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Formal Combination in Webern's Variations Op.

30
Author(s): Neil Boynton
Source: Music Analysis, Vol. 14, No. 2/3 (Jul. - Oct., 1995), pp. 193-220
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NEIL BOYNTON

IN WEBERN'S

FORMAL COMBINATION
VARIATIONS OP. 30

I
In the winterof 1969 Radio Studio ZUirichbroadcast a series of talks
entitled'Die Orchesterwerke
von AntonWebern' by SiegfriedOehlgiesser,
a formerpupil ofthe composer.In the fourthand last talkon 19 December
Oehlgiesser presented an analysis of the Orchestral Variations:
Oehlgiesser'sscriptis preservedin his modest estate,whichformspart of
the Sammlung Anton Webern at the Paul Sacher Stiftungin Basle. His
analysisis distinguishedby its economical taxonomyof motives;it is the
most extensiveanalysisof the OrchestralVariationsby one of Webern's
pupils. HumphreySearle produced a 'brieftechnicalanalysis' of the work
in which he discusses Webern's twelve-notetechnique.' Leopold Spinner
mentionsthe formof the workas describedby Webernin a letterto Reich
in 'The Abolitionof Thematicism',but declinesto go any further;2
he does
not include examples from the OrchestralVariations in his principal
theoreticalwork, A Short Introduction
to the Techniqueof Twelve-Tone
As with most of Webern's works, few statementsof an
Composition.3
analyticalnatureby Webern concerningthe OrchestralVariationssurvive.
Nevertheless,in his correspondencehe repeatedlyreturnedto the issue of
formalcombination,as describedin the followingextractfroma letterto
Reich writtensome monthsafterthe completionof the work:'formallythe
overallresultshould - as always intended- representa kind of overture,
but on the basis of variations [... ]. My "overture" is basically an
"adagio"-form.'"Thus accordingto this descriptionthe workis essentially
a combinationof variationsand adagio-formin which the adagio-formis
subordinate to the variations. The present study seeks to interpret
Oehlgiesser's identificationof motives within the formal framework
indicatedby Webern,proceedingfirstwiththe questionof variations,then
consideringtheworkas an adagio-form.
Oehlgiesserhad been a privatepupil of WebernfromMarch 1932 until
July1938,' whenhe fledfromVienna to Switzerlandbecause ofthe Nazis.6
MUSIC ANALYSIS14:2-3, 1995

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C Basil Blackwell Ltd. 1995. Published by Blackwell Publishers,108 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1JF,UK and
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NEIL

BOYNTON

In his privatelessons withWebem he studiedharmony,counterpointand


form,and would have gone on to studythe twelve-notemethodhad he not
had to leave Vienna.' He did not see Webem's sketchesor row tables
duringthe course of his study,nor did he at any time discuss Webemrn's
twelve-noteworks with him.8 Oehlgiesser writes: 'it was through my
encounterwith Webem that my interestin the twelve-notemethod was
firstawoken. It was not untilmuch later,in exile, thatI discussed it with
Spinner.'9And not until Oehlgiesserwas preparingforthe radio talksdid
he actually discuss Webem's twelve-noteworks with Spinner 'fromthe
point of view of analysisof the workforthe purpose of performance'.1oIn
the firstof the radio talks he acknowledges Spinner's help with his
analyses," as well as the work of Reich, and FriedhelmD6hl's doctoral
His analysisof
dissertation,Weberns
Beitragzur StilwendederNeuenMusik.12
the OrchestralVariationsrepresents,in his own words, 'the attemptat a
musical analysisof the workas Webem mighthave done it, as much as I
am able'.13Oehlgiesseridentifiesthe firsttwo motivesof the theme as the
source of later motives throughoutthe work.'" I shall call the motivic
contentof the firstmotive 'a', and its thematiccontent 'x'; the motivic
contentofthe second motive'b', and itsthematiccontent'y' (see Ex. 1)."
Ex. 1 The firsttwo motivesofthevariation-theme
bs 1-2, cb.

b.3,ob.

Reproducedby kindpermissionof UniversalEditionA.G.Wien

Luigi Nono was one of the firstto note in print correspondences


between the structureof the row and the rhythmicorganisationof the
Orchestral Variations; Nono's serial approach was taken furtherby
HeinrichDeppert, who claimed to have observed'a techniqueof rhythmic
rows' throughoutthe work.16But there are no rhythmicrows, as, writes
Dahlhaus, 'the basic rhythmic
shape forWebem is the four-notegroupas a
And
not
the
series'."1
closed form,
althoughthereare similaritiesbetween
the techniquesof motivicvariationand those of thematicvariation,which
for Dahlhaus suggest 'a tendencytowards consolidatingthe relationship
between melody and rhythm',the idea of such a consolidation is
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FORMAL

COMBINATION

IN WEBERN'S

VARIATIONS

OP. 30

'somethingthatwas quite foreignto Webern'.'sWebem, himself,described


two types of motivic variation- retrogression,and augmentationand
diminution- as theprincipalmeans ofvariation:
These twotypesofvariation
lead almostexclusively
to therespective
variation
variation
ideas;thatis to say,a motivic
occurs,ifat all,within
thisframework.
But througheverypossibleshiftof the main stress
withinthe two shapessomething
new in the way of time-signature
etc.,is alwaysproduced.19
character,
[Taktart],
Webern offersmore on the shiftingof stressas a technique of variation
when discussing the four-partpolyphonic constructionof the scherzosubjectof thethirdmovementofhis StringQuartetOp.28 and itsreprise:
on thefirstappearanceofthetheme,as [occurs]in
Note,particularly
thecanon[icpresentation
ofthetheme],thatby continually
changing
themetreeach voicefallsdifferently
withrespectto thebarring,
thus
each voice gets totallydifferent
main stresses[or, 'strongbeats'] [to the
as
well
as
its
character
others],
beingcompletely
changed.20

Dahlhaus maintainsthatWebernadheresto the stressesofmetricalrhythm


'in essence ratherthan formerelynotationalpurposes', that is, they'are
not subsumed in the dynamics,the latterbeing one of the parametersof
serial music'.21 Dahlhaus's commentson metricalrhythmwill be revisited
laterwithrespectto the proportionalstructureoftheVariations.
In additionto the techniquesofmotivicvariationdescribedabove, there
is what Bailey describes as 'value replacement'.22 Bailey's 'value replacement' is thattechniqueof variationdescribedby Spinnerwithreferenceto
the fourthmovementofWebem's Second Cantata Op.31 wherepartofthe
value of a note is replacedby a rest.23
thisas a
Oehlgiesserdoes not identify
specifictechniquein his analysis,althoughit is apparentthathe is aware of
itsuse. For example,in discussingVariation5 he writes:
The motivea, whichfollowson the[solo]first
violininbs 139-40with
thepitchesB-A-C-Co, is,including
thesemiquaver
restwhichfollows
the C0, a rhythmic
figureof two consecutive
quavers,a semiquaver,
and anotherquaver,thusa diminution
oftheoriginal
figure.24
The resultsof value replacementare most remotein the case of motives
whichare subsequentlypresentedin retrogradeform.An exampleof thisis

the motive played by the harp and celeste in bs 139-40, which is a


rhythmicretrograde of the motive played by the solo violin in the same
bars, described by Oehlgiesser above. The first sounding note of this
motive is the semiquaver C played by the harp, but as regards its motivic
derivation the firstnote of the motive is in fact a quaver, divided into a
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NEIL

BOYNTON

semiquaverrestfollowedby the semiquaverC on the harp. Value replacement obscures its derivationas a retrograde(and diminuted)formof a.
Webern's use of value replacementis occasionally documented in the
sketchesforthe OrchestralVariations.For example,the motiveplayed by
the upper winds in bs 11-12 of the finalversionwas once sketchedin an
augmentedform(see Ex. 2).25 One may surmisethe orderof sketchingas
follows:in the sketchthe last note of the motive,B?, firstappeared as a
dotted minim; then, a crotchetrest was insertedunderneaththe dotted
minim, replacingits firstbeat, and a minim B added afterthe dotted
minimto make up the remainderof its value. Webern then encircledthe
dottedminimas if to indicatethe subsequentdecision to restorethe B? to
its originaldurationofthreebeats, as it appears in the finalversion.26

