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Berg Three Pieces For Orchestra Analysis Essay




Harmony, by Walter Piston, revisions and additions for the fourth edition (W. W. Norton, 1978) and fifth edition (W. W. Norton, 1987).

Instructor's Manual for the same, fifth edition, Norton, 1987.

Handwritten Music, 1979, unpublished.

Mostly Short Pieces: An Anthology for Harmonic Analysis, W. W. Norton, 1992.

Instructor's Manual for the same, Norton, 1992.

Debussy and the Veil of Tonality: Essays on His Music, Pendragon Press, 2004. Click here for an excerpt.

Schubert's Great C Major: Biography of a Symphony, Pendragon Press, 2011. Click for the cover and an excerpt.

The Selected Letters of Bernard DeVoto and Katharine Sterne, University of Utah Press, 2012. Click here for an excerpt.


Articles (selected)

Articles for Dictionary of Contemporary Music (E. P. Dutton, 1974).

Articles for The New Harvard Dictionary of Music, third edition (Harvard University Press, 1986).

"Some Notes on the Unknown Altenberg Lieder," Perspectives of New Music V/1 (Fall-Winter, 1966).

"Berg and Pacifism," International Alban Berg Society Newsletter No. 2 (1971).

"Alban Bergs Drei Orchesterstücke op. 6: Struktur, Thematik und ihr Verhältnis zu Wozzeck," Alban Berg Symposion Wien 1980: Tagungsbericht, Alban Berg Studien, Band 2, Universal, Vienna (1981; translated by Harro Stammerjohann). [English version]

"Alban Berg's 'Marche macabre'." Perspectives of New Music 22 (Fall, 1983-Summer, 1984).

"Alban Berg and Creeping Chromaticism," in Alban Berg: Historical and Analytical Perspectives, ed. David Gable and Robert Morgan (Oxford University Press, 1991).

"Alban Berg: The Composer of Songs," in The Berg Companion (Macmillan, 1989).

"Paris: 1918-1945," Chapter 2, in the final volume, Modern Times, in an 8-volume series, Music and Society, published by Macmillan/Prentice-Hall in conjunction with Granada Television, edited by Stanley Sadie (1993).

"Program Music, Character Pieces, Impressionism: Placing Debussy," Cadenza 1/6, October-November 1987 (program guide for WJHU-FM, Baltimore).

"l'Espagne, toujours l'Espagne!", ibid., 2/4, June-July 1988. (About Spanish nationalist music by French composers)

"I am the vessel...", ibid., 3/3, April-May 1989. (About Stravinsky)

Alterations and corrections for Stravinsky's Les Noces, in "Scores & Parts," Journal of the Conductor's Guild 10/1-2 (Winter-Spring, 1989).

"Nonclassical Diatonicism and Polyfocal Tonality: The Case of Nielsen's Fifth Symphony, First Movement," in The Nielsen Companion, edited by Mina Miller (Faber & Faber, 1995).

"The Russian Submediant in the Nineteenth Century," Current Musicology 59 (October, 1995).

"The Strategic Half-Diminished Seventh Chord and the Emblematic Tristan Chord: A Survey from Beethoven to Berg," International Journal of Musicology, Vol. 4 (1995, published 1997).

"The Russian Submediant in the Nineteenth Century," Current Musicology 59 (1995, published 1997).

"The Death Leitmotif in Wozzeck and Lulu," in Encrypted Messages in Alban Berg's Music (Garland Publishing, 1998).

"Melville Smith: Organist, Educator, Early Music Pioneer, and American Composer," in Perspectives on American Music, 1900-1950, Vol. 3 (Garland Press, 2000).

"Harmony in the Chamber Music," in The Cambridge Companion to Ravel (Cambridge University Press, 2000).

"Copland and the 'Boulangerie,'" in Copland Connotations: Studies and Interviews (Boydell Press, 2002).

"Debussy's Neglected Fantaisie," Pendragon Review no. 2 (2002).

"The Debussy Sound: Colour, Texture, Gesture," in The Cambridge Companion to Debussy (Cambridge University Press, 2003).

"Some Aspects of Parallel Harmony in Debussy," in Liber Amicorum Isabelle Cazeaux: Symbols, Parallels and Discoveries in Her Honor (Pendragon Press, 2005).

"Boris's Bells, By Way of Schubert and Others," Current Musicology 83 (Spring, 2007).

"Über einige Fanfarenfiguren von Alban Berg," in Rudolf Stephan zum 80. Geburtstag, Alben Berg Studien, vol. 6, Vienna, Universal Edition (2008), pp. 9-11.

"Alben Berg zum Gedenken: The Berg Memorial Issue of 23: A Viennese Music Journal," annotated translation, in Alban Berg and His World, edited by Christopher Hailey (Princeton University Press, 2010).



"The Beethoven-Wagner Connection, or, What Did the Frenchmen Have in Mind?"

"Parallel Fifths in Orchestration and When They Matter"

"Rudolph and Winchester"


"Examples in A Minor"


Critical Editions

Alban Berg, Fünf Orchesterlieder nach Ansichtskartentexten von Peter Altenberg, op. 4, full orchestral score with preface, in Alban Berg: Sämtliche Werke, I. Abteilung, Band 6: Orchestergesänge, 1997, Vienna, Universal Edition, UE 18156. Study score (Einzelausgabe) of the same, 2000.



