Guide for Tape 4

Contemporary Era

 

 

Tape 4

 

1) Schoenberg in 1923 wrote “Five Piano Pieces.” First ex. Is the second movement and is composed using a set but not serialized in a manner to come later. The second ex. Shows a 5 note row (used in the third piece) and then a complete row used in the last piece (a waltz) op. 23.   [listen]

2) In the 4th movement from “Serenade” op. 24 (1923) the vocal part uses a 12 tone row (the work uses old forms: march, minuet, etc., but there is serialism within it not yet fully developed.   [listen]

3) Finally in 1924, Schoenberg uses the 12 tone technique throughout a whole work. Op. 25 “Suite for piano” has movements marked, Preludium, Gavotte, Musette, Intermezzo, Menuett, Gigue. First complete, then only the openings of the others.   [listen]

 

4) Schoenberg’s Op. 26 is a more extended work, is 12 tone, but has formal characteristics such as the sonata form, scherzo form, ternary song form and rondo. This ex. Is from the opening bars, then right before the repeat of the exposition (horn alone, then back) and to right before the recap. Begins. Notice the opening theme varied before recap.   [listen]

 

5) Hindemith in 1922—Third String Quartet (op. 22). Here he summarizes his stylistic aims pursued up to this point. This work paves the way for new-classicism. Listen in class to specific criticisms of this work, and compare with other composers.   [listen]

 

6) In 1923, Hindemith wrote a song cycle, “Das Marienleben” (op. 27). It consisted of 15 songs divided into 4 groups, each with a character of its own. In 1948 the composer completely revised this work, smoothing the harshness, the vocal part angularity, etc. This ex. is the only song not revised, no. 12: “Stillung Maria mit dem Auferstandenen”.   [listen]

 

7) The next tow excerpts come from two members of the so-called “Les Six”. Darius Milhaud was sent to Brazil to be Paul Claudel’s secretary (then French ambassador). This was in 1917. By 1919, Milhaud had composed (commissioned for a Chaplin film) “Le Boeuf sur le toit” (something like, “The Nothing-Doing Bar”). Milhaud was interested in many kinds of music. Through a rather simple “complex” formal arrangement, the opening theme comes back a dozen times in almost as many keys along with French Music Hall tunes. You can hear the poly-tonality used. The next piece on this ex. is from “La Création du Monde” written in 1923. Obviously Milhaud had been in Chicago and Harlem (although this is not jazz!) It is a ballet written in conjunction with Leger. The taped portion is near the end.   [listen]

 

8) Honegger’s 1923 “Pacific 231”: a rather simplistic, easily “salable” train piece. How naïve but enthusiastic over such things as the idea of a train ride (many-sided ideas here: one being the sense of speed and freedom).   [listen]


9) Varese came to the US in 1915 and was fully open to a new concept of music. This work, “Ameriques” (1917-22) was not one of his concise masterpieces, but it helped pave the way. Some of this material was conceived objectively (as with sculpture, spatial configurations held together by rhythmic energy), but these three excerpts still show a rather subjective (almost extra-musical) side which Varese eventually purifies. The work hasn’t been totally unified.   [listen]

 

10) Varese appears on the MU220 tape (Musical Scene USA) but some examples of this master: The opening of “Offrandes” (notice “Petrouchka”—it inspired him) written in 1922 (“The Seine is asleep in the shadow of the bridges”). The opening of “Hyperprism” 1924, immediately follows. Then “Octandre”, 1924 and its opening; “Integrales”, 1926 in three excerpts quickly follows. Notice how the pitch aggregate finally “turns-over” in ex. 1; ex. 2 is not long after the first one and also “turns-over”, then the last is somewhat different in texture and movement. One the last ex. of 10, you’ll hear a tiny portion of the 1931 “Ionisation” for 37 percussion instruments played by 13 players.   [listen]


