Schoenberg's Sheen

Started by karlhenning, April 12, 2007, 07:35:28 AM

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k a rl h e nn i ng

Quote from: Lisztianwagner on October 31, 2022, 02:12:22 PM
Crosspost from WOAYLTN:

Some thoughts about Von Heute auf Morgen: I listened to this opera for the first time and I really appreciated it, it isn't one of Schönberg's most famous works (a bit unfairly in my opinion), but it is an absolutely remarkable composition, very thrilling and intriguing, especially for what concerns the music and the use of the voices. As a matter of fact, the libretto is simple and generic, not particularly profound, witty and moved, although it is based on a quite interesting argument like the relationship between outwardnes and inwardness, appearance and substance, what is supposed to be modern that often reveals itself, in several aspects of life, merely ephemeral and frail, literally passing from today to tomorrow, and so it can be seen as a sort of ironic critics of some social tendencies; but nonetheless it is masterfully completed and deepened by the music. In fact, if the text has a light-hearted tone, the music is more complex, absolutely beautiful, suggestive and captivating, as well as immediately recognizable as schönbergian in its density of the contrapuntal lines, where all the sections, following the developments of the series (it was the first opera composed with the dodecaphonic method), are brilliantly combined and juxtaposed in continuous transformations to elaborate thick, but clear and solid textures; in the great variety of the timbres and orchestral colours, that gives the impression to have a huge amount of expressive possibilities to use, but also in the use of dissonances and harmonic contrasts to evoke haunting atmospheres, full of tensions and strong emotions, creating in this way a musical weaving which goes beyond and deeper than what the action simply shows and what is simply said; indeed in this opera, Schönberg's music, in its rhythmic flexibility, breaking and moving the inner plot, in its flowing on vivid colours and timbral inventiveness, seems to be really able to express the unconscious and to bring out the deep, true feelings hidden inside the characters, who reveal through the melodies much more than what they actually do on the staging. Anyway, at the same time, this quality puzzles me a little, if it is thought that, in the intention of the composer, the opera should be a comedy, but if I hadn't known it, I would have never called it a comic opera; honestly the mood sounds anything but light, on the contrary, it sounds sharp, tense and restless; but on the other hand, it results to be shrewd and humorous in the parodies created.

Most interesting. I don't believe I have heard the piece. Thanks, Ilaria!
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Lisztianwagner

Quote from: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 31, 2022, 02:46:17 PM
Most interesting. I don't believe I have heard the piece. Thanks, Ilaria!

You're welcome, Karl! Maybe Von Heute auf Morgen may not be one of Schönberg's masterpieces, but it is definitely brilliant and worth listening at least once; the opera is less than an hour long, so it flows as drinking a glass of water. :) I don't know how many recordings there are, I've found Rosbaund/Het Residentie Orkest and Gielen/Radio-Sinfonie Orchester Frankfurt, but it doesn't seem to be much performed anyway.
"Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire." - Gustav Mahler

Mandryka

Schoenberg wrote a preface for the 1924 edition of Webern's op 9 bagatelles.

Can anyone help me find a copy of it in English or French ? Free and online!
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

DaveF

Quote from: Mandryka on November 16, 2022, 08:50:35 AM
Schoenberg wrote a preface for the 1924 edition of Webern's op 9 bagatelles.

Can anyone help me find a copy of it in English or French ? Free and online!

I guess that the passage quoted on UE's website: https://www.universaledition.com/anton-webern-762/works/6-bagatellen-794 is probably not the whole preface, although a 3½-minute work might call for a similarly brief introduction.
"All the world is birthday cake" - George Harrison

Mandryka

Quote from: DaveF on November 16, 2022, 10:42:40 PM
I guess that the passage quoted on UE's website: https://www.universaledition.com/anton-webern-762/works/6-bagatellen-794 is probably not the whole preface, although a 3½-minute work might call for a similarly brief introduction.

I don't know. Someone has told me that it says

Consider what moderation is required to express oneself so briefly. Every glance can be expanded into a poem, every sigh into a novel. But to express a novel in a single gesture, joy in a single breath—such concentration can only be present when there is a corresponding absence of self-indulgence.

But he wasn't sure if there's more.


