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Material and History in the Aesthetics of 'Serielle Musik'

Author(s): MARCUS ZAGORSKI


Source: Journal of the Royal Musical Association, Vol. 134, No. 2 (2009), pp. 271-317
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of the Royal Musical Association
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Vol. 134,no. 2, 271-317


Journal
oftheRoyalMusicalAssociation,

''

^l[^SLuP

of
Materialand Historyin theAesthetics
'SerielleMusik'
MARCUS ZAGORSKI

An introduction
to a practiceof theory-formation
musthave as its object,firstand
the
material.1
theconditions
of
foremost,

A somewhat painednostalgia
bythe
hangsbehindwordssuchas these,proffered
in
Lachenmann
for
more
Helmut
ideas
found
1978,
composer
theyexpress
in writings
thataccompanied
thebeginnings
ofSerielleMusik'25 years
commonly
earlier.2
Theoretical
inferred
hereto be essential
to compositional
reflection,
work,is
saidto beginwithreflection
musical
material
a
material
that
issues
demands,
upon
Initialresearch
forthisarticlewas madepossibleby grantsfromStanford
and theFreie
University
Universitt
to bothinstitutions
fortheirsupport.StephenHinton,Karol
Berlin,and I am grateful
ThomasGreyandHermannDanuseralsodeserve
fortheirexpert
mythanks
Berger,
guidanceduring
andfarbeyond mydoctoral
studies.Morerecently,
MartinIddonandMie Spenceroffered
intelligent
and challenging
feedbackon myideasaboutthepost-war
period,and Paul Everettencouraged
my
load.Finally,
theanonymous
reviewers
forJRMAprovided
byreducing
myteaching
writing
insightful
comments
thatenabledme to improvethisarticleconsiderably.
'Eine Einfhrung
in einePraxisderTheoriebildung
muzuallererst
die Bedingungen
des Materials
zumGegenstand
haben.'HelmutLachenmann,
desMaterials:
Stichworte
zurPraxisder
'Bedingungen
1966-1995', ed. JosefHusler
Theoriebildung',Musik als existentielle
Erfahrung:
Schriften
aremyownunlessnotedotherwise.
(Wiesbaden,1996),35-53 (p. 35). Translations
Germanpracticeand followsthe specific
My use of the term'serielleMusik' impliesprimarily
Germanmeaningoftheterm,
whichrefers
to compositional
exclusively
techniques,
developedin the
1950s and 60s, thatconsciously
themselves
fromSchoenbergian
distinguished
dodecaphonyby
thestructural
of a pitchrowto otherelements
suchas duration,
and
extending
principle
intensity
In English(as in French),
timbre.
'serialmusic'('musiquesrielle')is oftenusedmuchmoregenerally
to refer
to anymusicthatusestheserialprinciple,
ofwhether
thisprinciple
is appliedonly
regardless
to pitch,as in themusicofArnoldSchoenberg,
or universally.
The moregeneralapplication
of the
termpreserves
theoriginalmeaning
of'musiquesrielle',
whichwasusedinitially
Ren
Leibowitz
by
in 1947 in writings
on the12-notemethodofSchoenberg
and hisstudents.
As theconceptofserial
musicwas lateradoptedby PierreBoulez (who had studiedwith Leibowitz)and Karlheinz
Stockhausen
alsoto thestructuring
(whobefriended
Boulez)intheearly1950s,itwasadaptedtorefer
ofcompositional
elements
otherthanpitch.The Germanconceptof 'serielleMusik'becamewidely
established
thepublication
ofthejournaldieReihe:Information
ber
thereafter,
shortly
largely
through
serielle
Musik, towhichStockhausen
andBoulezweresignificant
contributors.
Formoreon thispoint,
ISSN0269-0403
online
1471-6933
print/ISSN
Association
TheRoyalMusical
DOI: 10.1080/02690400903109083
http://www.informaworld.com
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272

MARCUS ZAGORSKI

or 'conditions',that guide a composer's hand. The 'conditionsof the material'


('Bedingungendes Materials')were invokedsimilarlyby KarlheinzStockhausenin
the early 1950s, in essays he wrote concurrently
with influentialcompositions
serial
as
his
Kontra-Punkte
and the earlyKlavierstcke
such
techniques,
employing
(worksthe composerhonoured by designatingthem as the firstnumbersof his
echoesTheodorW. Adorno'stheoryof a 'tendencyof
oeuvre).3And theformulation
the material'('Tendenz des Materials'),which was widely discussedin the years
followingthe publicationof Philosophieder neuenMusik in 1949. In fact,musical
materialwas so widelydiscussedby theoristsand composersin the 1950s and 60s
an era in
thatCarl Dahlhaus characterized
theseyearsas an era of Materialdenken,
whichideas about materialdominatedtheoreticaldiscourse.5
It may seem banal to state that composersthoughtand wrote about musical
more than mere shop
material,but theoriesof materialin this period represented
and proscriptiveaestheticpositions,which were
talk: theyexpressedprescriptive
shaded with ethicalovertonesand provideda means for the assertionof agency.
Appeals to the 'conditions'or 'tendency'of materialmaskedsubjectivepreferences
and legitimizedcompositionaldecisionswiththe higher
withobjectiveimperatives,
to
be
of
laws
obeyedand historicaldirectivesto be followed.Citingsuch
authority
lent
world-historical
laws and directives
weightto whathas been seen as a paradigm
shift in music around 1950, in which a new musical style, thought to be
of a new world and dissociablefroma politicallycompromisedpast,
representative
was championed as an older, neoclassicalstylewas vilified. The decree of the
ed. Hans
derMusikim20. Jahrhundert,
'SerielleMusik',Terminologie
vonBlumrder,
seeChristoph
1
Sonderband
dermusikalischen
Handwrterbuch
HeinrichEggebrecht,
(Stuttgart,
Terminologie,
1995),396-411.
3 In his 'Arbeitsbericht
calledfora compositional
1952/53',forexample,Stockhausen
approachthat
forthe material',and thisapproachwas describedas an
or 'appropriate
was 'materialgerecht'
'
mit
derFormgesetze
ofthematerial (bereinstimmung
'agreement
ofthelaws offormwiththeconditions

'Arbeitsbericht
1952/53:Orientierung',
des Materials').KarlheinzStockhausen,
den Bedingungen
und instrumentalen
Texte,ed. DieterSchnebel,6 vols. (Cologne,1963-89), i: Zur elektronischen
Musik(1963), 32-8 (p. 32).
ofmusic.As
inAdorno'sphilosophy
elements
wasone ofthemostessential
The conceptofmaterial
1
the
late
of
in
and
his
reviews
itmadeitsfirst
920s;itwas
notedlaterinthisarticle,
essays
appearance
to hisfinalwritings.
centralthrough
decadesand remained
in thefollowing
developedsignificantly
vomMaterialdenken?',
Carl Dahlhaus,'Abkehr
See,forexample,
KlangNatur:Abkehr
Algorithmus,
zur
neuen
ed. Friedrich
Musik,19 (Mainz,
vomMaterialdenken?,
Hommel,Darmstdter
Beitrge
that
on thechangesin compositional
1984),45-55. This essayalso givesone perspective
thinking
took place in the 1970s in Europe.An Englishtranslation
appearsas 'A Rejectionof Material
and AlfredClayton
and theNew Music,trans.DerrickPuffett
Dahlhaus,Schoenberg
Thinking?',
274-87.
1987),
(Cambridge,
tin neuesmia der
Some or themanystudiesor theshirtaroundl^OU includeAnnehrerrler,
Moderne:Eine
nach dem ZweitenWeltkrieg',Klassizistische
Musik": Der Paradigmenwechsel
ed.
'10JahrePaul SacherStifung,
derVeranstaltungen
imRahmen
zurKonzertreihe
Begleitpublikation
Ferienkurse
Die
Internationalen
der
Moderne:
Im
Zenit
FelixMayer(Winterthur,
187-97;
1996),
fr

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MATERIALAND HISTORY

273

material surfaced, for example, in Pierre Boulez's cry for progress entitled
'Schoenbergis Dead', whichappearedin the same year(1952) as thatlocusclassicus
la fortwo pianos. While the stylisticand
of earlyserialcomposition,his Structure
technicaloriginsof thismusichave been tracedto a groupof studentsworkingwith
Olivier Messiaen in the early 1950s,7 the historical,philosophical and even
sociologicaljustificationsof the music that which lent styleand techniquethe
forceof ethicalinjunctions- wererootedelsewhere,in claimsabout material.These
claims did not fade as the earliest,highlyrigorousserial methods were quickly
supersededby new compositionaltechniques.Rather,ideas about material,and the
perceivedneed for the ongoing discoveryof new compositionalmaterials,were
thoughtto link a tremendousvarietyof creativepathsthatwereexploredin Europe
over the ensuingdecade.
of
of approachesto serialcomposition,and theevengreaterdiversity
The diversity
it
to
the
make
difficult
reactions
from
and
against method,
subsequentdevelopments
generalizeabout 'serial'and 'post-serial'music.8But similarideas about materialand
historyweresharedby otherwisedissimilarcomposers,and theseideas werethought
worksto serialworkssuch thatthemusicof the 1960s was seen
to connectpost-serial
to followfromthe music of the 1950s in a way thatwent beyond mere temporal
succession. This connectingthreadwas identified,if not critiqued,in 1963 by the
composerGottfriedMichael Koenig. Looking back over the precedingten yearshe
recalledthat,withrespectto musicalmaterial,'in thebeginning,one's attentionwas
and timbres.Then otherqualitiesor issues
focusedon pitches,durations,intensities
became pressing:groups,whichconsistedof manynotes;spatiallyconceivedsound
or new waysof playingold ones; libertiesgivento
events;new musicalinstruments
NeueMusikDarmstadt
1946-1966,ed. GianmarioBorioand HermannDanuser,4 vols.(Freiburg,
Music,6 vols.(Oxford,1995),v: TheLate
1997); RichardTaruskin,TheOxford
History
ofWestern
SerialAesthetics:
Twentieth
and
Serial
Music,
-;
Grant,
Compositional
Theory
Century MoragJosephine
in Post-War
2001).
Europe(Cambridge,
For moreon the stylistic
and technicalrootsof earlyserialismsee RichardToop, 'Messiaen/
Fano/Stockhausen,
Boulez', Perspectives
Goeyvaerts,
of New Music, 13 (1974), 141-69. Other
influences
on Boulez'sworkareexaminedin ThomasBsche,'AufderSuchenachdem
significant
Unbekannten
oderZur DeuximeSonate(1946-1948) von PierreBoulezund derFragenachder
seriellenMusik',Die Anfange
der seriellen
Kontexte:Beitrgezur
Musik,ed. Orm Finnendahl,
Musik,1 (Berlin,1999),37-96.
zeitgenssischen
8 The lack of nuancein the
'serial'and 'post-serial'
is considered
at greater
designations
lengthin
GianmarioBorio,Musikalische
um
einer
Theorie
der
Musik
1960:
Avantgarde
Entwurf
informellen
(Laaber,1993),23-33.
In hissketchof a musichistory
of the1960s,UlrichSiegelearguedthat themusicof the 1960sis
in themusicof the 1950s- and indeedin a muchmoreprofound
sketched
waythanas merely
historical
Musik
der
in der Musik der
ist
entworfen
('die
Jahre
postulated
continuity'
sechziger
Sinn als dem blo postulierter
historischer
Jahre,und zwar in einem prgnanteren
fnfziger
'Entwurf
einerMusikgeschichte
dersechziger
Die Musikdersechziger
, ed.
Kontinuitt');
Jahre',
Jahre
RudolfStephan,Verffentlichungen
des Instituts
frNeue MusikundMusikerziehung,
12 (Mainz,
, 31.
1972),9-25 (p. 11); quotedin Borio,Musikalische
Avantgarde

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MARCUS ZAGORSKI

274

musical action.'10 In each of these approaches somethingnew was


performers;
designatedas materialand therebybroughtundercompositionalcontrol.Such new
materialscould be seenand heardin piecesfromtheperiod:orderedseriesof pitches,
and timbresconstitutedthematerialof a piece such as Boulez's
durations,intensities
I (1952) used groupsof manynotes,while
Structure
la; Stockhausen'sKlavierstck
his GesangderJnglinge(1955-6) and Gruppenforthreeorchestras(1955-7) were
of sound events; new performance
concerned with the spatial differentiation
techniqueswere applied to the old instrumentsof Mauricio Kagel's Musik fr
Renaissance-Instrumente
(1964-5); and, finally,the deliberate composition of
choices
and
musical action constitutedthe basis of Dieter Schnebel's
performance
Glossolalie(1959-60), as well as pieces by Boulez, Stockhausenand Kagel, among
others.
These examples obviously share little in terms of compositional technique.
exist betweenpieces writtenat the
Furthermore,
significanttechnicaldifferences
same timeby different
(one
composers
mightcompareBoulez and Stockhausenin
timesby
theearly1950s, forexample),as well as betweenpieceswrittenat different
la with Le marteausans matre,
the same composer(one mightcompare Structure
have no bearingupon how these
writtenonlya fewyearslater).But such differences
thatdrawthe
worksare said hereto be related.In fact,it is preciselythe differences
connecting thread Koenig identified:the seeminglydeterministicprogressive
unfoldingof new materialsreflecteda shared conception of historythat was
constructedat the time,and the ongoingdriveto move beyondthe past and push
music forwardwas feltby composerswith verydifferent
approaches including
thosethoughtto be most criticalof the initialrigoursof serialism.

and Materialdenken
ofhistory
Philosophy
as 'the epitomeof an antiIn an essaysome contemporaneousreadersinterpreted
of the historicaldevelopan
outline
sketched
serialistmanifesto',11
GyrgyLigeti
of thinkingin theperiod.Publishedin
mentof musicalformthatwas characteristic
1960 in thejournal die Reihe,Ligeti'stext,'Wandlungender musikalischenForm',
presenteda pictureof historyactuallyverysimilarto that used to legitimizeearly
10'Zu
und Klangfarben,
aufTonhhen,Dauern,Intensitten
sichdas Augenmark
Anfangrichtete
Tne
akut.Gruppen,zu denenmehrere
oder Gegenstnde
dann wurdenandereEigenschaften
aufalten,
oderneueSpielweisen
neueMusikinstrumente
zusammentreten
knnen,
Raumrichtungen,
Michael Koenig,'Das
Aktion.'Gottfried
die musikalische
des Interpreten,
die Spielfreiheiten
Praxis:TextezurMusik,2
sthetische
undseineFragwrdigkeit',
Material:Ein Begriff
musikalische
as a radiolecture
delivered
vols.(Saarbrcken,
1992),ii, 143-53 (p. 149). The essaywasoriginally
Mnchen.
Rundfunk
on Bayerischer
and broadcast
11'Fr mancheLeser
als Manifestder
or stocktaking]
galt sie [Ligeti's'Bestandsaufnahme',
orientierte
traditionalistisch
frandereals vorurteilsvolle
Antiserialitt
schlechthin,
Zeitdiagnose.'
33.
;
Borio,Musikalische
Avantgarde

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MATERIALAND HISTORY

275

serialism
but it also lentitself,
as willbe seen,to
(and evenearlierdodecaphony);
to legitimize
to Ligeti,
attempts
subsequent
compositional
developments.
According
AfterSchoenberg
had founda rule-based
methodforordering
freeatonality,
theserial
which
was
first
to
the
dimension
of
strove
for
to
principle,
appliedonly
pitch,
expansion
thetotality
of form.This led to thediscretequantification
of all parameters,
through
which such music became the resultof overlappingprefabricated
arrangements;
musicalstructure
assumedthe character
of the 'pointillistic'.
But only
accordingly,
afterdurations,
intensities
and timbres
had beenserially
theexpansion
shortly
organized,
of thismethodsoughtto covermoreglobalcategories,
suchas relationships
between
anddensities,
anddistributions
oftypesofmovement
andstructure,
as
[different]
registers
well as the proportioning
of the entirecourseof form.This, however,gave riseto
in compositional
shirts
withtheserialcontrolof morecomprehensignificant
planning:
siveformal
the
of
the
basic
loosened;therigid
categories, structuring
parameters
gradually
of
became
less
for
the
whole.
This again
fixing parameters
important
compositional
the
state
of
form
form
to
'statistic-fieldconsiderably:
changed
'pointillistic'
enlarged
form.12
governed'

The changesLigetioutlinedin proseare betterappreciated


in conjunction
with
musicalexamples
ofthestagesin hisconception
ofprogress,
representative
examples
thatwill be familiar
to mostreaders.Example1 givesthe primeform(P-0) of
firstcompletely
12-notecomposition,
the SuiteforPiano, op. 25,
Schoenberg's
theIntermezzo.
The spatial
movement,
alongwiththeopeningbarsof itsfourth
of
these
bars
is
modelled
on
tonal
and
has
music,
layout
clearly
opening
Schoenberg
takengreatcareto distinguish
theindividual
that
make
the
texture.
The
parts
up
in therighthandis madeof twoparts
subsidiary,
repetitive
accompaniment
figure
differentiated
andpitchplacement:
thevertical
minorninth(e '-/")>
byarticulation
stemmedupward,is staccatothroughout,
while the horizontal,descending
diminished
fifth(dV'-g), stemmeddownward,
is bound by a slurfollowedby
staccato.In contrast
to this,theprimary
thatmakeup the
voices,labelledespressivo,
'Die solcherart
installierte
chromatische
aberihrereigenengesetzlichen
Republikbedurfte
Ordnung.
NachdemSchnberg
sie gefunden
das zunchst
nurfrdie DimensionderTonhhen
hatte,strebte
serielle
aufdieTotalitt
derForm.Dies leitete
zu jenerdiskreten
aufgestellte
PrinzipzurAusbreitung
aller Parameter,
durchdie solcheMusik zum Produktaus berschneidungen
Quantifizierung
Strukturden Charakterdes
wurde; so nahm die musikalische
prfabrizierter
Anordnungen
"Punktuellen"an. Kaum warenjedoch Zeitdauern,Intensittsgrade
und Klangfarben
seriell
suchtedie ExpansiondieserMethodeglobalereKategorien
zu umfassen,
wie Registerorganisiert,
und Dichteverhltnisse,
Verteilungenvon Bewegungs-und Strukturtypen,
zugleich auch
Proportionierungdes gesamten Formablaufes. Damit entstanden aber betrchtliche
Verschiebungenin der kompositorischen
Planung: mit seriellerSteuerungumfassender
lockerte
sichSchrittfrSchrittdie Einordnung
der elementaren
ihre
Parameter;
Formkategorien
wurdeeherzweitrangig
frdie Gesamtkomposition;
dieswiederum
verndert
strenge
Festsetzung
den HabitusderFormerheblich:
das "Punktuelle"
erweiterte
sichzum "Statistisch-Feldmigen".'
der
musikalischen
die
7 (1960), 5-17 (p. 5).
Form',
Reihe,
Gyrgy
Ligeti,'Wandlungen

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MARCUSZAGORSKI

276

SuiteforPiano, op. 25, primeform(P-0);bars1-2 oftheIntermezzo.