Ex. 2 Sketchbook
V, p.50,st. 12-14,bs 10-11
[st.14]

[st.12]

11

10

Reproducedby kindpermissionofMaria Halbich and thePaul Sacher Stiftung(Basle)

II
Oehlgiesserdoes not attemptan elaboratecodificationof the motive-forms
of each variationin his analysis,but is primarilyconcernedwithshowing
the source motive fromwhich they are derived. Althoughhe identifies
virtuallyall motivesthat are not presentedchordally,whethertheyare in
contrapuntalcombinationor not,it is in factthe main voice of each section
withrespectto Webern's conceptionof
whichis formallymost significant
the horizontaland verticalmodes of presentationof a musical idea: 'the
presentationis horizontalas to form,verticalin all otherrespects'.27The
same idea is expressedmorefullyby Spinner:
in theirfundamental
structural
Webern... combinestheclassicalforms
of
thisimpliesthedistinction
witha polyphonic
functions
presentation;
oftheform.28
ofthestructural
functions
themainpartas carrier
of motivesa and b in the main voice of each
Oehlgiesser'sidentification
sectionis summarisedin Fig. 1. The thematiccontentof all motiveswhose
rhythmiccontent is a is x; the thematiccontent of all motives whose
rhythmiccontentis b is y, withthe singleexceptionof the second motive
of Variation 1 - the thematiccontentof motivesbeing consideredequiMUSICANALYSIS
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FORMAL

COMBINATION

IN WEBERN'S

VARIATIONS

OP. 30

Fig. 1 Motivicsummaryof Oehlgiesser'sanalysis


Theme

ax

by

ax

ax

by ax

Variation1

bx

Variation
5 a

Variation6

a~

Variation
2
Variation
3
Variation4

'

'

a
a

denotesthe elisionoftwo notesthroughthe overlappingoftwo motives

valentunder transposition,inversionand retrogression,


and the rhythmic
content of motives being considered equivalent under retrogression,
augmentationand diminution,and value replacement.29Motives a and b
appear in the theme and Variations 1, 4, 5 and 6. The motivicpattern
'a b a a b a' is stated twice in the theme and again in Variation 1,
althoughin Variation 1 adjacent appearances of a overlap,producingthe
elision of two notes. The two-foldstatementof the motivicpatternwith
elisions is repeated in Variations4 and 6; the patternis stated once in
Variation5 withoutelisions. Some of the parts of the motivicpatternare
variouslyreplicatedin subsidiaryvoices, althoughit only ever appears in
fullin a subsidiaryvoice in the thirdcanonic voice of Variation4 (which
begins in the oboe, b.111). The motivic pattern does not appear in
Variations2 and 3.
Accordingto Schoenberg's descriptionof the relationbetween theme
and variations,'the course of events should not be changed, even if the
characteris changed; the numberand orderof the segmentsremainsthe
same'.30 In the OrchestralVariationsthe numberand order of motivesa
and b withinthe motivicpattern'a b a a b a' is the same in the theme
and in Variations 1, 4, 5 and 6. These variationsmight thereforebe
consideredas structuralvariationsin the Schoenbergiansense. Both Guido
Adler and Erwin Stein describe a more specificidea of variationswith
referenceto Mahler's symphoniesthatis perhapsmore appropriateto the
structuralvariationin Webern's OrchestralVariationsthan is Schoenberg's
generaldescriptionof the classical variationset. Adler writesof Mahler's
symphonicpractice:'variationsin the truesense, as an independentform,
are not favored; they are introduced in a free realizationin the third
movement of the Fourth [Symphony]throughmetamorphosesof the
principalmelody'.31Stein elaborateson thistypeofvariation:
MUSIC ANALYSIS14:2-3, 1995

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NEIL

BOYNTON

is the onlyreal
The Poco Adagio of [Mahler's]fourthSymphony
whichis
kindofmodified
recapitulation
exampleofthatwell-known
on a Theme... '. In some
species'Variations
closelyakinto thelyrical
mayhavebeenmodelledon theAdagiofrom
respectsthemovement
thethemeretains
Ninth.In thistypeoflyricalvariation,
Beethoven's
thataremodified.32
anditis itsmotifs
itsoriginal
structure
This type of variationis distinctfromdevelopingvariation,which both
Adler and Stein describe as the principalmeans of variationin Mahler's
symphonies.RegardingdevelopingvariationStein writes:
of the motivicmaterial,out of a different
Out of new combinations
ofthemotifs,
and a different
different
order,
development
repetitions
in
whichhavenothing
evernewmelodicshapesarisekaleidoscopically
ofthetheme.(p.16)
structure
commonwiththeoriginal
relatedto the
Thus the materialof developingvariationis not structurally
found in the
variation
of
material
of
that
the
whereas
theme,
type lyrical
slow movementofMahler's Fourthis.33
As regards the Orchestral Variations, Webern's description of the
to those of the adagiocorrespondenceof the parts of the variation-form
form offersan explanation as to why the motivic pattern appears in
Variations1, 4, 5 and 6. In a letterto Reich he writes:
The 'theme'['Thema']of the Variationsextendsto the firstdouble
Six
in character.
bar; it is conceivedas a period,but is 'introductory'
follow(each one to thenextdoublebar). The first
variations
bringing
thefirstsubject[Hauptthema]
(andante(so to speak)oftheoverture
the second the
form),whichunfoldsin full [in vollerEntfaltung];
thethirdthesecondsubject[Seitensatz],
[Uberleitung],
bridge-passage
the fourththe recapitulationof the firstsubject [Reprisedes
manner,
Hauptthemas]- forit's an andanteform!- but in a developing
Art], the fifth,repeating the manner of the
[in durchfiihrender

leadstotheCoda; sixthvariation.34
andbridge-passage,
introduction

(In cases of ambiguityI shall referto the theme of the variationsas the
'variation-theme'and the main theme of the adagio-formas the 'main
theme'.) The motivicpatternappears in those parts of the variation-form
which correspondto the introduction,the main theme, the reprise,the
retransition and the coda of the adagio-form: it is present in those parts
which, theoretically,are stronglyrelated to the main theme, and absent in
those parts which constitute the subordinate group of ideas (the transition
and the subsidiary theme), indicating that these parts do indeed provide a
contrast to the main theme.35 Webern's description of Variation 1, as
bringing the main theme 'fully developed' ('in voller Entfaltung'), implies

198

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1995

cP)

Ex. 3 Periodicconstruction
of themain themeofthe adagio-form

??

t,o

zV

1. a
AntecedentII

2. bx
I

Antecedent

eI- IJ-

@
FL

Consequent

I
6. b

?
t

3. a

7. a

4. b
II

acJ4nm
'canonic
accompaniment'