Still, it's quite an illuminating quote I think. I mean it reveals something about how these guys perceived expressiveness in music.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Mandryka

And here it is

Though the brevity of these pieces is a persuasive advocate for them, on the other hand that very brevity itself requires an advocate.

Consider what moderation is required to express oneself so briefly. 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 that can only be expressed by music.

These pieces can face criticism as little as this - or any - belief.

If faith can move mountains, disbelief can deny their existence. And faith is impotent against such impotence.

Does the musician know how to play these pieces, does the listener know how to receive them? Can faithful musicians and listeners fail to surrender themselves to one another?

But what shall we do with the heathen? Fire and sword can keep them down; only believers need to be restrained.

May this silence sound for them.

Arnold Schoenberg
Modling, June 1924

Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

k a rl h e nn i ng

I think I may have read the whole. Perhaps it is included in the anthology Style and Idea.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Lisztianwagner

#907
Brilliant! I found Schönberg's preface on an italian website this morning and I was going to translate it when I would come back from university, but you beat me to the punch. :D
"Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire." - Gustav Mahler

Mandryka

By the way, there's been some argument about the translation, particularly about the word self-pity.


Here's the original sentence if any of the linguists here care to have a go.



Man bedenke, welche Enthaltsamkeit dazu gehört, sich so kurz zu fassen. Jeder Blick läßt sich zu einem Gedicht, jeder Seufzer zu einem Roman ausdehnen. Aber: einen Roman durcheine einzige Geste, ein Glück durch ein einzigers Aufatmen ausdrücken: solche Konzentration findet sich nur, wo Wehleidigkeit in entsprechendem maße fehlt.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Mandryka

Must say, even though it's a Schoenberg thread, I'm very much enjoying Webern at the mo.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Lisztianwagner

Quote from: Mandryka on November 17, 2022, 08:19:06 AM
Must say, even though it's a Schoenberg thread, I'm very much enjoying Webern at the mo.
I think it is very interesting to see the differences between their styles, especially in their dodecaphonic compositions. Personally speaking, I don't like Webern's music as much as I love Schönberg or Berg (at least at the moment), but I appreciate it anyway, and as a matter of fact, I think it has a great ability to result extremely expressive, clear and meaningful despite being so brief and concise.
"Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire." - Gustav Mahler

Mandryka

Quote from: k a rl h e nn i ng on November 17, 2022, 08:02:00 AM
I think I may have read the whole. Perhaps it is included in the anthology Style and Idea.

It was a bit of a surprise for me to read it actually, because of the religious thinking. This is an aspect of Schoenberg which I knew about, but have never really investigated.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Jo498

Literally, "Wehleidigkeit" does not mean self-pity (that would be "Selbstmitleid" that is a both literal and a common German word). It rather means the opposite of toughness, being overly sensitive to pain and quick to complain. I am not sure about an idiomatic translation. self-pity is often given but being "whiny" is probably closer. "wehleidig" would be more often used for sensitive children who cry easily but are not really old enough to exhibit or cultivate real self-pity. A child that could be comforted quickly could still be described as wehleidig because it is so easily moved to crying or complaining. For adults both features are often more closely related.
Tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos, dans une chambre.
- Blaise Pascal

Mandryka

#913
Quote from: Jo498 on November 18, 2022, 03:21:27 AM
Literally, "Wehleidigkeit" does not mean self-pity (that would be "Selbstmitleid" that is a both literal and a common German word). It rather means the opposite of toughness, being overly sensitive to pain and quick to complain. I am not sure about an idiomatic translation. self-pity is often given but being "whiny" is probably closer. "wehleidig" would be more often used for sensitive children who cry easily but are not really old enough to exhibit or cultivate real self-pity. A child that could be comforted quickly could still be described as wehleidig because it is so easily moved to crying or complaining. For adults both features are often more closely related.

hypersensitivity.

Compressing the emotional content à la Webern is only possible if you're not easily emotionally overwhelmed.

It's really interesting because it shows that Schoenberg did not see Webern's music as abstract , like (arguably) its development into the serialism of Stockhausen and Boulez.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

staxomega

Quote from: Mandryka on November 17, 2022, 08:19:06 AM
Must say, even though it's a Schoenberg thread, I'm very much enjoying Webern at the mo.

