Guide for Tape 5

Contemporary Era

 

 

TAPE 5


1) The whole of Webern’s Symphony Op. 21 (1928). Two double inverted canons throughout the first movement. After the repeat (first mov.) it enters into “space” (first time in the history of European music), i.e., first part of the first movement one can hear and feel a regular and steady pulse ticking, time now passes purely in relation with each phrase, phrases superimposed, interlocked, their durations not subjected to a regular beat or pulse; time now passes not from the “ground up” so to speak but now is freed from that, hence “space-time”. Every note is essential. No hauptstimme here (as in Schoenberg) but they are all hauptstimme (principal voice). A whole new concept and quite symbolic from many points of view. The second move: Theme of 11 bars (it mirrors itself halfway) and then follows seven variations of 11 bars each (all very contrapuntal) and then on 11 bar coda. An important work both aesthetically and historically.   [listen]

 

2) Messiaen at the age of 20 (Eight Preludes, 1928). “But I was already a second-color composer” commences to describe the colors of each Prelude. They are a legitimate off-spring of the piano music of Debussy and Ravel (and early Satie in one) in sonority (the former) and in figuration (the latter). This example comes from the fifth prelude and is the only instance of polymodal ostinato (found in early Messiaen). The title for this prelude is “The Palpable Sounds of the Dreamworld”: Superimposing a blue-orange mode with ostinato and chord cascades on a violet-purple mode treated like a brazen gong… (Messiaen)
Next excerpt immediately following:
Messiaen commenced work in 1932 on a set of four meditations for organ (later transcribed for orchestra) entitled L’Ascension. This is the end of the third piece (“Conveyance of joy from a soul before the Glory of Christ, which is His own”). The second mode is used (unit of three notes involving a half-step and whole step). A short pause in tape brings the central section of “La Vierge et l’Enfant” (the first piece in the “La Nativité du Seigneur” sequence), reflecting the idea of the changeless yet ever-changing: an ostinato of eleven chords in the middle carrying the plainchantesque melodic decoration of the note D and is in turn supported by a pedal fixed as to notes but constantly varied in rhythm. The three linear lines are varied in such a way as to give constant shifts of relations (within a 11/8 meter). Next brings the last Messiaen example displaying an entire melody resting on a single harmony (an F sharp major chord with an added sixth) in a suggested 7/8 time signature but with that melody acting freely against this meter.   [listen]

 

3) Excerpts from Hindemith’s Symphony: “Mathis der Maler” (1933-1934) the music comes from his opera of that name and centers around the painter, Mathis Grünewald, and for Hindemith, was a symbol of the German artist of his own time (the story deals with the painter’s life in S. Germany in the 16th c. set against the background of the Peasant War) during Nazi Germany, refuting the totalitarian dogma that the artist must be a political animal subservient to the State. In these excerpts you’ll hear a German folk-song (near the beginning) within the opening movement “Angelic Concert.” The second movement entitled “Burial”; the third movement (last) is a musical projection of a great panel depicting the “temptation of Saint Anthony,” a Bosch-like vision of the saint being tormented by horrible animals with human bits and pieces pieced on etc., conveying what was to come in Nazi Germany.   [listen]


4) Berg’s “Lulu” which he more or less finished before he died in 1935 (the third Act will be added for the first time in 1979), is the putting together of two of Wedekind’s plays and is quite the tragedy of the harassed, constantly misunderstood feminine charmer “which a squalid world tolerates only in the Procrustean bed of its own rigid moral concepts. A woman is forced to run the gauntlet—a woman who was not intended by the Creator to serve the egoism of her owner, and who can rise to higher things only in freedom.” The fall of LULU (the image of her better days playing the important role had been the mainspring of the action) now moves the spectator; “retribution has begun and the vengeance of a world of men intent on purging their own guilt” (quoted from K. Kraus). Here on the tape is part of the opening Prologue (1st excerpt) sung in front of the curtain by an Animal Trainer and introducing each figure (with his or her own characteristic music) of the drama (only the opening of the prologue is heard here). 2nd excerpt: Lulu being chased by the Painter (in canon) until her husband (3rd excerpt) knocks, enters, and immediately falls dead upon seeing what is taking place (all based on Lulu’s musical material, and; 4th excerpt, Lulu being murdered by Jack-the-Ripper in London after she turned prostitute; after which, (5th excerpt) you hear parts of the music originally composed for such a scene. Notice the vibraphone: this is the first time this instrument was used on such a scale in European music. Below are the texts for the first three excerpts:

EX. 1


PROLOGUE

From behind the curtain, which looks like the entrance to a tent, comes an animal tamer—in vermilion frockcoat, white breeches, and top-boots, a trainer’s whip in his left hand, a revolver in his right.

