1. Natur (Heinrich Hart) >>> text | sources

2. Das Wappenschild (Fliegendes Blatt aus »Des Knaben Wunderhorn«) >>> text | sources

3. Sehnsucht (aus »Des Knaben Wunderhorn«) >>> text | sources

4. »Nie ward ich, Herrin, müd...« (Petrarca) >>> text | sources

5. »Voll jener Süße...« (Petrarca) >>> text | sources

6. »Wenn Vöglein klagen...« (Petrarca) >>> text | sources

DURATION: ca. 25 Minuten

Frühfassung op. 8 Nr. 2 (1904);
revidierte Fassung op. 8 Nr. 2 (?);
für den Druck revidierte Fassung (1908);
unvollständige Fassung op. 8 Nr. 1 für Singstimme und Klavier (1903);
Fassung für Singstimme und Orchester (1903-1905)

Universal Edition
Belmont Music Publishers (USA, canada, Mexico)

In the late summer of 1903, Arnold Schönberg returned to Vienna after a compositionally fruitful but, career-wise, largely unsuccessful 1 ½ year stay with his wife and daughter in Berlin. His contract as the music director of the literary "Überbrettl" Cabaret at Ernst von Wolzogen's "Buntes Theater" [Colorful Theater] in Berlin which, in spite of its initial popularity, was a flop with Berlin's high society, had expired after only a year. The teaching job at the Stern'sches Konservatorium [Stern Conservatory], obtained thanks to an intervention on his behalf by Richard Strauss, was limited to a single semester. Thanks to the networking help of his brother-in-law, Alexander Zemlinsky (who was artistic director of the Carlstheater until 1906), Schönberg's commission situation in Vienna took a turn for the better, though at the same time, compositional activity had to yield to more practical work – orchestrations, piano arrangements for two or four hands (including the four-hand piano reductions of Rossini's Opera, "The Barber of Seville," Lortzing's "Waffenschmid" and Schubert's "Rosamunde" for Universal Edition).
In 1903, after having composed the Songs for Piano, op. 3 - begun in Berlin and finished in Vienna - and an unfinished song for choir and orchestra ("Darthulas Grabgesang"), Schönberg turned to what was, with the exception of the 1899 short-score fragment, "Gethsemane" for one male voice and orchestra, a new genre for him: the orchestral song. As he had already with op. 3, he started with the "Wunderhorn" texts, and in late November 1903 commenced putting to paper "Das Wappenschild" (op. 8 No. 2, completed in April 1904). There followed the songs "Natur", after a text by Heinrich Hart (op. 8 No. 1, composed between 18 December 1903 and 7 March 1904; this composition exists in an incomplete version for voice and piano) and the Petrarca setting "Nie ward ich, Herrin, müd" (op. 8 No. 4, an initial draft dated June 1904). Schönberg spent the summer months of 1904 in Mödling, Brühlerstraße 104, with the parents of his childhood friend David Josef Bach. There, he worked together with Alexander Zemlinsky on a commission of the publishing house of Josef Weinberger, an orchestration and piano reduction of the opera "Bergkönig" by Robert Fischhof, which appeared one year later entitled, "Ingeborg"; he also worked on his own compositions, such as the First String Quartet in D minor op. 7, as well as on the Orchestral Songs, op. 8. On July 3rd, Schönberg completed the score to "Nie ward ich, Herrin, müd". The composition mentioned in his July 14th letter to the head of the "Vereinigung schaffender Tonkünstler", Oskar Posa, was probably – to judge by the chronological order of the sources – "Voll jener Süße", op. 8 No. 5, after a text by Petrarca: "I've begun a new song for orchestra (the fourth). I think it's going to be very good! This time, I've set out to combine the art of voice-leading with that of orchestration. I hope I am able to do it. My quartet is sitting idle. But maybe I'll get to it yet. Unfortunately, I have to compact Fischof for the piano, explode him for orchestra, just simply spit him out again. I recently said to myself, if they ever go and erect some of those 'here composed' memorial placards for me around the countryside, it would always have to be: 'here orchestrated' . . ."
During the winter semester of 1904/05, Schönberg taught at the "Schwarzwald'sche Schulanstalten" on Wallnerstraße, in Vienna, by the Kohlmarkt. In 1904, the secondary school, formerly just for girls, had been expanded into a co-educational school with an advanced track focused on nurturing artistic gifts. The educational reformer Eugenie Schwarzwald had gotten to know Schönberg through Adolf Loos, and hired him for courses in harmony and counterpoint. Alongside his teaching activities, Schönberg worked on a string quintet in D major (which has come down to us as a fragment), completed (in November 1904) the orchestral song op. 8 No. 5, which he had begun in Mödling, and worked on "Wenn Vöglein klagen", op. 8 No. 6, as well as "Sehnsucht", op. 8 No. 3 (completed on 6 April 1905). Only in October of 1913, ten years after the birth of the first orchestral song, and almost simultaneously with the composition of the first song of op. 22 (Schönberg's only other work in this genre), did the "painstakingly edited" scores of op. 8 go into print.
Already in March of 1911, Anton Webern's piano reductions of op. 8 had seen their initial release by Universal Edition as the first edition. As the world premiere of op. 8 was being planned under Alexander Zemlinsky in Prague, Schönberg wrote his brother in law that, "if I am to express any preferences, I would say that the four tenor songs are more important to me than the two others (Natur & Sehnsucht). The most effective one is certainly 'Wappenschild'. But I think that the Petrarca songs are the best ones." In a letter on 13 August, he once again stresses the programming of the concert: " [...] I think the best and most effective are: I. Wenn Vöglein klagen. II. Voll jener Süße. III. Wappenschild. 'Natur' and 'Nie ward ich, Herrin' aren't as meaningful textwise, and I don't like them as much musically, either." Zemlinsky obliged his request; at the premiere on 29 January 1914, he conducted "Wappenschild", op. 8 No. 2, as well as the Petrarca songs "Voll jener Süße", op. 8 No. 5, and "Wenn Vöglein klagen", op. 8 No. 6. The vocal part was taken by the heroic tenor Hans Winkelmann (son of Bayreuth's first "Parsifal", Hermann Winkelmann). Arnold Schönberg, who witnessed the event and had reminded Zemlinsky beforehand that Winkelmann should sing "p[iano] and, above all, legato [...] and should not enunciate the text all too abrasively", wrote him shortly thereafter from Leipzig: "You know that I had envisioned their interpretation differently, in some aspects, than you had. But interpretation is what's temporal, changeable in the art of music. It is one of the methods of portraying meaning, of awakening and resurrecting the spirit."

Therese Muxeneder | © Universal Edition Wien