11) Shostakovich at the age of 19 (1925) an eclectic work but showing vitality. Read about Russia and aesthetics in “Music since 1900”. First Symphony is heard.   [listen]

12) Stravinsky’s “Octet” (1922-23), one of the earliest neo-classic works. What do you find different about this—from other works? from earlier Stravinsky works? (He rediscovers the sonata form: but what does that mean?) Do you hear outlines of tonal sequences? (Intro to Exposition and part of Exposition is heard) What about rhythm? Tonality and modulation are fundamental to the first movement’s structure. Repetition and imitation are consciously used as elements of symmetry, balance and contrast in the formal design. What does the last movement sound like, texture-wise? Actually it is supposed to be a Rondo. “Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments” (1923) by Stravinsky certainly seals his “return” beyond any doubt. Opening bars and right before the Allegro. “Return to Bach” Then he “returned” to Beethoven with a sonata for piano. He “returned” to others (in “Oedipus Rex”, Handel, Bach, Verdi, etc.) including his own compatriot, Tchaikovsky (“The Fairy’s Kiss”). The next Stravinsky here is 3 ex. from his ballet “Apollo Musagetes” (1927). A work “founded on moments or episodes in Greek mythology plastically interpreted by dancing of the so-called classical school”. It may be taken as an allegory on the theme of artistic creation (Apollo inspires the muses and leads them to a final apotheosis on Mount Parnassus). He wanted abstract choreography based on the traditional classical forms (pas d’action, pas de deux, etc.) Mostly diatonic, extreme purity and clam [?sic] is heightened by the string use (is pure purity achieved with the attitude that S. has during this period?).   [listen]

 

13) Schoenberg wrote “Three Satires” for chorus in 1925. They were his declaration of war against the current “isms” (neo-classicism, folklorism, middle-of-the-way music, and “wrong note” tonal music). Notice the C Major triad in the beginning and how it strays. It is a canon and it would be better if a chorus was singing (on this ex.)   [listen]

14) Stravinsky composed a work to the glory of god and dedicated it to the 50th birthday of the Boston Symphony in 1930: “Symphony of Psalms.” It is in 3 movements. Two interlocked thirds play an important part structurally in this work. First movement “Prayer” is represented here by the opening and ending. Movement two is a Double Fugue (later S. says this of the fugal exposition: “Altogether too obvious, too regular, and too long.” It is “in” c minor. Then the second four-part fugue (in Eb major) begins (and is accompanied by the first instrumental fugue). Here you hear into both fugues where the fourth voice has entered; then the ending of this movement. (But before this, please hear that second movement subject—oboe—and then that original idea coming from the second movement of the “Three Pieces for String Quartet”) First, the opening with its “Alleluia”, then “Laudate” which gets the major-minor third treatment (you hear some of this in its opening stages and then its ending). Then a vigorous triplet section (horns playing the rhythm of the words, “Laudate Dominum”) is heard in its opening and closing; a slow “Alleluia” again and back into the triplets. Then the ending of the triplets leading into a coda. A fugal episode starting with a tranquil canon between treble and basses (at the 13th) leads to that coda “Laudate Eum in Cymbalis bene Sonantibus” (there are no cymbals in the orchestra.!); in the harp, two pianos, and timpani you hear an ostinato moving in fourths like a pendulum. You don’t hear all the coda (Notice an almost exact paraphrase of “Tea for Two”, a popular song contemporary with this work!). Then it closes with material you have heard.   [listen]


15) Bartok in 1921: The opening of the “First Violin Sonata” showing how by this time he had found how to build his own authentic architecture which you’ll hear (The Sixth Qt. notice how similar the shape is, but the later work is more concentrated and pointed; here, he needs much breathing space). But, when the piano comes in, notice the triadic chords, meaning what? If we heard the whole movement we would notice sonata relation between form and content? But that doesn’t imply that these works are not authentic! The next thing here is the opening of the second move. No problem identifying the country.   [listen]

 