ANIMAL TAMER
Walk up, walk up! and spend a pleasant hour,
Fair ladies, noble gentlemen, with me;
Inside my tent you’ll thrill—and chill—to see
The beasts I have in my menagerie
Tamed by superior force of human power.
What can you see in plays, or operas either?
House-pets who are so well-bred and moral
Their milky diet cools each petty quarrel;
They revel in the comfort of a tear,
Just like the audience which has come to hear.
The unspoilt beast, the wild and lovely beast,
Here I will show you—this you’ll call a feast.
You’ll see the tiger who to kill is ready—
When once the tiger leaps the victim dies;
The bear, who begins by being greedy,
Will later fall down dead before your eyes.
You’ll see the monkey, often so amusing
And yet at times his native skill abusing:
He has a gift but not a sense of function,
So watch him play the fool without compunction.
Then here behind the curtain just for you
I also have a camel in my zoo!
You’ll see the creeping things from ev’ry region,
The earthworms, maggots, things whose names are legion.
You’ll see a crocodile and more, no do ubt.

 

EX. 2


PAINTER
Now please be calm…


LULU
Why don’t you leave me in peace? (She throws the shepard’s crook at his face and hurries towards the entrance door.) You’re a long way yet from catching me. I can see too clearly. Just leave me alone. (She escapes behind the ottoman) Using force will get you nowhere with me. (behind the ottoman) Go and get back to your painting.


PAINTER
Can’t you see I meant it as a joke? Please don’t move away now. (trying to hold her) Dear Frau Goll… I would also sooner not use any force. But first I have to punish you.


LULU
But for that you must first catch and hold me.


PAINTER
No, you need not think that you can escape me.


LULU
Get away!
PAINTER (throwing himself on the ottoman)
Now you’re mine!


LULU
So good night! (throwing the tiger-skin over his head)


PAINTER
Dirty trick…

 

LULU

(jumping over the podium and scrambling up the step-ladder. Ecstatically)
I’m looking over all the cities of the world!


PAINTER

(ecstatically jogging the ladder, looking up at her above)
I look at more than all the beauty of earth itself!


LULU
I reach up into heaven and pull down the stars and the moon!


PAINTER

(catching one of her legs)
I reach as far as Hades; I burst open Hell’s own gate. The Devil take me!


LULU
God save Poland!
(She causes the ladder to fall, hitting sculpture which breaks in pieces)
I will never be caught!


PAINTER
Most merciful God!


LULU

(springs up on the podium)
Keep right away from me!


PAINTER
This is the end of me!
LULU (tries to get to the ottoman in one bound…)
A manhole, careful you don’t fall in…


PAINTER

(again hurrying after her)
I have no sense of compassion left…(he stumbles)


LULU

(…but falls flat on the ground in front of it. Groaning)
Only leave me to myself now. I feel dizzy. (She manages to get up by the side of the ottoman and sinks down on to it as though ruptured.) My God, my God!


PAINTER

(suddenly recovering himself; on seeing Lulu collapse, he hurries to the door, bolts it, comes slowly forward, sits down by Lulu and covers her hand with kisses)
I have nothing left to lose now… I’ve no pity…! How do you feel?


LULU

(with closed eyes)
My husband will be coming…


PAINTER
I love you so!

 

EX. 3


LULU
Don’t destroy me now!


PAINTER
Oh, you have never loved…


LULU
It’s you have never loved…


THE PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE

(from outside)
Open the door!


LULU

(jumping up)
Oh, where can I hide? Oh God, now where can I hide?


PROFESSOR

(banging at the door)
Open the door!


PAINTER

(about to go to the door)
LULU (holding him back)
He’ll strike me dead…


PROFESSOR

(similarly, banging on the outside of the door)
Open the door!


LULU
He will strike me dead! (on the ground before the painter, clasping his knees)


PAINTER
Please get up…


LULU
He’ll strike me dead…
(The door falls with a crash into the studio)


PROFESSOR

(with upraised walking-stick, he dashes towards Lulu and the painter, quite breathless, and with bloodshot eyes)
You swine!—You… (He gasps, struggles for breath, and dies of a stroke)


LULU

(flies to the door)


PAINTER

(going up to the dead man)
Profess… Get up, Pro… Professor.


