impressionistic technique were overcome by imaginative power. He made this work a ballet for Diaghilev (with Picasso & Massine). These short excerpts are: 1) The Miller trying to teach a blackbird to chirp the hours; 2) later on in Part I: obviously influenced by Petrushka; then a dance (acceleration), then Beethoven’s Fifth when a fateful knock brings in the Corregidor; then the ending of this work. Problem raised is one of “natural” music versus formalized abstract music: can one use as an ingredient something strong and flavorful and not let it destroy formal balance (abstract)?   [listen]


42) Here is Debussy (bet. 1906 and 1909) writing “Spanish” music? Openings of the 3 movement “Iberia” (one of 3 images). Can you deduce any differences bet. This and the Falla? Of course, one was written as a two-act pantomime and the other purely an orchestra work with descriptive titles.   [listen]

43) Stravinsky’s “Three Pieces for String Quartet” (1914): Short, and at first hearing, odd, but quite germinal. The first one has a 4 note theme that became the spring-board for “Symphony in C.” The second has a little phrase marked “sur la touche” which was later transformed into a famous fugue subject in the “Symphony of Psalms.” And the third piece contained a refrain that was worked out in the coda of the Symphonies of Wind Instruments. What differences do you hear in these excerpts from that of Webern? The whole first piece is heard. What happens musically? Compared to Webern? Only the openings of the other 2 are here.   [listen]

44) Stravinsky in 1915-16 finished setting a burlesque story about a fox, a cock, a cat and a goat. The singers are not to act out on stage, but are to sing their parts where the instrumentalists sit (clowns, dancers, or acrobats) (percussion, timpani, cimbalom, solo string quintet), and the roles are dumb. Here you hear the opening (march) and the fox (Reynard) enters disguised as a nun and begs the cock to come down (he does but is saved by his friends the cat and goat). The text heard will expose the other excerpts.   [listen]

45) “Les Noces” (The Wedding) by Stravinsky (short score finished 1917) is a very interesting work (written for 4 part chorus, soloists, and an orchestra of 4 pianos, xylophone, timpani, 2 crotales and a bell together with a number of percussion instruments) taken from Russian proletarian texts, in 4 scenes and it “is a suite of typical wedding episodes told through quotations of typical talk. (Part One finds ritualistic lamentation, e.g.; the bride lamenting the loss of her virginity, mothers lamenting loss of children; ritualistic prayer by different people calling on God, etc., to bless the marriage; Part two contains the slightly coarse and tipsy fun of guests and the bride and groom bedding). Here, the opening (showing basic cell with the interval of the fourth divided into major 2nd and minor 3rd), then in Part 2, a worker’s melody (a proletarian song): “I have donn’d a golden belt”; the final bars close out these few excerpts (“Let us live in happiness so that all men may envy us”). The instruments with definite pitch underline and support the vocal part; non-definite pitch instruments emphasize and accentuate the metrical skeleton. The choral climax ending (wedding feast) is marked by all those chimes and is a radiant close if one heard the total work which is a constant energetic sound pulse. Nijinsky choreographed this and “Reynaud”.   [listen]

46) “Histoire du Soldat” (The Soldier’s Tale) by Stravinsky (1918), libretto by C. F. Ramuz. Part I, Scene I shows the soldier returning to his native village (on leave) and being accosted by the devil disguised as an old man with a butterfly net. The Devil obtains the soldier’s fiddle in exchange for a magic book and invites him home for 3 days. Scene 2 when the soldier reaches home, he discovers that it has been 3 years, not 3 days. But the devil shows how with help from the magic book he can make a fortune. Disillusioned with wealth, he eventually gets his fiddle back but throws it away because no sound can come from it. He comes to town when the King’s daughter is ill and the person who cures her can win her. He gets his fiddle back and enters the Princess’s room and plays 3 dances which the Princess dances (a tango, waltz, and a ragtime) and at the end falls into the arms of the soldier. They marry and when returning to the native village, he falls into the power of the Devil, notice the instrumentation and the kinds of music (Protestant chorale, Spanish pasodoble, etc.). The Narrator is the main character on stage; the Soldier and Devil are actors; a dancer dances the suites. Multimetric rhythm predominates. Harmony is quite diatonic and in keys.   [listen]