Alban Berg: Arnold Schönberg: Gurrelieder: Führer, Grosse Ausgabe; Alban Berg: Arnold Schönberg: Pelleas und Melisande op. 5: Kurze thematische Analyse; Alban Berg: Arnold Schönberg: Kammersymphonie op. 9: Thematische Analyse; and [Author uncertain]: Arnold Schönbergs Fis-moll Quartett: Eine technische Analyse, all in Journal of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute 16/1-2 (June-November 1993, published spring 1995). ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award, December 1995.

Correspondence of Alban Berg and Anton Webern, approximately 600 letters; from the Polnauer transcription of handwritten and typed originals; unedited and unpublished.


Invited Papers for Conferences

"Die symphonische Laufbahn Gottfried von Einems in den USA," Gottfried von Einem - Kongreß, Vienna, 1998 (mostly an analysis of Einem's Symphonische Szenen op. 22); published in a Kongreßbericht, 2003.

"Los cuartetos de Revueltas," II Coloquio Internacional Silvestre Revueltas, Mexico City, 1998 (translated by Lois Grossman).

"Revueltas's Melodic Processes from the Quartets to Sensemayá," for a conference at the University of Rhode Island, October 1999.


Public Lectures and Papers

(other than for professional societies and conferences)

"Arnold Schoenberg's Moses und Aron: A Twentieth-Century Midrash in Music," Tufts Hillel, 1982; New England Jewish Arts Festival, 1983.

"Arnold Schoenberg: Musician and Jew," Hebrew Union College / Jewish Institute of Religion, 1984; New England Conservatory, 1985.

"Arnold Schoenberg and Judaism: The Harder Road," Tufts University, 1989; Arnold Schoenberg Institute, Los Angeles, 1990.

"Walter Piston: Practical Theorist," Harvard University, 1994.


Special Occasions

Two papers, "The Sterne Letters," and keynote address, at a conference, "The Life and Legacy of Bernard DeVoto," Weber State University, February 1994. Revised versions, at "Devoted to the American West: The Century of Bernard DeVoto, 1897-1997," Eisenhower Center for American Studies, University of New Orleans, January, 1997.



Producer for recordings by Northeastern Records, New World Records, Cambria Records, and Koch International Records.

Liner notes for recordings by Northeastern Records, Nonesuch Records, and Albany Records.


Reviews (selected)

Willi Reich, Alban Berg: Leben und Werk; Perspectives of New Music 4/2, Spring-Summer 1966.

Two Universal Edition anthologies of new piano music, ibid., 8/1, Fall-Winter 1969.

Laurence David Berman, The Evolution of Tonal Thinking in the Works of Claude Debussy (dissertation, Harvard University, 1965), Current Musicology, 9, 1969.

George Perle, Serial Composition and Atonality, second edition, Music Library Association Notes, September 1969.

Pierre-Daniel Templier, Erik Satie, and Emile Vuillermoz, Gabriel Fauré, ibid., June 1971.

James Harding, Erik Satie, ibid., September 1976.

Arbie Orenstein, Ravel: Man and Musician, ibid., September 1977.

George Perle, Serial Composition and Atonality, fourth edition, and Twelve-tone Tonality, ibid., December 1978.

Arnold Schoenberg, Theory of Harmony, ibid., September 1979.

George Perle, The Operas of Alban Berg: Volume 1, Wozzeck, ibid., June 1981.

Charles M. Joseph, Stravinsky and the Piano, ibid., December 1984.

Alexandra Orlova, Musorgsky's Days and Works: A Biography in Documents; Opera Quarterly, Winter 1984-85.

Mosco Carner, Alban Berg, ibid., Autumn 1985.

Three recordings of Berg's Wozzeck, ibid., Autumn 1985.

George Perle, The Operas of Alban Berg: Volume 2, Lulu, ibid., June 1987.

Alban Berg, "Hier ist Friede...", facsimile edition of arrangement for chamber ensemble, ibid., December, 1990.

Two new editions of Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit, ibid., June 1991.

A third new edition of Gaspard de la nuit, and Marius Constant's orchestration of the same work, ibid., December 1992.

Review of Claude Debussy, Nocturnes for orchestra, Oeuvres complètes de Claude Debussy, edited by Denis Herlin, ibid., 2001.

Claude Debussy, Rodrigue et Chimène, Oeuvres complètes de Claude Debussy, edited by Richard Langham Smith, Music Library Association Notes, December 2004.

Carl Maria von Weber and Gustav Mahler, Die drei Pintos, edited by James Zychowicz, ibid., 2002; the same, recording by Naxos Records, in "Naturlaut," on-line periodical, 2005.

Douglas Jarman, The Music of Alban Berg; Journal of the American Musicological Society 33/1.

Reviews of six recordings of Wozzeck and four of Lulu for the Metropolitan Opera Guide to Recorded Opera, W. W. Norton, 1993.

Richard Crawford, R. Allen Lott, and Carol J. Oja, editors, A Celebration of American Music: Words and Music in Honor of H. Wiley Hitchcock; American Music 10/1, Spring 1992.

George Perle, The Listening Composer; American Music 11/3, Fall 1993.

Howard Pollack, Harvard Composers: Walter Piston and His Students, from Elliott Carter to Frederic Rzewski; Fontes Artis Musicae 42/1, 1995.

Marianne Wheeldon, Debussy's Late Style; Music Library Association Notes, December 2009.