LULU

(staying at the door)
First of all you’d better get the studio looking tidy.


PAINTER

(leaning down to the dead man)
D’ you hear me, Professor? (He gently shakes him; to Lulu) Give me a hand and help me lift him.


LULU

(drawing timidly back with a shiver)
No, no…

[listen]


5) Berg’s “Violin Concerto” his own unconscious requiem but dedicated “to the memory of an angel” (Alma Mahler’s 18 year old daughter whose death had inspired him right before his own death at the age of 50). You first hear the 12 tone row (appearing from the beginning) built upon superimposed intervals of the third except for the last three notes; the last three row notes are the first three notes of the chorale “Es ist genug” (It is enough! Lord if it please three) from Bach’s sixteenth church cantata (the last three notes are combined with note 9, giving it the whole tone flavor it has). You then hear (ex. 2) that opening from Bach. Then, short silence and ex. 3 a good part of the opening (the fifths heard utilize notes of the row 2 4 6 8 and then 1 3 5 7 etc.). And into the movement (after the introduction one hears a number of musical ideas being exposed). Excerpt 4 is the beginning of an allegretto (scherzo form and Ländler-like) which acts like the second movement. Ex. 5 is the formal second movement. With it comes a rhythm. Ex. 6 is somewhat last where one hears this rhythm leading in the Bach Chorale, first, appearing slowly, then the violin plays a good portion of it, the violin is answered by the woodwinds as Bach originally conceived it, etc. The tape fades where the first variation appears. The short ex. 7 is a little later in the second variation. Another short excerpt (8) a little later; ex. 9 has the choral grow into the quasi-first movement material and into the coda where the choral comes back and to the end of this work by Berg.   [listen]


6) Now we have Webern in 1930 (“Quartet for vln, clar, tenor sax & piano” op. 22) opening only (poor recordings on this tape); in 1934 (“Three Songs”), opening of the first song (“the dark heart which hearkens to itself, receives spring…”); first 24 bars of the 1934 op. 24 (“Concerto” for flute, oboe, clar, horn, trp, trombone, vln, viola, & piano) in a terrible performance (Craft!) then the 1935 “Three Songs” op. 25 (opening only: “What a great delight! Once more now all the green’s unfurled and shines so bright”); opening of the Kantata, “Das Augenlicht” (the Light of the Eye), op. 26, 1935; the first two (3 in all) movements of the “Variationen” for piano (notice the back and forth movement, the texture, and try to imagine the second movement’s inverted canon at one beat), 1936; Webern in these works used the 12 tone rows as clearly as possible, limited their structure as much as possible in order to control all of their relations and bore the germ in such a way as to help give birth to the future music to come (after WWII).   [listen]

7) Schoenberg in 1936, the opening of the Fourth String Quartet, then showing the opening theme being developed, and then into the recap. (clearly the “sonata form”). Quite different from the fourth excerpt on this (number seven) example: the opening of the “String Quartet” by Webern (1928) where intervals play such an important part in its structure and where rhythm is now controlled and almost totally disassociated from the idea of a theme (as in an 18th and 19th century sense). Schoenberg accompanies his theme but Webern’s instruments are unto themselves…   [listen]

 

8) What about Bartok around this time? In 1934 he composed the “String Quartet no. 5” Here you hear almost half of the first movement. If you can retain the notes used in the opening motif (Bb C Db D D# E) enjoy them reappear later on accompanying the legato-type new theme appearing later on; the whole work has a bogen (arch) form as in the “Fourth Quartet”. This work has a wonderful balance. The second ex. here is from the 1936 “Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta” a four movement work utilizing two string orchestras and a third group of percussion instruments. You hear in essence the first movement (a five-part fugue having the subject enter on alternating rising and falling fifths until an Eb is reached whence the climax and all goes backwards with the subject being inverted) beginning of the Allegro second movement, the “folk” adagio third and the fast last movement). This third example is from the didactic “Mikrocosmos”, a collection of 153 piano pieces of progressive technical difficulty (Bartok performing on the tape); next, the first and last (3rd) movements (opening only) from the “Sonata for two Pianos and Percussion” 1937. Next is the opening of the Violin Concerto (1938) and last of the Bartok examples is the theme that opens the Sixth Quartet (viola solo), then heard before each successive movement, in two, three, and finally in four parts (they aren’t complete) 1939.   [listen]

