excerpt from 'Arnold Schoenberg Letters' pp. 293-294 (666 words)

excerpt from 'Arnold Schoenberg Letters' pp. 293-294 (666 words)

part of

Arnold Schoenberg Letters

original language

urn:iso:std:iso:639:ed-3:eng

in pages

293-294

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text excerpt

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I have really been so busy that I could not find time to write to you immediately after the Seventh [Mahler’s seventh symphony]. Besides, there was something rather odd. Earlier, I always felt the urge to rush and say something to you about a performance immediately afterwards, while the full, warm impression of the work was still with me. Perhaps I secretly feared that the impression might evaporate, might diminish. And in fact- I must confess this – it did not last very long. But this time (and for me this is the most important point) I knew I could wait as long as I liked, for this impression, that of the seventh, and previously that of the Third: these are lasting impressions. I am now really wholly yours. This is a certainty. For I had less sense than previously of something extraordinarily sensational, something that immensely excites and works one up, something, in short, that moves the listener in such a way as to make him lose his balance without giving him another in exchange. What I felt this time was a perfect repose based on artistic harmony. Something that moves me without just ruthlessly shifting my centre of gravity; something that draws me tranquilly and pleasantly to itself – an attraction such as guides the planets, letting them travel along their own courses, influencing these, yes, but so evenly, so entirely according to plan, that there is no longer any jarring, any violence. Perhaps this may sound rather like a purple patch. However, it seems to me to express very clearly one thing that I principally felt: I reacted to you as to a classic. But one who is still a model to me. I mean – and this is surely a difference - : Without any outward excitement at all! In tranquillity and calm, as one does, after all, enjoy a thing of beauty! And previously, you know, it did go differently with me; I know that for a fact, even if I cannot express the difference clearly even now. Perhaps there were some elements of artistic struggle involved; personal elements; outward ones; aesthetic details; questions of instrumentation; this time there was absolutely none of all that!/ I did not have much time to look at the score carefully beforehand. I hardly knew it. My requests to the Konzertverein for permission to come to the last rehearsal remained unanswered, although critics were present. / So this time it was quite without preparation, almost at the very first hearing, that I had this great, entirely clear impression. / I cannot say whether the performance was a good one. On the whole I think it was not bad in so far as Löwe [Ferdinand Löwe] was obviously trying very hard to carry out the score’s directions exactly. True, he does not seem to have achieved much more than that; I often had the feeling that one thing or another ought to be done differently – but I think even that much is a great deal for Lówe to have achieved, and after all there is no reason why (as I once said) he should be expected to understand precisely this work, considering how many years he has been conducting without ever having understood anything. / As for which movement I like best: All of them! I cannot prefer any one to the others. Perhaps I was rather indifferent at the beginning of the first movement. But anyway only for a short time. And from then on steadily warming to it. From minute to minute I felt happier and warmer. And It did not let go of me for a single moment. In the mood right to the end. And everything struck me as pellucid. Finally, at the first hearing I perceived so many formal subtleties, while always able to follow a main line. It was an extraordinarily great treat. I simply cannot understand how I was not won over to this before.

 

I have really been so busy that I could not find time to write to you immediately after the Seventh [Mahler’s seventh symphony]. Besides, there was something rather odd. Earlier, I always felt the urge to rush and say something to you about a performance immediately afterwards, while the full, warm impression of the work was still with me. Perhaps I secretly feared that the impression might evaporate, might diminish. And in fact- I must confess this – it did not last very long. But this time (and for me this is the most important point) I knew I could wait as long as I liked, for this impression, that of the seventh, and previously that of the Third: these are lasting impressions. I am now really wholly yours. This is a certainty. For I had less sense than previously of something extraordinarily sensational, something that immensely excites and works one up, something, in short, that moves the listener in such a way as to make him lose his balance without giving him another in exchange. What I felt this time was a perfect repose based on artistic harmony. Something that moves me without just ruthlessly shifting my centre of gravity; something that draws me tranquilly and pleasantly to itself – an attraction such as guides the planets, letting them travel along their own courses, influencing these, yes, but so evenly, so entirely according to plan, that there is no longer any jarring, any violence. Perhaps this may sound rather like a purple patch. However, it seems to me to express very clearly one thing that I principally felt: I reacted to you as to a classic. But one who is still a model to me. I mean – and this is surely a difference - : Without any outward excitement at all! In tranquillity and calm, as one does, after all, enjoy a thing of beauty! And previously, you know, it did go differently with me; I know that for a fact, even if I cannot express the difference clearly even now. Perhaps there were some elements of artistic struggle involved; personal elements; outward ones; aesthetic details; questions of instrumentation; this time there was absolutely none of all that!/ I did not have much time to look at the score carefully beforehand. I hardly knew it. My requests to the Konzertverein for permission to come to the last rehearsal remained unanswered, although critics were present. / So this time it was quite without preparation, almost at the very first hearing, that I had this great, entirely clear impression. / I cannot say whether the performance was a good one. On the whole I think it was not bad in so far as Löwe [Ferdinand Löwe] was obviously trying very hard to carry out the score’s directions exactly. True, he does not seem to have achieved much more than that; I often had the feeling that one thing or another ought to be done differently – but I think even that much is a great deal for Lówe to have achieved, and after all there is no reason why (as I once said) he should be expected to understand precisely this work, considering how many years he has been conducting without ever having understood anything. / As for which movement I like best: All of them! I cannot prefer any one to the others. Perhaps I was rather indifferent at the beginning of the first movement. But anyway only for a short time. And from then on steadily warming to it. From minute to minute I felt happier and warmer. And It did not let go of me for a single moment. In the mood right to the end. And everything struck me as pellucid. Finally, at the first hearing I perceived so many formal subtleties, while always able to follow a main line. It was an extraordinarily great treat. I simply cannot understand how I was not won over to this before.

 

 

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excerpt from 'Arnold Schoenberg Letters' pp. 293-294 (666 words)

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