Set Work Analysis – Peripetie

Area of Study 2: New Directions
Lesson 2
About Schoenberg
• Arnold Schoenberg was born in Vienna in 1874 and died in 1951.
• He was an Austrian composer associated with the expressionist
movement in Germany poetry and art.
• He was a gifted composer, teacher and painter and played the violin.
• His music didn’t really take off even though he tried to convince
major composers and conductors of the time with little success.
• His music was condemned by the Nazis.
• Schoenberg’s first compositions were Romantic in style, however,
he started writing atonal music when his wife left him for his friend, a
fellow artist!
• His music became increasingly dissonant and chromatic in the
style of Expressionism. The sense of key became less and less
obvious eventually resulting in atonality.
• Audiences and critics found Schoenberg’s atonal
music difficult to understand. There was so much unrest
at one concert that the police were called.
Background to Five Orchestral Pieces
• “Five Orchestral Pieces” by Arnold Schoenberg is a set of atonal
pieces for full orchestra.
• They all last between one to five minutes and are not connected to
each other by the use of any thematic ideas.
• In 1908 Richard Strauss, an established and popular composer of
the time, asked Schoenberg to send him some short pieces to have
a look at. He responded by writing this set of five pieces for full
• Composers did not understand his music and many simply
dismissed them.
• Strauss himself said, 'It would be better for him to shovel snow than
to scrawl on music paper!' Schoenberg's reaction was to withdraw
further into his small group of like-minded composers and pupils,
more determined than ever to succeed in his original ideas
• Peripetie is the 4th movement of Schoenberg’s “Five Orchestral
• Peripetie means “sudden changes” in Greek.
1. A hexachord is simply a set of 6 different notes
2. Schoenberg bases what can be described as the
harmony of Peripetie on hexachords and derives
many of his melodic ideas from the notes
contained in the chords.
Find the following in your pairs
Listen to Peripetie with the score open in front of you. Try to
find examples of the following and quote specific bars and parts
where they happen.
Sehr Rasch: This is a tempo marking meaning ‘very quick’.
Hexachord: chord based on 6 notes
fff:This is a dynamic marking meaning very loud.
Ruhiger: This is an expression marking and means ‘calmer’.
Heftig: This is an expression marking and means ‘passionate’.
Tremelo: This is an instrumental technique which means to
play a pitch repeatedly and very rapidly.
Klangfarbenmelodie: This means ‘tone colour melody’ and is
to do with the idea of timbre being as important as the melody.
Hauptstimme: Principal Voice: (see H-like symbol).
Nebenstimme: Secondary Voice: (see N-like symbol).
Sehr Rasch; This is a tempo marking meaning ‘very quick’, and is found
at the very beginning of the piece.
Hexachord; Bar 1 in clarinet parts, bar 3 in flute parts.
fff; This is a dynamic marking meaning very loud and can be seen at bar
5 beat 3.
Ruhiger; This is an expression marking and means ‘calmer’ and can be
seen in the section between bars 44-58.
Heftig; This is an expression marking and means ‘passionate’ and can
be seen in the section between bars 44-58.
Tremelo; This is an instrumental technique which means to play a pitch
repeatedly and very rapidly. An example of this can be seen at the end of
the piece in the double bass part.
Klangfarbenmelodie; This means ‘tone colour melody’ and is to do with
the idea of timbre being as important as the melody. An example of this
can be seen in bars 24-28 in the brass.
Principal Voice; Marked first in the horn part near the very beginning of
the piece (see H-like symbol).
Secondary Voice; Bar 28 beat 2 to bar 31 in trumpet 1 and bar 29 in the
flutes, piccolo and clarinet.
‘Peripetie’ analysis
• Free Rondo - 5 sections:
– A B A’ C A’’
• Each section are of different lengths.
