Schrammelmusik and Arnold Schoenberg, Serenade op.24 on #neuguitars #blog
Schönberg* – Schrammelbrüder* – Schrammelbrüder* – Schönberg und die Schrammelbrüder
Label: Col Legno – WWE 12CD 31899
Released: 2007 Cd
1 Marsch, Aus: Serenade Op. 24 Composed By – Arnold Schoenberg
2 I Und Der Mind Composed By – Ferdinand Leicht
3 Mondestrunken, Aus: Pierrot Lunaire Op. 21 Composed By – Arnold Schoenberg
4 Colombine, Aus: Pierrot Lunaire Op. 21 Composed By – Arnold Schoenberg
5 Der Schwalbe Gruß Written By – Johann Schrammel
6 Tanzszene, Aus Serenade Op. 24 Composed By – Arnold Schönberg*
7 Tanz H-Moll Composed By – Alois Strohmayer
8 Eine Blasse Wäscherin, Aus: Pierrot Lunaire Op. 21 Composed By – Arnold Schönberg*
9 Valse De Chopin, Aus: Pierrot Lunaire Op. 21 Composed By – Arnold Schönberg*
10 Morgengruß (Walzeridyll) Composed By – Johann Schrammel
11 Parodie, Aus: Pierrot Lunaire Op. 21 Composed By – Arnold Schönberg*
12 Wenn Der Puls Der Frau Schulz, Aus: Eine Art Chansons Composed By – Friedrich Cerha
13 Der Schwalbe Gruß (Vok.) Composed By – Johann Schrammel
14 Lied Ohne Worte, Aus: Serenade Op. 24 Composed By – Arnold Schönberg*
15 Stelzmüller-Tänze Composed By – Vinzenz Stelzmüller
16 Der Wein, Aus: Eine Art Chansons Composed By – Friedrich Cerha Text By – Gerhard Rühm
17 Raub, Aus: Pierrot Lunaire Op. 21 Composed By – Arnold Schönberg*
18 Rote Messe, Aus: Pierrot Lunaire Op. 21 Composed By – Arnold Schönberg*
19 Galgenlied, Aus: Pierrot Lunaire Op. 21 Composed By – Arnold Schönberg*
20 Wann I Amal Stirb Written By – Carl Rieder
21 Finale, Aus: Serenade Op. 24 Composed By – Arnold Schönberg*
22 Haiku, Aus: Eine Art Chansons Composed By – Friedrich Cerha Text By – Ernst Jandl
23 O Alter Duft, Aus: Pierrot Lunaire Op. 21 Composed By – Arnold Schönberg*
24 Das Letzte Glöcklein Composed By – Johann Schrammel
Schrammelmusik was a Viennese folk music style originating in the late 19th century and still performed in present-day Austria, named after the prolific folk composers Johann and Josef Schrammel. In 1878 the brothers Johann Schrammel (1850-1893) and Josef Schrammel (1852-1895), musicians, violinists and composers from Vienna, formed a group with the guitarist Anton Strohmayer, son of the composer Alois Strohmayer. The Schrammel brothers played two violins, accompanied by Strohmayer with a double-necked contraguitar.
Inspired by both urban and rustic traditions, the three musicians performed folk songs, marches and dance music, most often for the public in the taverns (Heurigen) and inns of Vienna. In 1884 the clarinetist Georg Dänzer joined the group, which soon enjoyed considerable success under the name of Specialitäten Quartett Gebrüder Schrammel.
The quartet was invited to perform in palaces and private residences, and even the Viennese elite fell in love with their music. The popularity of the Schrammel brothers was so enormous that some earlier forms of popular music, such as the Wienerlied dialect song, also became known as Schrammelmusik. Eventually the fame of the Schrammel brothers spread throughout Europe and in 1893 they were invited to perform at the Colombian Fair in Chicago. The repertoire of the Schrammel brothers is based on more than 200 songs and pieces of music, written in just seven years. Johann Schrammel died in 1893, followed two years later by Josef. Each of the brothers was 43 years old when he died. However, Schrammelmusik certainly cannot be defined as a musical genre belonging to the musical avant-garde, so why is it mentioned on neuguitas.com? The reason is quite simple: I recently purchased a new edition of Arnold Schoenberg’s Serenade Op. 24, edition created by Col Legno in 2007. For some time I thought that the last official recording of this work by the master Vinnese dates back to 1994, with the cd “Serenade • Variations, Op. 31 / Bach Orchestrations”, released in 2006 for Naxos, which contains a recording that took place on January 10, 1994 at the Master Sound Astoria Studios in New York with Robert Craft, as conductor of the Twentieth Century Classics Ensemble, and David Starobin on guitar. I was wrong, I recently bought this CD “Schönberg und die Schrammelbrüder”, released in 2007 by Col Legno, and I was very impressed.