Example1. ArnoldSchoenberg,

|F* # " "* *"


| * u ^ i,. n,
pocorit. _ _ _

(J=40)

pp

<=:

r=>

duet in the left hand have individual dynamic profiles;these parts are further
distinguishedfrom the accompanimentby their metricalplacement and legato
the coherenceof thewhole: the 12articulation.Schoenbergused pitchto reinforce
the firstof which is repeatedin the two
note set is dividedinto threetetrachords,
in the
while
the
second
and thirdunfoldrespectively
of
the
accompaniment,
parts
idea
the
musical
A
upperand lowervoicesof theduet. gradualtempochangebrings
to a close.
Schoenberghimselfwrote that he developed his new techniqueas a rule-based
method for orderingfreeatonality,and in his essay 'Composition with Twelve
Tones' he describedthe new languageas a necessaryhistoricaldevelopmentdictated
by the laws of nature.13Apparentlyobeyingsimilarlaws,the serialprinciple,Ligeti
claimed,then'stroveforexpansionto thetotalityof form',whichled to the'discrete
of all parameters'seen in Example2. In thisexample,theprimeform
quantification
of the series used in Boulez's Structurela shows the serial principleapplied to
duration,intensity(loudness) and timbre(articulation)in addition to pitch: these
four seriestogetherwere used to generatethe music. At the time he composed
Structure
la, Boulez believedsuch an expansionof theserialprinciplefollowedfrom
the pitchmaterialhe used and was, he thought,a logical consequenceof history.14
The openingbarsof theresulting
compositionare shownin Example3. Analytical
commentson this passage are given laterin this article;immediatelyapparent,in
13The rowforms
ofthegenesisofthe12-note
s SuiteforPiano, op. 25, anda discussion
ofSchoenberg'
Music:A History
methodappearin RobertP. Morgan,Twentieth-Century
ofMusicalStyleinModern
with
Arnold
also
See
America
187-200.
and
York,
1991),
(New
'Composition
Schoenberg,
Europe
CA, 1975),214-26.
TwelveTones',Styleand Idea, ed. LeonardStein,trans.Leo Black(Berkeley,
14See Pierre
trans.StephenWalsh
is Dead', Stocktakings
Boulez,'Schoenberg
froman Apprenticeship,
at greater
are
discussed
ideas
about
and
his
Structure
Boulez's
209-14.
la,
history,
(Oxford,1991),
below.
length

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MATERIALAND HISTORY
Example 2.
1

f"

277

PierreBoulez, Structure
la, seriesin prime form.
2

> ,.- tn

10

11

12

> i|- *^

p p p' p fp?p" r rprprp"r

#PKP PPP
>

PP
.

quasi

normal

rnp
P.

mf
y

quasi

>

ff
-

fff ffff
-

to theSchoenberg
in thetextural
comparison
example,is thedifference
conception
of themusic:the Boulezexamplehas no clearhierarchy
of parts,no distinction
between
theprimary
andsubsidiary,
between
To speak
melodyandaccompaniment.
of melodyand accompaniment
at all seems misguided,for the textureis
characterized
a
of
The lessdynamic(in
by scattering 'points'acrosssound-space.
musical
environment
of
these
seven
bars
is effected
fact,purposefully
static)
bythe
obliteration
of anysenseof metre,thelackof registrai
focus,and theunchanging
loudnessand articulation
withineachinstrument.
The finalformmentioned
fromwhathe believedwasa further
byLigetiresulted
ofserialorganization,
which'soughtto covermoreglobalcategories'
such
expansion
thatthe controlof individualparameters
was loosenedand 'pointillistic'
form
form.Stockhausen
had used whathe called
enlargedto 'statistic-field-governed'
'statistical'
or 'collective'
formin piecescomposedin themid-1950ssuchas Gesang
derJnglinge
and Zeitmae.Such formalprocesses
are characterized
, Gruppen
by
shifts
betweentextures
in whichindividual
elements
are subsumedwithina larger
in whichindividualelementsemergeand can be
and textures
sound-complex
- shifts,
as
entities
in otherwords,between
perceived independent
groupsandpoints
contrast
to
the
mere
of
1
is
from
(in
music).15
points 'pointillistic'
Figure an excerpt
at bar 29, individual
Zeitmaeforfivewoodwinds(1955-6) in which,beginning
instruments
breakawayfromtheglobaltempotheyhadin commonandadopttheir
own individualtempos.Accordingto Stockhausen
(who had a knackforaping
scientific
in which
language),the instruments
therebycreatea sound-complex
'statistical
criteria'becomedefinitive
to
the
of
owing
complexity relationships
betweentheindividual
parts.16
In theexcerpt
fromLigeti'sessayquotedabove,history
is endowedwithagency
he claimed,'strove
and,apparently,
guidedbya higher
purpose:theserialprinciple,
forexpansion'
zurAusbreitung')
to thetotality
ofform;theexpansion
ofthe
('strebte
For thisconceptionof 'statisticalform'see KarlheinzStockhausen,'Erfindungund Entdeckung:Ein
Beitragzur Form-Genese',Texte,ed. Schnebel,i, 222-37. For a morecomprehensiveexaminationof
Stockhausen'suse of the word 'statistic'see Pascal Decroupet, 'Stockhausen: Statistikund Form,
1957', Im Zenit der Moderne,ed. Borio and Danuser, ii, 219-23.
Stockhausen,'Erfindungund Entdeckung',235.

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278

MARCUS ZAGORSKI
PierreBoulez, Structure
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279

AND HISTORY
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Stockhausen,
Figure1. Karlheinz
Zeitmae,
Karlheinz
Stockhausen
'Zeitmae' Copyright
Edition(London)Ltd.,London/
1957 byUniversal
UE 12697.

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280

MARCUS ZAGORSKI

serialprinciplethen'sought'('suchte')to covermoreglobalcategories.Much likethe


'laws of nature'Schoenbergimagined,historyfunctionedforLigetias the authority
directingdevelopmentsin musical form(and, as will be seen, musical material).
There is morethanone paradoxat play here.Bestowingagencyupon historycould
be read as an attemptby the individual(or a group of individualssharingsimilar
But to advancehis agencyin thiscase, the
interests)to assertagencyoverhistory.17
individualcreateda system,a conceptionof the structureof history,that robbed
individuals(includinghimself)of agency:Ligeti,likeSchoenberg,believedhe had no
choice but to compose the musicthatwas demandedby history;the serialprinciple
seemingly'stroveforexpansion'of its own accord.
The categoriesfromand to whichthe serialprinciplewas expanded- frombasic
parameterssuch as pitch,duration,intensityand timbreto more global categories
relatedto the entirecourseof form- weresynonymouswiththe term'material'in
the 1950s. The process of expansion describedby Ligeti could be understood,
as theexpansionof material,and thisnarrative
therefore,
underpinnedthehistorical,
aestheticand technicalesprit- or betteryet, Geist- of serialand post-serialmusic.
Extremeconsequences of this tendencyare manifestin, to mention only one
example,theworksof DieterSchnebel,a composereversensitiveto thestateof Geist.
Schnebelrepresents
a particularly
case becausehe is seen,bysome at least,
significant
as a sharpcriticof serialismand the prevailingattitudesof the period. In the most
recenteditionof theNew GroveDictionaryofMusicand Musicians,forexample,he is
praised for his 'aggressivewillingness to dismantle cultural assumptions'.18
Consideredagainstthe evidenceof his writings,such an assessmentseems,at best,
naive.
In his 1964 essay 'Das musikalischeMaterial - Verhltnisseund Aktionen',
Schnebeladopteda conceptionof historynearlyidenticalto Ligeti'sand, trueto the
spiritof the age, endeavouredto continue where Ligeti had left off. Schnebel
reframed
thishistory,
however,by emphasizingthedevelopmentof musicalmaterial
so to speak,withwhich
ratherthanform.Definedas the 'raw materials[Rohstoffe],
to
musical
material,according Schnebel,advanced in tandem
composerswork',19
with significant
stagesof compositionalhistory.Like Ligeti,he cited two crucial
to his own work:thefirststage
in
the
historyof serialismas essentialprecursors
stages
17
aboutwhyan individual
mayhavefeltcompelledto assertagencyin thiswaytouches
Speculation
doesnot
to speak.RichardTaruskin
aboutwhichI am notqualified
motivations
uponpsychological
will
related
factors
v.
Other
in
Western
The
from
such
Music,
shyaway
History
of
questions
Oxford
article.
in
the
course
of
the
present
emerge
18See Paul
ed. Stanley
'Schnebel,
Dieter',TheNewGrove
Attinello,
Dictionary
ofMusicandMusicians,
Sadie,29 vols.(London,2001), xxii,551; idem,'Schnebel,Dieter',GroveMusicOnline,<http://
2009.
ed. LauraMacy,accessed12 February
www.grovemusic.com>,
19'Alsobestnde
mitdenendie
Materialaus Elementen,
das musikalische
Rohstoffe,
gewissermaen
undAktionen',
Material:Verhltnisse
DieterSchnebel,'Das musikalische
arbeiten.'
Komponisten
Denkbare
Musik:Schriften
1952-1972,ed. Hans RudolfZeller(Cologne,1972),286-8 (p. 286).

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MATERIALAND HISTORY

281

occurredwithearlyserialtechniqueas composersapplied the principleto duration,


intensityand timbre(in addition to pitch) and freedthemselvesfromthe use of
themesand motives;in the second stage composersdefined'statisticalrelations'
betweennotesand noises,used massesof sound as material,and began to introduce
eventsthat were 'foreign'to music (such as, he noted, the sawing of wood in a
Pendereckiand the breakingof a bottlein one of Ligeti's
compositionby Krzysztof
pieces). Taking what seems to be the next logical step, Schnebel claimed that if
'sounds of all types'werethe materialsused by composers,then'on the otherhand,
connectionsand constellations,
also thatwhich is immaterial,such as relationships,
could become material'. A composer,he concluded,composesnot onlysounds,'he
and actions'- the 'Verhltnisseund Aktionen'of the essay's
composesrelationships
title too.21
Such materials,'sounds of all types'and 'relationshipsand actions',were used in
Schnebel's Glossolalie61, which is a notatedrealizationof his Glossolalieprojectof
1959-60. Because the originalproject had no conventionalscore, but instead a
to as "materialpreparations"'catalogueof materials whatthecomposerreferred
which [were]to be assembledand interpreted
it invited,and
by the performers',22
more
notated
realizations.
Schnebel's
own
conventionally
required, subsequent
realizationof 1961 was dedicated,perhapsin hopefuldeferenceto its material,to
Adorno. The composition is scored for three or four vocalists,three or four
and one conductor.The vocalistsread not froma poetic text,but
instrumentalists,
fromwhatis said to be languageitself,such that'the musicalmaterial[ . . .] has been
subjectedto enormousexpansion:all acousticand verbaleventsof past and current
can be partofthecontentof Glossolalie'. The singers,forexample,may
worldaffairs
be instructed
to recitesimultaneously
the contentof different
textboxes containing
random
of
in
collections
names
and
words,
seemingly
phrases different
languages
thesoundingresultofwhichwould seemto do justiceto thetitleof thecomposition.
In addition to these 'sounds of all types', the compositionalmaterialincludes
and actions'determinedby thecomposer.These can be seen in Figure
'relationships
the
2,
openingof the piece, in whichthe conductor(Dj), vocalists(Si, S2, S3) and
20'Haltenwirnochmals
fest:KlngeallerArtwrenalsodasMaterial,
mitdemdie Komponisten
bauen
[...]. Andererseitsknnte auch Immaterielles,nmlich Beziehungen,Zusammenhnge,
zumMaterialwerden.'Ibid.
Konstellationen,
'Er komponiert
Verhltnisse
undAktionen.'
Ibid.,288.
'Es handeltsichnichtum eine Partitur
im gewhnlichen
Sinne,sondernum einenKatalogvon
Materialien
wiederAutores nennt- , die dannvondenAusfhrenden
"Materialprparationen"
und interpretiert
werdensollen.'Borio,Musikalische
, 109.
zusammengestellt
Avantgarde
Boriodiscusses
Schnebel's
workin thecontext
ofa larger
consideration
ofinformal
and
composition
Adorno'sconceptof musiqueinformelle.
See ibid.,111.
'Das musikalische
Materialist in diesemSchlsselwerk
des informellen
einer
Komponierens
unterworfen
worden:
alle
akustischen
und verbalenEreignissedes
ungeheurenErweiterung
undaktuellen
virtuell
zumInhaltder Glossolalie'Ibid., 114.
vergangenen
Weltgeschehens
gehren

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282

MARCUS ZAGORSKI

to walkonto thestageand taketheirplaces,


instrumentalists
(Ij, I2, 13)are instructed
with vocalist 2 walking forwardto the apron of the stage and conveyingthe
Indicationsof vocal character('Im
appearanceofwantingto deliveran introduction.
Tone eines Kommentators'),tempo {ziemlichrasch)and dynamic(mf) are given
As you know,the
along withthetextthevocalistis to deliver:'A briefintroduction!
The textcontinuesin thenext
musicin questionis forspeakersand instrumentalists.'
withmorefrequentchangesoftempoand loudnessand theindicationto turn
system,
musicalentry.
to thepianist('S2 drehtsichI2 zu') in preparationforthatperformer's
The philosophyof historySchnebelutilizedto legitimatehis workwas sharedby
and seemingly
manyserialand post-serialcomposersin Europe. But thetheatricality
in
also
Glossolalie
61
were
materials
unconventionalpaletteof sound
inspiredby a
forceratherless widelytolerated:John Cage.25 Consider,by way of comparison,
Luigi Nono's position on these issues: in 1958, Nono claimed that an 'absolute
historicaland logical continuityof developmentprevailsbetweenthe beginningsof
12-note music and its currentstate', citing as evidence stages of historical
developmentidenticalto those foundin the writingsof Ligetiand Schnebel (and,
it will be seen, Boulez and Stockhausen);26but just as resolutewas Nono's turn
againstthe welcome that greetedCage in Darmstadtthat same year.27Schnebel,
however, was smitten. He conceived Glossolalie as an example of 'process
composition',which he believedwas one of the most importantideas Cage had
introducedto Europe.28 Cage himself,despite the wisdom of the day (and the
morrow), was hardly outside the high-modernistmainstream. In fact, like
Schoenbergand all the post-warcomposersexaminedin the presentarticle,'Cage
was a self-appointedHegelian protagoniston whom Historymade demands. He
in Darmstadt,
see Martin
in Europe,and specifically
Foran insightful
readingof Cages reception
Music
WordsaboutCage in Late 1950s Germany',Contemporary
Iddon,'Gainedin Translation:
New
in
C.
can
be
found
of
A
broader
26
Beai,
89-104.
Review, (2007),
Amy
study Cage reception
to
Hour
the
Zero
in
West
Music
American
NewAllies:
Musky
Reunification
Germany
from
Experimental
CA, 2006).
(Berkeley,
26'Zwischen
absolutehistorische
Standherrscht
undihremheutigen
derZwlftonmusik
denAnfngen
derReihentechnik',
see LuigiNono, 'Die Entwicklung
derEntwicklung';
undlogischeKontinuitt
Texte:Studienzu seiner
Musik,ed. JrgStenzl(Zurich,1975),21-33 (p. 21).
in derMusikheute,
und Gegenwart
Fora briefaccountsee PascalDecroupet,'Nono: Geschichte
ed. BorioandDanuser,ii,259-61. ForNono'sownpositionseeLuigi
1959',ImZenitderModerne,
ed. Stenzl,34-40. In thislatter
in derMusikvonheute',Texte,
undGegenwart
Nono,'Geschichte
the'only'properactivity
even
more
seems
Nono's
pronounced:
essay,
HegelianGeschichtsphilosophie
ofmatter
as a mutually
is described
ofa responsible
spirit
through
recognition
penetrating
composer
nmlichdas bewute,
matter('es gibtnureineMglichkeit:
of spiritthrough
and theknowledge
Erkennen
derMateriedurchden Geistunddie in gegenseitiger
Durchdringung
verantwortungsvolle
durchdie Materie';p. 37).
Geistes
Erkenntnis
des
erlangte
of Cage, see DieterSchnebel,Die Traditiondes
For Schnebel'scommentson the influence
Texte
derTradition:Ein Erfahrungsbericht',
undderFortschritt
Fortschritts
AnschlgeAusschlge:
'Sichtbare
is DieterSchnebel,
zurNeuenMusik(Munich,1993),114-27 (pp. 117-19).Alsorelevant
61.
of Glossolalie
Musik',ibid.,262-300,whichincludesa discussion

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283

MATERIALAND HISTORY

Introduktion
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61, openingpassage.
Figure2. DieterSchnebel,Glossolalie
All rights
1974 SchottMusicGmbH & Co. KG, Mainz- Germany.
bypermission.
Reproduced
International
secured.
reserved.
copyright

were
referred
tohisworkas "whatI wasobligedtodo". [ . . . His] radicalconceptions
of traditionalpractices,includingtraditionalpower
as much intensifications
fromthem.'29In thisrespect,Schnebelwas no different,
as departures
relations,
Thisinsightful
andconvincing
assessment
ofCageis fromRichardTaruskin,
'No EarforMusic:The
ofJohnCage', NewRepublic,
208 (15 March1993),26-35 (pp. 30, 34).
ScaryPurity

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284

MARCUS ZAGORSKI

and to credithim withan 'aggressivewillingnessto dismantleculturalassumptions'


seemseithernaivelyhopefulor poorlyinformed.By consciouslyappropriating
new
materialsfor an old philosophyof history,Schnebel reinforcedthe prevailing
structure
of (historical)power,and gave himselfa place at the top of thatstructure.
The historicalrole fulfilledby the conceptof materialin thisperiodwas seen by
Dahlhaus (who had learntto regardit with criticaldistanceby the 1980s) as a
characteristic
o Materialdenken.
'Looking back at the 1950s', he wrotein 1982, 'it
of serialmusicas thefulfillment
might[ . . .] be necessaryto ask ifthe interpretation
of a kind of non-subjective,objective historical "tendency of the material"
["Tendenz des Materials"] was in fact quite as convincingas it seemed at the
time,not only to the commentatorsbut also to the protagonistsof compositional
history.' Conscious of the legacyof Adorno's theory,to which he made explicit
in thephrase'Tendenz des Materials',Dahlhaus was at pains to stressthat
reference
'wherea diktatof the materialseemed to point the way thatcomposershad to go
was in factat workwhichdid not disappearby hidingbehindthe
[ . . .] a subjectivity
faadeof "historicalnecessity'".31
The processof expandingthe conceptof materialplayed itselfout in what was
of composition,which directedthe
describedby Dahlhaus as a problem-history
'objective' historicaltendencya composermay have feltcompelled to obey. The
problemwithSchoenbergiandodecaphony,accordingto some serialcomposers,was
thattheserialprinciplehad been applied onlyto pitch,and thisresultedin a lack of
of the composition;the solutionwas to expand
consistencyin the overallstructure
- othermaterials- of musicsuchas
theserialprincipleto otherso-called'parameters'
duration,loudness and timbre.But this solution created,it was thought,new
problems: significantstructuralrelationshipswere not necessarilygrasped by
listeners,and unintendedrelationshipscould be implied; furthermore,
composers
relinquishedtheirabilityto shape musicalevents.To solve theseproblemswithout
withina composition,theserialprinciplewas
thedesireforconsistency
surrendering
betweentempos,
structural
to
include
events,such as relationships
expanded
larger
registers,densities and collections of pitches (what Ligeti referredto, using
Stockhausen's terminology,as 'statistic-field-governed'
form), and the serial
In thishistorical
level
was
loosened.
the
'basic
at
parameter'
principle'sapplication
model,individualcompositionsfunctionedas solutionsto problemsand surrendered
theirstatusas timelessaestheticobjects; theywere analogous to reportsabout the
stateof materialtendenciesat a particularstagein thehistoryof composition. This
of compositionunfolded simultaneouslywith the expansion of
problem-history
30
46.
vomMaterialdenken?',
275; 'Abkehr
Dahlhaus,'A Rejectionof MaterialThinking?',
276.
Dahlhaus,'A RejectionofMaterialThinking?',
32That
is notedin
stateof composition
aboutthethen-current
as 'reports'
functioned
compositions
7
Neues Handbuchder Musikwissenschaft,
HermannDanuser,Die Musikdes20. Jahrhunderts,
(Laaber,1984),295.

