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Research proposal for the Avenir Foundation-Research Grant

The Avenir Foundation-Research Grant

 
Last week I received the following wonderful news from The Arnold Schoenberg Center in Vienna concerning the Avenir Foundation-Research Grant:
 
Dear Avior,

With pleasure I am writing to you to inform you about our decision to support your research projects by providing an Avenir stipend for travel and accommodation in Vienna/Moedling.

Support for the Research Grants will include:
Housing at the Schoenberg-House in Moedling for a four-week period;
Public transportation passes to and from the Schoenberg-House in Moedling to the Arnold Schoenberg Center in Vienna as well as transportation within Vienna;
Per diem allowance;
Transportation allowance to assist in travel to and from Vienna.

 
The news made me very happy since it will help me finish two books. The following is the research proposal that I have submitted on 3 September 2009 to the Arnold Schoenberg Center:
 

From Dr. Avior Byron, Musicology Department, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

To Dr. Christian Meyer, Director of the Arnold Schoenberg Center

 

Research proposal for the Avenir Foundation-Research Grant:

I would like to come to the Schoenberg center for one month during August 2010. The aim of the research trip is to work on two books. I am applying for a 2 week grant for my Oxford book (Schoenberg’s Writings on Aesthetics and Interpretation in Performance) and an additional 2 week grant for a second book entitled Schoenberg and Performance: Changing Interpretive Perspectives. In the following I describe the contents of both books.

 

A. Plan for the book Schoenberg’s Writings on Aesthetics and Interpretation in Performance

I have signed a contract for editing a book on Schoenberg’s Writings on Aesthetics and Interpretation in Performance, which is the fourth out of nine volumes called Schoenberg in Words: Teachings, Correspondence and other Writings (1890-1951), (Oxford University Press).

The main aim of the research trip is to examine the documents listed below and to search for further documents that could be included in this book.

Book description: This volume will be the first published collection and translation devoted to Schoenberg’s writings on performance. Only a handful of these commentaries have appeared in the editions of Style and Idea (1975, 1984). Indeed, from 1923 to 1951, Schoenberg wrote more than thirty manuscripts, two of which he targeted for a proposed book project. Some of these works are reactions to concerts that he heard or reviews or essays that he read, while others discuss the philosophical nature of performance itself. Although they do not deal exclusively with performance, selected correspondence with various musicians often makes a substantial contribution to the understanding of specific works.

My introduction to the text will engage the primary concepts of Schoenberg’s aesthetics of performance —crucially, the impact of his notion of musical idea on interpretation and the role of the performer in relation to the composer and the score itself. The writings will divide chronologically into three parts (1909-18, 1919-32, 1933-51), which reflect certain changes of attitude toward performances during his career. For example, he strongly altered his views in America where his pieces lacked appropriate venues. Although Schoenberg’s notions of the aesthetics of performance do not define a school of thought that others may readily follow, his ideas contribute to a refined interpretation of his music and the classical canon.

The grand will help me examine the following letters and writings as well as find other ones that might be relevant for the book.

MANUSCRIPTS TO BE CONSULTED AND EXCERPTED: (230 PAGES)

c. 1900  Das Opern- und Konzertpublikum und seine Führer [The Opera- and Concert-Public and Its Leaders, from ‘Seven Fragments’]

1904 Prospectus for the Society of Creative Musicians
1909 Letter to Busoni concerning Op. 11
1909 Tempo annotations on the performance score of his String Quartet, Op. 10
1912 (revision 1948) Excerpt from ‘Gustav Mahler’, about Mahler as conductor.

1912 Berlin Diary about not identifying a clarinet playing in a wrong transposition.
Post 1917 Excerpt from Schoenberg’s annotations on Busoni’s Entwurf einer neuen Ästhetik der Tonkunst (Outline of a New Aesthetic of Music).

1914 Schoenberg’s introduction to Pierrot lunaire
1918 Prospectus of the Society for Private Musical Performances
1920 Letter to Berg and other students
1920 Letter to Erwin Stein
1922 Letter to the singer Marya Freund
1922 Letter concerning Copenhagen performers
1922 Letter to Varèse
1923  Zur Notenschriften ["On notation"]
1923 Vortragszeichen ["Performance indications"]
1923  Noten-Bilder-Schrift ["Pictorial notation"]
1923  Der Moderne Klavierauszug ["The modern piano reduction"]
1923 letter to Josef Rufer
c. 1923 or 1924 Zur Vortragslehre ["For a treatise on performance"]
1924 Zu einigen Punkten der Frage, ob man Krammermusik dirigiren soll ["One point about the question whether on should conduct chamber music"]
1924  Eine neue Zwölfton-Schrift ["A new twelve-tone notation"]
1926 Mechanische Musikinstrumente ("Mechanical Musical Instruments")
1926 Zur Metronomisierung ["On metronome markings"]  

1927 Schoenberg to Stein
1929 Musikalische Dynamik ["Musical dynamics"]
1929 Das ist eine seichte Auffassung ["This is a shallow conception"]
1929 Ein "Urheberrecht nachsch-affender Künstler" ("A ‘Copyright for performers’")
1930?
Splitter (shortened form of Gedankensplitter. Aphorisms on opera)
1931  Revolution Evolution (Notierung – Vorzeichen) ["Revolution-evolution, notation (accidentals)"]
1931  Raumton, Vibrato, Radio, etc. ["Tone space, vibrato, radio, etc."]
1931  Phrasierung ["Phrasing"]
1934  Vortrag und Gestalt ["Performance and Gestalt’]
1934  Triolen und Quartolen bei Brahms und Bach ["Triplets and quadruplets in Brahms and Bach"]
Post 1934 Tempo
1936 Schoenberg answered Columbia by telegraph concerning recording of Pierrot lunaire