 

9) What about Stravinsky? Well in 1938 he was still with Bach: here the opening of the “Dunbarton Oaks Concerto in E flat”.   [listen]

 

10) Luigi Dallapiccola in 1934-35, the choral part of the first part from the second series of six choruses from Michaelangelo Buonarroti the Young (these are three series), in this case sung by the Tiffen boy choir (London) accompanied by 17 instruments. “Five brothers make a seraglio (a place for keeping) to protect our beautiful sisters.”
The second ex. from Dallapiccola is from “Tre Laudi” from voice and thirteen instruments (1936). Here it catches the repeat of the opening two lines from the second song (“Love giving all joy that is born of the creator”) and then the whole last praise: “Through Mary accept my penitence if not I remain guilty and wicked, receive me sweet Christ and hear my reverent prayers.” This is early Dallapiccola not pure 12 tone but truly lyrical and Italian with long lines (phrases).   [listen]


11) Now Webern in 1939, his “Kantata n.1” You hear the first movement (“Lightening, the Kindler of Being, struck, flashed from the word in the storm cloud. Thunder, the heart beat, follows at last dissolving in peace”), beginning of the second, and the last movement opening and closing. A friend of Webern (an artist), Hildegard Jone wrote the text and spoke of Webern not wanting any center of gravity in the work. Very “classic” 12 tone music, usually in constant four part counterpoint (four simultaneous rows); notice the almost perfect tonal cadence at the end.   [listen]

 

12) The complete opus 30 “Variations for Orchestra” by Webern, 1940. Externally, a theme (not a melody but a presentation of the basic material) and six variations. This music is extraordinarily concise, based upon a very succinct row and rhythmic cell, quite geometric in construction, and the form formed by that concise but constant varied duration and pitch shape. Tape of live performance from Naples; very lyrical in interpretation.   [listen]

 

13) Movements 3, 4, 5 and 6 (last) from the last opus of Webern, the “Kantata n.II” 1941-43. From a live performance (Turin) conducted by H. Scherchen with Magda Laszlo as soloist. Music that utilized the row (intervals) in a classic contrapuntal manner, a single temporal unit, where words are set (not extra-musical descriptive texts), etc. The text (again from Jone) is somewhat naïve, containing meaning that Webern liked, having a pantheistic mysticism about it, letting the bells (hearts) ring for all mankind, stirring and awakening blowing fragrances, voices coming through the dark consoling us, bringing The Word, charity, but painful when it died on the cross, but the womb bore Him. It gave light to this world peace “A child’s sweet might, by holy love’s great power.”   [listen]

 

SIDE 2 (Tape 5)

14) A few small excerpts from “Canti di Prigiona” (Songs of Captivity of the Prisoners) by Dallapiccola (1938-41). Opening showing use of the original chant Dies Irae, Dies Illa. A little later but now with the chorus in closed mouth; climax of this introduction (“O My Lord and God”); now the opening of the “Prayer of Maria Stuart” a little later (basses inverting the tenor phrase) and again a little later (“Now set me free”). Not yet pure 12-tone.   [listen]

 

15) Dallapiccola in 1942: Song three and four from “Cinque Frammenti di Saffo” for voice and chamber orchestra. Now more concentrated 12-tone although triads are still heard. “Gentle Adonis is dead, O Cytherea: And now what shall we do? A long time strike your breasts, O Maidens, and rend your garments.” (The music goes backwards at half way, not counting the oboe inter.) “A long while I spoke with Aphrodite in a dream.” (fifth song)   [listen]

 

16) In 1943 “Sex Carmina Alcaei” (Six Songs of Alcaeus): “O Violet-haired, divine, sweetly smiling Sappho” (At the word Sappho, you hear the opening of the last song from the previous work). Next is the opening (canon) of number 2 but fading out and into the end of number 3. (“…blue water is set free, the vine is flowering and the green cane becomes visible. Already in the valleys the songs of spring resound”) where the opening melody returns (in canon and with lines that go backwards at half-way points); number 4 complete (“Now let them place garlands woven of anise about our necks and pour sweet smelling myrrh over our bosoms”) with inverted canons.
Number 5 & 6 (“I heard the flowery Spring coming; hasten, mix a bowl of the honey-sweet wine!”) (“O sea-shell, daughter of stone and the whitening sea—you astound the mind of children”)—double inverted canons that continue to the end of the work. Already Dallapiccola is obsessed with canon; 13 years later he’ll purify the pitch relations.   [listen]