Roy Howat, The Art of French Piano Music: Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Chabrier; Music Library Association Notes, June 2010.


Program Notes

"Alban Berg's Picture Postcard Songs," essay for League of Composers-ISCM, Boston Section, publication series, 1985; reprinted in Chicago Symphony program guide, February 21-23, 1985; revised and expanded for Boston Symphony Orchestra program guide, January 29-February 3, 1987.

Notes on Berg's Three Pieces for orchestra, Opus 6, for Boston Symphony Orchestra program guide, December 16-18, 1982; reprinted in Chicago Symphony Orchestra program guide, February 21-23, 1985, and in Boston Symphony Orchestra program guide, March 11-16, 1993.

Notes on Berg's Wozzeck, for Boston Symphony Orchestra program guide, April 17-21, 1987; as "Wozzeck in Context," revised and abridged for English National Opera Guide No. 42, London, John Calder, 1990.

"Bridging Two Centuries: The Music of Alban Berg," introductory note for three Boston Symphony Orchestra program guides, Spring 1993.

Approximately 70 individual program notes for student and faculty performances.


Miscellaneous Publications and Writings

Memorial note for Walter Piston, Perspectives of New Music, Spring-Summer 1977.

"Art and Nature, Still Allied," memoir, Buckingham Browne and Nichols Alumni Bulletin, 1982.

"Thoughts on a Tercentenary," Tufts Journal, 6/14, March 28, 1985 (about J. S. Bach).

Catalogue of manuscript works of Gregory Tucker (d. 1972), in connection with donation of manuscripts to MIT Music Library, 1983 (unpublished).

Catalogue of manuscript works of Philip Batstone (1933-92), in connection with donation of manuscripts to Harvard University Library, 1992 (unpublished).

Catalogue of manuscript works of Donald Sur (1935-99), Tufts University Archives (unpublished).

"Reflections from the Wall," Tufts Journal, 11/6, March 1990.

"Searching for Family: Report from Italy," May 26-28, 1996 (unpublished).

Preface to Bernard DeVoto, The Year of Decision: 1846, new printing, Truman Talley Books of St. Martin's Griffin, 2000.

Afterword to Bernard DeVoto, The Western Paradox: A Conservation Reader, Yale University Press, 2001.

Twelve-Tone Technique: A Primer (unpublished).

A Field Guide to Chromaticism (unpublished).

Bernard DeVoto (1897-1955), American writer and historian (website).


Anton Webern's Six Pieces for Orchestra, op. 6, Arrangement for Chamber Ensemble

Arnold Schoenberg first disclosed his plan for a private society devoted to the performance of contemporary music on June 30, 1918, at a meeting with friends and students in his Mödling home. The project, whose immediate incentive had been a series of public rehearsals of Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony op. 9 (in June 1918), took shape very rapidly; it led to the foundation of the Society for Private Musical Performances (Verein für musikalische Privataufführungen) less than half a year later, on December 6, 1918. This quick establishment of an organization which in many ways stood in stark opposition to Vienna's "official" concert life was due in large part to the clarity of Schoenberg's vision. It is equally clear, however, that Schoenberg would not have been able to put his plan into practice so expediently without the firm support of his friends.

Like Alban Berg, who wrote a detailed report about Schoenberg's "wonderful idea" immediately after the Mödling meeting[1], Anton Webern enthusiastically endorsed Schoenberg's plan from the outset. This is documented in a letter to his friend Heinrich Jalowetz of November 9, 1918 (thus, before the official founding of the society). Since this letter, so far unpublished, contains a detailed description of the aims, the anticipated repertoire, and the organizational design of the society, it deserves to be quoted at length:

Something magnificent is in the offing now: the establishment of a society for private performances of modern music (beginning with, and including Mahler). An evening every week, only for members...Not always a completely new program. Repeats. Purpose: a genuine acquaintance with modern music. Composers: any one, except candidates obviously not qualified. Thus even Schmidt or Prohaska. Mahler, Schoenberg, Zemlinsky, Reger, as well as Strauss, Pfitzner, Schrecker [sic], Berg, myself. Also Marx, further Debussy, Ravel, Scriabin, Bartók, the Czechs (Suk, etc.), and so forth. The programs will not be announced until just before the performance, in order to forestall absences of those who would not wish to hear this or that, etc.... Top authority: Schoenberg. Vortragsmeister [coach]: I am supposed to be the first (with an honorarium), then Berg, Steuermann (possibly also Bachrich, Weirich). Performers: only virtuosos if possible. At first performance with piano (arrangements and original works), songs, as soon as possible arrangements for piano and Orgelharmonium. Chamber music in original versions or arrangements... Needless to say, Schoenberg desires model performances presented with the greatest care. Not just modern music, but performances of the utmost clarity and accuracy... Something really grand could possibly come out of this society. It would mean a practical assignment for me (and what a noble one) as well as a small income. Yet I should not dwell on this, but rather upon the great scope of Schoenberg's idea. Instructive in innumerable ways: for composers, performers, and audience. Unlimited in purity, clarity, and self-denial. Qualifications for the coming League of Nations.[2]

