Feisst (Ode to Napoleon) - 144-149.pdf - I <u JD C 0 o(mm...

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I <u JD C 0) o (mm. 66-71) in the exposition, and two other clearly delineated recurring the- matic ideas, which are introduced in mm. 27-28 and mm. 116-21, respectively, and serve as guides for the listener. 756 The third movement (largo), however, fea- tures what is arguably the work's most memorable theme. Prominently presented at the movement's opening (mm. 614-18) and again toward the end (mm. 664- 68), this main theme is cast as a rhapsodic recitative played in unison by all four strings. Because of its chant-like character, its pitch repetitions, and quasi-improvi- satory rhythm recalling Hebrew cantillation, this theme can be interpreted as an expression of Schoenberg's Jewish identity. The intervallic contour of the themes first three notes (a descending minor second and major third), marking the first movement's main theme too, has suggested to some commentators an affinity to the opening of the Kol nidre (Figure 3.2S). 757 Schoenberg also attained greater euphony through subtle tonal undercurrents in the vertical distribution of his twelve-tone rows and limited the use of linear row statements in favor of parti- tioned statements, aggregates, and polyphonic combinations of inversionally related hexachords. The opening of the Quartet's first movement, for instance, alludes to D minor with the first violin articulating the root, leading tone, and fifth and the cello the third of D minor (Figure 3.26). Schoenberg indeed believed that the difference between tonality and atonality was only "a. gradual one" and hoped that "in a few decades audiences will recognize the tonality of this music today called atonal?™ Prior to its world premiere, the Fourth Quartet was played at Schoenberg's house for a private audience, including Achron, Buhlig, Cage, Caroline Fisher, Klemperer, Edward Steuermann, and Strang. 759 Despite little publicity, the work's premiere attracted an audience of about 1,500. 760 Although the premiere felt to Schoenberg like "a perfectly commonplace affair" without "special excitement," he "was very content with the attitude of the public," which "listened with respect and sincerity to the strange sounds with which they were faced." 761 Bruno Ussher, a Los Angeles critic, detected in the new quartet "fewer intervallic experimentations" and "more extensive and sustained themes" than in the previous two quartets. He found that it was, despite the "at times coldly gray harmonization," "more spontaneous, uncalcu- lated." 762 The Kolisch Quartet broadcast and recorded the work and also played it in other American cities, including Denver and New York. Other ensembles, among them the Pro Arte, California, and Juilliard String Quartets, took the work up as well during Schoenberg's lifetime. String quartet writing was popular among American composers in the 1930s. Barber, Becker, Cowell, Diamond, Ross Lee Finney, Piston, Riegger, Schuman, and Sessions, among others, contributed to this genre. The second movement from Barber's First Quartet (1936)—transcribed as the famous Adagio for Strings—was certainly performed much more often than Schoenberg's Fourth Quartet. Yet the Largo

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