 

17) “Il Prigioniero” (Prisoner) by Dallapiccola (1946-48); a work articulated in four scenic blocks: the visit of the Mother with the Prisoner; the conversation in the cell between the Jailer and the Prisoner; the Prisoner’s escape; and the failure of his escape. Here you hear the opening three chords (that return throughout the opera) and the mother singing, “You will live, my son” then “my son” again. Then the Prisoner relates how he was called “brother” by the Jailer cradling him in the illusion of the hope of freedom. Then again except the line unfolding and bringing forth the word “luce” (light). (The Mother repeats but conjures up a question). Again the word “Fratello” (Brother) that sweet word brought forth a renewal of prayer and the remembrance of a prayer of his childhood, “My Father, O guide my steps…” But neither of them can dispel the presentiment that this is to be their last farewell. This part ends with the words “E il Carceriere” (the Jailer) and near the end of the first scene. Immediately following the previous are the Mother’s last words exclaiming this presentiment. The second scene opens with the Jailer appearing (with lighted lamp) as the Prisoner sings that he is once again alone and actually singing “My Brother” (chromatically going up this time) “Fratello, spera” (hope). Then a longer section with the Jailer exhorting the Prisoner to hope (with an unctuous sweetness that makes it impossible to distinguish between humanity and hypocrisy). When the Jailer has gone, the Prisoner notices a slight gleam of light which filtered through the obscurity of the cell (was it left intentionally?). He rushed out, the curtain falls and after a brief orchestra interlude, we find ourselves with the childhood prayer; later (he was almost discovered while crawling along the dungeon by two priests who were nonchalantly discussing theological matters). Excitement and the door, the bells of Chant ringing (meaning the end of the fanatic, Philip II and liberty returning for Flanders)… after the second choral interlude, the fourth scene where the Prisoner reaches the outside, sings “Alleluia” and sings of the air, the light, the liberty (chorus sings of praise) then the sky, the stars, “Alleluia” comes up to a large tree and there sings, “My Brother” as enormous arms close about the Prisoner. The Grand Inquisitor saves the Prisoner from going mad (from his flight), giving him loving attention. The Prisoner has been nothing more than a toy in the hands of his persecutors. “Ah, how the light dawns! Now I see! It is hoping…which is the final torture!” The Grand Inquisitor leads him away into the background, a new chorus sings the Prayer of Maria Stuart (from the “Songs of the Prisoners”) as the Prisoner doubtfully questions, “Liberty?” A 12-tone work but not yet refined to the degree he’ll attain. As you’ll hear Dallapiccola refines his sensibilities to the utmost. One must hear how those sensibilities develop and understand how, at times, when didacticism sometimes outweighs the aesthetic (this occurred many times in Beethoven’s music let alone much music from the 19th century). Hence obviousness can occur.   [listen]


18) Messiaen in 1939: a tiny ex. demonstrating what Messiaen described as “modulation to a different polymodality.” Actually one hears just part of this. The point is made that the note E natural is not heard at all during a very chromatic field comprising mode 3 (fourth transposition) in the hands and mode 2 (3rd transposition) in the pedal (modes are purely personal). The 2 modes together utilized every note except E natural hence Messiaen’s attitude showed signs back then of a growing “twelve-tone consciousness”.   [listen]

 

19) Messiaen in the first of eight parts of the “Quartet for the End of Time” (1941). The piano creates a rhythmic ostinato on Hindu rhythms with the blackbird and nightingale superimposed.   [listen]

 

20) “Amen des Etoiles” the first movement of the Messiaen “Visions de l’Amen” 1943 is heard in the following way: first, the theme (unaccompanied) is quite repetitions [sic] (the opening section repeated twice) and is somewhat “tonal”, the “development” falls into three parts: in the first, the motif (X) is accompanied by a polyharmonic and polyrhythmic and registrational variation. In the second part you’ll hear notes being altered (by inversion and sequence). The third part is where the theme is given a Messiaen treatment, the ostinato: one on X and the other descending. Across these is found a melodic-rhythmic idea founded on an idea from the theme ( ). This discourse doesn’t stop until the ostinato corresponds tonally with the static ostinato (V of the home “key”). The theme is then re-capitulated with a complex polyharmonic accompaniment.   [listen]