In retrospect, we may safely say that the program outlined here did materialize in all essential points; the Association for Private Musical Performances did develop into "something really grand." For in the course of its 117 concerts, starting from December 29, 1918, no fewer than 154 modern works were heard, many of them more than once. Moreover, owing to the regular participation of leading instrumentalists such as Eduard Steuermann, Rudolf Kolisch, and Rudolf Serkin, as well as to the scrupulous supervision of the performances by first-rank representatives of the Schoenberg circle, new standards for technically polished and analytically founded performances of new music were set. And last but not least, important impulses emanated from the Society: the Viennese group served as a model for many new music organizations formed in the 1920s and 1930s both in Europe and America. These results were all the more impressive given the fact that the Verein was faced with serious financial problems from the outset, which as early as three years later—in 1921—forced it out of existence.[3]

Webern's "practical assignment" consisted first and foremost of the artistic supervision of performances—a task at first shared with Schoenberg, Berg, Steuermann, and Benno Sachs, and later also with Erwin Stein and Rudolf Kolisch. In a letter of December 23, 1919, again to Heinrich Jalowetz, he commented on this activity as follows:

Imagine what I have coached over the course of a year, what I have rehearsed, some of the most difficult and most modern works, totalling about thirty, for whose rendition I alone was responsible. With how much more confidence I now approach the performance of a new work! How intensely I have worked with singers, down to the last last [sic] detail. The enormous amount I have learned in doing this![4]

Working as a Wortragsmeister did not, however, earn Webern the recognition for which he had hoped. Though he was gratified to see that he had succeeded in conveying his musical intention by purely verbal direction ("without the direct physical expression on which a conductor can rely"), Webern was dissatisfied with acting almost exclusively "behind the scenes," and he therefore came to the conclusion: "To continue working for the rest of my life in such a limited environment —limited with regard to our programs (piano, chamber music, songs)-­ is a prospect which I do not find attractive enough.... The rehearsing is wonderful, but ultimately the people perform on their own (a serious problem.)"[5]

When the Verein was able to include performances by larger instrumental ensembles and chamber orchestra, it looked for some time as if this "problem" was going to be solved for Webern. (The Verein's expansion, envisioned right from the beginning, was to lead eventually to large orchestral concerts, but it did not reach that point.) He was finally given a chance to conduct two of his own works, namely the Orchestral Pieces, op. 10 (then still numbered op. 7, No. 4) and op. 6, which he presented in versions for chamber ensemble in 1920 and 1921, respectively. Once again, however, this was not nearly as much as he had expected (and desperately needed for a reliable income), and thus he was obliged to look elsewhere for work as a conductor. His efforts were successful, though short-lived, when he obtained his third engagement at the German Opera in Prague (from late August to early October 1920).[6]

Webern's third duty in the Verein (besides working as Vortragsmeister and conductor) resulted from the above-mentioned attempt to present works for larger ensembles: he arranged orchestral works, reducing the original scores to whatever smaller instrumental ensembles were available. Originally, orchestral works had been presented in piano reductions only: it was this practice that had led Webern to write a six-hand piano transcription of his Passacaglia, op. 1, which, apart from a few fragments, has not survived.[7] After February 1920, however, pieces for orchestra were performed more and more in versions specially arranged for chamber ensembles by members of the Verein. Webern undertook at least five such chamber arrangements, two of them of works by himself, the other three of works by Arnold Schoenberg and Johann Strauss.[8]

Composer/Work ArrangementScoringYear of CompositionDate of Verein Performance
Anton Webern: Five Pieces for Orchestra, op. 10String trio, harmonium, piano1919Jan. 30, March 13 (in Prague), and June 11, 1920
Anton Webern: Six Pieces for large Orchestra, op. 6Flute, oboe, clarinet, string quintet, percussion, harmonium, piano1920Jan. 23/31, and May 12/23, 1921
Johann Strauss: SchatzwalzerString quartet, harmonium, piano1921May 27, 1921
Arnold Schoenberg: Die glückliche Hand, op. 18Chamber orchestra1921-
Arnold Schoenberg: Four Songs, op.22Chamber orchestra1921-

Only two of these chamber versions, the arrangement of Strauss's Schatzwalzer and that of Webern's own op. 6, are known today—a fact which can be attributed not only to the private character of the Verein venture, but also to its belated historical appraisal.[9] The two surviving Webern arrangements are therefore all the more valuable, as will be seen in the following discussion of the chamber version of op. 6. Three aspects will be singled out here for consideration: the unusual form in which this arrangement has been preserved, the aesthetics of its sound, and its relationship to the two orchestral versions, i.e., the original one of 1909 and the revised version of 1929.