Late 1930s – Early 1940s EXPRESSION music was from the very beginning…

1939 manuscript with Schoenberg’s claim that critics and conductors were creating a conspiracy against him

1940 letter to Moses Smith concerning recording of  recording of Pierrot lunaire

 1940 letter to Fritz Stiedry and Erika Stiedry-Wagner
c. 1940  Das Vibrato hat man in meiner Jugend  ["in my youth the vibrato was called…"]
1941 letter to Stein ‘… though Mrs. Stiedry is never in pitch’
c. August 1944 Koussevitzki-Toscanini
c. 1945 Musical notation is done in rebusses …
post-1945 Theory of Performance
1946 May I state that knowing records, I realized that their performers…
1947 Before Musical notation
1948 Today’s Manner of Performing Classical Music
1949 For the Radio Broadcast of the String Trio
1949  Ich glaube den Anfang von Pelleas ["I believe that the start of Pelleas"]
1949 To Twelve American Conductors
1949 Letter to Steuermann
1949 letter to Daniel Ruyneman

1949 letter to Hans Rosbaud
1950 Letter about Rudolf Kolisch
1950 Letter to Basil Douglas
1951 Letter to Thor Johnson

 

B. Plan for the book Schoenberg and Performance: Changing Interpretive Perspectives.

This book focuses on Schoenberg’s performance aesthetics and practice as a conductor in relation to the various cultural and social environments in which he lived. It also examines historical recordings from the early interpretive history of Schoenberg’s music. In Part I examine Schoenberg’s history as a performer. I suggest that the common notion that Schoenberg was an unaccomplished conductor was often tainted by issues unrelated to his performance technique. Part II focuses on Schoenberg’s writings. There is a discussion of some of the basic conceptions concerning his performance aesthetics and I inspect his performance-related writings (articles, unpublished manuscripts and letters). I argue that Schoenberg’s performance aesthetics significantly changed during his life.

Part III and IV contain several case studies focusing on Schoenberg’s practice. I examine Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4, dating from his tonal period, and Suite, Op. 29 as well as the Piano Piece, Op. 33a from his twelve-tone period and claim that several key factors affected Schoenberg’s performance practice. Part IV is dedicated to Pierrot lunaire, Op. 21 from the atonal period. There is a detailed discussion of the Sprechstimme enigma (how should the voice perform it?). I examine for the first time the test pressings for the commercial recording. This sheds new light on how Stiedry-Wagner and Schoenberg performed the Sprechstimme in his 1940 commercial recording of the piece. A comparison is made between a broadcast that I have recently discovered and the famous 1940 commercial recording of the piece, showing significant differences between the two. I end this part by suggesting criteria for evaluating Sprechstimme performances and examining early recordings of performers from the 1950s.

Part V includes a review and analysis of video and audio performance of Schoenberg that can be obtained only via the internet. The jump to the twentieth century will grant the reader a perspective to what direction the interpretation of Schoenberg’s music is going to.

Part VI evaluates Schoenberg’s performance aesthetics and practice from a large perspective. In chapter 11 I examine whether Schoenberg’s performance aesthetics and practice shed new light on the analysis of his music. In the final chapter I examine the relation between Schoenberg’s practice as a conductor (Parts III and IV) and his performance aesthetic (Part II), and I point out some of the problems and challenges that it presents to one who wishes to interpret Schoenberg.

 

I will need access to performance manuscripts and I will try to find more performance related manuscripts. Access to the library as well as to early recordings of Pierrot lunaire will also be of great importance.

 
Plan of book chapters:

Acknowledgments
Lists of tables, figures, examples and sound examples
List of Abbreviations
Preface

Part I: Introduction
Chapter 1. Demystifying Schoenberg’s conducting

 
Part II: Aesthetics

Chapter 2. Basic performance conceptions
Chapter 3. Schoenberg’s writings on performance

Chapter 4. Comparison of Schoenberg’s and Adorno’s performance aesthetics  

Part III: Ideas in Practice - compositions from the 1920s
Chapter 5. Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4
Chapter 6. Suite, Op. 29
Chapter 7. Piano Piece, Op. 33a, early performances, 1950s-1960s


Part IV: Ideas in Practice - Pierrot lunaire, Op. 21
Chapter 8. Schoenberg’s broadcast and commercial recording
Chapter 9. Sprechstimme reconsidered

Chapter 10. Evaluating Sprechstimme - early performances, 1940s-1950s

Part V: Performing Schoenberg on the internet
Chapter 11. Video and audio performances on the web
 

Part VI: Evaluation
Chapter 12. Analysis and performance
Chapter 13. On interpreting Schoenberg

Appendices
Interview with Dika Newlin

Excerpts from an interview with Schoenberg’s children

Bibliography
Discography

 

Related posts

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Evaluating Sprechstimme: what early recordings tell us - the chapter

Cats performing Schoenberg Piano Piece Op. 11 - a must!

Early Performances of Pierrot Lunaire Op. 21 Research Proposal

Artur Schnabel and Schoenberg’s Performance Aesthetics and Practice

Bjork singing Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire

The Schoenberg Archive in Vienna

A letter from Oxford University Press: Schoenberg’s Writings on Performance

Email interview with Schoenberg’s Children

Conference paper: Schoenberg’s or Adorno’s Performance Aesthetics?

 

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