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Schoenberg Op 33 Analysis Essay

Perspectives of New Music

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Coverage: 1962-2017 (Vol. 1, No. 1 - Vol. 55, No. 1)

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ISSN: 00316016

Subjects: Music, Arts

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13and his article "Problems in Modern Harmony"45678

"A Treatise on Twelve-Tone Composition"

Leibowitz's "Treatise on Twelve-Tone Composition" was compiled as a teaching manual for his students in the early 1950's.9

Thematic Structure: The Sentence, Period and "Lied" Forms

Perhaps the easiest way to survey the "Treatise on Twelve-Tone Composition" is through its examples. Leibowitz continues his practice of juxtapposing thematic structures of Webern and Schoneberg and familiar themes from the classical literature, pairing in the first instance, Schoenberg's theme in Accompaniment to a Cinamatographic Scene op. 34 with the opening sentence from Beethoven's Sonata op.2 #2 (see Example 3). In this case, Leibowitz demonstrates the straightforward application of the sentence structure to the melodic segmentation of the series. The model articulates the first six notes of the series (subdivided, or "truncated" in Leibowitz's words, into groups of three and three) followed by the remaining six in the varied repetition of the model. The reductions and cadence are based on the inversion, beginning similarly on the E and culminating in a graceful arch on the emphatic G before receding to a midregister cadence. (Note the duplication and octave shift of the climactic F-G dyad.) In addition to Leibowitz's structural insights, it is also possible to notice a very deliberate chromatic linearity which is articulated in Schoenberg's sentence structure, slipping downward from the opening E to D natural and C# in the model and from A natural to A a d G in the repetition. The initial E -D is repeated and developed in the beginning of the reductions and the cadence ultimately recaptures the D of the opening model, but descends a step further to B natural instead of the C natural of the second measure.

Example 3:


Example 4:

Example 5: Schoenberg Prelude "Survivor from Warsaw" op. 46, measures 1 -11. (Example 4 in "Treatise on Twelve-Tone Composition.")

Example 8:


Example 9a:

Example 9b:


Example 11:

Example 12a:

Examples 12b and c:

Secondary Structures

Secondary structures are said to be "open" in Leibowitz's terminology. Like intermediate structures, these are less symetrical and less cadentially closed, often involving new transpositions and segmentations of the series. Leibowitz raises the classical issues of the contasting character and tonality of secondary structures (typically the second theme in a sonata form) as well as their simpler but more continuous nature in comparison with primary structures. The second theme of the piano piece op. 33a (not shown) uses the same serial functions as the opening theme, a condition which Leibowitz ascribes to the brevity of the piece, in not introducing new serial functions. However, the second theme is distinguished by its partcular use of superimposed series as.opposed to the sequential presentations of the opening ideas. Leibowitz is particularly attracted to what he calls "flashbacks" or suggestions of the first theme in the accompaniment which suggest organic ties between the two thematic structures of a piece.

The secondary theme of the Fourth String Quartet has similar textural features to that of the piano piece op. 33a but does not unfold a complete series (see Example 13 - in this case a transposition of the prime form) at least in its first phrase where various tones are taken by the descending chromatic line of the accompaniment. As Leibowitz observes, however the second phrase presents a complete melodic statement of inversion with new truncations and once more, further use of "flashback" suggestions to the first theme in the accompaniment and the same transpositional relationship between the thematic and accompanimental series.

In contrast to the motivically saturated statements of its opening theme, and despite its complex accompaniment, Leibowitz notes that the secondary theme of the Prelude op.46 ("Survivor from Warsaw," see Example 14) is simple, and relates to the first theme in its use of the original serial complex and truncations, but with different relationships between the truncations. He notes the reversal of the superimposition between the two opening phrases of the theme, firstly truncation A (the first hexachord of the prime form) on B (the second hexachord of the prime form) and A' (the first hexachord of the inversion) on B' (the secod hexachord of the inversion), then A on A' and B on 13'. He also comments on the relative assymetry of the motivic alignment of the second phrase as an "open" structural property of the theme. This is enhanced by the use of a less predictable variety of the series tones in the melody rather than the opening two tones of the series which began the two motivic statements of the opening measure. The introduction of the new ideas in measure 22 further opens the theme motivically without the cadential structure which, might otherwise make a closed sentence with measures 19 and 20 as model and repetition.

Example 13:

Example 14:

Example 16a:

Example 17:

Example 18:




Example 20:


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