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MATERIALAND HISTORY

285

material;both were expressionsof the same historicalidea. They ensurednot only


thathistorywould continueto advance,but also thatcomposerscould justifytheir
own progressby pointingto solutionstheyhad found and new materialtheyhad
to escape thepast,composersmoved forwardby searching
incorporated.In an effort
formaterialthatwas consideredfreefromunsavouryhistoricalassociations(such as
thetonalformsused by Schoenberg),and thisled to a conceptionof new materialas
thatgivenby nature('discovered'and integrated
by thecomposer)ratherthanpassed
down by history.
The expansion of material and the related problem-history
of composition
to
an
aesthetics
of
in
discussed
below
corresponded
experimentation,
greaterdetail,
which forDahlhaus was 'nothingless than the fundamentalaestheticparadigmof
serial and post-serialmusic'. Dahlhaus's choice of the word 'paradigm' draws a
parallel betweenthe historicalconstructionthat was used to legitimizepost-war
serialismand the historicalconstructionof 'normal science' outlined in Thomas
Kuhn's The Structure
Revolutions?5In Kuhn's theoryof the historyof
ofScientific
science, a condition of 'normal science' prevailsaftera paradigm shift:within
the sharedpremissesof a new paradigm,researchers
work to solve problems,the
solutionsof which revealmore problems,so thatnew solutionsare soughtand the
processcontinuesindefinitely or continues,rather,untilthe tenetsof the existing
paradigmare significantly
challengedby a different
paradigm.A similarseriesof
and
solutions
the
of
the era
problems
underlay philosophy historythatcharacterized
of Materialdenken,
whichwas an era also characterized
the
by
expanding'discovery'
of new acousticphenomena,an interestin musicalcomplexity,and an engagement
withthe aesthetictheoryof Adorno.36

Adornoand thetruthofhistory
The influenceof Adorno's ideas increasedsignificantly
followingthe publicationof
der
neuen
in
Musik
and
his
was
also establishedthrough
1949,
Philosophie
presence
As I havearguedelsewhere,
thissearchfora non-historical
materia
the
primawas,ironically,
partly
resultof misreading
historical.
See Marcus
Adorno,forwhommusicalmaterialis inescapably
Adorno'sEngagement
withPostwarMusic',Journalof
Zagorski,'"Nach dem Weltuntergang":
22 (2005), 680-701.
Musicology,
3 'Der
des Experiments,
als Gegenbegriff
zu dem des Werkes,sei nichtsGeringeres
als das
Begriff
fundamentale
sthetische
der
seriellen
und
Musik
Carl
Dahlhaus,
Paradigma
postseriellen
gewesen.'
'Die Krisedes Experiments',
des Instituts
frNeue Musik
heute,Verffentlichungen
Komponieren
undMusikerziehung,
23 (Mainz,1983),80-94 (p. 84).
See Dahlhaus,'Die Krisedes Experiments',
forthemostextensive
discussion
of theseideas.What
Dahlhausneglectsto mentionis thatthe parallelends whereKuhn recognizesthe fictional,
constructed
natureof suchparadigms;
serialcomposers,
on theotherhand,seemedto
post-war
believethatthenarrative
underwhichtheyworkedwasan objectivetruth.See alsoThomasKuhn,
TheStructure
Revolutions
(3rdedn,Chicago,IL, 1996).
ofScientific
Thesecharacteristics
of Materialdenken
areoutlinedin Dahlhaus,'Die Krisedes Experiments',
82.

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286

MARCUS ZAGORSKI

in thesummer
hisfrequent
coursesfornewmusicheldin Darmstadt.
participation
The book'simpactcan hardlybe exaggerated:
it informed
criticalsensibilities
and
evenguidedthesubsequent
of
The
historical
character
of
history composition.37
musicalmaterial
is central
to theargument
ofPhilosophie
derneuenMusik,and this
in the 1950s
themetriggered
thewidespread
theoretical
with
engagement material
and beyond.38
thisbook as, he laterwrote,'definitive
Adornohimself
considered
foreverything
thatI wroteabout musicthereafter',and he was verymuch
consciousof and unapologetic
of history
he usedto support
aboutthephilosophy
his arguments.Respondingin 1950 to a criticalreviewof the book, he
acknowledged:
I haveapplieda conceptof 'objectivespirit'[einenBegriff
des 'objektiven
Geistes']to
an
which
overthe
without
it
music,although
prevails
making explicit: 'objectivespirit'
works.This
headsof theindividual
artists
and also beyondthemeritsof theindividual
to publicawareness
todayas it is takenforgrantedin myown
conceptis as foreign
40

experience.

37
of Music',Encyclopedia
, ed. MichaelKelly,4
ofAesthetics
StephenHinton,'Adorno'sPhilosophy
also to literature,
forAdornoshared
extended
vols.(Oxford,1998),i, 25-9 (p. 26). This influence
derneuenMusikwithThomasMannwhilethetwowerelivingin
theSchoenberg
essayofPhilosophie
DoktorFaustusat the time,
California
duringthe SecondWorldWar. Mann,who was writing
as Mann was wellawareand subsequently
(one mightsayplagiarized,
downplayed)
appropriated
themusicphilosopher's
ofAdorno'sessayforthenovel,andhesolicited
expertise
portions
significant
Mannscholar
In a careful
ofAdrianLeverkiihn.
forthecharacterization
studyofthiscollaboration,
notefornote,leavingthe
Leverkiihn's
MichaelMaarnotes:'Adornomoreorlessinvented
creations,
AdornolentDoctor
themintosuppleprose.In addition,
authorwithnothingto do buttranspose
fromthe
of music,whichwas inseparable
his philosophy
cachet- through
Faustusan intellectual
- thatMann alonewouldneverhavebeenable to achieve.'See MichaelMaar,
scoresthemselves
20 (March/
April2003), 113TeddyandTommy:The MasksofDoctorFaustui,NewLeftReview,
30 (p. 124).
Adornoszurmusikalischen
Formoreon thispointseeGianmario
Borio,'Die Positionen
Avantgarde
ed. Brunhilde
zwischen1954 und 1966',Adornoin seinenmusikalischen
Sonntag,Musik
Schriften,
im Diskurs,2 (Regensburg,
1987), 163-79. The appealof suchideasextendedwellbeyondthe
has noted,wasgreatenoughformanynon-German
ofGermany
borders
and,as GiselherSchubert
'Adornos
author's
mother
to
learn
the
a
desire
to
tongue;see GiselherSchubert,
composers express
46
Archiv
Zwlftontechnik
mit
der
(1989),
Musikwissenschaft,
fr
Schnbergs',
Auseinandersetzung
can be foundin Borio,'Die Positionen
235-54 (p. 254). DetailedaccountsofAdorno'sreception
'"Nach demWeltuntergang'".
Adornos',and Zagorski,
39'Die
fralles,wasichdanachirgendberMusik
derneuenMusik[ . . .] warverbindlich
Philosophie
in Amerika',Gesammelte
schrieb.'TheodorW. Adorno,'Wissenschaftliche
Schriften,
Erfahrungen
undGesellschaft,
702-38
am Main, 1997),x: Kulturkritik
20 vols.(Frankfurt
ed. RolfTiedemann,
(p. 719).
40Adorno's
articleappearedunderthetitle'Miverstndnisse',
Melos,17 (1950),75-7, andis
original
derneuenMusik,203-6;
xii:
ed.
in
Gesammelte
Tiedemann,
Adorno,
Philosophie
Schriften,
reprinted
sAesthetics
Adorno
is takenfromMax Paddison,
thistranslation
1993),270-1.
ofMusic(Cambridge,

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MATERIALAND HISTORY

287

derneuenMusikis a textAdornoexpressly
claimedshouldbe understood
Philosophie
l
as a 'detailedexcursusto DialektikderAufklrung, a book he co-authoredwithMax
whicharguesthattheenlightenment
Horkheimer,
process,in whichhumansendeavour
to liberatethemselves
fromtheforcesofnature,hasgivenriseto a newforcethatimpedes
therealization
The dialecticthatcharacterized
thisphilosophyofhistory
is
ofliberation.
der neuenMusik, to be objectifiedin the verymaterialof music:
said, in Philosophie
can be seenin Schoenberg'
s 12-note
a materialexampleofthissocialhistory
specifically,
notas a merecompositionaltechnique,butas a historical
method,whichwas portrayed
2
as
Adorno's
specifically
obligation.
designationof thismethodof pitchorganization
while
as
'material'followedfromhis long-standing
nurtured
desire,
initially
working a
musiccriticin the late 1920s, to attackStravinsky's
neoclassicismas illegitimate
and
In
an
from
which
the
music
of
1928,
promote
unpublishedessay
Schoenberg.
gives
Adorno oudined what he hoped to achieve
motivation,
insightinto thisunderlying
throughtheworkhe was about to beginforthejournalAnbruch:
WhereasAnbruchvestsits polemicalfaade,so to speak,withthe fightagainstthe
oftheNew Germanand thepostdeclaredreaction(thatis to say,againsttheremnants
Brahmsian
the
has
more
much
difficult
and seriouspolemicaltasks
school)[...],
journal
at itscore.Itsrealenemy,
whichithasto pursuewiththemostsevereattentiveness,
is the
in
and
current
reaction
that
was
initiated
the
predominant seemingly
byStravinsky
guise
of neoclassicism,
in Germany
and whichis represented
todaybyHindemith.
In orderto carryout histask,Adornofirsthad to overcomea problem:bothStravinsky
and Schoenbergwere employingtraditionalformsin theirworksat thattime.The
solution he found, perhaps inspiredby a philosophicalpairingat least as old as
was to turnfromformto material.44
This decisiveturnled to whatwould
Aristotle,
'Das Buch mchteals ein ausgefhrter
Exkurszur DialektikderAufklrung
werden.'
genommen
derneuenMusik,Gesammelte
ed. Tiedemann,
Adorno,Philosophie
Schriften,
xii, 11.
2 Formoreon Adorno's
assessment
of 12-notetechnique
seeMartinHufner,
Adornounddie
changing
thatmayhavemotivated
Adorno'sinitial
1996). The circumstances
Zwlftontechnik
(Regensburg,
withthetechnique
areconsidered
in Schubert,
'AdornosAuseinandersetzung'.
engagement
'WhrendderAnbruchmitdem Kampfgegendie deklarierte
d. h. gegendie Resteder
Reaktion,
neudeutschen
und der nach-Brahmsischen
seine polemischeFassade
Schule, gewissermaen
ausstattet
und ernstere
[...], hat er im Innerenweit schwierigere
polemischeAufgaben.Sein
er
den
mit
aller
ernsten
Aufmerksamkeit
zu
Feind,
hat,istdie gehobeneund
eigentlicher
verfolgen
scheinbar
aktuelleReaktion,
wie sie als neuerKlassizismus
von Strawinsky
wurdeund
inauguriert
heutein Deutschlandvon Hindemithreprsentativ
vertreten
wird.'TheodorW. Adorno,'Zum
Gesammelte
ed. Tiedemann,
xix:Musikalische
Anbruch',
6, 595-604 (p. 598).
Schriften,
Schriften,
The GreektermX)kr'(hyle,or 'matter'),fromwhichour modernword 'material'descended,
withAristotle's
of the
acquiredphilosophical
significance
characteristically
thoroughtreatment
at leastsincethetimeof Homer.In Aristotle's
concept,butthetermhad beenin use colloquially
froma colloquialexpression
to a keyphilosophical
termwithelaborate
vXr'is transformed
writings,
theoretical
The
earliest
of
in
the
and refer
to
import.
fullydevelopedexamples ')Xr'appear
Physics
'thatfromwhichsomething
comesto be'. Understoodin thissense,vXr'functions
ontologically

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288

MARCUS ZAGORSKI

about the
laterbecome some of Adorno's most famous,or infamous,formulations
'Tendenzdes Materials'(tendencyofthematerial')and 'Standdes Materials'('stateof
essenceofhisconceptofmaterial.
thematerial')5- ideasthatencapsulatethehistorical
6
Firstappearingin Adorno'swritings
as earlyas 1927, theterm'material'acquired
from1928,
contentin hisbriefreporton KurtWeill'sDreigroschenoper
explicithistorical
in whichthe criticnoted the regressive
of
a
that
does
not
'draw any
music
aspects
7
stateofmusicalmaterial'. But it is withthe 1929 essay
consequencesfromthecurrent
'Zur Zwlftontechnik',
publishedin the journalAnbruch,thatAdorno presenteda
critical
thorough
argumentthatrestedupon theassociationof musicalmaterialwitha
8
Adornoargued
philosophyofhistory. Followingthis'turn'in 'Zur Zwlftontechnik',
ofthevariation
as a materialembodiment
thatthe12-notemethodshouldbe understood
be
the
music
of
Beethoven,Wagner
principle,thesignsofwhichcould tracedthrough
an objectivehistorical
and Brahms. Materialwas seento reflect
process(similarto the
work
to
and
a
decision
Geist),
only with material
composer's
Hegelian objektiver
therankof thecomposer.As
to thepresentstateof historydetermined
corresponding
such, materialbecame for Adorno the 'arena [Schauplatz]of progressin art'.
becauseit refersto the essenceof a thing.But more importantly,
')Xr' has epistemological
to form(eia). If')Xr'is theunderlying
becauseofitsrelation
inAristotle's
philosophy
significance
substance
of a thing,it is onlytheformof thissubstancethatallowsus to knowit as a thing.
canonlybe knownbytheformittakes.
Therefore
UT|,
thoughitcanbe saidtoexistindependently,
Matterand formhavebeencoupledeversince.Formoreon thesepointssee 'Materie',Historisches
derPhilosophie,
ed. JoachimRitterand Karlfried
Wrterbuch
Grnder,13 vols. (Basel, 1980),
and
192a
I, 2, 983b 6-18, bothin The
31,
I,
9,
v, 870-924;alsoseeAristotle's
Metaphysics
Physics
Richard
McKeon
ed.
BasicWorks
York,
Aristotle,
1941).
(New
of
240.
'AdornosAuseinandersetzung',
Schubert,
ed.
Serenade,op. 24', Gesammelte
See, forexample,TheodorW. Adorno,'Schnberg:
Schriften,
Fnf
and
xviii:
Musikalische
16',
Orchesterstcke,
5,
331-4,
Tiedemann,
op.
'Schnberg:
Schrifien,
ibid.,335^4.
47'Die nichtaus dem aktuellenStandedes musikalischen
zieht'.The
Materialsdie Konsequenzen
is takenfromHinton,'Adorno's
ibid.,xix, 136-8. This translation
originalreviewis reprinted
and Ernst
Harmonielehre
of Schoenberg's
of Music',26. Paddisonnotestheinfluence
Philosophy
conceive
Blochwassurelyparroting
Bloch'sGeistderUtopie,bothofwhich(although
Schoenberg)
He also compares,
determined.
materialas something
of compositional
the usability
historically
of
BlochandAdorno,in whichthehistorical
fromSchoenberg,
description
examples
convincingly,
ofall threeauthors;
in thewritings
chordappears,as it were,untransposed
thediminished-seventh
s Aesthetics,
see Paddison,Adorno
75-6.
in Adorno,
is reprinted
, 240. Zur Zwlitontechnik
Schubert,AdornosAuseinandersetzung
of
wasspurred
ed.Tiedemann,
Gesammelte
xviii,363-9. Thisdevelopment
byan exchange
Schrifien,
in thelate1920sand early
and radioaddresses
whichappearedin articles
ideaswithErnstKrenek,
am
ed. Wolfgang
1930s;seeTheodorW. AdornoandErnstKrenek,
Rogge(Frankfurt
Briefwechsel,
s Aesthetics,
in Adorno
81-97.
of theexchange
Main, 1974). Paddisongivesa detailedoverview
49
238^O.
'AdornosAuseinandersetzung',
Schubert,
50'Den
in Kunstliefernnichtihre einzelnenWerkesondernihr
Schauplatzeines Fortschrittes
Momentsmusicaux,Gesammelte
Material.'Theodor W. Adorno,'Reaktionund Fortschritt',
xvii:Musikalische
ed. Tiedemann,
4, 133-9 (p. 133).
Schriften,
Schrifien,

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MATERIALAND HISTORY

289

Compositionaltechniquesweresaid to be 'containedin thenatureof musicitselfand


[. . .] extrapolatedfromit,ratherthanimposedon it fromtheoutside'.51
The use of criticismmotivatedby the (highly questionable) authorityof a
philosophyof history,and the specificlinkageof historyand material,remained
characteristic
of Adorno's writingsfor the remainingfour decades of his life.
Unrestrainedjudgments,laced with appeals to truthand moral duty, gave his
writingstheirunique and complex tone a tone that was avowedlyradical but
and that mixed
singularlyconservative,that was aggrievedand self-righteous,
His
narrow-mindedness.
breadth
with
intellectual
extraordinary
breathtaking
prejudicewas often blatant: Stravinsky'smusic, for example, was said to be of
only minor significancebecause it avoided a dialecticalengagementwith musical
time,which was said to be 'the essence of all greatmusic since Bach'.5 But his
prejudicecould also be more subtle,perhapsslipped into a subordinateclause:
of theopen eligibility
of anyand all
The idea,widespread
artists,
amongunreflective
in technical
in thatit ignorestheconstraint
inherent
material
is problematic
procedures
as well as by the
of material,
whichis imposedby variousmaterials
and theprogress
to employspecific
materials.
necessity
The phrase'widespreadamong unreflective
artists'essentiallymeans:whoeverholds
thisidea, and therebydisagreeswithme, is unreflective.
Adorno's conceptionof musical material,howeverexclusiveit may have been,
followedfromhis philosophicalengagementwithWesterncultureand his effortto
understandthecontemporary
world.His twentieth
centurywas fullyenlightenedbut
51TheodorW.
of SerialMusic',SoundFigures,
trans.RodneyLivingstone
Adorno,'The Prehistory
seeTheodorW. Adorno,'Zur Vorgeschichte
CA, 1999),54-68 (p. 54). Fortheoriginal
(Stanford,
der Reihenkomposition',
Gesammelte
, ed. Tiedemann,xvi: Musikalische
Klangguren,
Schriften
1-3, 68-84 (p. 68).
Schriften,
CarlDahlhausexamined
and criticized
Adorno'suse ofcriticism
motivated
by Geschichtsphilosophie
in the article'Das Problemder "hherenKritik":AdornosPolemikgegenStrawinsky',
Neue
Zeitschrift
r Musik,148 (1987), 9-15.
Giselher
Schubert
a brilliant
ofAdorno'sstyleinhisarticle'MusikgleichWahrheit?
presents
analysis
TheodorW. AdornosEinfluaufdie Musikentwicklung
in unserem
Die
Jahrhundert',
Operaktuell:
Krellmann
1999/2000,ed. Hanspeter
(Munich,2000), 105-12.
Bayerische
Staatsoper
Thatis to say,Stravinsky's
musicavoidsthetechnique
ofdeveloping
variation:
Musik
'Strawinskys
bleibtRandphnomen
mit
dem
musikalischen
[ . . .] weil sie die dialektische
Auseinandersetzung
Zeitverlauf
die das WesenallergroenMusikseitBachausmacht.'
vermeidet,
Adorno,Philosophie
derneuenMusik,Gesammelte
ed. Tiedemann,xii, 171. It mustbe notedhowever,
that
Schriften,
- like his
Adorno'sjudgmentof Stravinsky
at
judgmentof 12-notetechnique- was different
different
timesin his life.A comparison
of the different
is
in
made
Adornos
Paddison,
periods
267-70.
Aesthetics,
TheodorW. Adorno,Aesthetic
trans.RobertHullot-Kentor
MN, 1997),147Theory,
(Minneapolis,
seeAdorno,Gesammelte
ed. Tiedemann,
vii:sthetische
8; fortheGermanoriginal
Theorie,
Schriften,
222.