a
a,_,

Reproducedby kindpermissionofUniversalEditionA.G.Wien

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J 1-*,

-5
i-

- 08. b

NEIL

BOYNTON

that the formof the main theme is essentiallycontainedin the variationtheme,or rather,in the introduction,which was 'conceived as a period'.
The periodic constructionof the main theme is evidentfromthe motivic
structureofthemain voice (see Ex. 3).
Nine phrasesare formedfromthe twelvemotivesof the motivicpattern:
phrases 1 and 2 are playedby the solo firstviolin(bs 21-3, 24-6); phrase3
is played by the clarinet(bs 27-31); phrase 4 by the trumpet(bs 32-4);
phrase 5 by the firstviolins (bs 35-9); phrase 6 by the horn (bs 40-2);
phrase 7 by the tuba and trombone(bs 43-7); phrase 8 by the horn and
cello (bs 48-50); phrase 9 by the firstand second violinsand the clarinet
(bs 51-4).36 Oehlgiesserdescribesthe phraseplayedby the cello in bs 38-9
as a canonic accompanimentto phrase 5 ('kanonischeBegleitstimme',p.
2). Likewise, as the main voice is that voice which comes firstin
contrapuntalpassages, the phrase played by the winds and trumpetin bs
44-7 is a canonic accompanimentto phrase 7, and the phrase played by
the bass clarinetand viola in bs 52-5 is a canonic accompanimentto
phrase 9. Phrases 6, 7 and 8 of the main theme are motivicallyan exact
repetitionof phrases 2, 3 and 4, exceptingthe value replacementwhich
occurs in phrases 6, 4 and 8. Such repetitionis typical of periodic
construction.37 In the main theme of the Orchestral Variations, the
antecedentbeginswithan upbeat phraseand comprisesfivephrasesin all,
and the consequent comprisesfourphrases.38The value replacementthat
occurs in phrase 5 produces remoteresults.The fullvalue of the last four
notes of phrase 5 should be: semibreve,minim,semibreve,semibreve.The
semibrevedurationof the thirdnote is obscuredby the overlappingof the
two formsof a whichconstitutethisphrase,the second formof a being an
augmentedretrogradeof the first.The thematiccontentof phrase 2 (B6,
B , D, C) is identicalto that of phrase 9 (Bk,B6, C#,D), and this is the
only such correspondencein the main voice: the main theme ends by
returningto the thematic content of its firstdownbeat phrase. The
irregularcombinationof motiveb and the thematicmaterial'x' in phrase2
(the only such combinationshown in Fig. 1) thus turns out to be an
essentialpartof the means by whichformalclosureis broughtabout in the
main theme.
Webern's remarkto Reich thatVariation1 bringsthe main themeofthe
adagio-formin its 'fullydeveloped' formis explainedby the repetitionof
the double statementof the motivicpatternwithelisionsin the repriseand
the coda of the adagio-form:the motivicpatternof the main themeis not
further
developed on its successiveappearances.39 The divisionof the main
themeinto a sectionof fivephrasesfollowedby a sectionof fourphrasesis
also preservedin the reprise(bs 110-251; 1252-34).40 The dispositionof
the motivic pattern throughout the work, thus far considered, is equally
attributableto both variation- and adagio-form. The absence of the motivic
pattern in Variations 2 and 3 indicates that the putative variation-formis
interrupted in these so-called variations, unless, for example, a different

200

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14:2-3, 1995

FORMAL

IN WEBERN'S

COMBINATION

OP.

VARIATIONS

30

'skeleton'wereused.41'
The subsidiarytheme is entirelyconstructedfromtwo new motives
statedin itsfirsttwo bars; Oehlgiesserwritesthat'motivicallythisvariation
is fashionedwithout exception from motive b' (p.4).42 I shall call the
motiveplayed by the flute'b"', and the motiveplayed by the cello and
clarinet'b2' (bs 74-5). Motive b1 is a reformulation
of the dottedrhythms
of b: it is derivedfromb throughthe retrogression
of the second halfof b
and by alteringthe proportionsof the second half so as to correspondto
the firsthalf;b2 is derivedfromb throughvalue replacement(see Ex. 4).43
The derivationof b2 fromb is documentedin the sketches(see Ex. 5).44
The sketchesforthe subsidiarythemeare on pages 64, 63, 66, 65, 68 and
67 of SketchbookV.45The contentsof the sketchesare listedhere roughly
accordingto the orderof composition:the unorthodoxnumericalorderof
the pages resultsfromWebern's practice of beginningon a right-hand
page and continuingon the left-handpage opposite; hence, forexample,
page 64 (a right-hand
page) precedespage 63.46 Staves 2-5 of page 66 are
laid out as a four-stavesystem.The contrapuntalrhythmof bs 74-5, st. 4
and 5, representsan augmentedformof b. Correctionsto the last three
notes of this formof b lead to a semiquaverthree-notechord and its
quaver repetition(b.75, st. 3), whichwhen coupled withthe firstnote of
Ex. 4 Derivationofthe firsttwo motivesofthe subsidiarytheme

bs 74-5, fi.

b'

R(b)
bs 74-5, co., cl.

r.

['

J2

44

Im

L4

Reproducedby kindpermissionofUniversalEditionA.G.Wien
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ANALYSIS

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NEIL

BOYNTON

Ex. 5 SketchbookV, p.66, st. 2-6, bs 74-5


74

kl.
Tr.

Fl.

Fl.75

[2112] [2]

Hm
[41

.
24

!V

[51

#.U

K1.

[614

Reproducedby kindpermissionofMaria Halbich and thePaul Sacher Stiftung(Basle)

the motive, as indicated by the arrow joining the two in the sketch,
produce the outlineof the finalmotiveb2. The finalstageof the derivation
is the arpeggiationof the three-notechord as threesuccessivesemiquavers
(b.75, st. 6). The resultingmotive b2, viewed in light of the value
replacementdescribedby Oehlgiesser,is the retrogradeof the formof b
withwhichthissketchwas begun.
Oehlgiesseridentifiesthetwo contrapuntalvoices ofVariation3 as main
voice and accompaniment,and notes that the threeappearances of bl in
the main voice of bs 74-81 are repeated in retrogradein bs 82-91.47
Oehlgiesser'sobservationshold forthe motivicconstructionof bs 74-81,
but the division of the music into phrases indicated by Webern's

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14:2-3,1995

>C)

Ex. 6 Transitionfromthe firstto the second model ofthe subsidiarytheme

IN

End offirstmodel

Transition

V1

Vn. 1: bly
I

[ lbhafl

Fl.:

Vn.1
=

Tpt.: b2x

bx

tempo

nit.

Fo
l. ]

ff

mohto
rit.
Trp.
miDp~.
US

Ob.,
90.Ob..

,TN

Vn.
2

r,:-,

'C1

SO,

ff
Fl.

,,d
Ha.

Reproducedby kindpermissionof UniversalEditionA.G.Wien

O
-IN

phrase2

phrase1

augmented
upbeatmotive

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wiederleichtbewegt
S

subitole
=
l6o

2
. a12a160

sP

.-B.C1.

POb.f
Hp.

op

NEIL

BOYNTON

structureof these bars:


performancemarkingscuts across the symmetrical
the fermataat the end of b.89 and subsequentritardando
separatethe first
note of the sixthappearance of bWin the main voice fromits last three
notes.48The thematiccontentof the firstfiveappearances of b' formsthe
after
pattern'x y x x y'. The repetitionof the pattern'x y x' is interrupted
in
the
same
idea
is
not
constructed
the
Thus
its second motive.
subsidiary
way as the main idea, as Oehlgiesser maintains, but shows the
characteristicallyloose constructionof subsidiary themes, in that an
In thiscontextbs 90-4 may be seen to
ongoingrepetitionis interrupted.49
from
the
transition
a
repetitionof the motivicpattern
interrupted
represent
in bs 95-102, based on the
of
new
model
a
x'
establishment
to
the
'x y
motivicpattern'y x', which is repeatedin bs 103-9. The small transition
begins with the continuationof the interruptedmotivebWin the flute
(b.90), which when combined with the accompanyingnote in the horn
an augmented version of the three-semiquaver
produces, rhythmically,
motivethat servesas an upbeat to the last fullstatementofbW(b.88) and
to the phrasewhichfollows(b.91; see Ex. 6). The core of the transitionis
the motive b2x, played by the trumpet,which is divided between two
phrases,both of which make a featureof dyadic repetition:the dyad (E,,
E) is repeatedin the firstphrase (b.91); the dyad (G, F?) in the second (bs
92-4). The repetitionof a singlenote at or near the end of the phrase is a
featureof all the phrases of the firstmodel and its repetition,the last of
whichcontainstwo repeatednotes ((G, B), bs 88-9); it is also a featureof
the upbeat semiquaver figureto the firstphrase of the second model
(b.95), which comprises the repetitionof the dyad (B, D). Dyadic
repetitionthus provides the link between the end of the firstand the
beginningofthe second model ofthe subsidiarytheme.
Considering the second model (bs 95-102), although the motivic
relationofthe firstmain motive(trumpet,bs 96-9) to the firstmain motive
of its repeat (trombone,bs 105-6) is not clear, theyboth have the same
thematiccontentand an upbeat comprisingthreethree-semiquaver
figures
Ex. 7 SketchbookV
(b) p.68,st. 12,middle

