Visiting orchestras / Arnold Schönberg / Pelléas et Mélisande

SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg

limited approximations

Diagram, 48 modes of a twelve-tone row

Diagram, 48 modes of a twelve-tone row

© Wikimedia Commons

  • Duration 2h 15, one interval

Past Dates

19:00 work introduction

The symphonic poem “Pelléas et Mélisande” is Arnold Schönberg’s first work for a large orchestra. It was composed during his first stay in Berlin from 1901 to 1903. Schönberg initially worked there as a Kapellmeister at the Berlin literary cabaret Überbrettl and then, on the recommendation of Richard Strauss, taught music theory at the Stern’schen Konservatorium. It was also Richard Strauss who pointed him towards the drama “Pelléas et Mélisande” by Maurice Maeterlinck, recommending it as opera material. In Schönberg’s adaptation of the material, Maeterlinck’s drama is the backbone but does not serve as the content of his symphonic poem. The post-Romantic sound of the large-scale orchestra is never descriptive but transforms the story of “Pelléas et Mélisande” into a sequence of musical moods and images.

Georg Friedrich Haas’ composition “limited approximations” from 2010 integrates six micro-tonally tuned pianos into a large orchestral apparatus, unfolding a fan of iridescent harmonies, nuances and unusually rich consonances. The composition “Arc-en-Ciel” for six pianos by Russian composer Ivan Wyschnegradsky is also symphonic – an attempt to bring to light the microstructures of unusually dense harmonies in all their colour.

Ivan Wyschnegradsky [1893–1979]
for six micro-tonally tuned pianos op. 37 / op. 52a [1956/72]

Georg Friedrich Haas [*1953]
limited approximations
for six micro-tonally tuned pianos and orchestra [2010]

Arnold Schönberg [1874–1951]
Pelleas and Melisande
Symphonic poem after Maurice Maeterlinck op. 5 [1902/03]

A Berliner Festspiele / Musikfest Berlin event