Arnold Schoenberg – A Survivor from Warsaw op. 46 (1947)


Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), A Survivor from Warsaw op. 46. From the Album Simon Rattle Edition: The Second Viennese School.

Franz Mazura: speaker / Men’s voices of the City of Brimingham Symphony chorus / City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra / Conductor: Simon Rattle.


I cannot remember everything. I must have been unconscious most of the time.

I remember only the grandiose moment when they all started to sing, as if prearranged, the old prayer they had neglected for so many years – the forgotten creed!

But I have no recollection how I got underground to live in the sewers of Warsaw for so long a time. The day began as usual: Reveille when it still was dark. “Get out!” Whether you slept or whether worries kept you awake the whole night. You had been separated from your children, from your wife, from your parents. You don’t know what happened to them… How could you sleep?

The trumpets again – “Get out! The sergeant will be furious!” They came out; some very slowly, the old ones, the sick ones; some with nervous agility. They fear the sergeant. They hurry as much as they can. In vain! Much too much noise, much too much commotion! And not fast enough! The Feldwebel shouts: “Achtung! Stilljestanden! Na wird’s mal! Oder soll ich mit dem Jewehrkolben nachhelfen? Na jut; wenn ihrs durchaus haben wollt!” (“Attention! Stand still! How about it, or should I help you along with the butt of my rifle? Oh well, if you really want to have it!”)

The sergeant and his subordinates hit (everyone): young or old, (strong or sick), quiet, guilty or innocent …

It was painful to hear them groaning and moaning.

I heard it though I had been hit very hard, so hard that I could not help falling down. We all on the (ground) who could not stand up were (then) beaten over the head…

I must have been unconscious. The next thing I heard was a soldier saying: “They are all dead!”

Whereupon the sergeant ordered to do away with us.

There I lay aside half conscious. It had become very still – fear and pain. Then I heard the sergeant shouting: „Abzählen!“ (“Count off!”)

They start slowly and irregularly: one, two, three, four – “Achtung!” The sergeant shouted again, “Rascher! Nochmals von vorn anfange! In einer Minute will ich wissen, wieviele ich zur Gaskammer abliefere! Abzählen!“ (“Faster! Once more, start from the beginning! In one minute I want to know how many I am going to send off to the gas chamber! Count off!”)

They began again, first slowly: one, two, three, four, became faster and faster, so fast that it finally sounded like a stampede of wild horses, and (all) of a sudden, in the middle of it, they began singing the Shema Yisroel. [source]






















Photo: Arnold Schoenberg, Rockingham Avenue, LA, 1947/48


Luis de Pablo – Chamber Concerto (1979)

Luis de Pablo (born 28 January 1930) is a Spanish composer born in Bilbao, but after losing his father in the Spanish Civil War, he went with his mother and siblings to live in Madrid from age six. Although he started to compose at the age of 12, his circumstances made it impossible to consider an artistic career, and so he studied law at the Universidad Complutense. For a short time after graduating in 1952, he was employed as legal advisor to Iberia Airlines, but soon resigned this post in order to pursue a career in music. Although he received composition lessons from Maurice Ohana and Max Deutsch, he was essentially an autodidact in composition. His participation at the Darmstadt courses in 1959 led to the performance of some of his works under Pierre Boulez and Bruno Maderna (Heine 2001). He was awarded Spain’s Premio Nacional de Música for composition in 1991. In Spain, he founded several organizations: Nueva Música, Tiempo y Música, and Alea and organized several contemporary music concert series, for example, the Forum Musical and Bienal de Música Contemporánea de Madrid. He was particularly concerned with promoting understanding in Spain of the Second Viennese School, publishing translations of Stuckenschmidt’s biography of Arnold Schoenberg in 1961, and the writings of Anton Webern in 1963 (Heine 2001). He is much in demand as a teacher, both in Spain and internationally.


Arnold Schoenberg conducts Verklärte Nacht [fragment] (1928)

This work describes a man and a woman walking through a dark forest on a moonlit night, wherein the woman shares a dark secret with her new lover: she bears the child of another man.

Schoenberg conducts Verklärte Nacht (fragment) recorded in Berlin 1928. Verklärte Nacht (or Transfigured Night), Op. 4, is a string sextet in one movement composed by Arnold Schoenberg in 1899 and his earliest important work. Composed in just three weeks, the work was inspired by Richard Dehmel’s poem of the same name, along with Schoenberg’s strong feelings upon meeting Mathilde von Zemlinsky (the sister of his teacher Alexander von Zemlinsky), whom he would later marry. Schoenberg, the 20th-century revolutionary and later inventor of the twelve tone technique, is perhaps best known among lay audiences for this early tonal work. The piece derives its stylistic lineage from German late-Romanticism. Like his teacher Zemlinsky, Schoenberg was influenced by both Johannes Brahms and Richard Wagner and sought to combine the former’s structural logic with the latter’s harmonic language, evidenced in the work’s rich chromaticism (deriving from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde) and frequent use of musical phrases which serve to undermine the metrical boundaries. The work comprises five sections which correspond to the structure of the poem on which it is based, with themes in each section being direct musical metaphors for the narrative and discourse found in the poem. As such, the piece is one of the earliest examples of program music written for a chamber ensemble. The original score calls for two violins, two violas and two cellos. In 1917, Schoenberg produced an arrangement for string orchestra (a common practice at the time), and revised this version in 1943. There is also a version for piano trio by Eduard Steuermann. The string orchestra version is the one most often recorded and performed. The work has also served as the basis for several ballets. Verklärte Nacht was controversial when it was premiered in 1902. This was due to the highly advanced harmonic idiom as well as, perhaps, Dehmel’s explicit references to sexual themes in the poem. The work does indeed employ a richly chromatic language and often ventures far from the home key, though the work is clearly rooted in D minor. A particular point of controversy was the use of a single ‘nonexistent’ (that is, uncategorized and therefore unpermitted) inverted ninth chord, which resulted in its rejection by the Vienna Music Society. Schoenberg remarked “and thus (the work) cannot be performed since one cannot perform that which does not exist”. The work was premiered on March 18, 1902 in the Vienna Musikverein by the Rosé Quartet, Franz Jelinek and Franz Schmidt. Arnold Rosé and Albert Bachrich played the violin, Anton Ruzitska and Franz Jelinek the viola, and Friedrich Buxbaum and Franz Schmidt the cello.