(a) p.65,st.9, rhs

[zz~7_
__

--

-x

K;

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204

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FORMAL

COMBINATION

IN WEBERN'S

VARIATIONS

OP. 30

Fig. 2 Structureofthe main voice ofthe subsidiarytheme


SubsidiaryTheme
1stModel
(bs 74-81)
blx bly blx

Reprise

Repetition
(bs 82-9)

Transition
(bs 90-4)

blx bly

2nd Model
(bs 95-102)

Repetition
(bs 103-9)

(bs 110-12)

bly blx

bly blx

ax

theoverlapping
oftwomotives
' denotestheelisionofonenotethrough

- these two phrases being the only two occasions where three threesemiquaverfiguresappear in succession.The sketchesrevealthatthesetwo
phrases initiallystood in a much closer relationto each other: the first
sketchforthe firstof thesephraseshas the same rhythmand contouras an
earlysketchforthe second (see Ex. 7).~o The motiviccontentofthe second
main motiveof the model (cello, bs 100-102) - considerationsof metre
apart- is identicalto that of the second main motiveof the repeat (harp,
bs 107-9)." Like the firstmodel of the subsidiarythemethe second model
is also interruptedon its repeat,the last note of the second motivebeing
dovetailedwiththe firstnote of the repriseof the main theme.The double
occurrence of the process whereby a model is set up and its repeat
interrupted
correspondsin essence to the structureof the subsidiarytheme
of Beethoven's Piano Sonata Op.10, No. 1, as describedby Ratz, where
the same process occurs twice.52The structureof the main voice of the
subsidiarytheme is summarisedin Fig. 2. The subsidiarytheme of the
OrchestralVariationsis not thereforestructurally
relatedto the variationtheme.
The transitionalidea (Variation2) comprisestwo motives,the second
being an imitationof the first(bs 56-9). The combinationof motivesin
thisidea is derivedfromthe formofb and its imitativeentrystatedby the
oboe and viola in b.2 of the variation-theme.Example 8a shows the
rhythmicreductionof motiveb and its imitationin the variation-theme;
Ex. 8b shows the rhythmicreductionof an augmentedvariationof these
two motivesin closer imitationfromthe sketchesforthe transition.53The
finalversionof the transitionalidea (Ex. 8c) was arrivedat throughthe
insertionof two quaver restsbetween the two halves of motiveb as they
appear in the sketch, and is repeated four times in all. Through the
insertionofrests,motiveb is brokenup in preparationforitsreformulation
in the upbeat phraseto the subsidiarythemeas motiveb1 (bs 72-3).5 In a
letterto Jone shortlyafterfinishingthe compositionof the work,Webern
as 'one of the
quoted b and its imitativeentryin b.2 of thevariation-theme
germcells'." It is in factthe germcell of the transition.Like the subsidiary
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NEIL

BOYNTON

Ex. 8 Motivicderivationofthe transition


(a) Theme, b.2
(finalversion)

(b) Sketchforthe
transition

(c) Transition,bs 56-9


(finalversion)

r,;.

.,
-m

tP
m

t,

04

94

a..
ow..

[.

,z

r "

'-

Ex. 8b reproducedby kindpermissionofMaria Halbich and the Paul Sacher Stiftung(Basle)


Exs 8a and 8c reproducedby kindpermissionofUniversalEditionA.G.Wien

related to the
theme, to which it leads, the transitionis not structurally
variation-theme.
Given the absence of the motivicpattern'a b a a b a' or any other
skeleton derived fromthe variation-themein the group of subordinate
ideas of the adagio-form,it would be reasonable to conclude that the
motivicpatternis a featureof the main theme of the adagio-formand its
related parts, and that, as intimatedby Webern to Reich, the work
representsan adagio-formoverall.

III
But the proportionsof the work section by section, counting in bars
(20:35:18:36:25:11:35), do not apparentlysupport its analysis as an
adagio; nor, as has often been remarked,do they support the idea of
variations.Even the 1:1 proportionofthe main themeto itsrepriseand the
in the sketchesis absentin the finalversionof the work.In the
retransition
bars long, and the retransition
the main theme is thirty-five
sketches
later
is of eleven bars. Through
ten bars.56In the finalversionthe retransition
thus appear to be more closely
thischange,the repriseand the retransition
relatedto the subordinatetheme(1:1) thanto the main theme(36:35). Yet
forthe Second Vienneseschool preciseproportionwas consideredto be an
aspect of formalconstruction,as is evident,forexample,in Ratz's analyses
of worksby Bach, Beethovenand Mahler." Clearlythe proportionsof the
whenreckonedby
OrchestralVariationsdo not readilyinviteinterpretation

206

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14:2-3,1995

FORMAL

COMBINATION

IN WEBERN'S

OP. 30

VARIATIONS

the numberof bars withineach section,but Dahlhaus's observationsabout


Webern's use of metricalstress,'to whichhe adhered in essence', suggest
that the number of strong beats would be more significantto the
proportionsof the workthan the numberof bars.58Which beats withina
bar Webern considered strong and weak might be supposed from
Schoenberg'sHarmonielehre.
Althoughfirstpublished in 1911, it was not
supersededin Webern'slifetime:
In everymeterthefirstbeat of themeasureis accented(gut,strong,
measuresthesecondis unaccented(schlecht,
weak,
heavy).In two-beat
thesecondand third.In compoundmeters(4/4,
light),in three-beat,
the largernote values,the
8/4,6/4,6/8,etc.), and in subdividing
relationofaccentsdepends,in thesameway,on whether
everytwoor
thedivisionis bytwo
everythree[notes]forma unit,thatis, whether
orbythree.59
The only case not dealt with by Schoenberg, and which occurs in the
OrchestralVariations,is that of bars containingfivebeats. Five-beatbars
raise the perceptual issue of whetherit is really possible to hear four
consecutiveunstressednotes withoutsubdividingthe bar. Five-beat bars
are Webern's onlyirrationalbars in the OrchestralVariations;thereare no
seven- or eleven-beatbars. Had there been such other irrationalbars,
whereit would be impossibleto avoid subdivision,one mighthave grounds
to conclude by extensionthatfive-beatbars should also be subdividedin
some way. But thereare none, and as the divisionof fivebeats into, for
example, two plus threecould be notated in bars of two and threebeats,
one may suppose that Webern considered five-beatbars as having one
strongbeat. Figure 3 shows the numberof strongbeats in each sectionof
the OrchestralVariationsaccordingto Schoenberg'sclassification
of strong
and weak beats, countingfive-beatbars as having one strongbeat. With
the obvious exceptionof the variation-theme,
the lengthof each sectionof
the OrchestralVariationsis a multipleof eighteen,countingthe repriseof
the main themeand the retransition
as a singleunit. Reckoned in thisway,
the proportionsof the work would seem to confirmits analysis as an
adagio, forit is the main themeof the adagio-formthatgivesthe basic unit
of the work,not thevariation-theme.60
So much can be said of the finalversionof the work at least. But the
firstsketchforthe subsidiarytheme comprisesthe motivicpattern'a b a
a b a' (see Ex. 9; pages 63-4 of SketchbookV, fromwhichEx. 9 is drawn,
are reproducedin Illustrations1 and 2). The appearance of the patternin
the sketchforVariation3, as well as in the variation-theme
and Variation
1, suggeststhat at the time of makingthat sketchWebern consideredthe
patternas a motivicskeletonthat mightserve as the basis for structural
variationsand not just a featureof the main themeof the adagio-form,or
of those sectionsof the adagio-formwhich he mighthave intendedto be
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NEIL