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290

MARCUS ZAGORSKI

He believedthehumansubject
radiantwiththe triumphof historicalcatastrophe.56
or manipulated
was facedwiththethreatof beingeitherliquidatedbytotalitarianism
these
threats
informeda
His
to
desire
by capitalism.
preservesubjectivity
against
betweenthe
philosophicalprogrammethat extendedto theorizingthe difference
the
much
smaller
subsetof
of
and
all
material'
and
[musical]
'open eligibility any
in
a
sentence
what could be consideredusable material.This difference,
captured
fromsthetische
Theorie,a book he was completingat thetimeof his deathin 1969,
reveals
the
again
Hegelian thrustbehind the linkage of historyand materialin
Adorno'sthought:'Of all the materialthatis abstractly
employable,onlythe tiniest
partdoes not collidewiththe conditionofthespirit[Standdes Geistes]and is as such
concretelyusable.'
The full implicationsof this sentenceare best appreciatedwith a look to the
Germanoriginal,in whichthe phrase'Stand des Geistes'is an unmistakablenod to
Hegel. Simplyput, 'Stand des Geistes' is a referenceto the presentmoment,or
consciousnessin Hegelian
condition,of the unfoldinghistoryof intersubjective
'collision'
with
the 'Stand des Geistes'
to
avoid
Adorno's
admonition
philosophy.
meant thata composershould know to use only thatmaterial,among all possible
materials,which is recognizedas correspondingto the presentmoment in the
unfoldinghistoryof Geist.But the appeal to Geistcan also be read, and has been
read, as an attemptby Adorno to promoteparticularcompositionaltechniquesas
superiorto otherswhen measuredby thedictatesof what he deemed to be objective
forAdorno,
the choice of techniquehad ethicalramifications
truth.58
Accordingly,
and his theoryof new music in particularis inseparablefromthe sphereof ethics.
somethinghe pointedto but never
Althoughit remainedonlya Utopianpossibility,
which
aimed
to preservethe promise of
saw, new music was identifiedas that
subjectivefreedomand offera way out of the limitationsof dodecaphonic (and
serial)composition.The pointwas made unequivocallyin an essayentitled'Klassik,
Romantik,Neue Musik', whereAdorno statedthat'above all [. . .] the goal of new
musicmustbe thecompleteliberationof thehuman subject'.59In thewake of such
ideas, many composersof New Music (for them a propernoun) have considered
56
earth
'thefullyenlightened
of DialektikderAufklrung,
Or, as statedin theopeningparagraph
Erde strahltim Zeichen triumphalen
radiatesdisastertriumphant'
('die vollendsaufgeklrte
trans.John
and TheodorW. Adorno,Dialecticof Enlightenment,
Unheils').Max Horkheimer
ed.
Gesammelte
see
the
German
for
Adorno,
3;
York,
1972),
(New
Schriften,
original
Cumming
19.
iii: DialektikderAufklrung:
Tiedemann,
Fragmente,
Philosophische
57'Von demabstrakt
alsoohnemitdemStanddes
Materialistnuruerst
wenigkonkret,
verfgbaren
trans.
verwendbar.'
Hullot-Kentor,
148; Adorno,
Geistes
zu kollidieren,
Adorno,Aesthetic
Theory,
ed. Tiedemann,
Gesammelte
sthetische
iii,223. Emphasisadded.
Theorie,
Schriften,
58See
Dahinaus,'Das Problemder"hherenKritik'".
especially
trans.Livingstone,
New Music, SoundFigures,
TheodorW. Adorno,'Classicism,
Romanticism,
Neue
106-22 (p. 121); forthe Germanoriginalsee TheodorW. Adorno,'Klassik,Romantik,
ed. Tiedemann,
Gesammelte
xvi,126-44 (p. 143).
Musik',Klangfiguren,
Schriften,

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MATERIALAND HISTORY

291

theirtechnicalpreferences
as somehow more ethicallyresponsiblethan those they
shun.

The impuretaintofhistory
and a newbeginning
Adorno's association of new music with ethical imperativeswas rooted in a
connection between his philosophy of historyand his interpretationof how
compositionaltechniques,and thereforemusical material,embodied this history.
But his philosophyof historywas not exclusively
theideas
Hegelian; it also reflected
of Karl Marx and Max Weber and, as noted above, the zerfallsgeschichtliche
perspectiveof DialektikderAufilrung.When Adorno witnessedthe dawn of serial
compositionaround 1950, Weber musthave seemedespeciallyprescient:as Boulez
and othercomposersbeganto use theprincipleof a seriesto orderduration,intensity
and timbrein additionto pitch,theyamplifiedwhatAdorno believedwas a longstandingdesireto 'graspand orderall sound, and to reducethe magicalessenceof
music to human logic'. Serialismseemed a paradigmaticexampleof what Weber
l
called 'Entzauberung'.
Boulez may not have seen serialismin this light,thoughhe did use historyto
hiscompositionaltechnique.He was moreconcernedto rectify
theerrorshe
legitimate
believedSchoenberghad made in restricting
the seriesto the orderingof pitch,as
he ratherforcefully
explainedin the essay 'Schoenbergis Dead'.62 Firstpublished
in 1952, theessaywas lessan obituarythanan expressionof Boulez's need to exorcise
the lingeringghost of a recentlydeceased composer. Calling the assessmentof
0

Adornowrote:'einSystem
derNaturbeherrschung
in Musikresultiert.
Es
dodecaphony,
Describing
einerSehnsucht
aus derbrgerlichen
Urzeit:was immerklingt,
ordnendzu "erfassen",
entspricht
und das magische
WesenderMusikin menschliche
Vernunft
aufzulsen.'
der
Adorno,Philosophie
neuenMusik,Gesammelte
ed. Tiedemann,
Schriften,
xii,65-6.
Weberdescribed
theideaas follows:
'The processofincreasing
intellectualization
andrationalization
does notmeanan increasing
of theconditions
underwhichone lives.It means
generalknowledge
else:theknowledge
or beliefthat,whenever
one desired,one couldfindthatthereare
something
no
incalculable
forces
involved
underwhichone lives]
[intheconditions
,
fundamentallymysterious,
- in
- canbe controlled meansofcalculation.
butrather,
thatall things
Butthismeans:
principle
by
the dmystification
of the world' ('Die zunehmendeIntellektualisierung
und
[Entzauberung]
bedeutet
alsonichteinezunehmende
Kenntnis
derLebensbedingungen,
Rationalisierung
allgemeine
unterdenenmansteht.Sondernsie bedeutetetwasanderes:das Wissendavonoderden Glauben
daran:da man,wennman nur wollte,es jederzeiterfahren
das es also prinzipiell,
keine
konnte,
unberechenbaren
Mchtegebe,dieda hineinspielen,
da manvielmehr
alleDingegeheimnisvollen
im Prinzip- durchBerechnen
beherrschen
knne.Das aberbedeutet:
die Entzauberung
derWelt').
See Max Weber,Wissenschaft
als Beruf(Munich,1919; repr.Stuttgart,
1995), 19.
The essayappearedfirst
in Englishin TheScore,6 (1952), 18-22,andwaslaterpublished
in French
in a collectionof Boulez'sessaysentitledRelevsd'apprenti,
ed. Paule Thvenin(Paris,1966).
are to the Englishtranslation
of thiscollectionin Stocktakings
Subsequentreferences
froman
trans.Walsh;see note14.
Apprenticeship,

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MARCUS ZAGORSKI

292

Schoenberg'swork'one of themosturgentquestionsthatconfrontus', Boulez found


3
thisworkto be 'primarily
annoyingforits flagrantincompatibilities'. His critique
mentionedworkssuchas the Variations
op. 31, in whichthe
forOrchestra,
specifically
12-notetechniquewas thoughtto be corruptedby tonalarchitectonics.
How, Boulez
asked,
testedif one took no troubleto find
could the new [pitch]techniquebe properly
withthelogical
himself
.
.
never
concerned
serial
structures?
[
.]
Schoenberg
specifically
Thisseemsto be thereason
structure.
as suchandderived
between
serialforms
connection
which
andclassicalforms
forthefutility
ofmostofhisserialoutput.Sincethepre-classical
chasm
a
with
unconnected
are
opensup
dodecaphony,yawning
predominate historically
are
whoseorganizational
oftonality
anda language
between
theinfrastructures
principles
of
annuls
The
architecture
as yetbutdimlyperceived
[...].
anypossibility organization
thatthenewlanguagemaypossess.
Schoenberghimself,of course,would nothaveseendodecaphonyas 'unconnected'
fromhis decisionsabout form.On the contrary,in the essay 'Composition with
Twelve Tones', writtenshortlyafterthe Variations,op. 31, Schoenbergexplicitly
connectedthe two: 'formin the arts,and especiallyin music', he claimed, 'aims
at comprehensibility
[ . . . and] compositionwithtwelvetoneshas no other
primarily
for
In fact,it is preciselysuch comprehensibility,
aim than comprehensibility'.65
the composerof
Schoenberg,thatgrantedartisticvalue to a work. Furthermore,
the Variations,op. 31, would have seen himselfto be deeply concernedwith the
'logicalconnection'betweenpitchand formthatBoulez thoughtwas lacking:in the
same essay,Schoenbergstatedthat'the possibilitiesof evolvingthe formalelements
7
of music [. . .] out of a basic set are unlimited'.
Boulez, however,was a composerratherthan a historian.Schoenbergmay have
realizedhis own ideals,but he had not realizedBoulez's,and thiswas tantamountto
cause. The injuryis evidentin thetone of 'Schoenbergis
abandoningtheprogressive
Dead':
withan outputthatdisplayssuchcontraHow can one associateoneselfunreservedly
ofpolarizedandeven
suchillogic?[. . .] How arewe to judgethisreinstatement
dictions,
if not as one further
tonalfunctions,
(and unnecessary)
proofof his lackof graspand
so as to reconstruct
ata newmusicalmethodology
cohesion?
[ . . .] Havewearrived
merely
leavesme speechless.
a trickof incomprehension
theold one?So monstrous
"J
Boulez, Schoenberg is Dead , 209.
64
Ibid., 212.
Schoenberg,'Composition with Twelve Tones ,215.
66 Ibid.
67
Ibid, 222.
68
Boulez, 'Schoenbergis Dead', 213.

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MATERIALAND HISTORY

293

The contradictions
and absenceof logic Boulez believedhe saw in Schoenberg'swork
whichBoulez, like manypostconcernthe use of tonal formsand phrasestructures
war composers,thoughtwere inconsistent
withthe new methodof non-tonalpitch
organization(and whichhinderedthe creationof a new worldbent upon erasingits
of serialism
he concludedthatSchoenberg's'investigation
pre-warself).Accordingly,
in
the
senseof
was one-sided:it neglectedrhythm,
and even,strictly
sound,
speaking,
to
in
a
of
attack'.69
It
is
not
difficult
read
these
words
and
modes
dynamics
project
that was realized in Structurela: Example 2 shows how Boulez remedied the
dynamicsand modes of attack.This expansionof the
apparentneglectof rhythm,
and thefinalparagraphsof
serialprincipleseemed,forBoulez, a historicalnecessity,
his essayoutlinethe programmeformovinghistoryforward:
serialism
fromtheworkof Schoenberg
[...].
Perhapswe shouldstartfromdissociating
ofhistory
we mighttellourselves
thatserialism
is a logicalconsequence
[...]. PerPerhaps
the musicalEVIDENCE arisingfromthe attemptat
haps we might[ . . .] investigate
from
material
wemight
theserialprinciple
to
structure
[...]. Perhaps
generalize
generating
ofsound:pitch,duration,
thefourconstituents
andtimbre.70
dynamics/attack,
Perhaps we could have no betterexample of the importanceof the concept of
materialin the discourseof the period.The crucialpoint hereis the perceptionof a
need to generatestructure(or form) frommaterial:this would be achieved,for
of sound: pitch,
Boulez, by generalizingtheserialprincipleto the 'fourconstituents
and
timbre'.
It
was
this
duration, dynamics/attack,
precisely
comprehensive
application of the series to the so-called parametersof sound that defined the
term'serialism'as it was used in Europe in the 1950s, and, for Boulez, serialism
was said to be a 'logicalconsequenceof history'.In otherwords,becausematerialwas
seen to generatestructure
and the techniqueof serialism,and because serialismwas
seen as historicallynecessary,materialwas inseparablefrom the philosophyof
history,thecompositionaltechniqueand theaestheticsof thecomposer.In fact,the
conceptof materialprovidedthe space in which theseareas coalesced.
Boulez's historicalconvictionswere realizedin sound in his Structure
la fortwo
This
is
of
the
it
is
work;
pianos.
piece hardlyparadigmatic
composer's
merelyone of
the numerousstepshe took in his searchfora compositionalvoice. But manyof
Boulez's contemporaries
believedthisparticularstep embodied the ethos of a new
The
Konrad
Boehmerdescribedit as 'a work that representsthe
epoch.
composer
entireera of earlyserialcomposition'.72And his descriptionaccordedwith Ligeti's
69 Ibid.

70

Ibid.,214.
This point is emphatically,
and convincingly,
arguedin Bsche,'Auf der Suche nach dem
Unbekannten'.
72'Structures
I [...] einemWerk,das frdie ganzeEpochefrhenseriellenKomponierens
steht'.
KonradBoehmer,
'berrigoroses
Das
bse
Ohr:
Texte
zur
Musik
ed.
1961-1991,
Komponieren',
Burkhard
Soll (Cologne,1993),33-50 (p. 41).

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294

MARCUS ZAGORSKI

assessmentof the movement,given in a now famousanalyticalessay,as a perfect


exampleof the principlesof constructionused in earlyserialtechnique. Boulez's
and the simplicityand
compositional approach was relativelystraightforward,
of
the
make
it
an
ideal
exampleforstudy;consequently,
perceivedimportance
piece
on post-warmusic.7
la have appearedrepeatedlyin literature
analysesof Structure
and becausethemovementdoes not admita great
Given theextentof thisliterature,
to existinganalyses,which
interestedreadersare referred
varietyof interpretation,
give more detailthan the fewcommentsofferedhere.
la, in whichtheidea of a
Example2 showsthe'material'Boulez used in Structure
was
not
elements
seriesof 12 discretely
only to pitchbut also to
applied
quantified
duration,intensity
(dynamics)and timbre(attacktypes).The pitches,durationsand
attacktypeswere,as is wellknown,takenfromthethirdofMessiaen'sQuatretudesde
the 'Mode de valeurset d'intensits'(1949), in a gestureof compositional
rythme,
is an expandedversionof the
homageto Boulez's teacher;theseriesof 12 intensities
seven intensits
used by Messiaen in the tude.An ordernumber,printedabove the
pitches,was assignedto each elementin Boulez's fourseries,whichensuredthatthese
elementscould be identifiedby the composerafterthe serieswere transformed
by
4
of
the
four
shows
how
each
inversion.
inversion
and
Example
retrograde
retrograde,
seriesis transformed
byinversion.Althoughall fourseriesaresaid hereto be inverted,
thatallow
relationships
obviouslyonlytheelementsof thepitchserieshavestructural
in corresponforinversion.Elementsin the otherthreeseriesare merelyreshuffled
dencewiththeordernumberassignedin theprimeformshownin Example2.
AfterBoulez had devisedtables,or 'matrices',in whichall versionsof the number
inversionand theirtranspositions
series- prime,retrograde,
inversion,retrograde
la was generatedby readingthrough
the structureof Structure
were represented,
these tables and writingout the correspondingmusical values. Consequently,all
aspectsof sound in the movement pitch,duration,articulationand dynamics
werestructured
by the numbertablesderivedfromthe originalseriesof 12 pitches.
In a 1958 essayentitled'Musik und Zahl' ('Music and Number'), Koenig observed
thatnumberstherebybecame the mediumof musicaldata and processesthatwere
detachedfromacousticreality.75
Example3 reproducestheopeningsevenbarsof the
piece, in whicheach piano presentsone completestatementof 12 pitchescoupled
73
inderStructure
undAutomatik
la', dieReibe,4 (1958),
Gyrgy
Ligeti,'PierreBoulez:Entscheidung
38^63 (p. 38).
Fano/Stockhausen,
'Pierre
Inaddition
toLigeti,
Boulez',seeforexample:
Toop,'Messiaen/Goeyvaerts,
303-7; ReginaldSmithBrindle,TheNewMusic:
Boulez';Danuser,Die Musikdes20. Jahrhunderts,
Music,
since1945 (2nd edn,Oxford,1987),25-33; Morgan,Twentieth-Century
TheAvant-Garde
Music,v, 27-37,
342-5; Grant,SerialMusic,150-5; and Taruskin,TheOxford
History
ofWestern
thanmostothersources(excepting
moreofthemovement
whichexamines
Ligeti,ofcourse).
75Gottfried
MichaelKoenig,ed. Heinz-KlausMetzger
MichaelKoenig,'Musikund Zahl', Gottfried
66 (Munich,1989),13-34;quotedin Gianmario
Borio,'Wege
andRainerRiehn,Musik-Konzepte,
ed. Borioand Danuser,i, 427-69 (pp. 445-6).
Im ZenitderModerne,
des sthetischen
Diskurses',

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MATERIALAND HISTORY
Example 4.

I'"'

295

PierreBoulez, Structure
la, seriesin inversion.