16) Opening of the “Second Violin Concerto [sic]”, 1922. This one is more concentrated than the previous. Probably sounds more complex but more intense. You hear the opening of the second (last) move. Truly into that Bartokian world of sound. Certainly he used what surrounded him but only in a masterly and artistic manner!   [listen]

 

17) In 1926, Bartok wrote “Piano Sonata”. You’ll hear the opening from each movement and the ending of the final move. This work is a modification of the style found in the vln. sonatas. Notice the extreme percussiveness, chord-clusters compounded of seconds, fourths, sevenths, and ninths, structure helped build from ostinato-like repetitions of short melodic phrases of a limited compass (and related to Hungarian folk music, of course, but now so naturally a part of his vocabulary as to hardly exist in an external manner, i.e., all the components of his music have now been integrated).   [listen]

 

18) The same kinds of excerpts as in 17): openings of three movements plus the ending—except a “little night music” (see later on) in the second move.—in the “Concerto no. 2 for Piano and Orch.” 1930. Completely successful in the medium which was made for this combination—a natural combination that doesn’t exude the past, etc. It is fresh, exuberant, showing Bartok at the height of his powers. If one heard the whole, one would still here varied alternation of two ideas. (the slow move. uses a different recording).   [listen]

 

19) Bartok’s “Third String Quartet” in its entirety (with the Urmotive and 3 variants preceding it):

                 ___________________________
                [                           ]
              Part 2                       Coda

 

    Part 1               Recap. Of Part 1
      [___________________________]

Part 1 develops the germ-cell (pentatonic figure consisting of a rising fourth and descending minor third) and it is “recapitulated” (condensed) in much less time. Part 2 springs from native dances with the main theme harmonized in “primitive” parallel triads (All this being driven along with percussive chords and syncopation). Much imitation and stretto. It all goes into a Fugue and it drives (motoric in character) and intensifies rhythm. The coda transforms Part 2 into something faster and more dense (canons and inversions in stretto) and becomes savagely aggressive in character through note repetition, incessant ostinatos, double-stops, glissandi, rising and falling arpeggios. One can also view how smaller intervals expand and how this expansion intensifies in direct relation to the whole structure unfolding to a conclusion. 1927.   [listen]

 

20) Bartok wrote six string quartets. They represent the very finest of Bartok (except the first). The 4th was written in 1928. In it one will find Bogen form (or arch: ABCB’A’). Not only thematically do these movements relate but also in character and general structure. The first and last movements derive their entire material from the cello part in bar 7 of the first movement. The second and 4th share the sam material, both are light-weight scherzos and they play in a special manner (both quite different in this respect). The central move. (C) is heard in its entirety on this tape. It recalls music particular to the tarogato (woodwind instrument of ancient Eastern origin). Only the openings of other movements are heard.   [listen]

 

21) Berg’s “Kammerkonzert” (Chamber Concert) 1925, written for Schoenberg’s fiftieth birthday, inspired by “friendship, love and a world of human and spiritual references.” It is in 3 movements: you first hear a statement (motto) played by violin, horn, piano, notes taken from the names, ArnolD SChonBErG, A. wEBErn, and AlBAn BerG (piano, violin, and last, horn, displaying those notes in capitals). Then you have an exposition on 3 themes (everything in this work is related to the number 3, here cut-off after the piano’s entrance. The second excerpt is at the end of the last variation (hear the theme being recapped?) where the second movement begins, this time the movement is between the violin and woodwinds (first move. was between the piano and ww). Notice how the piano strikes hard the last chord of move. 1, as in cinematic fading in to our… the movement goes backward at the middle (and you hear 12 low tones, all low C#’s!) and this is on the tape. The last movement combines movements 1 and 2 and the next to last excerpt here is right before the movement begins—where the piano slowly makes its entrance—notice the soft piano before it comes crashing in). The last ex. has the piano slowly fading until it is extinct. All through this work you hear the four forms or serial technique used.   [listen]

