Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), Op.4
For either String Sextet or Piano Trio (arranged by Ulrich Krauskopf & Vincenzo Oddo)
Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), originally for string sextet (1899) and later orchestrated (1917) by him, is perhaps the best known of his works from his early period, before he eschewed traditional tonality and created a new method of musical organization in 12 different tones related only to one another profoundly influenced the entire development of modern techniques of composition. . It was the orchestral version in which work achieved fame. In this setting, with the massed strings, there is a torrent of sound and tremendous power, however, though highly dramatic, it loses the sense of intimacy of the original. Schoenberg set to music Richard Dehmel’s poem of the same name. The poem tells of a poignant conversation between two lovers, a man and a woman, as they walk through the moonlit woods on a cold, clear winter night. Tormented by guilt, the woman confesses that she had become pregnant by another man before she had met her lover. After sobbing, the woman falls silent. Her lover replies that because their love is so strong, the unborn child will become his. Redeemed by his love and forgiveness, the woman’s heart is lightened. The lovers embrace, and as they continue their walk, the night takes on a transfigured aura. Played without break, the music mirrors the five sections of the poem: an introduction, which sets the scene in the shadowy forest; the woman’s depressed trudge and anguished confession; the man’s deep-toned, comforting forgiveness; the enraptured love duet in an optimistic major mode; and the ethereal apotheosis, representing the “transfigured night” itself. Demel after hearing a performance, congratulated Schoenberg on his marvelous rendering of his poem. Our soundbites present approximately half the work.
Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) was born in Vienna. As a youth he studied cello and violin. His father’s death, when he was a teenager, forced him to get a job as a bank clerk. He studied counterpoint and composition privately with the composer Alexander Zemlinsky but was largely self-taught. Although the work is most often performed in its orchestral version, much is lost by this rendition. The original version, which we offer here, is far more poignant, delicate and nuanced, while at the same time retaining a high sense of drama.
Over the years there have been a number of arrangements for solo piano, piano four hands, string quartet, and piano trio. Perhaps the best known arrangement, one for piano trio, was made by Schoenberg’s close friend Eduard Steuermann, a concert pianist and composer in his own right. We, too, offer an arrangement for piano trio by Professors Ulrich Krauskopf and Vincenzo Oddo. In many ways, it is similar to Steuermann’s but they have made several improvements, especially in the string parts. Unfortunately, there is no recording of the Krauskopf and Oddo arrangement, so we have used a recording of the Steuermann version which will give you a pretty good idea of what the work sounds like for piano trio.
|(A) String Sextet---Parts Only||$25.95|
|(B) String Sextet---Parts & Score||$39.95|
|(C) Piano Trio||$29.95|