Preface to Volume 8, 1 B

This 1st part of Volume 8 in Series B is more closely concerned with the music of the opera Moses und Aron. The musical sources are described and evaluated, there is a report of the revision of the musical text of the score which appears in Series A, and the musical sketches and drafts are reproduced and reviewed. The 2nd part contains the numerous sources of the libretto and of the performance and production directions, and also a relevant critical commentary on the text.

Volume 8 has been divided into two parts not only because of the wide range of material covered but also because of the condition of the source material itself. While research work on the musical sources has encountered hardly any obstacles, work on the text has reached an impasse at a particularly critical point. In the source which documents the final re-drafting of the different preparatory stages of the text into the libretto – Schoenberg refers to it as Kompositions-Vorlage mit allen Änderungen – up to ten layers of paper are fastened to the individual pages in different ways; consequently, its contents are insufficiently recognisable. It will hardly be possible to provide a suitably clear picture of the progress made in the text until the different layers of this source are detached from one another – a task which must be undertaken as soon as possible on account of the destructive effect of the glue which has been used in most cases.

As the text itself is not discussed until the second part of the volume, a complete account of the origin and development of Moses und Aron is also reserved until that part. Work on the text, which assumed its first consolidated form as the text of the oratorio Moses und Aron in 1928, not only spans a longer period of time than that of the musical text but also incorporates several different stages. On the other hand, the chronology of the composition can be deduced from the dates in the sources considered in this volume: the starting dates of 7 May and 16 July 1930 (cf. page 9, Source Ab page 61 and 62), the time taken to compose Acts I and II, i. e. between 17 July 1930 and 10 March 1932 (cf. page 31 the numerous insertions in the fair copy, Source B) and, finally, the attempt, albeit of very short duration, to proceed with work on Act III in 1937 (cf. page 28, Source Ae).

The editor is indebted to many people for their help. He is grateful to Rudolf Elvers, Director of the Music Section in the Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin (West), and J. Rigby Turner of the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, for their readiness to assist in the examination of those sources preserved in their libraries. A private collector from Basel was equally helpful. Not only did he make available the source in his own possession but he also assisted in the description of the source. The editor is particularly grateful to the staff of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute, Los Angeles, and its director, Leonard Stein. No one has contributed more to this volume and also to forthcoming volumes of the Complete Edition than Clara Steuermann, the archivist of the Institute. Without her personal co-operation in making the sources available – even before the building of the Institute was completed – and without her continual willingness to find answers even to apparently peripheral questions, it would not have been possible to provide a description of the sources and an edition of the sketches in this present form.

Berlin, September 1979
Christian Martin Schmidt
(Translated by A. C. Howie)