 

22) Berg composed his first complete work in 12 tones in 1925 using the same text used in 1900 when he was 15. Both songs are heard only at the beginning. “Close, O close my eyes at parting with whose hands I’ve loved so much…”   [listen]

 

23) Berg’s “Lyric Suite” (1926) is one of the great works for string quartet. The six movements have applied a row (the same row found in the second setting of the song above) that is an “all interval” series (so-called) in only half the work, hence strict versus “free”. But it is all very closely woven whether serial or not. The movements are interlaced in several ways: the first, third, and fifth movements become faster and faster while the second, fourth and sixth movements become slower and slower. At the same time, the work goes from “light” to “dark” (joy to despair). The fifth movement has great violence (Paroxysmic moments) and the sixth “dies” or just fades away. On the tape please find the openings of the first and second movements, a good part of the third (notice it ends like it began except backwards) and portions of the fourth and fifth, and all of the sixth. In no other St. Qt. will one find such sonority! All the movements are connected to older forms. The 3rd uses an interesting permutation of the original row and thematic relations from one movement to another are extremely subtle and form or structures a constant chain throughout the work. (It is a shame that only portions are heard on this tape.)   [listen]

 

24) Webern in 1924, almost obsessed with pure canon. Canons 1, w [typo: 2 or 3? Check tapes], and 5 are heard. The text (in Latin) is about Christ (…has given Him a name which above every other name, Jesus) (“Sleep…when you don’t sleep, mother weeps…calling tender sleep to you”) (“We worship thy cross in joy has come to the whole world”). Inverted canons are always heard; the vocal part is rather instrumentally conceived, consequently you’ll never hear ideal performances.   [listen]

 

25) Webern in 1926, “Two Songs” for mixed choir, celesta, guitar, violin, clarinet, and bass clarinet. Text from Goethe’s “Chinese-German Jahres und Tageszeiten”: something “white, like lilies…shines from the core of the heart…early narcissus blooms in rows from the garden.” Hoping they know whom they are standing … II … pure green will bloom into a colorfully flowered paradise. Hope spreads mist-like…parting clouds may bring us luck…” An interesting work, foreshadowing the later kantatas.   [listen]

 

26) Schoenberg in 1927 (Third Quartet) showing a greater clarity of articulation, plasticity, contrapuntal lines more fluid and the texture more airy. Opening of the first movement with its ostinato, the adagio theme and variations movement (opening theme in 2 parts, cut-off at the beginning of Variation 1; then the second part of the last variation (3rd) and into the coda to the end. The beginning of the scherzo and then the opening of the rondo and from near the end to the end, winding down like a clock.   [listen]

 

27) Schoenberg in 1928 and the “Variations for Orchestra” op. 31. You hear the Introduction (almost like a variation before the actual appearance of the variation theme: it gradually reveals the contours of the basic theme, transpositions to be used, and even in the trombone, the Bach motive heard later). Then the theme, and then the beginning of the Finale (and the Bach quote), then much later and into an adagio section (where all 4 forms of the row appear simultaneously, not successively as it was when the theme first appeared) and the final presto. A great variety of transparent textures, colors, etc., all for the sake of musical thought. Please read the chapter in “Style and Idea” that speaks of op. 31.   [listen]

 

28) Schoenberg wrote an opera, supposedly comic (1928-29) about two couples, one married, the other not. The wife wants to test her mate’s fidelity. The wife borrows his sister’s (a dancer) clothes and changes into a “modern woman” and playing up the little flirtation she had at that night’s party. The Husband turns into a jealous lover, and Singer (the wife’s flirtation) and Girlfriend, who had been led to expect a “modern quadrangle” are eventually faced with a straight marital line. If Schoenberg was successful in showing real love at the end, the opera truly closes when the child asks the crucial question, “Mama, what’s that, modern people.” Here we are at the end when the other couple sings, “We perhaps may be faded; they’re characters from the latest hit, still full of brilliant chatter and color. And then there’s this difference too: their play is produced just by fashion, but ours by—(looks around) if they have gone—I can dare to say: by love.” Husband: “Really they don’t seem to me so very up to date even today!” Wife: “Well, that can change between today and tomorrow.” (“Von Heute auf Morgen,” the opera’s name). Then the child with his question. Schoenberg wrote verbally about music and its relation to the present and past and their values. (Read “New Music, Outmoded Music, Style and Idea”).   [listen]