Whenever I listen to Webern I end up going in long stretches listening to him. I don't do this with Schoenberg or Berg where I have specific works in mind when I listen to them, then move on. Not to say I like Webern more than them but there is a certain quality to his music that lends itself to this whereas with Schoenberg his pieces vary drastically.

You should hear Robert Craft in Webern if you haven't already. The interpretations are very different from Boulez. I wish he composed more cantatas and really would have liked to hear him write an opera.

staxomega

Quote from: Mandryka on November 17, 2022, 07:47:21 AM
And here it is

Though the brevity of these pieces is a persuasive advocate for them, on the other hand that very brevity itself requires an advocate.

Consider what moderation is required to express oneself so briefly. 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 that can only be expressed by music.

These pieces can face criticism as little as this - or any - belief.

If faith can move mountains, disbelief can deny their existence. And faith is impotent against such impotence.

Does the musician know how to play these pieces, does the listener know how to receive them? Can faithful musicians and listeners fail to surrender themselves to one another?

But what shall we do with the heathen? Fire and sword can keep them down; only believers need to be restrained.

May this silence sound for them.

Arnold Schoenberg
Modling, June 1924


Incredible that Schoenberg could write so much about something that is just 5 minutes. Reminded of why when I first started reading Schoenberg I wanted to read it all. I think I will plagiarize some of it for my signature  ;D

Jo498

Quote from: Mandryka on November 18, 2022, 07:04:27 AM
hypersensitivity.
This sounds a bit too neutral or medical/technical (there is also a literal translation "Überempfindlichkeit"). Wehleidig does have negative connotation, although maybe not as strong as self-pity. I think Schoenberg's point is that the condensation of emotion into one gesture requires such a discipline, toughness and absence of self-pity. One needs to be tough in cutting away everything non-essential.
Tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos, dans une chambre.
- Blaise Pascal

k a rl h e nn i ng

Quote from: Jo498 on November 19, 2022, 05:33:29 AM
This sounds a bit too neutral or medical/technical (there is also a literal translation "Überempfindlichkeit"). Wehleidig does have negative connotation, although maybe not as strong as self-pity. I think Schoenberg's point is that the condensation of emotion into one gesture requires such a discipline, toughness and absence of self-pity. One needs to be tough in cutting away everything non-essential.


Interesting, indeed.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Mandryka

Quote from: Jo498 on November 19, 2022, 05:33:29 AM
This sounds a bit too neutral or medical/technical (there is also a literal translation "Überempfindlichkeit"). Wehleidig does have negative connotation, although maybe not as strong as self-pity. I think Schoenberg's point is that the condensation of emotion into one gesture requires such a discipline, toughness and absence of self-pity. One needs to be tough in cutting away everything non-essential.

. . . But to express a novel in a single gesture, a joy in a breath - such concentration can only be present in proportion to self-mastery.

Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Lisztianwagner

#919
Quote from: Jo498 on November 19, 2022, 05:33:29 AM
This sounds a bit too neutral or medical/technical (there is also a literal translation "Überempfindlichkeit"). Wehleidig does have negative connotation, although maybe not as strong as self-pity. I think Schoenberg's point is that the condensation of emotion into one gesture requires such a discipline, toughness and absence of self-pity. One needs to be tough in cutting away everything non-essential.
Quote from: k a rl h e nn i ng on November 19, 2022, 05:36:09 AM
Interesting, indeed.
+1

I agree, I think too that Schönberg wanted to point out the great value of this style, what discipline and sobriety were required to concentrate emotions and expressiveness in such brevity; a way of expression is to start from a brief concept, and then, letting creativity flow freely, to elaborate, enrich and connect it with other elements, till creating a wide structure (you can stretch every glance out into a poem, every sigh into a novel), to result completely clear and explicit in every aspect; but without a balance between emotion and intellect, there can be a sense of exaggeration, of appearance with too little substance; instead doing the opposite is very different (to express a novel in a single gesture, a joy in a breath), it needs great conciseness to reduce the form to go the essence of things, as well as toughness and rigours not to exceed and become superfluous or emotionally exaggerated. It almost sounds a critic to Romantic music.

In the Italian translation, for "Wehleidigkeit" it was used "sentimentalismo", which means an exaggerated, affected tendency of expressing feelings; I don't know if it can correctly translate the German word, but I think it can work.
"Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire." - Gustav Mahler