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Patrick Donnelly 6 December 2006 Music 1900-1945

Analysis of Webern's Opus 24/I

The Concerto for Nine Instruments, Opus 24 aptly demonstrates Anton Webern's unique and personal adaptation of the concepts of Arnold Schoenberg. In his mature works Webern integrates the concepts of Grungestalt and developing variations with a unique and personal style. The first movement of Webern's Opus 24 exemplifies Webern's mature dodecaphonic style in its use a derived row; emphasis on symmetry; heavy use of invariance; pointillistic textures; and the developing color melody, The entire row is derived from a single trichord. Webern creates the row itself by applying the contrapuntal operations on a single and initial trichord (a) B ­ B-flat ­ D, or the set [0,1,4]. The second trichord (b) is the Retrograde Inversion of the initial, or prime form, tri-chord. Similarly tri-chords (c) and (d) are the Retrograde and the Inversion, respectively.

Figure 1: The Derived Row of Opus 24/I

The use of a derived row generates a significant amount of invariance. The rows I1 and R6 contain all four trichords as invariant subsets and the row I7 contains both hexachords. The row also generates numerous combinatoriality. The rows I3, I7, and I11 are inversionally (semi) combinatorial and the rows P2 and P6 are transpositionally combinatorial. However Webern does not make

capitalize on the combinatorially in manner that one might expect to find in a mature Schoenberg work. Webern, deeply consumed with symmetry and pointillistic textures, instead focuses on the invariance.

Because of the derived row, the movement is based on the single motive, the trichord set [0,1,4] and the two intervals minor-second and major-third. These two intervals, specifically the major-third and the major-seventh (the inversion of the major-second), are incredibly prominent in the work. The majority of melodic (or horizontal) intervals are either the M3 or M7 and the majority of the chords in the piano part are either one of these two intervals or both, the full set [0,1,4]. Webern develops the motive as subsets of the row, usually a single trichord, passed from instrument to instrument. Each of the four trichords of the row appear together in an ordered and logical progression. Thus each row is unified as variation of timbre, rhythm, articulation, and dynamics. A principle motivic element Webern develops is the rhythm. For instance P0 begins with a trichord of three sixteenth notes, followed by a group of eighths, triplets, and finally quarter-note triplets ­ a progression of augmentation. Other rhythmic progressions include diminution (e.g., RI1, m.4), equality (R0, m.6), or symmetry within each hexachord (I1, m.9). As the motivic development continues throughout the work the structure of the rhythmic progression become less rigid while still logical. In addition to rhythm Webern also develops the articulation and dynamics. The dynamics, for most part, are structured in logical progressions much like the rhythm. These progressions include decrescendo (P0, m.1), crescendo (R2, m.38), symmetry (R7, m.13), and unity or no change (R0, m.6). In the course of the movement Webern utilizes every possible dynamic with the exception of mf. In contrast, Webern's treatment of articulation is less rigidly structured than that of rhythm and dynamics. To each trichord he assigns an articulation and all three notes share the same articulation pattern. Each trichord has an individual articulation, although often the same articulation is assigned to multiple trichords within a single row. Like with dynamics, Webern traverses the gamut of possible articulations, but favors heavily the slur. And finally, and perhaps most significantly, Webern develops timbre. The Konzert is a quintessential example of Klangfarbenmelodie. In the movement the row functions as a melody of

developing color. The row divided into subsets, most often trichords, is passed between instruments. The piano and orchestra often develop rows independently either in alternation or in simultaneity, as in the dialogue one might expects between the concertante and ripieno. But Webern titles the movement as a Concerto for Nine Instruments, not as a Concerto for Piano. And thusly the "dialogue" also occurs between the eight orchestral instruments as well as between the two hands of the pianist. Webern underscores the concept of Klangfarbenmelodie with his prominent use of fixed registry. For the most part within a formal section, Webern repeats each pitch at the same octave, despite a constantly changing instrumentation. The associate of pitch with register but not timbre allows Webern to motivically develop the timbre while reinforcing a coherence of the motivic melody through a consistent registry. The duality of the piano against the orchestral does not disrupt this process since each can traverse the same registral space. In his choice of instrumentation, Webern is especially impoverished in the lower registrar with just the viola and trombone. To fulfill the constraints of the fixed register organization, the piano does not significant use its lower register either.

