Arnold Schoenberg, Serenade Op. 24, conducted by Dimitri Mitroupoulos on #neuguitars #blog #ArnoldSchoenberg

Exhausting the limits of tonal development in the music composed in the early part of his career, Arnold Schoenberg’s attention was more and dore drawn to the possibilities of melodic and harmonic ideas without tonal centers. Beginning with his Second String Quartet, Op. 10, Schoenberg’s transition to openly atonal composition grew into a firmly developed personal style which was decisively expressed in the Piano Pieces, Op. 11, the George Songs, Op. 15, the Five Orchestral Pieces, Op. 16, and his monodrama “Erwartung,” Op. 17.

Since he had carried the development of his atonal styles so far, Schoenberg felt the need to express concretely a principle, by means of which each single tone could find its complete individuality. In the composing of the Serenade,” Schoenberg for the first time began to create whole pieces integrated in his style which is not referred to as the “technique of composition with twelve tones.” It must be added that Schoenberg did not call this a “system” and objects violently to such a doctrinaire conception of twelve-tone usage. As he finished each movement of the “Serenade,” one of his associates has said, “Schoenberg called his pupils together and explained to them his methods of composing these pieces.”

Of the seven movements, all but two make use of a twelve-tone row (a series of all the possible chromatic tones chosen at the discretion of the composer to suit all his musical purposes). The Third movement (Variations) uses an eleven-tone series; and the sixty movement (Song Without Words) is composed in free style. In only one of the movements does Schoenberg make use of vocal possibilities — the Fourth movement, “Sonnet by Petrarca,” set for Baritone voice with the other instruments accompanying.

…’At night, all hope for slumber mocking, taunting

My spirit, which alone is Death’s to sunder,

Parts from my flesh, and from its bonds encumbering

Flies straight to her who threatening does receive it, T

hus to behold my soul I often wonder,

As it doth speak and weep and love her, slumbering.

Would she awake, if somehow she’d perceive it?’

The Finale (seventh movements) makes a return to the tempo and material of the March, though in different relationships, and thus unifies the spirit of the whole set of pieces. The Serenade was first performed for a private gathering at the home of Dr. Schwarzmann in Vienna in 1924, with Schoenberg conducting. The actual American premiere, according to Carlos Salzedo, took place in Aeloian Haoo, New York City, on Marh 1, 1925, at a concert of the International Composers Guild. Conducted by Leopold Stokowski, the ensemble of was made up of the first chairs of the the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the work was well received. The Serenade, in common with the other compositions Schoenberg continues to produce, is eminently expressive of his artistic integrity, his imagination and his desire to explore and to bring to understanding the wealth of experience possible in the art of sound that we call music. This year (1949), in celebration of the seventy-fifth birthday of Arnold Schoenberg, the United States Section of the International Society of Contemporary Music arranged for the first performance of this work in over twenty-four years, under the auspicious direction of Dimitri Mitropoulos. The ISCM has, in the years since its inception in 1923, been enterprising in brining to performance the works of many contemporary composers whose works might otherwise go unheard and unnoticed either because of their difficulty, or because of prejudice against their “modernity.” Since the larger record companies have with little exception always been over-cautions in producing any recordings that might seem out of the ordinary, one can really appreciate the sympathy, confidence, and artistic interest of Counterpoint Records in placing their facilities at the disposal of Mr. Mitropoulos and his distinguished colleagues, to record brilliantly this significant work. It goes almost without saying that audiences and composers have for a long time been in the debt of Dimitri Mitropoulos. Such courage and imagination in presenting works of immense importance is seldom to be met in the all-too-commercial world of music today. (Notes by Ben Weber for the original release, 1949)

Done! Thank you!