Foreword to Vol. 18A

The editor feels obliged to furnish the user of this volume with some directions as to its content and sequence of works.

Volume 18 of Series A consists exclusively of finished works; all the unfinished compositions can be found in the corresponding volume of Series B.

The two canons set to Goethe’s poems from the West-östlicher Divan which open the volume attempt to provide a musical parallel to these texts. The character and quality of these pieces, which were composed in 1905, have prompted the editor to place them first in the chronological sense, together with the choral works that Schoenberg published himself [Op. 13 (1907), Op. 27 and 28 (1925) and Op. 35 (1929-1930)]. The last of these works – the Sechs Stücke fur Männerchor op. 35 – are followed by the arrangements of three German folksongs from the 15th and 16th centuries, published in 1930. (There is no apparent evidence of any intention of the composer to place the two canons mentioned above in a particular order. As the sequence in the second sketchbook is purely arbitrary, the Complete Edition follows the order of the West-östlicher Divan.)

The “accompaniment” – as Schoenberg himself described the orchestral version in a manuscript (see Facsimile 1, page IX) – to Friede auf Erden op. 13 has been notated in small print above the choral part, as it is only an expedient, albeit an authorised one.

The section “Kanons und Kontrapunktische Sdtze” (Canons and contrapuntal compositions) provides examples of pieces which reveal great technical skill. The majority of them were conceived as occasional compositions. Some of them form an essential part of theoretical writings, particularly Der Musikalische Gedanke (fragment, 1934) and Heart and Brain in Music (1946). The inclusion in one volume with the earlier choral works (until 1930) follows the model of the Drei Satiren für gemischten Chor op. 28.

In the appendix of this volume there is a youthful work which dates from the time of Schoenberg’s association with different choral societies around Vienna in the years 1895–98. The setting of Ottokar Kemstock’s poem Der deutsche Michel is an occasional composition which was written during the period of Schoenberg’s military service, viz. between July 1914 and December 1915.

Tadeusz Okuljar (Translated by A. C. Howie)