^o

10

ii ^

12

>

""

Sf

qo

11

i,, i

Ih> *"

p p" p" rl r rpp rl'p" p r p~p

pppp mf pp
>

ff
_

>

ppp fff
>

P.

quasi

quasi

normal

As notedalready,thisexample
of 12 durations.76
withone completestatement
atthetime,andnewconception
the
new
musical
called
texture,
conveys
'pointillistic'
of musicalspacethatresultedfromBoulez'scompositional
technique:bothwere
ofpartsseenin music
farremoved
fromtheclearly
delineated
hierarchy
consciously
nineteenth
and earlytwentieth
centuries.
oftheeighteenth,
A shareddesireforsuchnewconceptions
oftexture
andspace- aswellas a desirefor
form
thedestruction
ofrhetorical
clearmotives
anddevelopmental
phrasestructure,
the interests
of serial
la was thoughtto exemplify
help to explainwhyStructure
in
in
the
Similar
were
different
different
ideas
1950s.
waysby
early
composers
pursued
severalofwhomwereinspired
by theexampleof Messiaen's'Mode de
composers,
for example,identified
such ideals in an
valeurset d'intensits'.
Stockhausen,
'Arbeitsbericht'
he
at
the
time:
he
wrote
of a new idea of
(workreport) penned
tothemusicofthepast;heenvisioned
a newform,
sound,whichboreno resemblance
whichwouldresult
froma lackofconventional
and
phrases
opening closinggestures,
and development,
and whichhe thought
wouldbe consistent
withnon-tonal
pitch
andhe calledfora compositional
material;
approachthatgenerated
'pureintellectual
whichhe thought
werein accordwiththehistorical
moment.77
note-constructions',
Stockhausen's
turnof phrase('pureintellectual
reminiscent
note-constructions'),
of Eduard Hanslick,did indeedrepresent
a turnagainstthe pathologicaland
in favour
oftonality
ofan approachthatwasthought
to
subjective
expressive
gestures
be rational
andobjective,
andwhichwouldguarantee
a 'pure'musicfreeofhistorical
associations.
The idealofpurity
wasalsoexpressed
themerits
byothers. Describing
7 PianoI
theuntransposed
presents
primeorderof pitches(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12) in
durations
fromthefifth
oftheretrograde
inversion
(12, 11,9, 10,3, 6,7, 1,2, 8, 4, 5);
transposition
PianoII presents
theuntransposed
inversion
orderofpitches(1, 7, 3, 10, 12,9, 2, 11,6, 4, 8, 5) in
durations
fromthetwelfth
of theretrograde
(5, 8, 6, 4, 3, 9, 2, 1, 7, 11, 10, 12).
transposition
77
'Arbeitsbericht
TonkonstrukStockhausen,
1952/53',32. Stockhausen's
phraseis 'reingedankliche
tionen'.
78And it
a paradox:theidealof purity
waswidespread
becauseof a shareddesireto cleanse
suggests
musicofassociations
withtheimmediate
past,and theparadoxarisesfroma suggested
relationship
'betweenradicalartistic
and theirpoliticalcousins'- a relationship
purisms
uponwhich,Taruskin
no one at thetimewas inclinedto reflect.
See Taruskin,The Oxford
believes,
History
of Western
Music,v, 17.

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296

MARCUS ZAGORSKI

of Boulez's Structurela, Ligeti wrote of a 'beauty in the discoveryof pure


and Boulez himselfstatedthathis intentionwiththiscompositionwas
structures',79
to createa synthesisof elements'which would not be marredfromthe startby
foreignbodies'.80 The 'foreignbodies' were the remnantsof the traditionhe
detected,and detested,in Schoenberg'sdodecaphonic works- old rhythmsand
formsthat were seen to compromisethe potentialof the new method of pitch
to the 'bad old days' before
organization.Such tracesof tonalitycarriedreferences
became
associated
with
the
when
tonal
music
1945,
propaganda of totalitarian
itwas therigorousorderof serialismthatwas seen to offerthe
regimes;paradoxically,
freedomof a new beginning.
of a new
Overcomingthepast and embracingthe imaginedpurityand objectivity
compositionallanguage were thoughtto be benefitsof obeying the 'conditions'
dictated by musical material. The kind of thinkingthat was, according to
Stockhausen's'Arbeitsbericht',
'appropriateforthe materialitself[materialgerecht]',
ofthematerial'. 'The idea
forgedan 'agreement
ofthelaws offormwiththeconditions
of new form',he asserted,'is not compatiblewiththeconditionsof theold material.
One musttherefore
seek a new material.'82Once in possessionof thisnew material,
who
shared
Stockhausen'sideas believedthemselvescompelledto meet
composers
thematerial'sdemandto generatenew forms- formspurgedof theforeignbodies of
an impurepast. The seemingdangersof subjectivedecision-makingcould be set
aside in deferenceto what was thoughtto be an objectiveprocess that not only
determinedthematerialfitforthespiritof theday,but also thekindsof formsthat
were implicitin - because consistentwith- thismaterial.
In another essay from this time, Stockhauseninsisted,with almost fanatical
on the need forstructuring
principle for
piecesaccordingto a unifying
repetition,
betweentheindividualelementsand
(his termis 'Widerspruchslosigkeit')
consistency
the totality:
principle,which is
Note-orderingmeans the subordinationof notesunder a unifying
betweenthe orderingof the individual
conceivedbeforehand.And: [it means] consistency
elementsand the whole [...]. Pre-existingnote-orderings(such as modes and scales
79
hasbeenso
whichhe believes
ofLigeti'sdescription,
Ligeti,'PierreBoulez',62. Bscheisverycritical
an
ofBoulez'screative
thatittendsto reducetheunderstanding
oftenrepeated
output, outputthatis
That
one
sentence.
to
various
as variousas it is inspired
be,
sources,
may butit shouldnotbe
by
la in thisway.See Bsche,'AufderSuche
to notethatLigetidid describeStructure
controversial
40-1.
nachdemUnbekannten',
80Pierre
MusicReview,7
(II)', CanadianUniversity
Boulez,'Ncessitd'une orientation
esthtique
144.
in
Boulez',
Fano/Stockhausen,
46-79;
(1986),
quoted Toop, 'Messiaen/Goeyvaerts,
81A central
with
wereassociated
methods
ofGrant'sSerialMusicis thatnewcompositional
argument
ofa newand limitless
thefreedom
potential.
vereinbaren.
desaltenMaterials
'Die IdeederneuenFormltsichabernichtmitdenBedingungen
'Arbeitsbericht
1952/53',32. See also
Also mu man ein neuesMaterialsuchen.'Stockhausen,
note3.

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MATERIALAND HISTORY

297

[Tonsysteme],themes, motives,rows, 'rhythms',folklorismsand so forth)are [...]


unusable (fortheseare alreadyorderedin theirown individualways); theyare unusable
for the realizationof a unified conception of music, which only a unified materialorderingcan create[ . . .] and which should be newlyand uniquelyexecutedin each new
workaccordingto the demandsof the perfectionand orderingof the totality- thatis, if
one recognizesand acceptsthe necessityof total order.That which is pre-formedcannot
be integrated [eingeordnet]but only arranged. Uniform ordering [Ein-Ordnung],
however,is a conditionforconsistency[...]. The kind of music that has begun to be
composed recentlyis bound withthe necessityto recognizeand no longeraccept the lack
of consistencyin thatwhich is pre-formed[...]. Approachingthe perfectionof materialidea [...]. Its prerequisiteis, thatthe
orderingmeanstheconstantpresenceof theunifying
- all the
individualelementalreadycarrieswithinitself- and indeed consistently
ordering
criteriathatthe entireworkwill make its own.

The organicistideal evidenthere (to say nothingof the desire for 'total order'),
despitebeing linked to a past thatsome so urgentlywanted to move beyond,was
sharedby otherserialcomposersof the period (even thoughStockhausenhimself
failed to live up to his own programme). Schnebel, for example,in no way a
'dismantledof such ideas,articulateda viewthatborrowedboth fromStockhausen's
position above and Boulez's position in 'Schoenberg is Dead'. Moreover, he
maintainedthisview not onlyin the 1950s, whichhe referred
to as 'a golden age of
serialcomposition'thatwas led by a 'greatnew idea' in whichhe took part,but as
late as the 1990s.85 Schnebel still believed,40 years afterthe golden age, that
83
meintalso die Unterordnung
vonTnenuntereineinheitliches
'Tonordnung
Prinzip,das vorgestellt
ist.Und: Widerspruchslosigkeit
zwischenderOrdnungim Einzelnenund im Ganzen[...]. Bereits
vorhandene
Folklorismen
Themen,Motive,Reihen,'Rhythmen',
(Tonsysteme,
Tonordnungen
u. a.) sind [...] unbrauchbar
(als bereitsin einerjedem EinzelneneigenenWeise geordnet),
unbrauchbar
frdie Verwirklichung
einereinheitlichen
von Musik,die ja ersteineihr
Vorstellung
hervorrufen
kann[ . . .] unddie sichmiteinemAnspruch
vonTotalitt(in
gemeMaterialordnung
HinsichtaufVollkommenheit
von Ordnung)in jedemWerkneu und einmaligvollziehen
soll wennman die Notwendigkeit
totalerOrdnungeinsiehtund akzeptiert.
kann
Vorgeformtes nicht
nurarrangiert
werden.Ein-Ordnung
aberisteineBedingung
frWiderspruchslosigkeit
eingeordnet,
Zeit begonnenhat,ist mitder Notwendigkeit
[...]. [Musik . . .] wie sie in jngster
verbunden,
in seinerWiderspruchshaftigkeit
zu erkennen
und nichtlngerzu akzeptieren
[...].
Vorgeformtes
an Vollkommenheit
vonMaterialordnung
meintaberstndige
Anwesenheit
des Einen
Annherung
- und
istallerdings,
da dasEinzelnebereits
alleOrdnungskriterien
insichtrgt
[...]. Voraussetzung
- , diedemganzenWerkzu
zwarwiderspruchslos
sind.'
Karlheinz
'Situation
des
Stockhausen,
eigen
Handwerks
derpunktuellen
(Kriterien
Musik)',Texte,ed. Schnebel,i, 17-23 (pp. 18-21).
The significant
betweenStockhausen's
statedidealsand actualcompositions
is evidentin
disparity
the deviationsRichardToop tracesin Klavierstck
VIII. See RichardToop, 'Stockhausen's
Klavierstck
28 (1984), 4-19.
VIII' Contact,
In an interview
with Klaus Kropfnger
in 1991, Schnebeldescribesthe years1950-5 as the
'Hochbltedes seriellenKomponierens'
thatwas '[von] eine[r]groenneue[n]Idee [geleitet]'.
estmort?Rckfragen
an einerParadigma',
berMusikim
Quotedin KlausKropfnger,
'Schoenberg
Bilde,2 vols.(Cologne,1995),ii, 535-56 (p. 542).

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MARCUS ZAGORSKI

298

Schoenbergwas a 'dead end'; to supporthis point,he arguedthat'whenyou look at


the score of [Schoenberg's]FourthQuartet,it looks like a late Beethovenquartet,
only the pitches are completelydifferent[ . . .] and that is already a great
contradiction[Widerspruch]betweenmaterialand form'. As well as linkinghis
critiqueto material,Schnebelgetsadditionalservicefromtheterm'Widerspruch'so
used by Stockhausen40 yearsearlier.An idea not at all unique to these
frequently
two composers,however,the preservation
of unitywithina compositionhas been
identifiedas one of thetwo primaryconcernsof serialism,theotherbeingthesearch
for new compositionalcategoriesthat followed from the reactionagainst tonal
conventions.

Progressand the aestheticsof experimentation


The searchfornew categoriesled to a new aestheticoutlook in whichcomposition
ratherthan an effortto
was conceivedas an ongoing processof experimentation
produce independent,timelessworks.These experimentscould be seen in pieces
such as Structure
la, in which,accordingto Ligetiin 1958,
theactofcomposing
becomesat thesametime
losesitsessenceas 'artwork':
composition
This mayseemto be a
cohesionof thematerial.
a research
intothe newlyperceived
wants
'unartistic'
butthecomposer
attitude;
todayhasno otherpathifhe truly
negative,
la represented
to move forward.For Boulez, Structure
just such fundamental
88

experimentation.

of material,from
The act of composingwas describedas researchinto the structure
the
the
claim
to
which followed a surrenderof
production of works. This
was representednot only by Structurela; rather,
fundamentalexperimentation
that
all
stated
composersshould follow this path if theywished to effect
Ligeti
progress.
fiveyearsearlier:
Stockhausenmade similarclaims in his 'Arbeitsbericht'
ideaofsound.The ideaofsoundis
One canno longercounton theimmediate
[familiar]
If thisideawereto havevalidity
heard.
has
that
one
all
music
determined
previously
by
86'Wennmandas Notenbilddes 4.
dannsiehtes aus wie ein sptesBeethovenQuartetts
anguckt,
zwischen
nurdie Tne sindvlliganders[ . . .] unddas istschoneingroerWiderspruch
Quartett,
est
in
541.
MaterialundGestalt.'Schnebel,
mort',
'Schoenberg
quoted Kropfinger,
87
Grant,SerialMusic,154.
wirdzugleichein
das Komponieren
ihrWesenals "Kunstwerk":
die Komposition
'Damitverliert
des Materials.Diese Attitude
Erforschen
derneugeahnten
magmancheinemals
Zusammenhnge
- dochhatderheutige
keinenanderen
erscheinen
"unknstlerische"
einenegative,
Weg,
Komponist
frBoulez
bedeutete
will.Ein so grundstzliches
weiterkommen
wennerwirklich
Experimentieren
la.' Ligeti,'PierreBoulez',62-3.
die Structure

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MATERIALAND HISTORY

299

oneself
againtoclassicalform.To thinkina waythat
again,thenonewouldhaveto resign
is appropriate
forthematerial:agreement
ofthelawsofformwiththeconditions
ofthe
withtheconditions
oftheold material.
material.
The ideaofnewformis notcompatible
Thenone muststrive
to realizepureintellectual
One musttherefore
seeka newmaterial.
note-constructions
withnewmaterialevendespitethedangerof achieving
manymore
will
to
note
and
than
results.
One
have
undertake
verymany
experiments
negative positive
willshapea newideaofsound,which
relevant
The acceptable
results
thenecessary
studies.
Fora longtimeto come,composing
willhave
canagainprovidesupport
forcomposition.
to be at thesametimeresearching.89
Everysentenceof this passage contains ideas that remainedcentralto European
serialism(and post-serialism)
forthe ensuing15 yearsand thatare inseparablefrom
theoriesof musicalmaterial.Like manycomposersin the early1950s, Stockhausen
was mistrustful
of thefamiliarconceptionof sound, theechoesof whichrecalledthe
traditionsof a recentpast. Such a conceptionof sound, he claimed here,could be
valid only if one were unwillingto move beyond the classical formsto which it
seemed bound. Turningagainstthe past and thismusicaltradition,he believedhe
could effectprogressby seekinga new material,forthisnew materialcould be used
to generatenew forms.The searchfor new materialwas seen as an activitythat
withthe materialitselfprovidingevidenceforthisprogress.
pushedhistoryforward,
As
Composing became, accordingly,researching a process of experimentation.
such, it refashioneditselfaftera scientificmodel and, more significantly,
thereby
challengedsome aspectsof the dominantaestheticparadigmof the preceding150
years:the concept of the musical work,which was accorded value commensurate
withitsclaimto lastinghistoricalsignificance.
As Stockhausenwrotein anotheressay
fromthe period, 'the point is not whetherour generationwill be in a positionto
creategreat,perfectedworks,but whetherwe are consciousof the specifichistorical
taskto whichwe are called'.90Under the new paradigm,each new experiment,
each
composition,provideda solutionto the perceivedproblemof the day and carrieda
new problemthatrequiredfurther
solution.In thisproblem-history
of composition,
'Aufdieunmittelbare
kannmansichnichtmehrverlassen.
Die Klangvorstellung
ist
Klangvorstellung
durchalleMusikbestimmt,
die manbishergehrthat.Wennsieweiterhin
mte
htte,
Gltigkeit
mansichauchweiterhin
derklassischen
denken:bereinstimmung
Ordnungfgen.Materialgerecht
derFormgesetze
mitden Bedingungen
desMaterials.Die Idee der neuen Form lt sich aber nichtmit

denBedingungen
des altenMaterials
vereinbaren.
Alsomumanein neuesMaterialsuchen.Dann
mumanreingedankliche
Tonkonstruktionen
mitneuemMaterialzu verwirklichen
trachten
aufdie
Gefahrhin,zunchst
sehrvielmehrnegative
als positiveErgebnisse
zu erzielen.
Man wirdsehrviele
und die dazu ntigenStudienmachenmssen.Die annehmbaren
Klangexperimente
Ergebnisse
werdeneine neue Klangvorstellung
dann wieder
bilden,auf die man sich bei der Komposition
sttzenkann.Komponieren
wirdauflangeSichtgleichzeitig
Forschenseinmssen.'Stockhausen,
'Arbeitsbericht
1952/53',32.
'Es gehtnichtdarum,ob es unserer
Generation
seinwird,diegroenvollkommenen
Werke
vergnnt
zu schaffen,
sonderndarum,ob wirder eigenenhistorischen
[uns]
AufgabemitVerantwortung
bewutsind.'Stockhausen,
'Zur Situationdes Metiers',Texte,ed. Schnebel,i, 45-62 (p. 59).

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300

MARCUS ZAGORSKI

ratherthan
individualpieceswerevaluedas stepsin an unendingline of experiments
as creationsto endurebeyondthe death of the composer.
of theperiod
so characteristic
The conceptionof compositionas experimentation,
in which serialmusic was consideredfirstamong equals,91was symptomaticof a
largerphenomenonthatgave thismusic its privilegedstatus:the perceivedloss, or
conscious abandonment,of existingregulativeideas and practices.In addition to
rejectingformsand genres handed down from the eighteenthand nineteenth
centuries,some serial composers rejected elements of the prevailingaesthetic
paradigm the concept of the musicalwork,the artisticvalue of which followed
fromits claim to lastinghistoricalsignificance.Followingthisturnaway fromthe
work concept, the concept of the experiment,and the resultingpicture of
compositionalhistoryas a seriesof problemsto be solved,became the authorities
that determinedaestheticvalue.92 This is not to say, of course, that all ideas
associatedwiththe workconceptwere renouncedby serialcomposers;the ideal of
accentuated.
it was further
(relative)autonomy,forexample,was not onlypreserved,
Nor were serialiststhe firstto critique aspects of the aestheticparadigm of
art music.93It is more accurateto say that the concept of the
nineteenth-century
91
of
thata plurality
as 'first
serialism
amongequals'in thisperiod,I am suggesting
Bycharacterizing
are
not
two
These
of
music.
shift:
were
both
a
and
aspects
aspects post-war
important
styles
paradigm
makesa
Shreffler
mutuallyexclusive.In her articleon the 'Paradigmenwechsel',
necessarily
thata paradigmshiftoccurredin theearly1950s.To makethisargument
convincing
argument
oftheperiodproducesa onethatis justas characteristic
thestylistic
without
pluralism
recognizing
doesthis).Conversely,
that
Shreffler
I
mean
to
not
do
historical
dimensional
imply
picture(though
aesthetic
the
without
to claimtherewasstylistic
prestige
greater
recognizing considerably
pluralism
wouldbe similarly
accordedto serialism
and historiographie
unsatisfactory.
representation
92Or so Dahlhaus's
theorywould have it. But I believeDahlhaus'sidea calls for significant
I
to scalebacksomeofhisrather
Nevertheless,
and
sweeping
generalizations.
qualification, attempt
on post-war
of
his
in
so
it
and
Dahlhausdoesmakea compelling
many
writings
appears
argument,
to theperiod- even
tobe essential
oftheexperiment
thecategory
considered
musicthatheobviously
The extent
towhich
ofStockhausen.
to thetheoretical
ifitseemsat timesto applyprimarily
writings
to be
remains
of
Stockhausen's
influence
the
reflects
Dahlhaus'stheoryof serialism
writings
for
been
hard
have
it
in
the
the
latter's
1950s,
anyone
may
presence
gargantuan
given
investigated;
A fewofthemanyessaysinwhichDahlhausdiscusses
status.
nottoaccordhiswritings
representative
'Neue MusikundWissenschaft',
include'Die KrisedesExperiments';
oftheexperiment
thecategory
Rationalitt:Ein deutsch-franzsisches
und nichtwissenschaftliche
Kolloquium, ed.
Wissenschaftliche

KurtHbnerand JulesVuillemin(Stuttgart,
1983), 107-18; and 'Plea fora RomanticCategory:
andtheNewMusic,trans.Puffett
The ConceptoftheWorkofArtin theNewestMusic',Schoenberg
and Clavton.210-19.
93KurtWeilland Paul Hindemith,
in the1920sto
forexample,
adoptedtheterm'Gebrauchsmusik'
itself
ofautonomous
theirworkfromthetradition
music;andtheconceptofautonomy
differentiate
HeinrichBesseler;formoreon thesepointssee
at thistimeby themusicologist
was historicized
ed. Robert
1918^5', ModernTimes:FromWorldWarI tothePresent,
StephenHinton,'Germany,
historical
the
of
concern
a
central
83-110.
P. Morgan(EnglewoodCliffs,
Additionally,
NJ,1993),
of
the
to
was
an
art
that
was
to
create
as
Zurich
such
Dada,
movements,
concept
opposed
avant-garde
aesthetic
autonomy.