BOYNTON

Fig. 3 Formal scheme of Webern's orchestralvariations showing the


number of bars and the number of strongbeats in each section
No. ofbs

No. of strong
beats

Variation-Theme

bs 1-20

20

23

Main Theme

bs 21-55

35

36

Transition

bs 56-73

18

18

SubsidiaryTheme

bs 74-109

36

36

Repriseof theMain Theme bs 110-34

25

25

Retransition

bs 135-45

11

11

Coda

bs 146-80

35

36

Totals

180

185

36

Ex. 9 SketchbookV, pp.64, 63

[p.63]

[p.641

74

75pi=

.,

60-7C,
7C

79U_

7778s

GII
rco 8
82 pi=83 84

arco

T-

78

88

87 88bI B

C'1 9 1F9

Reproducedby kindpermissionofMaria Halbich and thePaul Sacher Stiftung(Basle)

strongly related to the main theme, as was ultimately the case with
Variations 4, 5 and 6.61

Consideringthe work as a combinationof forms,each section would


have to performa dual function.In the case of the main theme these
functionsare performedby the same agent:the motivic-thematic
structure,
its formas a structuralvariation
whichis equallyimportantin determining
and as part of the adagio-form.Theoretically,the
of the variation-theme
208

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ANALYSIS

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14:2-3, 1995

FORMAL

COMBINATION

IN WEBERN'S

OP. 30

VARIATIONS

of adagio-form
thatthe subordinate
groupof ideas should
requirement
of
with
the requirement
a
contrast
to
the
main
theme
conflicts
provide
variation-form
that'the courseof eventsshouldnot be changed',which
is notpossiblebasedon thedualfunction
thatsucha combination
suggests
of a singleagent.62In the finalversionof the Orchestral
the
Variations,
demands of adagio-formare met throughthe introduction
of new,
motivesin thesubordinate
contrasting
groupofideas;thedemandsofthe
variation-form
to repeatthemotivicpattern'a b a a b a' are not. One
of adagio-form
the requirements
thevariationsupposesthatin fulfilling
formwas ofnecessity
as themotivic-thematic
structure
could
interrupted,
not sustainthe conflicting
of them both. The work is
requirements
an adagio-form,
essentially
althoughthe'x y x x y' patternofthethematic
contentofthefirstfivemotivesofthemainvoiceofthesubsidiary
theme
survivesas a fragment
of the abandonedskeleton.Webern'sremarkto
Reichthattheworkis 'based on variations'
is not borneout in thefinal
but
describes
instead
the
of
its
version,
history
composition.63

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209
? Basil Blackwell Ltd. 1995

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w0

-3

Illustration1 AntonWebern,SketchbookV, p.64 (Basle, PSS)

o0
'

4,,:

"

'"
.;'._ .

Tb

"

4.-"

+a

oi

/.-4,1"'0

?
.9

-J
~=~.

-s

it.:

'isi
-

..

r-

,.--

*ui
IY?

13

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,:-

Ct

Illustration2 AntonWebern,SketchbookV, p.63 (Basle, PSS)

C',

K-

---'-.

- ---

Ct
7-

.---

.,

1~-

Uo

ca

t
Os

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NEIL

BOYNTON

NOTES
1. 'Webern's Last Works', The MonthlyMusical Record,Vol. 76 (December
1946), pp.231-7 (pp.233-5).
2. Letterto Reich, Anton Webern, The Path to theNew Music, ed. Willi Reich,
trans. Leo Black (Bryn Mawr, PA: Presser, 1963), pp.61-2 (3 May 1941);
Spinner,'The Abolitionof Thematicism:and the StructuralMeaning of the
Method of Twelve-Tone Composition', Tempo,No. 146 (September 1983),
pp.2-9 (p.4).
3. London: Boosey and Hawkes, 1960.
4. Der Wegzur NeuenMusik,ed. Willi Reich (Vienna: UniversalEdition, 1960),
p.66 (3 March 1941), author's translation.'Es soll, dabei ist es geblieben,
formalim Gesamtergebniseine ArtOuvertiirevorstellen,doch auf Grund von
Variationen [...]. Im Grunde ist meine "Ouverttire"eine "Adagio"-Form.'
The Englishtranslationin Path, 'I settledon a formthatamountsto a kindof
overture,but based on variations'(p.60), does not convey the comparison
between end resultand initialplan that is implied in the German original.
This comparisonis not presentin Webern's descriptionof the formof the
work to Jone: 'this theme with its 6 variationsfinallyproduces, fromthe
formalpoint of view, an edifice [Bau] equivalent to that of an "Adagio"'
(Lettersto HildegardJone and JosefHumplik, ed. Josef Polnauer, trans.
Cornelius Cardew (Bryn Mawr, PA: Presser in association with Universal
Edition, 1967), pp.43-5 (26 May 1941)). Webern completed the
'composition' of the work in November 1940, although it was not until
February 1941 that he finishedthe fair copy (Lettersto HildegardJone,
pp.42-3 (14 February1941)).
income book duringthisperiod (Basle, Paul
5. Oehlgiesseris listedin Webernm's
Sacher Stiftung(hereafter
PSS)).
6. Hans and Rosaleen Moldenhauer,Anton Webern:A Chronicleof his Life and
Work(London: Gollancz, 1978), p.685 n. 22. Oehlgiesserdied in 1993.
7. Privateconversationwiththe author.
8. Letterto the author(12 January1993).
9. Ibid. 'Erst durch die Begegnungmit Webern wurde mein Interessefiirdie
in der Emigration,diskutierteich mit
wach. Erst viel spifter,
Zw6lftontechnik
Spinnerdarfiber.'
10. Ibid. 'Unterdem Gesichtspunktder AnalysederWerkezwecksAuffiihrung.'
11. 'Einfiihrungsvortrag',
p.10 (28 November 1969). Oehlgiesser regarded
Spinneras his senior,forat the timewhen Oehlgiesserwas goingthroughthe
basic courses of harmony,counterpointand form, Spinner was already
studyingthe twelve-notemethod (private conversationwith the author).
Some of Oehlgiesser's draftswith Spinner's annotationsare preservedin
Basle, PSS (I am gratefulto Regina Busch forthisinformation).
12. In responseto myquestionas to whichof Reich's 'books on the lifeand work
of Anton Webern' he was referring
p.10), Oehlgiesser
('Einfiihrungsvortrag',
and not
is
that
'Willi
book]
Reich['s
predominantly
biographical
replied
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FORMAL

13.
14.

15.

16.

17.
18.
19.

20.

COMBINATION

IN WEBERN'S

VARIATIONS

OP. 30

analytical,as faras I know the work' (letterto the author,12 January1993).