The chamber version of Webern's op. 6 has survived only in a set of parts, which, after the composer's death, was in the possession of Amalie Waller (Webern's eldest daughter) and later found its way to Hans Moldenhauer's Webern Archive in Spokane (in 1961), and then to the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basel (in 1984). This set of parts—for flute (also piccolo), oboe, clarinet (also bass clarinet), percussion, harmonium, piano, violin I, violin II, and viola—is not quite complete; marked cues suggest that the scoring also included cello and double bass. The full score therefore had to be reconstructed—a task that was first undertaken, in 1968, by Edwin Haugan, Hans Moldenhauer's long-time assistant. Haugan's version, a copy of which is preserved in the Webern Collection of the Paul Sacher Foundation, was used, together with the original set of parts, both for a performance by the ensemble die reihe in 1970 and for the printed edition issued by Universal Edition.[10] Neither score is entirely reliable, however: in Haugan's reconstruction the double bass was omitted[11], and in the published version the reference to this instrument in measures 18­19 of No. 2 was overlooked.[12] In addition to this problematic documentation-­ doubly problematic since the manuscript score (or annotated print of the original orchestral version) from which the performance material was extracted is also lost-­ the parts were written by several scribes. Only the ones for the first and second piece appear throughout in Webern's hand, while those for the other pieces were to a large extent written either by Alban Berg (No. 5), or by two unidentified copyists (Nos. 3, 4, and 6). Moreover, all parts are marked with pencil corrections and performance directions, entered by the players in the course of rehearsals. Thus, we are confronted with a highly heterogeneous source, which, even in its outward appearance, bears witness to the joint efforts characteristic of the Verein concerts. Still, the authenticity of the musical text as such is not problematic (minor discrepancies between the parts notwithstanding),[13] since Webern supervised both the production of parts and the rehearsals, and since he conducted—though apparently not to his full satisfaction—all four performances of this version (on January 23 and 31, and on May 12 and 13, 1921).[14].

With his arrangement of the Six Pieces for Orchestra, Webern returned to a work that he head composed in 1909 and published privately four years later.[15] Shortly after publication, the composition received its premiere in the famous "Skandalkonzert" on March 31, 1913, which also included pieces by Alexander Zemlinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, and Gustav Mahler.[16] The Six Pieces feature a larger scoring than the composer had ever used before or would ever use again: 4 flutes (also 2 piccolo flutes and 1 alto flute), 2 oboes, 2 English horns, 3 clarinets (also 1 clarinet in E-flat), 2 bass clarinets, 2 bassoons (also 1 contrabassoon), 6 horns, 6 trumpets, 6 trombones, 1 bass tuba, 2 harps, celesta, timpani, and other percussion instruments, and a large string group which is often subdivided. It is clear, therefore, that the chamber arrangement called for drastic changes in scoring, on;y three of which of the most common types will be briefly considered here.

First, Webern attempted to replace the solo instruments that were no longer available (mostly wind instruments) with the most suitable substitutes, i.e., with instruments of similar sonority; this meant, on the one hand, wind and stringed instruments of like register, and, on the other, either harmonium (for wind instruments), or piano (for celesta, harp or percussion). A particularly striking example of this kind of reinstrumentation is the beginning of the first piece, whose opening phrase (consisting of a rising or descending line in sixteenth notes, followed by a high or low pedal tone, together with "punctuating" four-part chords) was changed as follows:

1909: Fl. - Trp. - Cel. / Fl. - Hrn. - Stgs.
1920: Fl. - Harm. - Piano / Fl. - Harm. - Stgs.

The result is a timbral reduction: whereas there is a succession of five distinct tone colors in the original version, there are only three different sonorities in the chamber version.

Second, Webern tried to preserve the many "homogeneous" chords of the full orchestra version (4 trumpets, 6 trombones, etc.) by assigning them either to the "multivoiced" instruments, i.e., harmonium or piano, or to the strings. While the sonorous integrity of the individual chords is thus retained, the timbral variety is limited to three types of sonority. In addition, the few heterogeneous sonorities of the original version were unified. This can be seen, for example, in the originally "blended" chord in measure 17 of the fifth piece (clarinet, contrabassoon, 4 horns, and strings) which, in the chamber version, is reduced to pure string sound enriched by a single tone of the harmonium.

Third, Webern often removed the doublings characteristic of the version for full orchestra. Thus, in the chord just mentioned, the original version doubles five of the seven tones heard (c in double bass and contrabassoon, f in viola II and horn IV, d in violin I and horn II, a in violin II [b] and horn I, e-flat in violin II [a] and clarinet), whereas in the chamber version—as far as can be seen in the parts—no doubling occurs.[17]

Even though a more detailed comparison shows that Webern subtly varied these techniques of reinstrumentation according to the musical context[18], the impression may still arise that the chamber version of op. 6 represents merely a necessary expedient rather than a fully valid alternate version. However, we should bear in mind that Webern was responding just as much to some general aesthetic tendencies of the time as to the limited performing conditions of the Verein. In particular, his arrangement of op. 6 is indebted to the principle of "soloistic instrumentation," which the members of the Second Viennese School had increasingly adopted ever since Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony of 1906. Schoenberg himself had raised this principle to the status of an independent category of instrumentation in an unpublished note of April 16, 1917, contrasting it with a (Romantic) "organ-like (registration) instrumentation," [19] and in a letter to Alexander Zemlinsky of February 20, 1918, he had even applied the term to certain passages in one of his early works, the Symphonoc Poem Pelleas and Melisande.[20] (This does not mean, of course, that "soloistic instrumentation," was invented by Schoenberg, even though some of his pieces served as models for many later composers of the Second Viennese School as well as for others.)[21] And Webern too had turned to "soloistic instrumentation" as early as 1911 (in the orchestral pieces that were later published as op. 10)—a tendency he exhibited more and more in his subsequent works such as the Trakl and Rosegger songs (opp. 14 and 15, begun in 1917). It is no surprise, then, to find in his letters the following remark on the arranging practice of the Verein: "I take much pleasure in these arrangements. If you think of my most recent scores— which are essentially for chamber orchestra (nothing but solo parts)—you will understand how close this is to my heart."[22]