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MATERIALAND HISTORY

301

one pointin a seriesof challengesto theconceptof themusical


experiment
represents
work.94
The idea thatmusic is exemplifiedin workshas been acceptedwidelyonly since
around 1800; beforethistime the prevailingmodel would have classifiedmusic as
a practicalartconcernedwith doing {praxis)as opposed to
primarilyperformative,
An
making(poiesis).95 exceptionto thismodel,and perhapstheearliestexampleofthe
workconceptin music,is foundin a treatisefrom1537 by Nicolaus Listenius.This
not onlybecauseListeniusmakesa distinctionbetweenmusica
exampleis significant
and
musica
practica
poetica and shiftsthe accent to the latter,but also because his
musicapoeticais a 'labor bywhichsomethingwas broughtinto theworldthatwould
evenaftertheauthor'sdeath,a completework,enduringin itsown right'.
represent,
The idea ofa musicalworksurviving
thedeathofitsauthorand enduringforposterity
is one oftwoaspectsoftheworkconceptthatwerechallengedbyearlyserialthinking:
Stockhausen'sconcernto meet the 'specifichistoricaltask' to whichhe felthimself
thepresentoverthefuture.Thus the
called,forexample,signalleda desireto prioritize
in
idea ofan eternally
work
was
replaced, Stockhausen'sthinkingat least,by
enduring
theidea of a workin progress,whathe describedas 'a seriesof themosthiddenand
mostobviouschangesand renewals- withno end in sight'. The largersuccessionof
compositionalapproaches,or 'discoveries',thatdrovethisoverallprocesswas more
importantthan any individual composition, for individual compositionswere
a number
ofchallenges
to theworkconceptin herbook TheImaginary
LydiaGoehr,whoexamines
Museumof Musical Works,seems to misinterpret
Stockhausen's
critiqueof this concept.If
Stockhausen's
with'closed'works(quotedbyGoehr)is understood
dissatisfaction
as a plea foran
in whichone workis merelya stagein a largerchainof
of composition,
'open' problem-history
that continuesindefinitely,
one can see that his conceptionof 'opennessand
compositions
(as Goehr
immediacy'
(quotedbyGoehr)doesindeedapplyto theworkandnotto theperformance
and
therefore
does
a
to
the
work
The
of
argues),
represent challenge
concept.
problem-history
ideainStockhausen's
theoretical
(thephrasecomesfromDahlhaus)isa central
composition
writings,
butGoehrshowsno awareness
ofit.Thisis notsurprising
giventhatshecitesonlyoneshortexample
- an exampleforwhichshe
fromStockhausen
neither
thecontext
northeoriginal
source.As
provides
withmanyquotationsin herbook,shehas useda translation
takenfroma secondary
source.See
MuseumofMusicalWorks:
AnEssayin thePhilosophy
LydiaGoehr,TheImaginary
ofMusic(Oxford,
1992),263.
95Carl
Dahlhaus,Esthetics
1982),9-15. In an essay
ofMusic,trans.WilliamW. Austin(Cambridge,
on thehistory
of musictheory,
Dahlhausmentions
a thirdparadigm,
a speculative
that
tradition,
couldbe addedto thepractical
and analytical
traditions
here.
See
Carl
(work-orientated)
implied
Geschichte
der Musiktheorie,
ed. Frieder
Dahlhaus,'Was heit Geschichteder Musiktheorie?',
Zaminerand Thomas Ertelt,15 vols. (Darmstadt,1984-), i: Ideen zu einerGeschichte
der
Musiktheorie:
(1985), 8-39. See also Thomas Christensen,
Einleitungin das Gesamtwerk
The Cambridge
Music Theory,
ed. Christensen
'Introduction',
Historyof Western
(Cambridge,
2002), 1-23.
96
Dahlhaus,Esthetics
ofMusic,trans.Austin,10.
- keine Ende
'Eine Reihe verborgenster
und sinnflligster
Wandlungenund Erneuerungen
abzusehen.'
'Arbeitsbericht
Stockhausen,
1952/52',37.

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MARCUS ZAGORSKI

302

relegatedto the past as new stageswere reached.This 'implie[d] a keen historical


from
awareness[ . . .] in theformof a tendencyto viewone's own presenthistorically,
and
future'.
between
an innerdistancein whichitshrinksto a transitional
past
point
Historytherebybecomesthesubstanceof theworkin progress,and 'the idea of the
isolated,closed workwhichjuts up out of historyto outlivethe age in whichit was
createdfadesin the face of the experienceof a historicalmovementwhich passes
throughtheworks'."
of thehistorical
The conceptof theworkin progresscould be seen as a reflection
was
seen
serialismi
as
that
was
used
to
bysome as the
picture
justify
just dodecaphony
consequenceoftonalmotivicdevelopmentand variation,serialismpositioneditselfas
the historicalconsequenceof dodecaphony.Serialism,in turn,was subjectto being
chain
and continuingthisnever-ending
surpassedbythenexthistoricaldevelopment,
ofevolutionwas thetaskto whichStockhausenand othersfeltcalled.Nono expressed
of
and logicalcontinuity
suchhistoricalideaswhenhe statedthatan 'absolutehistorical
its
current
12-note
and
of
music
the
beginnings
developmentprevailsbetween
state'. This philosophyofhistory
music,wronglypraisedby
suggestswhypost-serial
some as a liberatingcritiqueof its predecessor,was consideredto be essentially
This
historicalprogression.
determined
connectedto serialismas partofan objectively
forthe conceptof aestheticautonomy,and
historicalpicturealso has ramifications
work
of
the
a
second
concept thatwas challengedby serial
therebyimplies
aspect
theory:althoughserialcomposersmaximizedtherelativeautonomyof theircreations
by developingsystemsunique to individualcompositionsand inaccessibleto anybut
the concept of a work in progress,and the relatedcategoryof the
initiates,101
would havethemrejectthenotionthata compositioncould forma fully
experiment,
to a larger
independentwhole.102Rather,theindividualcompositionwas subservient
or
one
one
seriesof compositionalexperiments
solution,in a
by representing step,
of composition.
problem-history
never-ending

Science and the historicalpurityof the 'parameter'


If the aestheticsof experimentation
suggestsa link betweenpost-warmusic and
tiesthatbind these
of serialismrevealfurther
scientificmethod,othercharacteristics
fields.The adoptionof the term'parameter',forexample,capturesin a singleword
the intersectionof science,mathematicsand serial music in the post-warperiod.
in themid-eighteenth-century
Identifiedas a termspecificto geometry
encyclopedias
98Dahlhaus,'Plea fora RomanticCategory',
211.
99 Ibid.

100See note26.
101Hintonmentions
thesequalitiesofserialmusicin 'Germany,
1918-45', 108.
wholeis discussedin
a fullyindependent
The idea thata work,in theemphatic
sense,represents
trans.
13.
Austin,
Music,
Dahlhaus,Esthetics
of

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MATERIALAND HISTORY

303

of Zedler and Diderot/d'Alembert,


'parameter'began to appear in theoretical
on serialmusicafter1953.103Its applicationto thismusicwas due primarily
writings
to describe his
to Stockhausen,who firstused the term in his 'Arbeitsbericht'
to
the
of his
Kontra-Punkte:
Stockhausen
referred
'sound-dimensions'
composition
- its
and timbres as 'parameters'. It was no
piece
pitches,durations,intensities
coincidencethatthese'parameters'werepreciselywhatBoulez identifiedas the 'four
of sound' to which the serialprincipleshould be applied in orderfor
constituents
historyto progress:both composers,and many others,adopted these termsfrom
workbeing done in electro-acoustic
music studiosat the time.
Stockhausen'suse of the term followedfromhis contactwith Werner MeyerEppler, a professorat the Institutefor Phoneticsand CommunicationsStudies in
in electronicmusic,whom he firstmet in 1952 and
Bonn and a leadingresearcher
Their collaboration
withwhom he would laterstudyformallyat thatuniversity.105
in
role research electro-acoustic
music studioshad forearly
reflectedthe significant
thatcannotbe overstated:earlyserialismis inseparable
serialmusic- a significance
fromelectroniccomposition. This backgroundhelpsexplainwhythefirstissueof
thejournal die Reihewas dedicatedto electronicmusic.The subtitleof die ReiheberserielleMusik - heraldsit as the officialmouthpieceof serialism,
Information
and the firstissue, entitledElektronische
Musik, containedessaysby Stockhausen
was
also
one
of
the
(who
principaleditors),Meyer-Eppler,Boulez, Goeyvaerts,
Koenig and Henri Pousseur,among others. By 1955, the year the issue was
published,theterm'parameter'had been takenup by manycomposersand theorists
to become a standardpartof thevocabulary, and theterm'sprevalenceprompted
one historianto stateunequivocallythat'the conceptof the parameteris the most
importantmusic-theoretical
conceptof the 1950s'. Because the terms'parameter'
and 'material'were oftenused as synonyms,it could be said that the concept of
materialwas equallyimportant.The significance
of thelattercan be seen in a claim
made by Boehmerthat'in the earliestserialmusic,composersconcentratedmainly
on the structural
principlesof material'
103
vonBlumrder,
derMusikim20. Jahrhundert,
ed. Eggebrecht,
'Parameter',
Christoph
Terminologie
333-40 (p. 333).
IW"
Arbeitsbericht
Ibid.,335. See also Stockhausen,
1952/53',37.
105Blumrder,
'Parameter',
335.
to Grant,'serialism
canhardly
be understood
without
According
takingintoaccountitsrelationship
to electronic
the
one
not
composition:
onlyhad a decisiveimpactupon theother,butelectronic
musicencapsulates
Grant,SerialMusic,50.
manyof themostimportant
aspectsofserialism.'
107See dieReihe:
berserielle
Musik,1 (1955), ed. HerbertEimertand Stockhausen.
Information
1U
335.
Blumrder,
'Parameter',
'Der Begriff
des Parameters
ist der wichtigste
musiktheoretische
der fnfziger
Jahre;
Begriff
ist seitherkeinwichtigerer
einerMusikgeschichte
der
wenigstens
aufgetreten.'
Siegele,'Entwurf
336.
'Parameter',
Jahre',
sechziger
quotedin Blumrder,
'In derfrhesten
seriellen
Musikhattendie Komponisten
sichhauptschlich
aufdie Konstruktionsvon
Material
konzentriert.'
'ber
40.
Boehmer,
bedingungen
rigoroses
Komponieren',

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MARCUS ZAGORSKI

304

In subsequentissues of die Reihe, the concept of parameterwas expanded to


parallelan expandingconceptionof serialism,whichceased to be applied exclusively
to the organizationof basic componentssuch as pitch, intensity,duration and
of harmony,polyphony,
timbre,and became associatedwiththe global structuring
Thus theexpansionof theconceptof theparameterparalleled
tempoand register.111
the expansionof materialdescribedby Ligeti,Schnebeland others:both parameter
and materialevolvedaccordingto thedictatesof theprevailingphilosophyofhistory.
Such an expanded conception of parameteris apparent in an essay Pousseur
publishedin the thirdissue of die Reihe in 1957. In this essay he describedthe
'typesof
'parameterdimensions'of his latestworksas 'harmonicfields','registers',
and
'chronometric
density'
'polyphonicdensity',all of
morphologicalbehaviour',
and
whichsuggestmorethanthemorelimitedcategoriesofpitch,duration,intensity
timbreto whichthe termwas firstapplied.112But althoughapplied hereto higher
structuralprinciplesthan in the early 1950s, the term 'parameter' remained
read the historical
One can therefore
synonymouswith the conceptof material.113
telos of serialismin the ever-expandingconceptionsof parameterand musical
material,and the idea of expansionfashionedthe threadthatbound togethervastly
different
approachesto composition.
This seemingevolutioninformedKoenig's observation,cited at the beginningof
thisarticle,thatwithrespectto musicalmaterial,'in the beginning,one's attention
was focusedon pitches,durations,intensitiesand timbres.Then otherqualitiesor
issuesbecame pressing:groups,which consistedof manynotes; spatiallyconceived
or new ways of playingold ones; liberties
sound events;new musical instruments
The
observationwas partof an attemptto
action'.114
musical
to
given performers;
was to critiquethe
historicizetheconceptof material,but Koenig'sprincipalinterest
notionof 'pure' material,a notionthathe believedto be a productof theworkdone
after
in electronicmusicstudios.The firstcomposersto examinematerialthoroughly
that
'musical
the Second World War, accordingto Koenig, did so with a belief
materialwas somethingpure, that its individual elementscould be shown as
that'withrespectto
He claimedfurther
and undistorted'.115
undiluted,uncorrupted,
answer:
is
one
thequestionofwhathas not [corrupted]it,there only
specificmusical

111
337.
'Parameter',
Blumrder,
112
Ibid.

113Even
to equateparameter
suchas Grantin SerialMusic,continue
ofserialism,
today,somescholars
of thispairing.
dimension
thehistorical
withoutrecognizing
and material
114See note10.
Material
das musikalische
die nachden letztenKriegbegannen,
'Auchdie erstenKomponisten,
musikalische
da
das
von
der
ohne
aus,
zu untersuchen,
Voraussetzung
Arg
gingen
grndlich
unverdorben,
unvermischt,
Materialein "reines"sei, da sich seine einzelnenBestandteile
lassen.'Koenig,'Das musikalische
Material',144.
darstellen
unverzerrt

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MATERIALAND HISTORY

305

As earlyserialcomposerssoughtmusicalmaterials
works,[thatis] history'.116
bodies'Boulezobjectedto in
(the'foreign
by the residueof history
uncorrupted
found
Stockhausen
the
'inconsistencies'
and
works,
dodecaphonic
Schoenberg's
of
sound's
sound:
to
the
basic
intolerable),
'parameters',
components
theyturned
fromwhicha
materia
whichwereseenas naturally
prima rawmaterials
occurring
newworldcouldbe built.
conceitofthenatural
In accordwiththecharacteristic
(andsomewhat
paradoxical)
- or, rather,
sciences,thispurenaturalmaterialcould not havebeen 'discovered'
of electronic
musicstudios.Accordingto
constructed withoutthe technology
in theelectronic
material
musical
of
an
'the
triumphed
entirely
pure
Koenig, concept
accessto thisculture.11
forhe had privileged
He spokeas an authority,
studio'.117
The technology
used in electronicmusic studiosenabledsound eventsto be
'brokenup' - into theircomponentparts.And these
analysed- to be literally
could then
durationand timbre,
suchas pitch,intensity,
individualcomponents,
at
tones
could
be
sine
andstructured
be controlled
generated anyfrequency
precisely:
ofthe
tothemillimetre
durations
couldbe measured
atanyamplitude;
andbroadcast
wavetimbre
couldbe manipulated
byaltering
tapeuponwhichthesoundwasstored;
did
in the Colognestudioin the 1950s,whereStockhausen
forms.Particularly
as
a
that
would
were
methods
electronic
extensive
work,
promoted path
compositional
characteristics.11
ofsound'snatural
andmusicalembodiment
enablethediscovery
was
fictitious
forbothtechnical
the
of
material
that
purity
Koenigarguedultimately
whencopiedto tapeand
soundswerecorrupted
and musicalreasons:technically,
measured
events
could
suchprecisely
on different
soundsystems;
broadcast
musically,
with
theircharacteristics
werecapableof registering
havemeaningonlyiflisteners
with
the
critical
which
he
believed
was
not
Equipped
possible.120
equal precision,
benefitsgrantedby historicaldistance,one mightwondertoday if Koenig's
his suspicionof the questionable
withnotionsof purityexpressed
dissatisfaction
he neverattempted
thatpossibly
thedesireforpurity.
motivations
underlie
Although
116
istder Begriff
des musikalischen
Materialsvon Reinheitund Unberhrtheit
'Nichtsdestoweniger
erfllt.
Aufdie Frage,wovones nichtberhrt
von spezifischen
sei, gibtes nur eine Antwort:
vonGeschichte.'
Ibid., 143.The decayoftheidealsof'purity'
andfreedom
fromhistorical
Werken,
association
is evidentbytheend of the 1960s and is represented
byLucianoBerio's
spectacularly
a composition
thathasgenerated
a largeamountofscholarly
interest.
Fora conciseand
Sinfonia,
to the mostimportant
see
literature,
helpfuloverviewof thiswork,whichincludesreferences
MarkusBandur,"T prefer
a wake":BeriosSinfonia,
Wake
und
Ecos
Poetik
des
JoycesFinnegans
"offenen
MusikKonzepte
128: LucianoBerio,ed. UlrichTadday(Munich,2005),
Kunstwerks'",
95-110.
117'Im elektronischen
Studiotriumphiert
derBegriff
desganzreinenmusikalischen
Materials.'
Koenig,
'Das musikalische
Material',145.
118His contribution
to thefirst
issueofdieReihewhich,as notedabove,wasdedicatedto thetopicof
electronic
'Studiotechnik'.
See die Reihe,1 (1955), 29-30.
music,is entitled
119
109.
Dahlhaus,'Neue MusikundWissenschaft',
120
Material',145.
Koenig,'Das musikalische

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306

MARCUS ZAGORSKI

he did identify
thecontextthatfostered
suchideas:
an evaluationofthesemotivations,
thehistoricalmomentin Europe,overshadowedas it was by recenteventsmostwere
A context,then,thatwas determined
to forget.
and,to an evengreater
byhistory
trying
at
the
time.
As composerslifted
extent,by thepictureof historythatwas constructed
themselves
fromthe rubbleof thewar,theyauthoreda new futurefortheworldby
meansof a philosophyof historyin whichprogresswas ensured.This worldwas built
of 'pure' material,unsulliedby historicalmemory;the paradoxthata more sinister
notionof puritywas a partof therecentcatastrophewentunnoticed.
thatbegancomposingin theyears
Accordingto Koenig,the'firstserialgeneration*
forfewcomposersin thepreviousgeneration
after1945 lackedpointsof orientation,
farenoughfromtheconventionsof tonalmusicto gain the
had distancedthemselves
trustof the youngergeneration.Among thesefew,Schoenbergwas highlyvalued
becauseof the 12-notetechnique,which'seemedto neutralizethemusicalmaterialto
suchan extentthatit could be adoptedand used foranypurposeimaginable'.121
But,
Koenig continued, some composers did not merely imitate Schoenberg,they
thesecomposers,he claimed,'discovered
attemptedto develophis techniquefurther;
forit
thepossibilitiesof serialcomposition'. (The notionof 'discovery'is striking,
fittedso neatlywiththe hope thatthe directionof historyunfoldedaccordingto a
intoserialism,
all existing
'higherpurpose'.)Once dodecaphonyhad beentransformed
been
lost.
From
that
to
have
moment,Koenig
compositionalmodelswere thought
claimed,
thatcorresponded
wereon theirown,theyhad to findsomething
technically
composers
Thatwas,so to speak,themomentof birthofwhatwe
withtheirmusicalimagination.
to getto theverybasisoftheacoustic
attempted
todaycallmusicalmaterial.
Composers
fromwhatmusic,
wanted
to knowexactly
ofmusic;they
substrate
event,to thematerial
This was done in the hope that,once one had the
and sound itself,is constituted.
individualelementsin hand, a methodforplacingtheseelementsinto meaningful
structures
wouldrevealitself.123
121'Da dennoch
wurden,
bevorzugt
Schnberg undetwasspterAntonWebern als Lehrmeister
zur
eine
besonders
einerseits
die
an
der
Zwlftontechnik,
Beziehung
enge
sogenannten
liegt
aberauch das musikalische
andererseits
zumalzum 19. Jahrhundert,
herstellte,
Vergangenheit,
undjedemanderenZweckzugefhrt
Materialso sehrzu neutralisieren
schien,da es bernommen
werdenknnte.'Ibid., 149.
seriellen
sie fandendie Mglichkeiten
es weiterzuentwickeln,
'Viel mehrhaben sie versucht,
Ibid.
Komponierens.'
wasihrermusikalischen
sie mutenetwasfinden,
warenaufsichalleingestellt,
'Die Komponisten
Geburtstunde
die
Das
war
dessen,was wirheute
Phantasietechnisch
gewissermaen
entsprach.
dem akustischen
Materialnennen.Die Komponisten
musikalisches
versuchten,
Ereignis,dem
derMusik,aufdenGrundzu gehen;siewolltengenauwissen,worausMusik,
materialen
Substrat
- in derHoffnung,
in der
Bestandteile
worausdie Klngebestehen
da,wennmandie einzelnen
zu sinnvollenOrdnungen
Hand hat, auch ein Weg sich zeigenwerde,diese Bestandteile
zusammenzusetzen.'
Ibid., 149-50.