47) In 1916, Satie composed a ballet “Parade” in collaboration with Cocteau (Picasso designed the sets). In spite of what the critics expected (“Cubism”) the music is rather naïve and simple. You’ll hear a “typewriter” in this excerpt. It is a very at-the-time story (it is at a fair where different types perform at a booth; notice the types of music). Landmark in modern theatre—very important.   [listen]

48) Janacek’s “Diary of One Who Vanished” (1916) is an unusual stage work. On the excerpts hear how he uses a single brief musical idea (either a rising or falling fourth and a major second) and how it undergoes permutations (according to the textual demands). 22 songs are heard in this opera, mostly for tenor. Almost complete monothematic work. The second series of excerpts find the text expressing (chorus) how this gypsy opened her blouse and how the peasant lad’s blood rushed to his head: this lad left his hometown forever with this gypsy because of his love for her.   [listen]

49) Kodaly’s “Sonata for Cello” (1915) exhibits influences form his own country; an almost Bach-like sonority (hear the Bach solo sonatas), and is one of the few successful (musically speaking) works for solo instruments. The three excerpts are from the three movements.   [listen]


50) Bartok’s “Second String Quartet” (1915-17) exhibits Bartok’s growing mastery. You hear a rather long excerpt from the beginning, then the openings from the other two movements.   [listen]

51) A number of bars from the first movement heard above and quickly following a small excerpt from Debussy’s “Prelude…” Why are these two exhibited in this way?   [listen]

52) Bartok’s “The Miraculous Mandarin” (1918-19) is the story of how three Ruffians compel their female accomplice to show herself at a window to entice the rich to be robbed. A Manderin only dies withen there is “love”. Opening only. How can you describe this? In comparison to any other music we’ve had?   [listen]


53) Satie’s “Socrate” (the first performance was met with laughter), an adaptation of Victor Cousin’s text drawn from Symposium, Phaedrus, and Phaedo. On this excerpt you hear the death of Socrate, a peaceful and serene ending. 1919.   [listen]


54) “The Mad Hatter is astonished that his watch is three hours slow, despite the fact that he has been lubricating it with the very best butter; but he has allowed some breadcrumbs to fall in the works, and dipping it in tea will not make it go faster”. Satie in 1916.   [listen]


55) The ending cadence of the “Symphonies of Wind Instruments” by Stravinsky, 1920. This last part (chorale) was originally conceived to pay homage to the memory of Debussy. “Sounding together” specific ideas played by different instruments (23 and excluding strings).   [listen]

56) “Wozzeck” by Berg. Act I: Scene 1: Wozzeck is shaving the Captain and the Captain is speculating on the passage of time, “You surely have almost thirty years to live yet (360 months to go and how many days and hours): what will you do with the great expanse of time… make up your mind, Wozzeck!” Next: W., you look harassed… tell me the weather. Not good—“Wind”…like a mouse… “something blowing from the south-north” “…South-north”… Laughter… “You are quite dense, Wozzeck.” Then W’s morals and how his child wasn’t blessed by the church. W. sings, “Poor fold like us… need money, always money” Then, at end of Scene 1, the Captain tells W. not to think so much and stay in the middle. The change of scene. The scene where W. and Andreas are cutting sticks. W’s unconscious is active and he “sees” a head moving about. Andreas sings a simple hunting song. Finally W. imagines that the ground is opening under his feet and fire rises to heaven. This Scene 2 is based on 3 chords. Scene 1 was a “suite”. The scene changes to Marie’s room and she is excited by the sound of march music. Her neighbor Margaret calls her a hussy and M. sings to her child. The next part of this second scene begins when she sings of pure cool wine and you then hear colour changes and W. is brought forth (he is disturbed and talks of fire, etc.) The last line from this scene is heard when M. sings, “I’m terrified”. Change of scene brings the “idée fixe” theme (12 tones that are different) which is a Passacaglia and variations upon that theme. It is where the Doctor saw W. pissing and howling like a dog. The Doctor thinks he is making medical history and gives orders for W. to eat only specific food… You hear later (in variation 7) W. singing again about the red coming out of the dark. Then the end of this scene where the Doctor sings of his coming “immortality.” Last scene of Act I is back to the Marching Drum major. M. is excited; to that cadence chord which you’ll hear at the end of each Act. End of Act I. (Notice chord relation with the chord ending Act I.)   [listen]