Arranging orchestral scores for the Verein was thus not simply a matter of necessity; it was also a matter of subjecting the original works to a new instrumental interpretation and, in the process, of probing their substance. Such a critical undertaking is aptly described in the following words of Alban Berg, which imply that instrumental "color" was no longer considered to be a primary, formative element (as in the years before the First World War), but merely served to clarify musical structure:

In this manner [i.e., by using transcriptions of orchestral scores] it is possible to hear and judge a modern orchestral work divested of all the sound-effects and other sensuous aids that only an orchestra can furnish. Thus the old approach is robbed of its force—that this music owes its power to its more or less opulent and effective instrumentation and lacks the qualities that were hitherto considered characteristic of good music—melody, richness of harmony, polyphony, perfection of form, architecture, etc.[23]

It must be kept in mind, however, that when Berg spoke of renouncing all "sensuous aids" he meant the earlier Verein practice of piano transcription. In contrast, the transcription for chamber ensemble involved merely a reduction of such aids, one that managed to present the essence of a work by different means, but with similar explicitness. An example from the chamber orchestra version of op. 6—the succession of chords in measures 9-12 of the fourth piece—illustrates this:

The full orchestral version, whose succession of homogenous sonorities (4 flutes, 6 horns, 4 trumpets, etc.) is indebted to an older type of "organ-like" orchestration[24], reflects the compositional structure in two ways. On the one hand, the grouping of 3 + 3 chords (separated by a change of registers) is suggested by the similarity of two timbral processes that move from woodwinds to brass (each starting with the flutes). On the other hand, the contrasting internal structure of the two chord groups—the first being symmetrical and circular[25], the second progressive and forward­directed[26]—is expressed through different shadings in the timbral processes, especially since the trumpet timbre of the third chord, pianissimo, is closely related to the low flute timbre[27], whereas the timbres of clarinet and trombone in the fifth and sixth chords gradually depart from it. In the arrangement, Webern could not render these timbral progressions through successions of homogenously colored chords because he had only three unified "chord colors" at his disposal (harmonium, piano, strings) instead of the original five. He therefore aimed at a mixture which, in its own way, would produce a fivefold gradation. In the process, a timbral "assonance" between chords one and four moves to chords three and six (the individual mixtures of chords one and three are "homogenized" in the succeeding chords and resolved to the pure harmonium sound of chords three and six); yet the chord groupings (3+3) are still suggested in the new instrumentation, in that the harmonium is heard in chords one and three of the first group, whereas there is no such repetition of sonority in the second. Thus an analogous result is obtained by totally different means: the mixture caused by "soloistic instrumentation" serves to highlight the same compositional features as the changes of sonority in the orchestral version.

A final aspect of the chamber version of op. 6 involves its place in the general revision history of Webern's works. We should remember here that Webern—like Berg, but unlike Schoenberg—was not able to publish his music under regular publishing agreements until the 1920s. All his earlier attempts to find a publisher had failed, so that practically his entire early output, except for the Six Pieces for Orchestra (and a few single numbers from larger work cycles), remained at first unpublished. Having reached a contractual agreement with Universal Edition in the summer of 1920, the composer therefore subjected his entire oeuvre to a general review, not only selecting and regrouping works for publication, but also revising them thoroughly.[28]

Although their "Urfassung," exceptionally, had been published, this applies also to the Six Pieces, op. 6, which Webern republished in 1928 in a revised version.[29] This new version, in which Webern reduced the orchestral scoring (by 2 flutes, 1 clarinet, 1 bass clarinet, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 1 harp as well as the "Rute" [a rod to be used on the bass drum]) and which he considered to be the only valid one[30], differs from the original orchestral setting in many details; in particular we can observe a considerable thinning out of the texture (which goes beyond the removal of doublings), a shortening of the fourth and sixth pieces by one measure each, and atightening of the correlation between instrumentation and structural design. The middle section of the fourth piece can illustrate the latter. The passage in measures 12 to 31 (or 11 to 30) is conceived as a succession of four instrumental solos with chordal accompaniment. In the revised version these four solos are recast in such a way that they recall the succession of timbres of the work's first three chords (whose instrumentation remains very close to the original score): 2 flutes/2 clarinets—4 horns—4 trumpets[31]. They thus establish a correspondence of colors which is not present in either the original or the chamber versions (see also the musical example above):

Chords, mm.
9-10 (8-9)
 Solos, mm.
12 (11), 20 (19), 21 (20), 24 (23)
1909: 4 Fl.- 6 Hrns. - 4 Tpts.E-fl.Clar. - G.Fl. - Hrn. - Tpt.
- Ob. -E-fl.Clar. - Harm. - Vc. - E-fl.Clar
1928:(2 Fl.)
(2 Clar.)
- 4 Hrns. - 4 TptsPicc. - Clar. - Hrn. - Trpt.