• The tempo and texture change in each section
• Melodic fragments and complicated, fragmented
rhythms are used - based on the Hexachords - C#,
D, E, F, G, A & A, A#, B, C, E, G#
• Klangfarbenmelodie - ‘tone-colour-melody’:
Technique that breaks up the melody across the
different parts, varying the timbre - tone colour
Analysis - Section A
• SECTION A: BARS 1 - 18
– Clarinets and Flutes play 2 hexachords bar 1 and bar 3
– Fanfare horn motif - Hauptstimme - H: principle voice
• Tempo/ Rhythm
– Sehre rasch - very quickly
– Short triplets and sextuplet
– Bars 10 - 15 Clarinet Hauptstimme - expressive rubato
• Instrumentation/ Texture
– Brass dominated texture - bars 1 - 8
– Bars 8 - 18: Woodwind dominated texture
– Ostinato rhythm bars 8 - 10 in the Bassoon and Clarinet
– Texture thins after a series of hexachords to a solo Clarinet part
– Bars 10 - 15 Clarinet homophonic texture
Analysis - Section A
• Pitch/ Melody
– Atonal, built up of a series of hexachords
– The full pitch range is heard by the orchestral instruments
– Clarinet solo uses dissonant leaps of a minor ninth and
major seventh/ diminished
• Dynamics
– At the beginning the piece is forte (loud) crescendo
(gradually getting louder) to forte fortissimo (very very
loud - fff) at bar 5 beat 3. This then diminuendo’s
(gradually getting quieter) to pianissimo (very quiet/ soft)
Analysis - Section B
– The Cello has the Hauptstimme at the beginning of this section
bars 18 - 20
– This is picked up by the Trumpets from bars 18 - 19
– The Cello line plays in the top register indicating the business of
the section
– Original tempo however with shorter durations of notes it makes it
feel like the section is a lot quicker
– The whole orchestra is used at different points leading up to Bars
30-34 there is a climax. This lead by the woodwind and
– In contrast the strings have a soft line
– Polyphonic texture
Analysis - Section B
– The Hauptstimme is passed throughout the orchestra
– Bars 24-28 - Klangfarbenmelodie in the Brass section
– Bars 28 - 31 - The secondary voice (Nebenstimme) appears
once in this piece…first in trumpet 1 part and then in the
– Starts of piano then there is an immediate crescendo.
– The dynamics vary throughout the orchestral parts
– The principle and secondary voices are marked f - fff
– The change in dynamics from other parts is quite ‘restless’
Analysis - Section A1
• SECTION A’ - BARS 35 - 43
– This section beginnings the strings having the
– Bars 39 - 41 return of the hexachord played in
bars 8 -10 by the Horns
– A more menacing and tranquil mood to section B,
however shorter than the first Section A
Analysis - Section C
– Horns starts with a one bar Hauptstimme part that is passed
onto the cello - marked solo
– Tempo alternates between ruhiger (calmer) and heftig
– Sparse texture at the beginning with different instruments
having ‘solos’ up to bar 53 where the full orchestra come in
– The dynamics range from pp bars 44 & 45 and fff bars 53 - 55
this then comes down to almost nothing in bar 58
Analysis - Section A2
• SECTION A’’: BARS 59 - 66
– Back to the original tempo
– Many of the rhythmic ideas from the opening bars return
– Bars 5 - 6 is the same as bars 61-63 in the trumpet parts
– Bar 1 and bars 59-61 in the Clarinet part
– Bar 3 and bars 62-63 in the Flute part
– The section begins with the Clarinets and strings.
– The instruments are introduced one by one - layering the
repeated rhythmic motifs
– The orchestra comes together for the final climatic chord bar
Analysis - Section A
There is no Hauptstimme
The material used in the opening is developed
Bar 64 uses a hexachord with most of the orchestra.
The Double basses play a tremolo chord top in the register
which continues after the orchestra have finished their parts
– A big crescendo between bars 59 - 64 from pp - fff
– This dies down immediately to pp in the Double bass part
and Horns section
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