This CD provides not only an excellent interpretation of Shoenberg’s music, but also, and above all, a new interpretation of his music. The Serenade, op. 24, marked an important turning point in Schoenberg’s career as a composer. It was written in 1923, the same year as the Five Piano Pieces op. 23; these two works were the first to be published after almost nine years and were immediately followed in 1924 by the Piano Suite op. 15, and the Wind Quintet, op. 26, Schoenberg’s first fully twelve-tone compositions. The Serenade is therefore of considerable historical importance in the development of the new style, since although not purely twelve-tone, it is “atonal” in exactly the same way and exhibits many of the characteristics of the style of which it is the immediate precursor: the characteristic and bold melodic lines with large leaps and the treatment of the relationship between melody and harmony. It also shows the more personal characteristics of Schoenberg’s later style, particularly in his use of the rhythmic element and his fondness for repeated note clusters. Although, from a technical point of view, these stylistic elements may not be as rigorously organized as in subsequent works, the very freedom of their treatment in the Serenade explains much of the charm of the work. What strikes me personally every time I listen to an interpretation of it are the richness of Schoenberg’s imagination and the luxuriant profusion of ideas, variations and developments, which in this work appear completely free from any technical struggle with a new discipline. Each movement reflects, as it were, Schoenberg’s pure enjoyment in the new emerging possibilities of sound, before dealing more closely with his technical organization. The result is a freely expressive music, immediately accessible and which in itself does not pose barriers to understanding. A music that draws directly on the roots of popular music most in vogue at the time in Vienna.
Leos Janacek, after listening to his performance in September 1925 in Venice, remarked that the Serenade was a piece of “Viennese strumming”.1 Charles Rosen is no less corrosive: “The ostensibly light character of the Serenade, opus 24, is still a stumbling block in appreciating its merits; its high gloss can awaken resentment.”2 Arriving after a long production break, between 1916 and 1923, the Serenade marked a decisive stylistic change. Schoenberg was moving away from the expressionist tone of his previous works and moving towards a more elegant and controlled sound. Pierre Boulez, in his infamous article “Schoenberg is Dead”, saw the neoclassicism of these pieces as an undue recourse to tradition.
Enzo Restagno poetically described the beginning of Schoenberg’s Serenedes as “uno di quei temporali che hanno un inizio incerto: cielo scuro, qualche rara goccia di pioggia, poi più niente, ma la tensione nell’atmosfera non si dissolve. Si ricomincia dopo un po’ con altre gocce meno rade che s’infittiscono fino allo sfogo finale.3” Restagno also suggests how the term Serenade takes us back to a genre very practiced in eighteenth-century Vienna, which involved the use of instruments bow and wind. The use of the guitar and the mandolin is a fairly unusual element, which will no longer be replicated by the composer later on, and serves to introduce unexpected timbral combinations. Schoenberg’s musical reflection which focuses on a confluence of cultured and popular elements, in particular of Schrammelmusik. The grafting of this popular genre into the Serenade shows the complex and elaborate process of metabolism to which Schoenberg subjected elements of the popular tradition in his intellectually more daring compositional operations.4
I think this is the intrinsic nature of this CD: to grasp and show the natural connections between Schoenberg’s music and Viennese popular music. The analogies that had made critics and colleagues turn up their noses. From this point of view the cd is a real success. The ensemble Klangforum Wien alternates pieces composed by Schoemberg, taken from the Serenade but also from the Pierrot Lunaire Op. 21, alternating with music composed by Ferdinand Leicht, Austrian pianist and songwriter, born on 17 May 1870 and died on 25 December 1922 in Vienna, Alois Strohmayer, composer in the Romantic era and member of the famous Schrammel quartet, Johann Schrammel and Friedrich Cerha.5
The result is impressive, it seems to witness a continuous exchange of crossed ideas, an uninterrupted flow of quotes, references and new possibilities. This CD forces us to listen to a certain musical period of Schoenberg in a new way, framing his figure in a new way. No longer the icy composer narrated by Adorno, alien to the masses and severe censor of popular culture, but a new figure of innovator who saw serialism as a key development in the renewal of “tonality”, far from the severe image we are at get used to it.
A mental attitude on which it would be appropriate to reflect and deepen.
1MacDonald, Schoenberg, 211.
2Rosen, Arnold Schoenberg, 78.
3 “One of those storms that have a shaky start: dark sky, an occasional drop of rain, then nothing, but the tension in the atmosphere does not dissolve. It starts after a while with other drops less shaves that thicken up the final vent.” Enzo restagno, Schonberg e Stravinsky, pag. 164
4 Enzo Restagno- Schonberg e Stravinsky-pag. 167-168
5 Cerha was born in Vienna, Austria, and educated at the Viennese Music Academy (violin, composition, music education) and at the University of Vienna (music sciences, German culture and language, philosophy). In 1958, together with Kurt Schwertsik, he founded the ensemble “die reihe”, which was an important instrument for the spreading of contemporary music in Austria. In addition to composing, Cerha earned a reputation as an interpreter of the works of Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern. This work included the completion of Alban Berg’s unfinished three-act opera Lulu. Cerha orchestrated sections of the third act using Berg’s notes as a reference. The opera was premiered by Pierre Boulez in Paris in 1979. Alongside his career as a composer, Cerha taught at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna from 1959 and between 1976 and 1988 was Professor of Composition, Notation and Interpretation of New Music. Some of his notable students during this time include Georg Friedrich Haas, Karlheinz Essl, Petr Kotik, Gerald Barry and Benet Casablancas.