('Biicher uber das Leben und Werk Anton Weberns', 'Willi Reich ist
vorwiegendbiographischund nicht werkanalytisch,soweit ich das Werk
to one book by
kenne.') Oehlgiesser'sreplyimpliesthathe was onlyreferring
Reich. Presumably, this was Anton Webern. Weg und Gestalt. In
und WortenderFreunde,ed. Willi Reich, SammlungHorizont
Selbstzeugnissen
(ZUrich:Verlag der Arche, 1961). The onlyotherbook on Webern editedby
Reich is Path. D&hl's dissertationwas completedin 1966; it was publishedas
a book under the same title in 1976 (Berliner musikwissenschaftliche
Arbeiten,12 (Munich: Katzbichler)).
'Der VersucheinermusikalischenAnalysedes Werkesim Webern'schenSinn,
nach Massgabe meinerKrifte' ('Anton Webern. Orchestervariationen
op.30',
p.7).
Similar, althoughseparate,lines of enquiryhave been pursued by Kathryn
Music ofAntonWebern:Old Formsin a New Language
Bailey, The Twelve-Note
CUP,
(Cambridge:
1991), pp.222-36; and Heinrich Deppert, Studienzur
im
Kompositionstechnik instrumentalen
Musikbiicher
SpdtwerkAnton Weberns,
von Tonos, 3 (Darmstadt:Tonos, 1972), pp.154-70. Deppert describeswhat
is tantamountto the developingvariationof motivesset out in the theme,
rowsin the motivicdisposition
althoughhis intentionwas to identify
rhythmic
(see below).
Music ofAnton
Bailey calls the firsttwo motivesa and b (The Twelve-Note
Webern,p.225); Oehlgiessercalls them a and b (p.1). 'Thematic' refersto
in die
pitch; 'motivic' refersto rhythm,followingErwin Ratz, Einfiihrung
musikalische
Formenlehre.
UberFormprinzipien
in den Inventionen
und FugenJ.
S. Bachs und ihreBedeutungfur die Kompositionstechnik
Beethovens,3rd edn
(Vienna: UniversalEdition, 1973), p.45.
See Nono, 'Die Entwicklungder Reihentechnik',Darmstddter
Beitrdgezur
neuen Musik, Vol. 1 (1958), pp.25-37 (pp.31-4); Deppert, 'Rhythmische
Reihentechnikin Weberns Orchestervariationen
Karl
opus 30', in Festschrift
Marx zum 70. Geburtstag,
ed. Erhard Karkoschka(Stuttgart:Ichthys,1967),
pp.84-93; some of the materialin this article was later used in Deppert,
Studienzur Kompositionstechnik
iminstrumentalen
AntonWeberns.
Spdtwerk
'Problems of rhythmin the New Music', in Schoenberg
and theNew Music,
trans. Derrick Puffett and Alfred Clayton (Cambridge: CUP, 1987),
pp.45-61 (p.60).
Ibid.,p.61.
Letterto Reich, Der Wegzur NeuenMusik,p.67 (3 May 1941). 'Diese beide
Arten von Verinderungffihrennun fast ausschlief3lich
zu den jeweiligen
Variationsideen, das heilt: eine motivische Verinderung geht, wenn
iiberhaupt, nur in diesem Rahmen vor sich. Aber durch alle m6gliche
Verlegungdes Schwerpunktesinnerhalbder beiden Gestaltenentstehtimmer
was Neues in Taktart,Charakterusw.'
'Analyse des Streichquartetts
op.28', in Hans and Rosaleen Moldenhauer,
Anton Webern.Chronikseines Lebens und Werkes,trans. Ken W. Bartlett

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NEIL

21.
22.
23.

24.

25.

26.

27.
28.
29.

BOYNTON

(Zilrich: Atlantis, 1980), p.672. 'Beachte noch, insbesonderebeim ersten


Auftretendes Themas, wie im Canon, dadurch,dass taktmissigauf Grund
des fortwihrenden
Taktwechselsjede Stimmeandersflillt,also gdnzlichandere
bekommt,auch derenCharaktersichvillig indert.'
Schwerpunkte
See Dahlhaus, Schoenberg
and theNew Music,pp.60-61.
The Twelve-Note
Music ofAntonWebern,
pp.225-6.
'Anton Weberns Kantate Nr.2, Opus 31. Die Formprinzipien der
kanonischen Darstellung (Analyse des vierten Satzes)', Schweizerische
Musikzeitung,Vol. 101 (1961), pp.303-8. Spinner notes that the rhythmic
structureof the main voice is preservedin the three accompanyingvoices,
whilstthe successivepresentationof thematicmaterialin the main voice is
given over to its simultaneous,i.e. chordal presentationin the second and
thirdaccompanyingvoices.
pp.5-6. 'Das Motiv a, das in den Takten 139/40mit den Tonen B-A-C-Cis
in der 1. V1. folgt,ist unter Einbeziehungder Sechszehntel-Pause[sic], die
dem Cis folgt, eine r[h]ythmischeGestalt von 2 aufeinanderfolgenden
Achteln, einer Sechszehntel [sic] und wieder einer Achtel, also eine
der ursprtinglichen
Gestalt.'
Verkleinerung
Basle, PSS, SketchbookV, p.50, st. 12-14, bs 10-11. The numberingof the
sketchbook adopted here follows the Sacher Stiftung'scatalogue (Anton
ed. Felix Meyer and Sabine Htinggi-Stampfli,
Webern.Musikmanuskripte,
Inventareder Paul Sacher Stiftung,Vol. 4, 2nd edn (Winterthur:
Amadeus,
1994)). In Ex. 2 the bar numbersare in blue pencil. Example 2 shows the
initial continuationof b.10 (st. 12) in stave 14; stave 13 is empty.Later
and
attemptsat bs 10 and 11 appear at the end of staves9 and 7, respectively,
are connectedto the earliersketchforb. 10 by arrows.
Bailey describesa techniqueof motivic'inversion'withrespectto a, whereby
the value of its long notes are swapped forthe value of its shortnote and vice
versa (p.226). I do not accept thisas a distincttechniqueof variation,but see
it as a coincidentalby-productof value replacement.Bailey chooses the harp
and celestemotivein bs 139-40 as her firstexampleof an inversionof a. And
althoughthismotivemay be produced throughsuch an inversionof a, it was
ofthe motiveplayedby the
mostprobablyarrivedat throughthe retrogression
solo violin in the same bars. Likewise, her other examples of inversion
(pp.226-7) can all be accounted forby value replacementalone. Whilstthere
are examples of value replacement in the sketches for the Orchestral
Variations (as noted above), I have found no evidence of the technique of
inversiondescribedby Bailey.
Letterto Reich,Path,p.60 (3 March 1941).
'The AbolitionofThematicism',p.4.
The onlyderivativesof a and b to withinsuch equivalencethatare not listed
in Fig. 1 are those of b2 in Variation3. b2 is derivedby value replacement
fromb; it is not included in Fig. 1 as it is principallyassociated with the
accompanyingvoice (see Oehlgiesser,p.4). The derivationof motives in
Variations2 and 3 is discussedbelow.
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FORMAL

COMBINATION

IN WEBERN'S

OP. 30

VARIATIONS

I listhere the instrumentation


of the motivesin Fig. 1. Where Oehlgiesser
does not specifically
the instrumentation,
I have takenthe firstmotive
identify
of contrapuntalsectionsas the beginningof the main voice, and thereafter
the
nextmotiveof the same row form,or chain of row forms,as its continuation.
The identificationof motives in the main voice of the theme is
In Variation 1, Oehlgiesser(p.2) identifiesthem as follows:
straightforward.
motives1 and 2 are playedby the solo firstviolin (bs 21-3, 24-6); motives3
and 4 by the clarinet(bs 27-30, 29-31); motive5 by the trumpet(bs 32-4);
motives6 and 7 by the firstviolins(bs 35-7, 36-9); motive8 by the horn (bs
40-2); motive9 by the tuba (bs 43-6); motive 10 by the tuba and trombone
(bs 45-7); motive 11 by the horn and cello (bs 48-50); motive 12 by the
violinsand the clarinet(bs 51-5).
Oehlgiessernotes thatthe motivicpatterns'a b a' and 'b a b' appear in
Variation 4, and that when in any one voice of the four-partcanonic
presentationtwo of the same motive-formsappear consecutivelythey are
overlapped, as occurs in Variation 1 - which he mistakenlyrefersto as
Variation2 (p.5). The motivicpattern'a b a' appears in the firstand third
voices; the pattern'b a b' appears in the second and fourthvoices. The
identification
of motivesin the firstvoice, thatis to say, the main voice, is as
follows:motive1 is playedby the double bass and horn (bs 110-12); motive2
by the cello (bs 113-14); motive3 by the harp and cello (bs 115-16); motive
4 by the cello (bs 116-18); motive 5 by the solo firstviolin (bs 119-20);
motive6 by the firstviolins,timpani,and trombone(bs 121-3); motive7 by
the timpani and trombone (bs 123-4); motive 8 by the cello (bs 125-6);
motive9 by the firstviolins(b. 127); motive10 by the firstviolins(bs 127-8);
motive 11 by the cello (bs 129-30); motive12 by the horn and celeste,right
hand (bs 131-2).
Oehlgiesserfurtheridentifiesa twofoldappearance of the motivicpattern
'a b a' in Variation5. He explicitlyidentifiesthe instrumentation
of motives
1, 2, 3 and 5 of the main voice, and notes the value replacementwhichled to
the derivationof motives2, 3 and 5 (Oehlgiesser,pp.5-6; the derivationof
motive3 is discussed above, p.191). The fullidentification
of motivesin the
main voice is as follows:motive1 is played by the viola (bs 135-6); motive2
by the flute(bs 137-8); motives3, 4 and 5 by the solo firstviolin(bs 139-40,
140-41, 142-3); motive6 by the solo second violinand solo cello (bs 144-5).
Oehlgiesseridentifiesa fourfoldappearance of the motivicpattern'a b a'
in Variation 6, and notes that consecutiveappearances of a overlap. The
identification
of motivesin the main voice is as follows:motive1 is playedby
the trumpetand cello (bs 146-9); motive2 by the violas (bs 150-52); motives
3 and 4 by theflute,oboe and clarinet(bs 153-7); motive5 by the firstviolins
(bs 158-60); motive6 by the trumpetand tuba (bs 161-3); motive7 by the
tuba (bs 163-4); motive8 by the flute(bs 165-6); motive9 by the clarinet
and celeste (bs 167-70); motive10 by the clarinet,bass clarinet,and flute(bs
168-73); motive 11 by the firstviolins (bs 174-7); motive 12 by the winds
and second violins(bs 179-80). The extrabeat insertedafterthe firstnote of
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NEIL