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MATERIALAND HISTORY

307

The claim thatmusicalmaterialwas born with the firstserialpieces of the early


1950s seems odd coming from someone like Koenig, who would have been
thoroughlyfamiliarwith Adorno's discussionof materialin Philosophieder neuen
Musik - to say nothingof thefactthatquestionsabout musicalmaterialhave been a
partof music theorysince the writingsof AristidesQuintilianusnearly2,000 years
But Koenig's assertionrevealshow closely the concept of materialwas
ago.
the termenabled him to
associatedwithserialism.And his attemptat historicizing
definehis topicmoreprecisely.Some of thepointsmade in thepresentarticlecan be
of the discourseabout
seen, in statu nascendi,in Koenig's 1963 characterization
material:as his openingsentencesaffirmed,
'musicalmaterialis spokenof a lot today.
This termis understoodto referto the so-called"parameters"- or thoseproperties
thatcan be analysedfroma musicalevent:individualpitches,intensities,
durations,
timbres[...]. The idea thatone can presentcertainmusicalstratain a kindof "pure
More thana decade afterthe
culture"underliesthe talkabout musicalmaterial.'125
firstserial compositionsand essays had been written,the concept of material,
accordingto Koenig,was stillat thecentreofpost-warmusicaldiscourse.He equated
this materialwith the 'parameters'of a musical event,which were thoughtto be
musical stratadeveloped froma cultureof purity. By returningto these basic
componentsof sound, composersattemptedto lay the foundationsfora new theory
and practice,and, ultimately,
fora new music expressiveof the historicalmoment.
This moment, in which serialismwas 'discovered' and the concept of musical
material'formulatedwith its greatestacuity and urgency',was exemplifiedfor
The composition,like the essay
Koenig by Boulez's firstbook of Structures.127
'Schoenbergis Dead', was an attemptto movehistoryforward;but,as withthework
of manyothercomposersin the post-warperiod,it was also, and to an even greater
degree,an attemptto escape the past.
For a studyof Quintilianus's
use of theterm,see Albrecht
'The Matterof Musicis
Riethmller,
Soundand Body-Motion',
Materialities
ed. Hans UlrichGumbrecht
and Karl
ofCommunication,
of materialin German
CA, 1994), 147-56. A discussionof theories
(Stanford,
LudwigPfeiffer
musicscholarship
fromthemid-nineteenth
to themid-twentieth
centuries
can be foundin Peter
des Materialdenkens
in derMusikdes 20. Jahrhunderts',
HindemithCahn,'Zu einigenAspekten
9 (1982), 193-205.
Jahrbuch,
125'Es wirdheutevielvommusikalischen
Materialgesprochen.
Man stelltsichdarunter
beispielweise
die sogenannten
"Parameter"
in die sich ein musikalisches
vor,also diejenigenEigenschaften,
lt:einzelneTonhhen,Lautstrken,
Tondauern,Klangfarben
[...]. Die Rede
Ereignis
zerlegen
vom musikalischen
Materialliegtdie Vorstellung
man knnegewisseSchichtender
zugrunde,
Musiksozusagenin Reinkultur
darstellen.'
Material',143.
Koenig,'Das musikalische
ReinhardKapp has also notedthisconfluence
of thinking.
to Kapp,thegeneration
of
According
at theendoftheSecondWorldWarwere'intoxicated
withtheideaof
composers
maturity
reaching
purity'.See ReinhardKapp, 'Shadesof the Double's Original:Ren Leibowitz'sDisputewith
Boulez',Tempo,165 (1988), 2-16 (p. 13).
Material',152.
Koenig,'Das musikalische

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MARCUS ZAGORSKI

308

whathad come
Escapingwhathad passedand theorizing
Looking back, decades later,at his motivationsforwriting'Schoenbergis Dead',
Boulez citedhis own relationshipto the past:
in Parisand in Europewhosaid'Schoenberg,
therewerea lotofdisciplesofSchoenberg
formy
thatwas unbearable
thisattitude
Anditwasexactly
and no further'.
Schoenberg,
was a verygood example,butwhystopthere?![ . . .] I
I mean,Schoenberg
generation.
whichwantedto say'Le Roiestmort,
theattitude
ofmygeneration,
thinkthatwasexactly
whatitmeant:'Vivethenewgeneration.'
ViveleRoi!' andthat'sexactly
And,I supposeI
thesamewaynow.I supposethatyounger
wouldsayitexactly
peoplewillsaythatabout
mygeneration.128

One of the 'disciplesof Schoenberg'in Paris was the composer,conductor,writer


Leibowitz had
and teacherRen Leibowitz.Althoughhe was largelyself-taught,
studiedwithAntonWebernin theearly1930s and metwithSchoenbergbeforeand
afterthewar. His promotionof the music of the Schoenbergschool was influential
he taughtthe 12-notemethodto his own compositionstudents
and multi-faceted:
on the topic; he lectured
and to the studentsof Messiaen,and he wroteextensively
on themusicof Schoenbergat thesummercoursesfornew musicheld in Darmstadt;
of severalof Schoenberg'sworks;and he arrangedfor
he gavepremireperformances
the publicationof scoresby Webern and Alban Berg.129The term'serial',which
nothingless than a world-viewin the 1950s and 60s, firstappearedin
represented
1947 in Leibowitz's writingson the 12-note technique.130And the serialists'
conceptionof Webern as a composerwho rectifiedSchoenberg'sformalinconFor all these reasons,
sistencieswas also prefiguredin his theoreticalwritings.131
to
Leibowitzhas been creditedwithgivingthe initialimpetus the serialmovement,
thoughit was quick to leave him behind.132
Boulez has said that he sought out Leibowitz in 1945 'for the purpose of
information'and to 'discoverthe rules of the 12-note method'.133Their lessons
in 1946, the yearBoulez composed the Sonatineforflute
ended shortlythereafter,
and piano (his firstpublishedpiece) and began work on the Deuximesonatefor
piano (1946-8). These titlesseem to embrace traditionalgenresof instrumental
music, but the compositionalapproach in both pieces revealsa break with such
128Froma 1987 interview
in BettyFreeman's'MusicRoom' (in Englishin theoriginal);quotedin
estmort?',535.
'Schoenberg
Kropfinger,
129
Kapp,'Shadesof theDouble'sOriginal',4-5.
130See Blumrder,
'SerielleMusik'.
is
The significance
Like electronic
music,the figureof Webernis essentialto earlyserialism.
toWebern.
reflected
again(amongotherways)in dieReihe,thesecondissueofwhichwasdedicated
132
Kapp,'Shadesof theDouble'sOriginal',5.
mitKomponisten
Ursulabtrzbecher,
^Municn,Yy/o),?^; quotedin ivapp,
werkstattgesprache
'Shadesof theDouble'sOriginal',6.

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MATERIALAND HISTORY

309

conventionsand suggestswhyBoulez discontinuedhis studieswithLeibowitz.At the


timeof writingthe Sonatine,Boulez consideredrhythmic
organizationas something
thatshouldbe, he said, 'workedon foritsown sake',somethingthatcould be just as
The sourceof theidea was Messiaen:'thisis
consciouslycontrolledas pitchstructure.
the lesson I learned fromMessiaen, particularlyfromhis classes on music from
onwards.Afterhavinganalyzed The RiteofSpringwithhim, or even his
Stravinsky
own works, I was convinced of the necessityof working at purely rhythmic
invention.'134
Leibowitzheld preciselythe oppositeview,and stressed(usingitalics)
in a book publishedin 1947, one year afterBoulez had takenhis leave, that 'the
for itsown sake'.13
genuinepolyphonictraditiondoesnotadmit theidea of rhythm
of certaincontemporHe specifically
critiqued'the "purelyrhythmic"experiments
in
a
footnote
but
Boulez
by implication),
arycomposers'(citingStravinsky
indicting
sincein themthereis
whichhe assessedas 'not onlymistaken,but quite meaningless,
of polyphonyas
no "pure rhythm"[. . .] but simplytremendousimpoverishment
such'.136
Remains'(publishedin 1953), a long and
Boulez repliedin 1951 with'Stravinsky
detailed analysis of Le sacre du printemps,in which he argued that 'the most
importantthematicfeatureof The Rite is the appearanceof the genuinerhythmic
theme,enjoyinga lifeof its own withinan unchangingverticalsonority'. And he
his assaultin 1952, in 'Schoenbergis Dead', whichwas directedas much
intensified
If one considersthesetitlestogether,theyseem to
at Leibowitzas at Schoenberg.138
offera counter-programme
to Adorno's Philosophieder neuenMusik: whereasthe
two halves of that book outline 'Schoenbergand Progress'and 'Stravinskyand
Remains'.But Reaction',Boulez repliedwith'Schoenbergis Dead' and 'Stravinsky
and this cannot be stressedstronglyenough - Boulez's philosophyof historywas
fromthatofAdorno,of Schoenberg,and evenof Leibowitz.Where
indistinguishable
Leibowitzspoke of the 'genuine polyphonictradition',he meant a traditionthat
culminated,he believed,in the 12-notemethod- a methodhe justifiedin writings
and lectures as a logical, and necessary,development from the history of
polyphony. The 12-notemethodwas justifiedsimilarlyby Adorno,who pointed
to the objektiverGeistdirectinghistoricaldevelopment,and by Schoenberg,who
liberaluse of chromaticismdriving
pointed to laws of natureand the increasingly
musicalprogress.
Pierre Boulez, Par volontet par hasard: Conversationswith Clestin Delige, trans. Robert

(London,1976), 13; quotedin Kapp,'Shadesof theDouble'sOriginal',7.


Wangerme
RenLeibowitz,
and hisSchool,trans.Dika Newlin(NewYork,1949),274; quotedin
Schoenberg
Kapp,'Shadesof theDouble'sOriginal',6.
and hisSchool,quotedin Kapp,'Shadesof theDouble'sOriginal',6.
Leibowitz,
Schoenberg
PierreBoulez,'Stravinsky
Remains',Stocktakings
, trans.Walsh,55-110 (p.
froman Apprenticeship
68).
Thatis,inanycase,theopinionofBsche;seeBsche,'AufderSuchenachdemUnbekannten',
63.
Kapp,'Shadesof theDouble'sOriginal',5.

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310

MARCUS ZAGORSKI

And Boulez?Boulez, of course,was just as willingto assertthathis own approach


answeredthedemandsof higherlaws.This is evidentin his remarkthat'Schoenberg
was a verygood example,butwhystopthere?!':forBoulez,history
had to movebeyond
the precedinggeneration,and one way he thoughtthis could happen was by the
ofpitchand rhythm.
This led to themethodof
independentand equivalenttreatment
in
the
first
book
of
Structures
which
further
extendedtheserial
',
compositiondeveloped
timbreand form.In the essaySchoenberg is Dead',
principleto includeintensity,
Boulez suggested,'perhaps we might tell ourselves that serialism is a logical
consequenceof history'. In suggestingthis,he kept alive one of Schoenberg's
favouriteconceits:an emphaticconceptionof progressin whichnew compositional
methods were seen as consequent improvementsto older methods ratherthan
l
equivalentpoints in a successionof changes.1 Like Schoenbergand Leibowitz,
Boulez endeavouredto objectifyhis musicaldevelopmenthistorically,
so thatmusic
was
to
the
of
his
own
work.142
But he was
reduced
history
pre-history
compositional
not theonlyone of his generationto do so. As I have arguedthroughoutthisarticle,
suchuse ofhistory
was a commonthreadrunningthroughthediversetextureofpostwarEuropeanartmusic:itwas sharedbycomposerswithverydifferent
approachesto
serialism(includingBoulez,Stockhausen,
Nono, Pousseurand other,lesswell-known,
were
seen
to representthe tremendousvarietyof
as
well
as
those
who
figures),
developmentsfromand reactionsagainstserialismin the 1960s (includingLigeti,
Schnebel,Kagel,Koenig and theprominentserialcomposersjust mentioned).
was motivated,in part,by theextraordinary
This widespreadneed forlegitimation
of music in post-warEurope. Serial music,electronicmusic and musique
diversity
and thesemusicsjoined
concrte
all had theirbeginningsin themiddleof thecentury,
neoclassicism
and tonal
such
as
practices
long-establishedand still-flourishing
pluralismwas celebrated
composition(to saynothingof popularmusic).The stylistic
in
in
articlepublishedin the
an
Zimmermann
the
Bernd
Alois
1951:
by
composer
journal Melos, he praised the organizersof the internationalsummercourses in
Darmstadtforensuringthat'no particularschoolof thoughtis promotedexcathedra,
l 3
bycertainsidesthatmightwarrantthissuspicion'. Giventhe
despitemanyattempts
140
is Dead', 214.
Boulez,'Schoenbere
141The
is discussedin Giselher
ofprogress
betweenBoulez'sand Schoenberg's
conceptions
similarity
in der
Fortschrittsdenkens
Schubert,'Zur Einschtzungund Deutung des musikalischen
in der Weimarer
Musikkultur
der WeimarerRepublik',Musikkultur
Republik,ed. Wolfgang
8
des Hindemiths-Institutes
Rathert
and GiselherSchubert,
Frankfurt/Main,
Verffentlichungen
54HS5.
(Mainz,2001),
142Schubert
I thinkit appliesequallyto Boulez
aboutSchoenberg;
{ibid.,62) makesthisobservation
(and Leibowitz).
143'Es istwohleinesder
da keine
derLeitungdesInternationalen
Verdienste
Musikinstituts,
grten
von
bestimmten
Versuche
mancher
trotz
"ex
cathedra"
bestimmte
wird,
propagiert
Richtung
'MaterialundGeist',
BerndAloisZimmermann,
knnten.'
Seiten,diediesenVerdacht
rechtfertigen
Melos,18 (1951), 5-7 (p. 5).

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MATERIALAND HISTORY

3 11

titleofZimmermann'sessay,'Materialund Geist',and hisstatement


thatsomesidesin
thedebatemightarousethesuspicionof speakingex cathedra,one wondersifhe had
Adorno in mind. In any case, therewereotherswho would shortlyassumethe bully
pulpit. Zimmermannwrote at a time just before serialismestablisheditselfat
Darmstadtas the only compositionalmethod that was historicallynecessaryand
ethicallyresponsible,and he may have seen such questionableclaims for greater
legitimacyon thehorizon.
In the contextof a pluralisticmusic culture,the pictureof historyand versionof
progressadopted by many serial composerswere necessarypreciselybecause they
were questionable.More importantly,
the means of legitimationseemed perfectly
suited to the needs of the historicalmoment,which has promptedone historian
to ask:
was theconceptofprogress
thatwas propagated
of thetimereally
by [serialcomposers]
thereflection
of inner-compositional
decisionsthatseemingly
from
grewby themselves
thesolutionsof whichwerein accordwiththetime
aesthetic-compositional
problems,
and unavoidable
foranyonestriving
to composein a consistent
and committed
way?Or
wastheconceptofprogress
theideological
ofAdenauer-era
who,
self-deception
composers
in theirretreat
to 'pure'music,overcame
thepastbymore-or-less
systematically
repressing
context
oftheCold War,identified
suchmusicalprogress
with
it,andwho,in thevirulent
socio-political
progress?144
Such obviouslyrhetoricalquestionsdo not have to be restricted
to Germany,but are
also applicableto otherEuropeancountries.But thesituationin Germanywas acute
forat least two reasons:because of the crimescommittedby the Nazi partyin the
immediatepast, and because the countryhoused both sides of the Iron Curtain
within its borders.These two aspects of the post-warhistoricalcontexthelped
establishthe greaterprestigethatwas affordedto serialism.
Althoughtheconsequencesof theNational Socialists'culturalpoliciesmightseem
when measuredagainstsocial policies thatwould effectthe murderof
insignificant
millions of people, the culturalpolicies were practisedwith a similar degree of
calculationand ruthlessness.Schoenberg,like other civil servantsof 'non-Aryan
'Immerhin
verliert
der musikalische
der fnfziger
und sechziger
Jahreseine
Fortschrittsbegriff
Er wirdlegitimierungsbedrftig.
Selbstverstndlichkeit:
Und diesesLegitimisierungsproblem
lt
sichdrastisch
formulieren:
Isterso,wiedervondermusikalischen
der
Zeit
Avantgarde
duchgesetzt
die wievon selbstaus
wurde,nichtsals derintimeReflexinnerkompositorischer
Entscheidungen,
Problemenerwuchsen,
derenLsungen"an der Zeit" warenund
sthetisch-kompositorischen
denensichniemand,
derstimmig
undverbindlich
zu komponieren
entziehen
konnteoder
trachtete,
oderister die ideologische
von
der
durfte,
die im
Adenauer-ra,
Selbsttuschung Komponisten
indemsie diese
Rckzugauf "reine" Musik auf ihreWeise die Vergangenheit
bewltigten,
und im virulenten
"KaltenKrieg"solchemusikalische
gewissermaen
systematisch
verdrngten,
Fortschrittlichkeit
mit dem politisch-sozialen
Fortschritt
identifizierten?'
Schubert,'Zur
und Deutungdes musikalischen
55.
Fortschrittdenkens',
Einschtzung