Inasmuch as the form-articulating role of instrumentation appears only in the revision of 1928, the second orchestral version clearly stands apart from both the original and chamber versions. Or, to put it differently; in spite of its drastic instrumental reduction, the Verein version is closer to the original score, not only in time, but also with regard to its "dramaturgy of color," than the version of 1928. It is equally clear, however, that already in the chamber version Webern aimed toward the same ideal of greater economy in the use of expressive means as in the 1928 orchestral version, about which he commented: "Everything extravagant is now cut (alto flute, six trombones for a few measures, and so on). Now I can represent all this much more simply."[32] For example, both in the chamber version and in the revised orchestral version, Webern reduced the scoring (especially by omitting unusual instruments). He also abandoned some playing techniques which alter the original sound (e.g., col legno, am Steg, Flatterzunge), and did away with the characteristic expression marks (e.g., "höchst ausdrucksvoll," "äusserts zart,").[33] Thus the chamber version of op. 6 marks an important intermediate stage between the original version of Webern's works and the revised ones of the 1920s. It suggests that the latter profited from his work in the Verein, particularly from his experience with "soloistic instrumentation" and his renouncing of "sensuous aids." Webern's artistic evolution was characterized, among other things, by an aesthetic shift from an "expressionistic" concept of sonority toward one determined by the "classicist" ideal of "Fasslichkeit."[34] It is not least with regard to this aspect of his evolution that the chamber version of Webern's Six Pieces, op. 6, deserves our attention.

