Peripetie for 5 Orchestral Pieces, Op. 16 by Schoenberg (1909)

Before Expressionism
 Towards the end of the 18th Century, composers of the
late romantic era were producing longer, grander
pieces of music.
 Symphonies = Bruckner, Brahms, Mahler
 Opera = Verdi, Wagner
 Composers would put effort into ensuring that the
structure was interesting through the use of different
keys, harmonies, themes and textures.
Before expressionism continued...
 Brahms = Wrote in strict forms (borrowed from the
Classical and Baroque eras) but on the scale typical
of Romantic music. Inspired by Beethoven.
 Wagner = Made extensive use of Chromaticism and
frequent modulations, leaving the key of a piece
often unclear. Builds up the tension with ‘endless
 ‘Endless Melody’ comes from the lack of cadence
points, the opposite of Mozart and Haydn who use
them regularly to punctuate their music
 Early 20th Century composers reacted to the works of
late 18th Century composers by either using classical
forms and key relationships in their own way or
abandoning them altogether.
 Impressionist Composers = Debussy and Ravel,
wrote music with recognisable chords and harmonies,
combining them in original ways and using
instrumental ‘colour’ to paint musical pictures i,e. Use
of chords out of their normal context (parallel
dominant 7th chords as opposed to using one before
resolving to the tonic).
 Schoenberg = Thought ‘tone colours’ as important as
melody, inventing the term ‘Klangfarbenmelodie’, or
‘tone colour melody’.
 This describes how instrumental timbre contributes
to the melody and the pitches themselves.
 Schoenberg took Wagner’s use of chromaticism to its
logical extreme – abandoning tonality and key
relationships, writing entirely atonal music.
Features of Expressionism
 Atonal – Gives each semitone equal importance
 Each piece expresses one, intense emotion.
 Use the full ranges of instruments, exploring the pitches
available at the extremes.
 Timbre is as important as melody
 Extreme dynamics – Very dramatic when played in a large
 Quite short pieces – It is difficult to write extended pieces
in this style, without key relationships and recognisable
themes in the traditional sense to form a structural
Arnold Schoenberg (1874 – 1951)
 Born in Vienna
 Started the violin age 8.
 Started composition as a child in a self taught fashion, just
experimenting. Started composition lessons in his ‘teens.
Started writing professionally at the end of the 18th century,
writing in the late romantic style and using the large orchestra
associated with the era.
Taught composition in Berlin (Berg and Webern were 2 of his
Was Jewish, though adopted Protestantism for a number of
Moved to Paris in 1933 and then onto California after his music
was labelled ‘decadent’ by the Nazis.
Moved to atonal music after a traumatic period – Wife left him
and for a friend and then committed suicide, he was also in
financial difficulty. Lots of intense emotion to express!!
Background to Five Orchestral
 Set of Atonal pieces for full orchestra
 Uses pitches and harmonies for effect, rather than their
relationships to each other. Concerned with timbre.
 Was approached by Richard Strauss in 1908 to send him some
short pieces for Orchestra, with the idea of showing them to
important musical figures of the time. These were sadly not well
 Schoenberg liked to conceal things within his compositions,
believing that intelligent and attentive listeners would see deeper
meaning in the music.
 Titles were not added to each of the pieces until 13 years after
they were composed. Schoenberg was advised that they would
help the audience to respond better to his music.
The Hexachord
 Hexachord – The main ‘code’ in Schoenberg’s pre-
serialist music. Made up of six notes played as a chord.
Hear first in the horns as C, Bb, E, F, C#, A.
Rearranged in ascending order – A, Bb, C, C#, E, F.
Used as a chord and as a melodic motif, with the notes
arranged in any order.
The melodic motif can be transposed and the notes
played in any octave.
The hexachord is used in both forms throughout the piece.
The Compliment and score markings.
 Made up using the other 6 semitones available
 In this case = B, D, Eb, F#, G, G~.
 This can be transposed and reordered like the
 In the 1952 revised score, symbols were added to show
who had the primary voice and who had the secondary
= Haupstimme, or principal voice
= Nebenstimme, or secondary voice
= Is used to close brackets, when the main
melody is no longer being played by the instrument.
 In 5 sections
 Broadly in Rondo form, though the returning A
sections are hardly recognisable.
 The A section shows a return to particular mood or
orchestral sound rather than to a theme.
Section A Overview: Bars 1 - 18
 Begins very loud!
