Dissertation Index

Author: Byron, Avior

Title: Schoenberg as Performer: An Aesthetics in Practice

Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London

Begun: September 2002

Completed: June 2007


This dissertation focuses on Schoenberg's performance aesthetics (his writings) and practice (as a conductor) in relation to the various cultural and social environments in which he lived. Part I focuses on Schoenberg's aesthetics. Schoenberg's history as a performer is introduced. I suggest that the common notion that Schoenberg was an unaccomplished conductor was often tainted by issues unrelated to his performance technique. There is a discussion of some of the basic conceptions concerning his performance aesthetics and I inspect his performance-related writings. One of the main arguments in this part is that Schoenberg's performance aesthetics significantly changed during his life.

Part II and III contain several case studies focusing on Schoenberg's practice. I examine Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4, dating from his tonal period and Suite, Op. 29 from the twelve-tone period and claim that several key factors affected Schoenberg's performance practice. Part III is dedicated to Pierrot lunaire, Op. 21 from the atonal period. A comparison is made between a broadcast that I have recently discovered and the famous 1940 commercial recording of the piece. I examine for the first time the test pressings for the commercial recording. This sheds new light on how Schoenberg expected the Sprechstimme to be performed.

Part IV evaluates Schoenberg's performance aesthetics and practice from a large perspective. In chapter 8 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 II and III) and his performance aesthetic (Part I), and I point out some of the problems and challenges that it presents to one who wishes to interpret Schoenberg.

Keywords: Schoenberg, performance, recordings, conducting, pierrot, suite op. 29, Verklärte Nacht, aesthetics, analysis, writings


Table of Contents
Abstract 3
Acknowledgments 5
Lists of tables, figures, examples and sound examples 7
List of Abbreviations 13
Preface 15

Part I: Aesthetics
Chapter 1. Demystifying Schoenberg's conducting 23
Chapter 2. Basic performance conceptions 44
Chapter 3. Writings on performance 61

Part II: Ideas in Practice--the 1920s
Chapter 4. Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4 100
Chapter 5. Suite, Op. 29 131

Part III: Ideas in Practice--Pierrot lunaire, Op. 21
Chapter 6. The broadcast and commercial recording 152
Chapter 7. Sprechstimme reconsidered 178

Part IV: Evaluation
Chapter 8. Analysis and performance 226
Chapter 9. On interpreting Schoenberg 251

1. Conducting activities not including Op. 21; Op. 21; unrealized opportunities 267
2. List of performance-related manuscripts 285
3. Conducting score annotations in Op. 4 and Op. 29 289
4. Interview with Dika Newlin 317
5. A survey of conducting scores, recordings and other evidence 341

Bibliography 358
Discography 371
Video 373


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