 

29) Moses and Aron. Act 1, Scene 1 (The Calling of Moses) is in 6 sections: 1) “Only one, infinite, thou omnipresent one, unperceived and inconceivable God!” 2) Calling of Moses 3) God’s mandate (your folk set free); 4) Promise of Moses 5) Promise to the Jewish people 6) God’s Command “Go forth now.”   [listen]

 

30) Scene 2: Moses meets Aron in the Wasteland: Aron can sing, Moses only sings once in the entire opera (when he sings “Purify your thinking free it from worthless things…”). Here you hear Aron singing (and he sings so well that he can convince people although he must produce images for a demanding people) but immediately a split occurs between these two (Aron will be the “mouth” of Moses).   [listen]

 

31) Scene 3: Moses and Aron bring God’s Message to the People. Only part of this scene is heard. They are observing both men from a distance. They question this new “God” but these skeptics are interrupted by the arrival of Moses and Aron.   [listen]

 

32) The people are very excited about this new God and wish to make offerings (not something Moses believes in!) but then M and A speak and sing for themselves their beliefs. But they don’t know whom to worship. They don’t see; want him pointed out. Aron despairs hence produces a serpent from the rod of Moses (before this, the people sang “Keep away… through him we do not want our freedom!”) This impresses them and they are frightened into a partial belief (particularly when the snake returns to its former state, a rod). They ask Aron if he is the servant of Moses and does Moses serve his God? Aron attempts to convince them of Moses: How sick Moses is because they have no faith. The hand of Moses becomes stricken and leprous (from his heart after putting his hand on his heart) and then back to health again to symbolize the invincible power of faith in God (a Priest had given them doubt and by saying that M. is no greater than a Pharaoh). People get excited by another call to revolt: “Everything for freedom!” They all then sing, “Off to the Wasteland!” A priest objects but Moses is translated into song and he then transforms the Nile into blood. Blood equals the blood of the Jewish People and makes fruitful the land (Egypt). Aron has triumphed!   [listen]

 

33) “Where is Moses” and his God? Only the beginning and ending is heard (done in darkness in front of the curtain).   [listen]

 

34) Act 2 Scene 1: “Where is Moses” (a short scene involving the Priest and 70 Elders. Revolt is building up. Aron can’t calm them. Scene 2 follows without a break: people want help from Aron. Aron commits a fatal mistake by suggesting that maybe M. has been destroyed. Mass hysteria follows. They want their old Gods back. (They are visible and earthly, assuring our certainty.) Scene 3: Aron gives them a Golden Calf (a 5 movement “Symphony” in scene 3 & 4). First, a March. Then a dance, and a Butcher’s dance, an old, sick woman, beggars and old men offer the calf their last mouthful and last breath. Chieftains enter (trombone) and pay homage. A young man tries to put a stop to this “worship” but is killed. Violence, blood being shed. A waltz that gradually becomes faster and faster until 4 naked virgins sacrifice themselves and their throats are cut (sex before by the Priests). Now an orgiastic dance. Drunkenness, erotic frenzy before all fall asleep. Scene 5: Then Moses returns. Condemns Aron and then has trouble believing. Aron still has rhetorical power. Strings play for the first time in unison and Moses asks, “Shall Aron, my mouth, fashion this image? Then I have fashioned an image too, false as an image must be. I am defeated. All was madness… O word, thou word, that I lack!”   [listen]

 

 

 

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