Concerto in D flat for Piano and Orchestra - (2017)
in memory of Leonard Stein
the 1974, I was asked by Leonard Stein to perform for the Schoenberg
Centennial at the Monday Evening Concerts of the Los Angeles Art Museum. In
addition to the early published songs with opus numbers included in that
concert, he also put on the
program the then-unpublished songs, Gruß in die Ferne,
Ein Schifflied (Drüben geht die
and Die Beiden. Also included were the Streichtrio and
Fantasie für Violine und Klavier. It is a coincidence that my first
composition teacher, Dorrance Stalvey, was both on the faculty of
Immaculate Heart College, and also was director of the Monday Evening Concert
series at the art museum.
Leonard Stein is best known as Schoenberg's editor for Style and Idea,
as well as for his work editing Structural Functions of Harmony. In
his preface he says of Schoenberg, "It may be true, as some critics claim,
that Schoenberg is essentially a preserver of traditional values rather than
the revolutionary he is popularly supposed to be. Unlike most preservers of
the past, however, who only seek, by historical or stylistic references, to
codify theory within a closed system, his concepts, though rooted in
tradition, are vital to our time because they derive from the resources of
an ever-enquiring and constantly growing musical intellect."
in "Preface to the Revised Edition," of "Structural Functions of Harmony,"
Arnold Schoenberg, Norton, 1969. But alongside the notion of slipping away
from "codified" rules, I have pleasant thoughts of rehearsing with Leonard
at his home on Carman Crest Drive, after which he would open a bottle of Piesporter Goldtröpfchen,
examine many original manuscripts of Schoenberg, and talk of music and music and music, much to my
[ 1 ]
his long association with Schoenberg, he was curator of the Schoenberg
archive when at UCLA, headed the Schoenberg Institute when created at the
University of Southern California, and then passed all on to the Arnold Schönberg
Center which was created in Austria, with a website from which one may
examine some of the early scores to which I was introduced decades ago.
work for piano and chamber orchestra begins with a first theme, broken major
chords in parallel movement challenging the root of D flat. Taken up by
winds, then strings and finally piano, it is jovial.
break from the 6/8, brings a next mood as a 3/4 time adagio, with
development and chamber-music-like runs and imitations in the winds and
gives way to moment for solo piano with a return to 6/8, begun with a gesture which spells the
musical cryptogram so often used for Arnold Schoenberg and known as set
6-Z44. In the form used, it is E flat, C, B, B flat, E(?), G (= S, C, H, B,
E, G). As Leonard Stein was student, assistant, editor and champion of
Schoenberg, this little gesture is tribute. Thereafter, the piano introduces
what will become one of two fugal subjects which end the work.
As the orchestra rejoins, echoes of one fugue subject
punctuate a statement in bassoon and lower strings which is in fact a
twelve-tone row. Set theory which post-dates Schoenberg is not used to
manipulate this, but rather tradition "traditional" methods apply.
[ 2 ]
break from the melodic uses of the row, a second musical cryptogram in the
piano is stated as fulcrum to a next section. This little snippet -- A, B
flat, B, F (= A, B, H, F) for Alban Berg and Hanna Fuchs-Robettin) is from
Berg's Lyric Suite. The row is then taken up again, beginning
in the high strings, and appears in shifting tonal regions.
A recapitulation of themes combines the "row" in canon with
itself over a filigree of arpeggios, with the fugue subject being strongly
restated and a last cluster of all twelve tones serves as a brief "dominant"
cadential function before the final assertion of the tonal home for the
pages, circa 15' 30" - an MP3 emulation of the work is here:
and parts are available as a free PDF download, though any major
commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior
arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this score.
Concerto in D flat for Piano and Chamber Orchestra
Full score - A4 edition
[ 1 ] That Stein and Stalvey
both were involved for many years in presenting Schoenberg's
works in the concert series is appreciated by those who remember
that time, now passed. The LACMA presented not only avant-garde
concerts, but standard chamber music, a jazz series, and some
As part of a leisurely preparation for the centennial, I read
not only Schoenberg's songs with Stein, but others as placing the early
work in the context of composers of the era, including Wolf and Strauss.
While Stein was open to many strains of music, Stalvey as
teacher seemed intent on convincing for a specific aesthetic
stance as against others.
For Stalvey, theory was crucial, as he has been
working on pieces involving rigorous serialism, and hoped to
evangelize others to it. In that time, he was working with
serializing not only tones, but durations, articulation,
dynamics and other readings of a musical text, such as to
further "control" a performer. Yet his correspondence with the likes
of Krenek and Noncarrow, as well as his support for jazz
programming, suggest that he was perhaps being too much the
teacher of theory. Of theory which hinges on a specific
aesthetic leaning, Schoenberg observed in Structural
Functions: "...no theory can exclude everything that
is wrong, poor, or even detestable, or include everything that
is right, good, or beautiful."
Stein was more interested in, as he wrote of Schoenberg but
which has had for me a broader application, "the resources of an
ever-enquiring and constantly growing musical intellect." Given
Schoenberg's short association with George Gershwin and generous
words at his passing, as an
example of differing aesthetic stances, the example is taken.
Stein was for a time curator of the Schoenberg archive, first at
UCLA and then when it was moved to University of Southern
California. Now the materials have found their way to Austria,
and much may be seen online at the Arnold Schönberg Center.
[ 2 ]
The now traditional creation of a row has been used in many ways
as a way to mine for thematic content. The row employed
alongside the musical cryptograms mentioned above for this
tribute to Leonard Stein is as follows in its D flat
transposition, though other domains are touched:
years, I have referred often to Structural Functions of
Harmony. Though a short text in comparison to many, it is
effective. Here is the anecdote with which Schoenberg and
therefore his editor choose to end the work:
"Hans Richter, the renowned Wagnerian conductor, was once
passing by a studio in the Vienna Opera House, and stopped
surprised by the unintelligible sounds he heard form within. A
coach who had been engaged for this post, not because of his
musical talents, but because of a powerful protector, was
accompanying a singer. Furiously Richter opened the door and
shouted: 'Mr. F--thal, if you plan to continue coaching you must
first buy a book on harmony and study it!' Here was a conductor
who believed in harmony and in education."
The melding of values "rooted in tradition" in the
positive sense as used by
Stein, with twelve-tone reference and inclusion of musical
cryptograms is hopefully evidence of a "growing musical
intellect," in part thanks to an earlier association with
the wonderful Leonard Stein.