30.
31.

32.
33.

34.

35.

36.

BOYNTON

a in motive 1 is incorporatedin later appearances of a in motives3, 4, 6, 7


and 9. The derivationof motives4 and 10 froma is obscure, althoughthe
thematiccontent of both is x. In both cases they are the second of two
overlappingformsof a and have longernote values than the formof a which
precedes them,whichsuggeststhattheyare derivedfromthe precedingform
of a in partby augmentation,as in the case of motive7 ofVariation1.
ed. Gerald Strang and Leonard Stein
Fundamentalsof Musical Composition,
(London: Faber, 1967), p. 168.
'Gustav Mahler', trans. Edward Reilly,in Reilly, GustavMahler and Guido
Adler(Cambridge: CUP, 1982), pp.13-73 (p.55); firstpublishedin German
as Gustav Mahler (Vienna: Universal Edition, 1916). In a letterto Jone,
Webern describes his variationsas 'metamorphoses'of the variation-theme
(LetterstoHildegardJone,
p.44 (26 May 1941)).
'Mahler the Factual (1930)', in Orpheusin New Guises (London: Rockliff,
1953), p.16.
See also Stein, 'Synopsis of Form', in Mahler, SymphonieIV, authoritative
version (Vienna: Universal Edition, 1963), pp.[ii-iii]. Walter Frisch gives a
aspects) of developingvariationin
survey(of essentiallythe motivic-thematic
in
the
Brahms
and
Principleof DevelopingVariation
writings
Schoenberg's
(Berkeley: Universityof California Press, 1984), pp.1-34. A more widerangingview is presentedby Dahlhaus, 'What is "Developing Variation"?',in
Schoenbergand the New Music, pp.128-33. Schoenberg's earliest known
descriptionof the technique of developing variationis reproduced with a
in
Instruction
criticalcommentaryin Coherence,Counterpoint,
Instrumentation,
Form, ed. Severine Neff, trans. Charlotte M. Cross and Severine Neff
(Lincoln: UniversityofNebraskaPress, 1994), pp.lxiii-viii,36-42.
Path, p.62 (3 May 1941). The German termsare taken fromDer Wegzur
NeuenMusik (p.67). Webernused both the terms'andanteform'and 'adagioform'in describingthe OrchestralVariations(the formerin the letterquoted
above; the latterin the letterto Reich of 3 March 1941, and in the letterto
Jone of 26 May 1941 (see n. 4 above)). Elsewhere,Webern appears to have
to denote essentiallya three-part
used the termsmore or less synonymously
form with a contrastingmiddle section: in Rudolf Schopfs notes from
Webern's lectures on Beethoven, the section which deals with slow
movementsis headed 'Adagio-form.
(Andante) Form of the slow movement'
Notizbuch,
PSS,
(Andante) Formdes langsamen
('Adagioform.
(Basle,
p.87).
pp.30-32, 35-6 (who characterisestwo
Satzes'.) cf. Ratz, Formenlehre,
principaltypes of subsidiarytheme), and Schoenberg,Fundamentals,p.190
(who includes 'the Andante forms(ABA and ABAB)' in his discussion of
rondo forms).
Schoenberg writes: 'the purpose of a transitionis not only to introducea
contrast [namely, the subsidiarytheme]; it is, itself,a contrast. [...] A
transition,especiallyif it is an independentsection,belongs to the group of
subordinateideas' (Fundamentals,
p. 178).
In all instances where two formsof a overlap, they also formone phrase.
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FORMAL

COMBINATION

IN WEBERN'S

OP.

VARIATIONS

30

These nine phrases correspondto the main voice of Bailey's nine sections
Music ofAntonWebern,
(The Twelve-Note
p.229).
37. cf. Schoenberg:'the consequent [of a period] is a modifiedrepetitionof the
antecedent'(Fundamentals,
p.29).
38. The identification
of antecedentand consequent suggestedby the analysisof
the motivicstructureis the same as thatgivenby KarlheinzEssl, althoughhe
offersno explanationas to why he identifiedthem as such (Das SynthesedesspdtenWebernunter
DenkenbeiAntonWebern.Studienzur Musikauffassung
besonderer
seinereigenenAnalysenzu op.28 und 30, Wiener
Beriicksichtigung
24 (Tutzing: Schneider, 1991),
zur Musikwissenschaft,
Ver6ffentlichungen

p.208).

39. Letter to Reich, Path, p.62 (3 May 1941); Der Wegzur neuenMusik, p.67.
There is also a pun on the German phrase 'in voller Entfaltung',meaning
both 'fullydeveloped' and 'in fullbloom'.
40. Furthermore,the thematic content of the firstand last phrases of the
consequentof the main theme ((B6, C?, D, F), (B?, B6, C?, D)) is identicalto
the firstand last phrasesof the second partof the reprise((F, D, C., Bb), (C?,

D, B?,Bb)).

41. cf. Schoenberg:'since the viewpointdetermining


whatfeaturesare essentialis
not necessarilyuniformforall variations,theremay be more than one usable
"skeleton"' (Fundamentals,
p.169).
42. 'Motivischist diese Variationdurchwegsaus Motiv b gebildet.'
43. Oehlgiesser,p.4. Essl also notes that bI and b2 are derived fromb (Das
bei Anton Webern,p.213). Bailey calls the motiveplayed by
Synthese-Denken
the flute'c', and the motiveplayedby the cello and clarinet'd'. She identifies
c as a derivativeof b, and d as a derivativeof a (The Twelve-Note
Music of
AntonWebern,
p.227).
44. Basle, PSS, SketchbookV, p.66, st. 2-6, bs 74-5. Bar numbers and row
numbers (b.74, beneath st. 2 and 4) are writtenin blue pencil; 'Hm' is
writtenin greenpencil.
45. The sketches for the Orchestral Variations comprise thirty-four
pages
(SketchbookV, pp.47-80). Each page is in oblong format,approx. 27 x 33.5
cm, and has sixteenstaves.
46. Webern's workingmethodsare discussedby ErnstKrenek,'Commentary',in
Anton von Webern, Sketches(1926-1945), compiled by Hans Moldenhauer
(NY: Fischer,1968), pp. 1-7.
47. p.4. The thirdmotiveis a retrogradeformof the firstin bothcases.
48. Oehlgiesser'sadherence to the motivicstructureas indicatorof the musical
materialis similarto Spinner'simplicitadvocacy of the symmetrical
patterns
in his analysisof the firstmovementof the Piano VariationsOp.27, and may
be an indicationof Spinner'sinfluenceon Oehlgiesser(see Spinner,A Short
Introduction,
pp.32-3 of the musicalexamples).
Essl maintainsthat the subsidiarytheme is constructedas a period: bs
74-91 constitutethe antecedentand bs 92-109 the consequent(Das SyntheseDenkenbeiAntonWebern,
p.215).
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NEIL