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3 12

MARCUS ZAGORSKI

at theAkademieder Knstein Berlinin


descent',was strippedof his professorship
the springof 1933; in May of the same year,his scores,along with thousandsof
otherpublicationsdeemed unacceptableby thestate,werepubliclyburntbeforethe
BerlinStaatsoper.15 His Jewishbackgroundand his statusas a leadingproponentof
to Nazi authorities.146
'degenerate'atonal music made Schoenbergdoublyoffensive
In theeyesof post-warcomposers,the 12-notemethodacquiredconsequentappeal:
it seemed 'untaintedby any whiffof collaboration'and suggesteda way to make a
freshstartwith a techniquethat represented'intransigence
and resistance'.17 For
some, atonal and 12-notemusic did not merelyrepresentantifascistresistance,it
enacted such resistance.Leibowitz, for example, who had been productively,if
secretly,
engagedwiththe 12-notetechniqueduringthewar years,associatedit with
the freedomof thehuman spirit;his publicationson the Second VienneseSchool no less thanfivebooks and 15 articlesbetween1945 and 1951 - werea significant
8
partof the post-warreceptionof thismusic.1
The culturalpolicies initiatedby the Nazis in 1933 seemed to be replayedonly
threeyears afterthe war's end in the 'Resolution on Music' issued by Andrei
Zhdanov and the CentralCommitteeof the Soviet CommunistPartyin February
1948. Accordingto RichardTaruskin,'not even in Nazi Germanywerecomposers
everenjoinedso literallyto isolatethemselves
fromtherestof themusicalworldand
turnback thestylistic
clock'.1 9 Zhdanov, theleaderof the Division of Propaganda,
denounced'formalism'(whichwould have includedthe 12-notemusic re-emerging
in WesternEurope) as unsuitableforthepopulaceand promotedSocialistRealismin
its place.150Consequently,fromtheirvantagepoint in theWest, 'manycommitted
exponentsand supportersof the avant-gardesaw a clear analogy between the
of theThird Reich and thoseof Stalin'.151Hans Heinz Stuckenschmidt,
repressions
forexample,foundthatthepronouncements
issuingfromtheeasternside of theIron
with the art-maximsof
Curtain'not only correspondin the detailsof formulation
the National Socialists,fromwhose terrorwe have been freeonlyforthe past three
music that were
years.They also slanderthe same greatleadersof contemporary
145
Hinton,'Germany,
1918-15', 101.
in the'degenerate
music'exhibition
See ibid.,106,citingSchoenberg's
inclusion
stagedin 1938 in
Dsseldorf.
thatnotall 12-note
Kapp,'ShadesoftheDouble'sOriginal',13. RichardTaruskinnotes,however,
The
Nazi
see
were
banned
the
Music,iv:
Taruskin,
History
ofWestern
by
party;
Oxford
composers
TheEarlyTwentieth
77A.
Century,
A ResponsetoJosephN. Straus',Musical
AnneShreffler,
'The MythofEmpirical
Historiography:
84 (2000), 30-9 (pp. 33-5).
Quarterly,
149See
Music, v, 11.
Taruskin, The OxfordHistoryof Western

als Schauplatz
derOst-West-Konfrontation
, Im ZenitderModerne,
IngeKovcs,Die Ferienkurse
ed. Borioand Danuser,i, 116-39 (p. 117).
151'Zahlreiche
saheneine deutlicheAnalogie
derAvantgarde
Vertreter
und Befrworter
engagierte
undvonletzterem
undjenendesStalinismus,
derHitler-Diktatur
zwischen
denRepressionen
ging
aus.' Ibid., 119.
damalseineaktuelleBedrohung

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MATERIALAND HISTORY

3 13

forbiddenin the Third Reich.'152Inge Kovcs has noted thatagainstthishistorical


background
and represented
itis striking
thattheWestEuropeanavant-garde
increasingly
propagated
Thus
its
on
the
Stalinist
side.
to
that
which
was
development
subject repression
precisely
oftheCold War,whichshouldnot
withinthesetting
around1950shouldbe understood
- in particular,
thecontextof just havinglived
at explanation
excludeotherattempts
WorldWar.And thereverse
and
the
Second
Socialist
the
National
dictatorship
through
thattheSovietsdemandedofmusichasplayedanyrolein the
can be seen:thatnothing
of theearly1950s.153
Darmstadt
fornewmusicin Darmstadt,foundedin 1946, in partforthe
The summerinstitute
*5
promotionofmusicbannedbytheThirdReich, becamea centreforthepromotion
of musicdenouncedby theEast and a beacon forcompositionalapproaches,such as
serialism,that were thoughtto correspondto the progressivevalues of Western
forvisualarts,whichwas treatedin 1956 with
democracies.LiketheKasseldocumenta
to theWest,in a towncloseto thecurtainwhich
theexpressintentionto "demonstrate
divided Europe in two, that Germany[had] neverstopped being the countryof
modernity'",the Darmstadtcoursesprovideda venue for the supportand dissein scope,and
minationof new ideas. The newideasweremeantto be international
art as a
in
Darmstadt
abstract
the
events
Kassel
and
the
late
1950s
promoted
by
universallanguageand theidiom of thefreeworld.156Such artwas no moreuniversal
than Romanticpoetry:it developed in veryspecifichistoricaland social contexts.
mimeticarthad been pervertedby totalitarian
because representative,
Nevertheless,
art'washedclean
regimes,it seemednecessaryat thetimeto proposean international
of all sense,an artwithoutfigure,withoutmemory,and withoutthepast'.
The newart,and newmusic,thatdevelopedin the1950s wereseento correspondto
fromtheashes
a newworld- one thatarose(withapologiesfortheclich)phoenix-like
of the Second World War. The new world requireda new aesthetics,and serialism
seemed to promisewhat was sought.As composersworked to purge frommusic
anythingthathad associationswiththepast,theyfocusedon isolatedcomponentsof
sound.Koenigarguedthatthisfocuscoincidedwiththebirthofmusicalmaterial,and
he notedthehope that,conceone had theindividualelementsin hand,a methodfor
'Sie stimmennichtnur sachlichbis in Einzelheitender Formulierungmit den Kunst-Maximender
Nationalsozialistenberein,von derengeistigemTerrorwir geradeerstdreiJahrelang befreitsind.
Sie diffamierenauch dieselben groen Fhrer der zeitgenssischenMusik, die im Hitler-Reich
verbotenwaren.' Hans Heinz Stuckenschmidt,'Was ist brgerlicheMusik?', Stimmen
, 7 (1948),
211; quoted in Kovcs, 'Die Ferienkurse',119.
153
Kovcs, 'Die Ferienkurse',129; trans.Karol Berger,A TheoryofArt (New York, 2000), 146.
ImZenitderModerne,
ed. BorioandDanuser,i,65-75 (pp. 65-6).
IngeKovcs,'GrndungundZielsetzung',
de l'artiste:Les avant-gardesentreterreuret raison
Bergerquotes here Jean Clair, La responsabilit
(Paris, 1997), 71-2; see Berger,A TheoryofArt, 147.
00
Berger,A TheoryofArt, 147.
157
de l'artiste,72; quoted in Berger,A TheoryofArt, 147.
Clair, La responsabilit

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3 14

MARCUS ZAGORSKI

The method
structures
would revealitself'.158
placingtheseelementsintomeaningful
did not revealitself,of course it was constructedby human interests- but that
preventedno one fromassertingthatit had materializedof itsown accord.
In 1966, six yearsafterhe wrotethe essayconsideredin the openingpages of the
presentarticle,Ligetipublishedanotheressayon form,one thatoutlinedthe new
structures
to early
'revealed'by new material.Ligetiwas neverentirelysympathetic
serialism,and his essay thereforeprovidesa tellingexample of the far-reaching
influenceexertedby serial thinking.Serial music, chance music and post-serial
thatdistinguishthemfrom
music,he claimed in 1966, shareformalcharacteristics
in a seriesof four
earliermusical conventions.He summarizedthese differences
the
first
of
which
Stockhausen's
from
convictions,
1952, about the
points,
repeated
newnessof form:There are no longerany establishedformaltypes;each individual
work must show a unique form- specificto itselfand ever in accord with the
historicalconstellation.'Ligeti'ssecond point,that'rhythmic
articulation,
including
is no longerdependentupon any
the articulationof a form'sglobal phrase-rhythm,
of Boulez's critiqueof tonal rhythmic
regularmetricalfoundation',was reminiscent
conventions.But his third and fourthpoints seem most significant,for they
underscorethe magnitudeof the paradigmshiftthathad occurredaround 1950:
as therehad beenin musicthatwas
valid[. . .] syntax,
3. Thereis no longera generally
exists
with
12-note
rows[...]. Syntax
and
even
structured
certainly
chromatically,
tonally,
butthese,like
of [musical]coherence,
thattherearevariouspossiblesystems
to theextent
ofsyntax
went
formal
areuniquesolutions.
individual
[. . .] 4. The individualization
types,
Thereis no longerthekindof
witha changein [theconceptof]function.
hand-in-hand
formalfunction
foundin thetonaltradition
[...]. Butthisdoesn'tmeantheconceptof
formand
articulate
fortoday'sforms.[ . . .] Typesof function
function
is meaningless
and
and
is
without
direction
form
but
coherence, large-scale
development,
generally
provide
!9
in
elements
thefunction
andpositionofindividual
are, principle,
interchangeable.
158
Material',149-50; see also note123.
Koenig,'Das musikalische
rormschemata
The entirepassagerunsas follows: 1. Es gibt keineetablierten
mehr;jedes
eineeinmalige,
Konstellation
Werkist,schonvondergeschichtlichen
individuelle
her,gezwungen,
- auch
Artikulation
Gesamtform
nurihmselbstangemessene
[...]. 2. Die rhythmische
aufzuzeigen
vonjedermetrisch-pulsierenden
derForm wurdeunabhngig
diedesGro-Rhythmus
Grundlage
wiees indertonalen,
tonalen,
mehr,
[ . . .] Syntax
[...]. 3. Es gibtkeineallgemeingltige
ja
aufgelst
war
vorhanden
Musik
in
mit
Zwlftonreihen
noch
der
[...].
Syntaxim Sinne
komponierten
sogar
einesZusammenhangs
vonverschiedenen
gibtes wohl,dochsindes,hnlich
Systemen
mglichen
derSyntax
den individuellen
Formen,partikulre
Lsungen.[ . . .] 4. Mit der Individualisierung
tonalen
im
Sinne
der
in
Formale
Funktion
Hand.
Hand
Funktion
der
eine
nderung
ging
der Funktionfr
Traditiongibtes nichtmehr[...]. Dies bedeutetabernicht,da der Begriff
die Formundstiften
wre.[ . . .] funktionelle
Typenartikulieren
bedeutungslos
heutigeFormtypen
und in
und entwicklungslos,
meistin sichrichtungslos
doch ist die Groform
Zusammenhang,
vertauschbar.'
in ihrerFunktionund Positionprinzipiell
ihremInnerensinddie Einzelmomente
zurneuenMusik,
Beitrge
Gyrgy
Ligeti,untitiedessayin Formin derNeuenMusik, Darmstdter
10 (Mainz,1966),23-35 (pp. 28-9).

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MATERIALAND HISTORY

3 15

The approach to a music that was consideredso far removed from tradition
requireda new analyticalframeworkcapable of embracingthis music on its own
terms.The theoristLuigi Rognonigavevoice to thisneed in a discussion,organized
to addressproblemsof criticismin post-warmusic,thattook place in 1955 at the
Darmstadtsummercourses:
It is notpossibleto understand
whathappensin themostadvancedmusicofthissecond
if
one
not
different
fromthe
does
post-warperiod
accepta criticalmethodology
ofthesounding
traditional
one a methodology
thatcouldbringus to an exactanalysis
likethecurrent
forms
situation
one,in whichevery
bytheartistin a historical
presented
in entropy,
formof languageseemsto havereacheditsextreme
as a
limit,itsmaximum
physicist
mightsay.
The copious amountsof theoretical
writinggeneratedbycomposersat thetimeattest
thedesirefora new conceptualframework.
As in otherhistoricalperiodswhereolder
been
had
consciouslyabandoned, the need to lay the
compositionalpremisses
foundationsfor new practicesspurredthe growthof theory.161
And the need to
legitimizethese practicesled to the use of a philosophyof historyin which new
materialsand new formswereinscribed,and prescribed,accordingto laws thatwere
In thisperiod Verynearlyeverynew
thoughtto be removedfromhuman fallibility.
rise
to
reflection
about
fundamental
compositiongave
aspectsofmusic[suchas] tone,
form
As
thepresentarticlehas shown,
time,structure,
[and] polyphony'.
rhythm,
newcompositionsalso gaveriseto reflection
about'material',a termthatreferred
to the
mostfundamental
of
music
and
that
veiled
aesthetic
with
aspects
subjective
preferences
theobjectivedemands,'tendencies'or 'conditions'of history.The perceivedneed for
theoretical
reflection
is precisely
whatled Lachenmannto appeal to the'conditionsof
thematerial'in 1978 - an appeal thatreturnsus to theopeningsentenceofthearticle.

Conclusionsand questions
The presenceof the past expressedin Lachenmann'swordsof the late 1970s might
suggesta different
philosophyof historyfrom the one examined here: not the
0 'II n'est
ce qui se passedansl'artmusicalle plusavancde ce deuxime
pas possiblede comprendre
si on n'acceptepas une mthodologie
de la traditionelle,
une
aprs-guerre,
critiquediffrente
sonoresposesparl'artiste
qui puissenousconduire uneanalyseexactedes formes
mthodologie
dansune situation
commel'actuelle,danslaquelletouteformede langageparatavoir
historique
atteintson extrme
commediraitun physicien.'
limite,son maximumen entropie,
Rognoniis
429.
Diskurses',
quotedin Borio,'Wegedes sthetischen
161Carl Dahinausmakesthisobservation
in 'Die Krisedes Experiments',
81.
162'In der
AnlazurReflexion
bergrundlegende
Jahren
fnfziger
gibtbeinahejedeneueKomposition
Zeit, Struktur,
Form,Polyphonie).'Borio,'Wege des
Aspekteder Musik (Klang,Rhythmus,
sthetischen
432.
Diskurses',

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3 16

MARCUS ZAGORSKI

uni-directionalprogressof Hegel's objektiverGeist, but the circularinfinityof


But any historicaltheoryis vulnerableto the insight
Nietzsche'sewigeWiederkehr.
that 'historypasses its judgmentupon theoristsnot by disprovingthem,but by
Although
leaving them, along with their thoughts,to fend for themselves'.163
conceivedbyhumans,historymakesitsway,heedlessof anyhumanconceptionof it.
of historyinherentin the precedingsentence,
Forgoinga critiqueof the reification
- the realizationof their
one can appreciatethatthe collapseof historicalnarratives
'merelyhuman' substance is akin to thecollapseof religion.Hence Lachenmann's
nostalgia: nostalgia for a time in which historystill had a foreseeablefuture.
Lachenmannkeptfaithwiththe 1950s; likeSchnebel,he neverforsookhis beliefs.As
late as 1997 he could assertthat 'we must alwaysrenewour material-terminology
[...]. I would even say thatAdorno's thesis- thatthe composershould obey the
material- is absolutelycorrect.But I believethecomposerhas to obey thismaterial
in a creativeway, he has to defineit anew as well.'164And so the searchfornew
materialcontinuedforLachenmann.His solidaritywiththepost-warperiod- fora
time in which thinkingabout music was just as importantas, or even more
importantthan,theacousticphenomenon was summedup in a phrasethatcould
stand as an epitaph forserialism:'Hren ist wehrlosohne Denken' ('Listeningis
5
defenceless[or helpless]withoutthinking').1
But if there is anythingto be taken away from the present article and
(paradoxically)the exampleof Lachenmann,it is the realizationthat thereare no
and beliefsthatsustained
epitaphs at leastnot in thehistoryof ideas. The interests
serial and post-serialcomposersstill prevailin some circlesand will continueto
prevail,even if theirauthorityis now widelyquestioned.To claim thatsuch ideas
belong to the past and should remainthereis to voice the same prejudicethatis so
much a part of the philosophyof historythat characterizedthe era of Materialdenken.And thisobservationshouldredirectthequestionfromwhetherclaimsabout
historyand destinyare partof thepast,to thequestionof whetherand whytheyare
stillmade.
163'Die . Geschichte
sondernindemsie
flltihrUrteilnicht,indemsiedie Theoretiker
[. .]
widerlegt,
'Musik
ihn samtseinenGedankensichselberberlt.'OswaldSpengler,
quotedin Schubert,
105.
gleichWahrheit?',
mssen[...]. Ich wrde
erneuern
'Ich glaube,da wirunsereMaterial-Terminologie
permanent
zu folgen,absolut
Material
habe
dem
der
These
von
diese
da
Adorno,
Komponist
sogarsagen,
zu folgenhat,da er das
diesemMaterialkreativ
ist.Aberichglaube,da derKomponist
richtig
DieterSchnebel,GunterMayer,
hat.'HelmutLachenmann,
Materialzugleichneu zu bestimmen
'
oder den Geist
Albrecht
Wellmer,Helga de la Motte-Haberand SabineSanio, . . . entfalten
zur Neuen
Positionen:
am Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts',
Zum Materialbegriff
austreiben?
Beitrge
canbe found
theoretical
Musik,32 (August1997),2-11 (pp. 6-7). Otherrecent
essayson material
ed. Claus-Steffen
2004).
in TheFoundations
Mahnkopf(Hofheim,
ofContemporary
Composition,
165Helmut Lachenmann,'Vier
existentielle
als
Musik
des
Musikhrens',
Grundbestimmungen
ed. Husler,54-62 (p. 54).
Erfahrung,

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MATERIALAND HISTORY

3 17

ABSTRACT
to
the
aesthetic
ofserialand post-serial
musicweregroundedin
Attempts promote
prestige
newaspectsofsound
of
As
theories
ofmaterial
andphilosophies history. composers
explored
and subjectedtheseto rationalorganization,
forward,
theysaw themselves
pushinghistory
The
withnewmusicalmaterials
evidenceforeachnewstageofprogress.
physical
providing
a threadthatboundtogether
continualsearchfornew materialfashioned
vastlydifferent
ofapproaches
andhistory
linkeda diversity
andsimilarideasaboutmaterial
to,
personalities,
themselves
to be renouncing
a subjectivity
made
and reactions
Believing
against,serialism.
turnedto something
untrustworthy
bytherecentpast,manypost-war
composers
largerto
Such
decisions:to the objectivedictateof historical
progress.
guidetheircompositional
and
of history
veiledsubjective
aesthetic
deference
to a fictitious
construction
preferences
of'higherlaws'.Thisarticle
a wayto legitimate
newtechniques
withtheauthority
provided
in centralEuropefromtheperspective
oftheories
ofmaterial
serialism
reconsiders
post-war
of
and socialconcerns
withphilosophy
and examineshow thesetheories
coupledaesthetic
to justify
history
techniques.
compositional

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