21) “Trois Petites Liturgies de la Presence Divine” (1944) is in three movements. On the tape, please hear: the opening of the first movement, to the end of the first part and into the second (middle) section and into the third part which sounds like the first part (bird calls with chorus: and a tonality with atonal calls); the second movement is represented here by the opening (simple choir melody in two rhythms) and the middle section where the onde martenot accompanies the chorus (“the word was with God, and the word was God”); the opening of the third movement: it represents: “The planets, flowers, birds, and the time of different things: the unending times of the stars and mountains, the shorter time of Man, and the even shorter time of the insect”.   [listen]

 

22) “Turangalila Symphony” (1946-48) is a ten part (movement) work. First you hear the first two cyclic themes: trombones (“statue” theme) and clarinets (“flower” theme). Then the end of a piano cadenza leading into the body of this intro: made up of five schemes, one and two being duple ostinati of rhythm and harmony work against each other as do four (a varied non-retrogradable rhythm) and five (a chromatic time-value sequence). Scheme three is the most complex. The duration proportions are of massive simplistic themes. Horizontal and vertical time schemes are, at times, simultaneous and the same. Messiaen has attempted to give Western music a new Time and Space. After a short pause one hears a retrograde rhythmic canon (not so far what Boulez will do apropos the rhythmic and pitch content—hear the Mallarmé Improvisation no.1 and 2) taken from the third part. Now the fourth part: first, the piccolo and bassoon with rhythmic theme on the wood block: the “Scherzo” bridge; then the Refrain (“Chant d’amour 2” is the same of this movement): and first trio (woodwinds) and then a touch of the Refrain; Second trio for strings; then the scherzo and two trios with bird calls on the piano, all superimposed; the bridge (sounding like the first trio); superimposed material; now two different musical entities; piano cadenza; those cyclic themes, the “flower” and “statue”; the piano leading in refrain in the ondes and strings and cadence (the tape compiler lacks a score and “guesses”). Movement 5: “Joy of the stars’ Blood”—in effect a scherzo. The theme is a variant of the “statue” theme (a number of excerpts from this movement are on the tape). Movement 6: “Garden of Love’s Sleep”. The piano plays bird songs (nightingale, blackbird, hedge sparrow) while the lovers are heard. In Burgundy, the peasants have a saying to describe their pinot noir (red) wine as one drinks it: “It goes down like gullet as easily as the little baby Jesus in velvet pants.” The expression may have originated with monks; no matter; one might find a connection between this and some of the music of Messiaen. One wouldn’t go so far as to speak of some gaudy religious pictures that are found hung on the walls in certain peasant houses.   [listen]

23) Messiaen wrote five songs (“Cinq Rechants”) for unaccompanied voices—here is about half of the first one and parts of the third one. They exhibit an extraordinary novel (for the time, 1948) approach to voice writing utilizing the verbal language in an imaginary way (pseudo-hindu mixed with more conventional phrases making references to the legend of Tristan and Isolde.) Color is a strong aspect in these songs along with an interesting melodic character “echoing” what later composer will do (listen to Nono).   [listen]

 

24) Schoenberg wrote at the end of his life two kinds of music (styles?): one that was pseudo-tonal, the other a highly inventive 12 tone music. Obviously the 12 tone music is the stronger. In this ex. you’ll hear two portions [of the String Trio]: one from the opening pages and into the first Episode (Part I, although Schoenberg didn’t mark it as such and almost 20 bars of Episode I) and then all of Part 3 not written (contained) in Part I although what is on this tape from Part 3 has material, partially reworked, from Part 2 as well). (Episode 2 found in Part 2 is the only section that is not used in Part 3). Notice the clarity and succinctness. (The only String trio as memorable as this work is the Mozart K.563!) This is a highly lyrical work. That pizzicato before the music becomes slow (unisons appearing, the beginning of the first episode) after silence and ponticello is where Schoenberg’s heart was stimulated to begin again (an extramusical autobiographical note that intimates of Schoenberg’s remark) after a heart attack had silenced his heart in Chicago the year before.   [listen]

 