57) Act II. Here is the “Sonata form” scene. Three themes in expos. a) earrings (Drum major gave M.) b) (bridge passage) sleep-bogey man; c) gypsy will lead you by hand out to gypsy land. Then the Exposition is repeated. M. questions whether her earrings are gold. She contrasts herself with the rich (red mouths and mirrors) and constantly comes back to how poor and wretched they are. The development section has Wozzeck coming in and discussing the earrings; (W. becomes suspicious) then “We poor people” sung by W. right before the C Major chord in strings (which, as Berg says, expresses the prosaic quality of money). Recap.   [listen]

58) Into Scene 2: beginning where the Doctor tears into the Captain for hurrying so fast. Then skipping to the Captain’s (nervous) laugh (the Dr. talks of death in 4 weeks). Then skipping to the beginning of the Fugue with 3 voices i.e., Captain’s theme, Dr.’s, W’s. This excerpt ends at the place where W. talks of ending it all by hanging (they have him totally under control—W. has not any control over himself and his situation—he’s been brain-washed). This excerpt ends with W. running away & both the Captain and the Doctor making fun of him in a dissociated way: “A real phenomenon, this Wozzeck.”   [listen]

59) Scene 3 (Act 2) is the center piece of the entire opera, where energies go backward for M. and W’s relationship—there is no hope left. M. defies W. and later (Scene 4) she dances with the Drum Major. The only excerpt on the tape in Scene 3 has M. saying “better a knife (messer) in me than a hand in me” (and W. repeats “Better a knife-blade.”   [listen]

60) Into Scene 4 and in a beer garden W. sees M. dancing with the Drum Major and W. is tormented asks why can’t God put out the sun now, his mind is twisting, speaks of beasts… All this leads to a mock sermon (second excerpt) and a fool comes up to W. and “smells blood” (third part of ex. 60, where accordion is heard)—“blut, blut”… The music grows tense with W. going round and round… Then the end of Scene 4, leading into Scene 5 where you “hear” sleeping soldiers and with W. moaning in his sleep. He calls for Andreas: he can’t rid himself of the constant swirling of dancers, etc. W. is beside himself but the Drum Major says “shall I rip your tongue from your gullet and wrap it around your neck—tightly (the whistle came right before this excerpt). W. is soundly beaten…   [listen]

61) Act III: Marie reads from the Bible (theme varied 7 times each 7 bars and goes into a double fugue and it has 2 – 7 note subjects and 3 x 7 bars: not heard on tape): the story of Mary Magdalene. Two excerpts from this scene on tape. The last one is a plea for mercy. The curtain closes into the scene (2) where M. is murdered by W. Power music is left out when you finally hear “Nix” from W. (They have had a strange mixed-up conversation next to a pond and now is the actual murder: “How the moon rises red…”) The note B is heard constantly in this scene and now it is strong. When W. says “Tot”, the note is A: C (its resolution, i.e., B to C). Now the essence of what has happened (the whole drama) on the note B from the whole orchestra. This leads to a low tavern (badly lit) and a fast polka: W. wants Margaret to dance with him (to forget what has happened). They do communicate and she sings about something far off (second ex. here); then she sees blood on W’s hand and then everybody sings of blood. The scene changes. He’ll now drown looking for the knife. The excerpts heard in this scene are the opening where he has remorse and then where he actually goes down washing himself with “blood”. Then you hear the Captain and Doctor speaking about it being a long time since a drowning has occurred… skips a minute or so where they speak of groans being heard… into the orchestral interlude (only the opening heard) and to the end of it where the curtain opens upon children playing “Ring-a-ring-a-Roses, All fall down”, all in front of Marie’s house and where Marie’s child is on a hobby-horse. Innocence versus what life has been in this drama. “Hey, your mother is dead” “Hopp, hopp” “But there… on the path by the pool… let’s go and look…” …The chord returns and that perpetual rhythm want to continue…   [listen]



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