Preface to Volume 16, 3 B

The volume at hand, containing a comprehensive description of the works genesis, its publication and performance history and impact, as well as all relevant documents pertaining to Schoenbergs early masterpiece presented in vol. 16, 1 of series A, concludes the Gurre-Lieder complex, comprising a total of five volumes of the complete edition.The genesis of this opus (see chapter I), commencing with the initial compositional work in March 1900 and ending with the completion of the instrumentation early November 1911, was a protracted one, taking almost 12 years, an unusually long stretch of time for Schoenberg. It was, however, not composing the cycle (which took just over a year to complete) that led to this drawn-out gestation period, but its instrumentation, in the course of which Schoenberg had almost abandoned it, due, on the one hand, to the seemingly unsurmountable obstacles that stood in the way of public performance, and, on the other, to the fundamental reorientation of his musical idiom between 1904 and 1909. It owes its completion in no small degree to the fortunate fact that the performance of Part I, with piano accompaniment, on January 14, 1910, proved to be a great success. With the publication of the first edition in November 1912, work on the score was however by no means completely finalised, since Schoenberg carried out several, partly extensive revisions to the score in the light of the first performances.

In contrast to the instrumentation, the writing of the particell proceeded relatively effortlessly, although here, too, several interruptions, caused mostly by the need to earn money, impeded continuous work. With a detailed study of the sketches and the particell, which takes into account, apart from the sparse datings, all philologically evaluable information such as the types of paper used, the arrangement of sketches on the individual sheets, typical changes in Schoenbergs handwriting and also the network of motivic relationships, it is possible to reconstruct a chronology of the works genesis, which, however, has to remain incomplete due to the relatively short gestation period of just one year as well as due to the lack of datings in Part III of the work.

For the description of Gurre-Lieder’s publication history (see chap. II) the primary source consulted was the hitherto unpublished correspondence with Schoenbergs principal publisher, the Universal Edition, Vienna. Within the composers lifetime the following editions came out: the first print of 1912 (as facsimile of the autograph; see vol. 16, 2 of series A); the piano reduction of 1913, arranged by Alban Berg, partly already while studying with Schoenberg, on the basis of the latters own arrangement of Part 1, unfortunately lost today; the single editions of 1914 extracted from the piano reduction, the final measures of which are not – as commonly assumed – from Bergs hand, but from Schoenbergs; and the revised and engraved reprint of 1920.

The reception and performance history of the Gurre-Lieder (see chap. III) displayed from the very beginning a dilemma that Schoenberg found himself in already at the time of the scores completion: On the one hand, he did not wish to be judged by a work from whose premises in terms of aesthetics and compositional method he was already far removed, and on the other, he assumed that the emerging great success of the Gurre-Lieder would contribute to a growing understanding of his later works, rejected, as they were, by the audiences. What he, above all, expected from this work (that he briefly contemplated performing under his own direction in Berlin, in direct competition with the Vienna premiere directed by Franz Schreker) was his breakthrough as a conductor and the material success that would entail. For this reason he had secured from Universal Edition first rights for the United States of America – a plan that ultimately failed due to his fee demands, so that in the end it was Leopold Stokowski who directed the American premiere in 1932. Relations between Schoenberg and his publisher, Hertzka, would not recover from this breach of trust until the latters death. How close the Gurre-Lieder remained to the composers heart even in his later years is evident from his deep involvement with the Cincinnati performance in 1951, the last year of his life.

The description of Gurre-Lieders genesis, publication and performance history is supplemented by extensive documentary material, comprising almost 1000 references and for the most part hitherto unpublished, whose publication basically follows the division of the first three chapters (see chap. IV).

The editor is indebted to numerous individuals and institutions for their assistance and support in preparing this volume. Above all, thanks go to the archivists of the Arnold Schönberg Center inVienna, Therese Muxeneder and Eike Fess, who showed much patience and expertise in answering my many queries. I owe particular thanks to Wayne D. Shirley (Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.), Thomas Leibnitz (music collection at the Austrian National Library, Vienna), Franz Werner Schembera-Teufenbach (Historical Archive at Universal Edition, Vienna),Thomas Aigner (music collection of the Wienbibliothek im Rathaus, formerly Wiener Stadt- und Landesbibliothek) and Ilse M. Kosz (Archive of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, Vienna).

Berlin, October 2008
Ulrich Krämer
(English translation by Matthias Müller)