25) The end of Stravinsky’s “Symphony in Three Movements” (1942-45). Oddly this work was inspired by external events (particularly the War) i.e., Stravinsky’s attitude toward “Programme” music was always negative, but in this case, it was almost proudly hailed. Anyway, there is vitality and the ending displays it: notice that he still has tonal connections and that the big-band (Woody Herman) sound and the actual pitches used are very noticeable on that last chord!   [listen]

26) The climax and ending of Schoenberg’s “A Survivor from Warsaw” (1947), op. 46. Composer’s text based on an account of a young Jew who had escaped from the battle in the Warsaw ghetto. You’ll hear the last words of the speaker leafing to the men’s chorus singing in unison the ancient Hebrew prayer “Shema Ysrael”. A basic row was used for the work. War can change attitudes but the results can be quite different (ex. 26, vs. ex. 25).   [listen]

 

27) Schoenberg’s last completed composition, “De Profundis” op. 50B 7/2/50. Here on the tape you hear the end of it: a six part mixed choral work unaccompanied with a text from Psalm 130. Not an easy work to perform: the live performance is not totally adequate (from Pisa, Italy, Duomo).   [listen]

 

28) The opening bars of Stravinsky’s “The Rake’s Progress” and then two short excerpts from the same aria from this 1948-50 work. The words (if you can follow them): “I go to him. Love cannot falter, cannot desert; though it be shunned or forgotten, though it be hurt, if love be love it will not alter. Though it be shunned…cannot falter, cannot desert a loving heart, an ever-loving heart.” Immediately following are a few phrases from an aria from Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” (it is Donna Elvira complaining about that awful Don Giovanni. This Auden, Kallman, and Stravinsky collaboration was just about the end of Stravinsky’s neo-classicism.   [listen]

29a) Now Stravinsky has begun to listen to Webern and in this 1952-53 “Septet” you can begin to hear this fact. You’ll hear the beginning of the 16 note basic set from the second movement, Passacaglia. Notice the Klangfarbenmelodie (each instrument playing and passing along several notes of the melody)
b) Next comes the last movement (a fugal Gigue), an 8 note row made up from the 8 different notes from the 16 note row. Still old forms but the content will not change.
c) The introduction from the late 1953 work, “Three Songs from Shakespeare”. The work is based on a brief row of 4 notes, its retrograde, retro. inversion, and inversion (which can be clearly heard here).
d) The opening of “In Memoriam Dylan Thomas” (1954) utilizing a basic row of 5 notes. The whole work is based on the serial principle.
e) Two excerpts from the 1955 (composed with St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice in mind) “Canticum Sacrum Ad Sancti Marci Nominis” for tenor, baritone, chorus and orchestra. The first ex. (from the second movement) reveals a 12 tone row. Then notice how canonic the second excerpt is (and how much Stravinsky’s pitch content is changing).   [listen]

 

30) Next comes a simplified compendium from a 1953-57 work, “Agon” a ballet for 12 dancers. These excerpts might show something of how much the composer changed within the time taken to write this work (the work was interrupted by the two previous works, (29 d & e). The work is in 12 movements arranged in 4 sections of three. The work progresses slowly from a somewhat diatonic basis towards a chromaticism and into a Webern like (opus 30) serialism, and then returning to diatonicism, at the end. Of course this is an oversimplification for a number of reasons. A few of these: even Stravinsky’s use of diatonicism is somewhat pseudo (in relation to previous tonal practices); many times throughout the work, the availability of all chromatic notes is taken advantage of (but even at that, tonal implications are heard); Stravinsky’s rhythmic development hasn’t really internally changed throughout his whole career hence the serialization isn’t or wasn’t really that profound (compared to Webern’s opus 21 or 30, i.e., integration between rhythm and pitch hasn’t really occurred); there is an internal governance that defies complete rationalization apropos the specific individual style for a specific work; etc. Someone could construct such a work (evolving from diatonicism to…?) but that wouldn’t determine that the work would have quality and value. Possibly the most original component in this work is its use of instrumental color. The excerpts do not explore this idea.   [listen]

 

31) Four short excerpts from Stravinsky’s “Threni: id est Lamentationes Jeremiae Prophetae” 1957-8. First the Introduction where you hear a thematic idea on which the series is based. The second excerpt is the beginning of a four part canon (actually a double canon, i.e., bass II is imitated by the tenor II, bass I by tenor I); the third excerpt is near the end of a long middle part showing a decided Webern (Kantata) influence, and the last excerpt is the final cadence of this work (notice how the composer is tonally polarizing the material (from whatever serial purity he may have written). The whole work is the most consistent so far from this total chromatic point of view.   [listen]