 Clarinets and flutes state 2 hexachords – Bar 1 = C#-D-E-F
G#-A in the clarinets and A-A#-B-C-E-G# in the flutes
Builds up to ff fanfare-like horn motif marked
Bassoon plays the clarinet hexachords from bar 1, the same
as the horn motif from bar 8 but transposed up 4
Lots of hexachords are used throughout the piece.
You are not expected to analyse all of these chords but
you must be aware that they are used melodically and
harmonically throughout and it is worth knowing a
few examples.
Section A Overview: Bars 1 – 18
Tempo and rhythm
 Marked Sehr Rasch – Very quick.
 Crotchet = 100-108bpm
 Mainly made up of short triplet and sextuplet bursts.
 After the demisemiquaver hexachord burst, the
tempo becomes slightly slower through the quiet horn
 This leads to an expressive rubato clarinet line from
bar 10.
Section A Overview: Bars 1 – 18
Instrumentation and texture
 Tutti orchestra is used for the
opening before they get to
rest for a while.
 Brass dominates the texture
until bar 8, where the
woodwind takes over (low
bassoons, bass clarinet
ostinato and clarinet
 Instruments drop in and out
in quick succession with
dovetailing, homophonic
 Loud hexachord texture
thins out to solo clarinet line.
Section A Overview: Bars 1 – 18
Pitch and Melody
 No sense of key – atonal and build on hexachords
 Hear the full pitch range of all the instruments
 Clarinet melody is expressive and gentle
 Angular and dissonant, with leaps of a minor 9th and
major 7th – intervals usually used to accentuate
dissonance and create tension.
Section A Overview: Bars 1 – 18
 Begins loudly
 Crescendos to fff until dying away after bar5 to pp.
 Trumpets and trombones play muted.
 Mutes are used for sound quality, rather than to effect
the dynamics, for which the mute was not originally
 See next slide for a full score to see all the examples.
Section B Overview: Bars 18-34
Tempo, Rhythm and Dynamics
 Tempo returns to original marking.
 Short note durations give the illusion that the tempo
has increased more than it has.
 Section begins quietly with an immediate crescendo
 Dynamics vary between instruments
 Haupstimme and Nebenstimme are always marked
as f-fff.
 Dramatic and frequent dynamic changes
Section B Overview: Bars 18-34
Instrumentation and texture
 Full orchestra, but not all at once, except for climatic
points i.e. Bars 30-34
 Even here, strings leave to woodwind and percussion
to provide much of the power.
 Soft line written for violins and cello, which is almost
inaudible but adds to the texture and timbre.
 Texture = Very polyphonic and complex
Section B Overview: Bars 18-34
Pitch and melody
 Haupstimme snakes through most of the orchestra
 In 24-28 it bounces from one brass instrument to the next,
demonstrating the klangfarbenmelodie idea.
 The Nebenstimme appears in this section, for its only
appearance in the whole piece.
 Bar28(2) to Bar 31(1) = Trumpet 1
 Bar29 = flutes, piccolo and clarinet
Section A’: Bars 35-43
 Marked by the string section rising from nothing
 Followed by a flourish in the horns then a return to the
hexachord from bar 8.
 Several instruments briefly disturb the horn chord
 Section is a brief rest from the turmoil of section B
 A menacing mood, rather than tranquill, giving the
impression of more fireworks to come.
Section C Overview: Bars 44-58
 Bassoon take over the Haupstimme but immediately
pass it on to the solo cello.
Bassoon - Cello
 Tempo = alternates between Ruhiger (calmer) and
Heftig (passionate)
 Texture is much more sparse, focus is on overlapping
instruments – Delicate us of the orchestra until the fff
in bar53
 Dynamics range from pp (bar 44/45) to fff (bar 53-55),
with individual instruments rising above others with
individual crescendos.
Section A’’ Overview: Bars 59-66
Tempo, rhythm, instrumentation and
 Rhythmic motifs from the open bars return here
i.e. Trumpet in bars 61-63
 Starting with clarinet and strings, instruments are
introduced in quick succession (layering the
rhythmic motif)
 Full orchestra used for climatic chord at bar 64
Section A’’ Overview: Bars 59-66
Pitch, Melody and Dynamics.
 Material from the opening used and developed in this
No voice is marked more important than the others
Bar 64 chord (see previous slide) is a giant hexachord
in all of the orchestra except Cor Anglais and Double
Basses play an unrelated tremolo chord (very high).
This sustains after the rest of the orchestra has
finished to conclude the piece.
Bar 50 = pp to Bar 64 = ff, immediately dying away to
nothing but tremolo basses and pp horns.
Key words
Cor Anglais
Sehr Rasch
Endless Melody

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