As expected the form is highly organized and symmetrical. The movement is divided into three significant sections to which one might assign the familiar but functionally arbitrary names: exposition, development, and recapitulation. Both the exposition and recapitulation are divided into two parts separated by tempo marking. In addition the recapitulation is followed by a brief six measure coda which decelerates in tempo corresponding to the dual tempi of exposition and development. The first section of the recapitulation is characterized by sparse textures, as a row separated by brief pauses alternates between the piano and orchestral instruments. Each row finishes with a ritardando before an a tempo at the start of a new row statement. This pattern of rit. ... tempo continues in the development and A-section of the recapitulation, but not in the contrasting B-sections of the exposition and recapitulation. The exposition continues with the B-section and concurrent row statements in the orchestra and piano. The statements are independent of each other and are followed

by a brief pause, but the statements overlap is such a manner that either the orchestra or the piano sound at any given time. The development section that follows also features concurrent statements of independent rows. However in the development section, Webern begins to elide row statement so that last note or two of one row is the first of the next. For this reason the development section increases in density as it progresses. The brief -A-section of the recapitulation returns to a sparser texture, but unlike the A section of the exposition a single row is now passed between the orchestra and piano, rather than alteration of statement. The B-section of recapitulation follows an organization similar to its counterpart in the exposition. The brief coda relaxes the density of texture significantly in a reprise of the organizational strategy of the first three row statements of the exposition. In the final bar the piano and orchestra converse in one final statement, each sounding a hexachord of P6.

Title Exposition Development Recapitulation Coda

Section A B A B

Measure 1 13 26 45 52 63

Tempo Etwas lebhaft sehr mäig sehr gemächlich wieder etwas lebhaft wieder sehr mäig wieder etwas lebhaft

Metronome qtr = ca 80 qtr = ca 50 qtr = ca 80 qtr = ca 50 qtr = ca 80 ca 50

Table 1 : Formal Divisions in Opus 24/I

The overall form is a symmetrical (equal length) rounded binary with coda. However in the spirit of the developing variations the repeated A sections are significantly different, albeit reminiscent of each other, warranting the designations of exposition, development, and recapitulation above. The formal organization contains significant use of symmetry. In addition to the ABA formal symmetry, the middle measure, m. 35, contains a prominent statement of P0, which serves as the symmetrical axis of the piece. The work begins with P0 and closes with P6, which is transpositionally combinatorial with

P0. Another significant symmetrical moment occurs in mm. 14-17 and mm. 51-55, or in other words exactly fourteen measures after the beginning and before the close of the work. Here Webern makes significant use of the the invariance of the row with row statements that overlap by an entire hexachord: R0 - I2 in the orchestra and I7 - R0 in the piano. From these notable invariant anchor points, it becomes easy to view some larger symmetrical parallels in the organization of row statements. For example, the aforementioned invariant clusters in the exposition and development are both followed by a statement of P4 (m.17 and m. 55, respectively). These statements are inversions of each other. Both progress downward in score order, but the note order in m. 17 is upward, or in other words the third note of each trichord is higher than the first. Conversely, the statement in m. 55 moves downwards note order. While such symmetrical relationships do not fulfill a complete palindrome it does demonstrate the large scale symmetry. But nevertheless, the Concerto's careful orchestration, symmetry on both the macroscopic and microscopic level, the consistent unity of the [0,1,4] set, and the complexity of the developing variations demonstrates the meticulous detail and calculation of Webern's mature dodecaphonic style.

I0 P0 P1 P9 P8 P4 P5 P3 P7 P6 PE PT P2 B C G# G Eb E D F# F Bb A C# RI0

IE Bb B G F# D Eb C# F E A G# C RIE

I3 D Eb B Bb F# G F A G# C# C E RI3

I4 Eb E C B G G# F# Bb A D C# F RI4

I8 G G# E Eb B C Bb D C# F# F A RI8

I7 F# G Eb D Bb B A C# C F E G# RI7

I9 G# A F E C C# B Eb D G F# Bb RI9

I5 E F C# C G# A G B Bb Eb D F# RI5

I6 F F# D C# A Bb G# C B E Eb G RI6

I1 C C# A G# E F Eb G F# B Bb D RI1

I2 C# D Bb A F F# E G# G C B Eb RI2

IT A Bb F# F C# D C E Eb G# G B RIT R0 R1 R9 R8 R4 R5 R3 R7 R6 RE RT R2

Table II: Matrix for Opus 24/I


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