 

32) The beginning of “Movements” for piano and orchestra (1958-9), then all of the second movement, the interlude (all of the five movements after the first had a connecting passage anticipating a new tempo for each movement) that seems to contain the most dynamic (loudest) portion of this 8 or 9 minute work and into the last movement. Certainly, if one knows by sound the history of European music from 1948 to 1958, you’d realize that Stravinsky was following the pattern he consistently followed (somehow being able to transcend the influences he so much depended upon) although this time one wonders if he truly gained as much as he lost, i.e., this work might have succumbed to that avant-garde 1950 style that seemed almost disassociated (or at least not individuated): listen to the little of this music that appears on Tape 5 and 6 (commencing with the Boulez First Piano Sonata coming up). “Row” music yes rhythmic, or almost in the style that was prevalent, i.e., quite modish to say the least…   [listen]

 

33) Three tiny excerpts from the last works written by Stravinsky: the opening of “variations” for orchestra (1963) a c. 5 minute work working out duodecimal patterns, the T.S. Eliot in memoriam work “Introitus” the phrase setting the word Requiem, and the last few notes from the 1965 work, “Requiem Canticles.”   [listen]

 

34) Boulez in 1946 finished two works: a Flute Sonatina (the ending is heard here with Severino Gazzeloni playing with David Tudor—many composers wrote avant garde works for flute with Gazzeloni in mind) and his First Piano Sonata (you hear the opening of the first movement, a few seconds from the beginning of the second (last) movement and a little of a second motion in this movement (Rapide)). Both works when Boulez was twenty. Don’t look for a regular beat in the Sonata’s first movement. Intervals and durations (and an athematic music if you wish); the beginning of abstract or “abstract” music which will be in abundance in Europe for at least several decades (but mostly during the 1950’s until Cage appeared in Darmstadt in 1958. Even then, possible one can still use the words abstract or “abstract”. One thing that is clear: a certain style is now appearing. Immediately following the Sonata, please find two excerpts from the Boulez “Livre pour Quatuor” (1949): the end of 1b and the beginning of II. Immediately following you’ll hear a few bars in Part I of “Polyphonie X” for 18 instruments (1951). No comments on these works: just listen to the texture: use of dynamics, intervals, pitch, duration, intrumental timbre, etc. The “Polyphonie X” work is a work that is designed to embrace a systematized control of the parameters. Next comes an earlier work, “Le Soleil des Eaux”. Settings of two René Char poems (originally part of a radio drama that tells of the revolt of fishermen against an installation of a factory which poisoned the water—Boulez wrote the background music and this work is based on those parts written for it). Two excerpts: first the beginning, “Do not pick at that sunflower, your cypress tress would be most disturbed, goldfinch: fly off again and return to your woolly nest.” The second ex. from the last (second) movement is about the river that was poisoned. A much less abstract work, clearly orchestrated, and the tiny excerpt that follows show its inspiration (the beginning of the Second Kantata of Webern; essentially, this Boulez work plus another one written a little earlier are Kantatas), at least line and shape: the formal aspects are Messiaen and Stravinsky influenced (juxtaposition of sections). The last two works (excerpts) heard on this tape are clearly related from a structural view: Messiaen’s famous “Mode de Valeurs et d’intensités” (1949) and Boulez’s “Structures” (book 1) 1952-55. The Messiaen work is the second movement of a work called “Four Studies in Rhythm”. This second movement uses 36 tones (pitches), 24 durations, 12 attacks, and 7 dynamics. They are all serialized. Immediately following you’ll hear the opening of “Structures”. The work isn’t so fixed but is an interaction of independently progressing serial mechanisms. The first excerpt from this work is a movement totally serialized (the only “freedom” is the choice of pitch register): 12 rows times four (Piano using the original and retrograde; all use a serialized rhythmic strand of 12 different lengths (the shortest being a 32nd length and that duration can be used to calculate the rest) and if one counted the lengths of each note in the original row as it first appeared, one would come up with a set of 12 numbers. Those numbers are directly related to the row (notes) etc. The second excerpt from this work is its second movement and the third and last excerpt on this tape is its last and third movement. Those movements are “freer” than the first. Must mostly, listen carefully and see what is distinguishable, individuated, etc.   [listen]

 

 

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