-- Felix Meyer


  1. Letter from Alban to Helene Berg of July 1, 1918; published in Alban Berg: Briefe an seine Frau (Munich: Albert Langen and Georg Müller, 1965), pp. 363f. [Return to text]
  2. Letter to Heinrich Jalowetz of Nov. 9, 1918; Heinrich Jalowetz Collection, Paul Sacher Foundation. [Return to text]
  3. Regarding the history and impact of the Verein , see Judith Karen Melbach, "Schoenberg's 'Society for Musical Private Performances,' Vienna 1918-1922: A Documentary Study" (Ph. D. diss. University of Pittsburgh, 1984); Joan Allen Smith, Schoenberg and His Circle: A Viennese Portrait (New York: Schirmer, 1986), pp. 81-102; and "Schoenberg's Verein für musikalische Privataufführungen" in Musik-Koncepte 36, ed. Heinz-Klaus Metzger and Rainer Riehn (Munich: Edition Text u. Kritik, 1984). All three publications contain complete concert programs. [Return to text]
  4. Letter to Heinrich Jalowetz, December 23, 1919; Heinrich Jalowetz Collection, Paul Sacher Foundation. [Return to text]
  5. Ibid. [Return to text]
  6. Cf. Hans and Rosaleen Moldenhauer, Anton von Webern: A Chronicle of His Life and Work (New York: Knopf, 1979), p. 235. [Return to text]
  7. This piano transcription, made in 1918, was performed in the Verein on February 16, 1919. [Return to text]
  8. In addition, Webern had been asked during the fall of 1921, a short time before the Verein went out of existence, to arrange Mahler's Lied von der Erde and Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune . Cf. his letter of September 22, 1921, to Heinrich Jalowetz: Heinrich Jalowetz Collection, Paul Sacher Foundation. However, the Mahler arrangement was finally begun (but not completed) by Arnold Schoenberg, while the chamber version of Debussy's piece was carried out by Benno Sachs. [Return to text]
  9. Until very recently, the surviving source material had not been collected and identified systematically, and not even all the concert programs of the Verein were known with certainty. Thus, for example, Hans Moldenhauer could not provide any information as to whether the chamber version of Webern's op. 6 was ever performed or how much work Webern had actually done on his arrangement of Schoenberg's Four Songs, op. 22 (see Moldenhauer, Anton von Webern [cf. note 6], pp. 129 and 229). The former question has meanwhile been solved (see above), while all we can say about the latter is that Webern completed the arrangement of at least the first of the Schoenberg songs, as can be seen from his letter to Heinrich Jalowetz of September 22, 1921 (Heinrich Jalowetz Collection, Paul Sacher Foundation). [Return to text]
  10. This is indicated in Haugan's letter of November 9, 1993, to this writer. The score published by Universal Edition (UE 14778, with a copyright date of 1977) does not give an editor's name. [Return to text]
  11. Cues are to be found in measure 18 of No. 2 (in the parts for oboe and clarinet), in measure 4 of No. 3 (in the part for drum), and in measure 11 of No. 5 (in the parts for flute, harmonium, and piano). It was Friedrich Cerha, the conductor of the ensemble die reihe, who provided Universal Edition with a reconstructed double bass part (conversation with Friedrich Cerha, March 7, 1994). [Return to text]
  12. The repeated eighth notes are here given to the drum part. [Return to text]
  13. These are marked in Haugan's reconstructed score. [Return to text]
  14. In his letter of September 21, 1921, Webern wrote to Heinrich Jalowetz, "I cannot help thinking that my conducting of the Orchestral Pieces, which you saw and heard this year, has not made a very favorable impression upon you. Doubtless you are right!" (Heinrich Jalowetz Collection, Paul Sacher Foundation.) [Return to text]
  15. See the recent article by Gösta Neuwirth, with extensive press documentation, "Kehraus des schönen Wahns," in Aufbruch in unsere Welt: Essays zu Kunst, Musik, Literatur und Architektur (Vienna: Löcker, 1993), pp. 60-97. [Return to text]
  16. See the recent article by Gösta Neuwirth, with extensive press documentation, "Kehraus des schönen Wahns," in Aufbruch in unsere Welt: Essays zu Kunst, Musik, Literatur und Architektur (Vienna: Löcker, 1993), pp. 60-97.[Return to text]
  17. In the Universal Edition print, the cello c of the orchestral version is given to the double bass, the result being a doubling with the c in the piano part. [Return to text]
  18. See the analysis by Nicolaus A. Huber, "Zu Weberns Kammerorchesterbearbeitung seiner Sechs Stücke für Orchester op. 6 für den Verein für musikalische Privataufführungen" in Schönbergs Verein für musikalische Privataufführungen (see note 3), pp. 65-85. [Return to text]
  19. "Unfinished Theoretical Works," No. 10, Arnold Schoenberg Center, Vienna. [Return to text]
  20. Arnold Schoenberg, letter to Alexander Zemlinsky of February 20, 1918; Zemlinskys Briefwechsel mit Schönberg, Webern, Berg und Schreker (Briefwechsel der Wiener Schule, 1), ed. Horst Weber, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesell-schaft 1995, p. 187. [Return to text]
  21. In the domain of transcriptions (i.e. "soloistic" arrangements of large orchestral textures), a precedent can be found in Richard Wagner's Siegfried-Idyll for thirteen instruments (1870), the musical material of which was largely taken from the third act of his opera Siegfried ; cf., with reference to the "soloistic instrumentation," Egon Wellesz, Die neue Instrumentation (Berlin: Max Hesse, 1928/9), vol. I, p. 32 and vol. II, p. 149. [Return to text]
  22. Letter to Heinrich Jalowetz of September 22, 1921, Heinrich Jalowetz Collection, Paul Sacher Foundation. [Return to text]
  23. Statement of aims of the Verein für musikalische Privataufführungen , February 1919; quoted from Joan Allen Smith, Schoenberg and His Circle (see note 3), p. 245. [Return to text]
  24. In other places, however, we find clear indications of a "soloistic" type of instrumentation. [Return to text]
  25. The second chord arises through contraction of the outer parts and addition of the central tone g-sharp; the third chord, reached by corresponding expansion of the outer voices, is identical with the first. [Return to text]
  26. The general downward motion contributes as much to this as to the widening of the ambitus, the move from three-part to four-part writing, and the gradual introduction of new pitch classes. For a discussion of this passage of op. 6, No. 4, see Paul Kabbash, "Form and Rhythm in Webern's Atonal Works" (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1983), pp. 98ff. [Return to text]
  27. Cf. Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, Principles of Orchestration, ed. Maximilian Steinberg, English trans. Edward Agate (New York: Dover, 1964), p. 35: "the its lowest register, recalls the pianissimo trumpet tone." [Return to text]
  28. Cf. Reinhold Brinkmann. "Die George-Lieder 1908/9 und 1919/23 - ein Kapitel Webern-Philologie," in Beiträge der Österreichische Gesellschaft für Musik '72/'73: Webern-Kongress (Kassel, 1973), pp. 43-50; Felix Meyer, "Im Zeichen der Reduktion: Quellenkritische und analytische Anmerkungen zu Anton Weberns Rilke-Liedern Op. 8," in Quellenstudien I: Gustav Mahler-Igor Strawinsky-Anton Webern-Frank Martin (Veröffentlichungen der Paul Sacher Stiftung, 2), ed. Hans Oesch (Winterthur: Amadeus, 1991), pp. 53-100; Felix Meyer/Anne Shreffler, "Webern's Revisions: Some Analytical Implications," in Music Analysis 12/3 (1993): 355-79. [Return to text]
  29. The revised version has been available in a pocket score since 1956 (Philharmonia Scores No. 394). Even before this version had been produced (in the summer of 1928), Webern apparently undertook a new reorchestration for a planned performance under Hermann Scherchen; cf. Erich Wolfgang Partsch, "Ergänzungen zur Verbreitungsgeschichte von Weberns Sechs Orchesterstücken op. 6 ," in 40,000 Musikerbriefe auf Knopfdruck: Methoden der Verschlagwortung anhand des UE-Briefwechsels-Untersuchungen-Detailergebnisse , ed. Ernst Hilmar (Tutzing: H. Schneider, 1989), pp. 55-62. [Return to text]
  30. Cf. Webern's notation to this effect in a program book from the year 1933, quoted by Moldenhauer, Anton von Webern (see note 6), p. 128. [Return to text]
  31. Due to the shortening mentioned, the revised version's measure numbers differ from those of the original version by one. [Return to text]
  32. Letter to Arnold Schoenberg of August 20, 1928, quoted after Moldenhauer, Anton von Webern (see note 6), p. 128. [Return to text]
  33. Mention should also be made here of Webern's later reservation with regard to the programmatic dimension of his music, as can be seen from the way he described his music. For example, while in a letter of January 13, 1913, to Arnold Schoenberg, Webern refers extensively to the autobiographical background of the Six Pieces- -the funeral of his mother in 1906--in the program note of 1933 mentioned above (see note 30), he limits himself to the following cues: "expectation of catastrophe" (No. 1), "certainty of its fulfillment" (No. 2), "the most tender contrast" (No. 3), "funeral march" (No. 4), "remembrance" (No. 5), "resignation" (No. 6); quoted after Moldenhauer, Anton von Webern (see note 6), p. 128. [Return to text]
  34. Cf. Joachim Noller, "Fasslichkeit-eine kulturhidtorische Studie zur Ästhetik Weberns," in Archiv für Musikwissenschaft 43/3 (1986): 169-80. It was by no means accidental that Webern remarked that the revised orchestral version, as distinct from the original version, looked "like an old Haydn score." (Letter of August 20, 1928, to Alban Berg: quoted from Moldenhauer, Anton von Webern [see note 6], p. 129). [Return to text]