BOYNTON

49. See Ratz, Formenlehre,


pp.30-32.
50. Going by the row formfromwhichthe firstmotiveis taken (p.65, st. 9) its
last note should be C, as in the finalversionof the work(b.99, trumpet).The
same motivewith C instead of F? is triedlater on the same page using the
same rhythm,
althoughthe contouris changedto whatwas eventuallyused in
the finalversion(st. 14, rhs).
51. Oehlgiesser describes bs 92-109 as a varied repetitionof bs 74-91, thus
implyingthatall the motivesof the new model and its repeatcompriseforms
of b' (p.4). The second main motiveof the new model and its repeat did in
factoriginateas retrogradeformsof thatformof b1 whichfirstappears in the
second phraseof the subsidiarytheme,bs 76-7 (SketchbookV, p.68, st. 5, bs
96, 97-100; st. 10, bs 101-2; st. 13, rhs). Nevertheless,consideringthe
second half of each of the two motivesas the augmentedretrogradeof the
first,theycan also be derivedthroughvalue replacementfromb.
52. Formenlehre,
p.31.
53. Basle, PSS, SketchbookV, p.62, st. 2-5. The sketchesforthe transition,in
chronologicalorder,are on pp.60, 59, 62, 61 and 64 of SketchbookV.
54. Oehlgiesseranalysesthe firstmotiveof the transitionalidea as comprisingpart
of motiveb (dotted crotchetplus quaver) and part of motivea (crotchetplus
minim)(p.3).
toHildegardJone,
55. Letters
p.42 (22 December 1940).
56. SketchbookV, pp.58, 57, 60 (main theme);pp.70, 69, 71 (reprise);pp.71, 74
(retransition).
57. Formenlehre,
pp.62, 71 (Bach), 110, 137, 169-70 (Beethoven), 175, 178, 195,
198. Gesammelte
Aufsdtze,ed. F. C. Heller (Vienna: UniversalEdition, 1975),
pp.56 (Beethoven), 162-3 (Mahler). The example from Beethoven in
The
Gesammelte
Aufsdtzeis the same as that on pp.169-70 in Formenlehre.
in
ihrer
und
Hermeneutik
in
this
which
example appears ('Analyse
essay
Beethovens',pp.53-64) has been translated
Bedeutungffirdie Interpretation
into English by Mary Whittall, 'Analysis and Hermeneutics, and their
of Beethoven',Music Analysis,Vol. 3, No.
Significanceforthe Interpretation
3 (1984), pp.243-54.
and theNew Music,p.60.
58. Schoenberg
59. TheoryofHarmony,trans.Roy E. Carter,paperbackedition (London: Faber,
1983), p.205n.
60. The length of the variation-themesuggests that Webern was making a
referenceto Berg (some of the significanceof the number 23 for Berg is
described by Douglas Jarman,The Music of Alban Berg (London: Faber,
1979), pp.228-30). The appearance of the number23 at the beginningof the
OrchestralVariationsrecallsthe mannerin whichBergused thenumber10 as
a cipherforHanna Fuchs-Robettinin the Violin Concerto. Berg's cipherfor
Hanna Fuchs is statedat the outsetof theViolin Concerto:the introductionis
ten bars long. Jarmannotes that 'its importance[...] is signalled fromthe
outsetby Berg's own indicationwhichstandsat the head of the openingbars
of the work:"Introduction(10 bars)" ' ('Alban Berg,WilhelmFliess, and the
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FORMAL

COMBINATION

IN WEBERN'S

OP. 30

VARIATIONS

Secret Programme of the Violin Concerto', in The Berg Companion,ed.


Douglas Jarman (London: Macmillan, 1989), pp.181-94 (pp.185, 185
n.19)). Yet although there is other analytical evidence to suport this
hypothesis,there is no historicalevidence linkingBerg to the Orchestral
Variationsand as far as I am aware the significanceof the proportionsof
Webern's other twelve-noteworks is purely functional,so the idea that
Webern mighthave used numberssymbolicallyshould be treatedwithsome
were indeed a
caution. If the twenty-three
strongbeats of the variation-theme
deliberatereferenceto Berg,one mightexpectto findotherciphersemployed
by Berg. Perle is credited with having suggested that the number 10
representsthe number of lettersin Hanna Fuchs' name (Stadlen, 'Berg's
ed.
Cryptography',in Alban Berg SymposiumWien 1980. Tagungsbericht,
Rudolf Klein, Alban Berg Studien, 2 (Vienna: Universal Edition, 1981),
pp.171-80 (p.176)). Likewise, the number 23 supposedly representsthe
number of lettersin Berg's full name, via a corruptspellingof one of his
middle names which he preferred.(I am gratefulto Michael Taylor forthis
information.)A second typeof cipherused by Berg is the lettercipher:thus
(A, B [B,]) representthe initialsof his name and (H [Bk],F) those of Hanna
Fuchs (see George Perle, 'The SecretProgrammeofthe LyricSuite', Musical
Times,118 (August,September,October 1977), pp.629-32, 709-13, 809-13
(p.709)). Both of thesetypesof cipherare to be foundin Webern's Orchestral
Variations.The notes A and B, are in factthe firsttwo notes of the Orchestral
Variations.They are also the firsttwo notes of the main theme,and, more
in view of theirrelationto the numbercipher describedbelow,
significantly
the firstnote of the antecedentof the main themeis A, whereasthe firstnote
of the consequent is Bb. The antecedentof the main themehas fivephrases;
the consequent has four. The number and division of phrases may be
interpretedas a cipher for Alban Berg, wherebythe number of phrases
representsthe numberof lettersin Berg's name. Thus the name Alban Berg is
(A and B,, 23 strongbeats) and
doubly encoded in both the variation-theme
the main theme (A and B,, nine phrases) of Webern's OrchestralVariations.
the numberof phrasesin the antecedentand the consequentof
Furthermore,
the main theme,and, hence, Berg's cipher,is reflectedin the proportionsof
the adagio-formas a whole (thatis to say, not countingthe variation-theme).
The proportionalschemeis givenin the figureon thefollowingpage.
betweenWebern's motivea and the
Finally,thereis the strikingsimilarity
'
of Berg's Lulu: '" ' ~ '. The variantof Berg's Hauptrhythmus
Hauptrhythmus
whichaccompaniesthe Canon betweenLulu and the Painter(Act 1, sc. 1, bs

156-85) is identicalto Webern'smotivea: 'rr

r'(see Jarman,TheMusicof

Alban Berg,pp.164-5). The ciphersdescribedabove suggest,if indeed they


were used symbolicallyby Webern,thatthe OrchestralVariationsrepresenta
tributein memoryof Berg.

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NEIL

BOYNTON

No. ofstrongbeats
variation-theme
main theme
transition
subsidiarytheme
repriseofthe main theme
retransition
coda

23
36
18
36
25
11
36

TOTAL

185

23
90 = 18 x 5
72 = 18 x 4

61. Pages 63-4 are laid out on sixteen-stave


paper in threesystemsof fourstaves
each: st. 2-5, 7-10, 12-15. The sketchof the motivicpatternuses the first
stave of each system,beginningon p.64, st. 12, withthe singleexceptionof
the firstattemptat the firstmotive(p.64, st. 12-15, lhs) whichuses staves 12
and 14. This attemptis crossed out. The firstattemptat the thirdmotive
(p.63, st. 2, lhs) is bracketedoff.These two attemptsare not reproducedin
Ex. 9. Some alternativesare triedin the single staves above each systemon
both pages and werepresumablyadded afterthe whole of the motivicpattern
had been sketchedin the firstsystemof each stave; these alternativesare not
reproducedin Ex. 9. Bar numbers,the row numberin b.74, and the bracket
in b.81, are in blue pencil; the row numberin b.82 was firstwrittenin black
pencil and later gone over in green pencil; the bracketin b.89 is in green
pencil.
62. Schoenberg,Fundamentals,
p.168.
63. Letterto Reich,Path,p.60 (3 March 1941).

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