1. Ouverture. Allegretto

2. Tanzschritte. Moderato

3. Thema mit Variationen

4. Gigue

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DURATION: ca. 38 Min.

Universal Edition
Belmont Music Publishers (USA, Canada, Mexico)

The first drafts of the Suite op. 29 originate from the autumn of 1924 when Schönberg planned a sequence of lively movements in his 5th sketch book. He intended to use the following characters, which are partly encoded: "1st (movement) 6/8 light, elegant, brisk, Bluff / 2nd Jo-Jo Foxtrot / 3rd Fl. Kschw. Waltz / 4th AS Adagio / 5th IbeB Muartsch Var / 6th Film Dva / 7th Tenn Ski." The cheerful, vibrant character of the Suite, which was completed on 1 May 1926, is a perfect reflection of Schönberg's enjoyment of life at the time. He was newly married and dedicated the work to his "dear wife" Gertrud, whose musical monogram "eS-G" [E flat-G] is integrated into the music at the beginning and end of each movement. The sequence of the four-part Suite, which incorporates elements of the old tonality into dodecaphony (in the third movement, for example, where references to the song "Ännchen von Tharau" can be heard), combines three movements of the traditional Baroque suite with a set of variations on a song.
In a similar manner to several movements from the earlier piano compositions op. 23 and 25 as well as the Serenade op. 24, the Suite is dominated by dance rhythms, with the first two movements in particular recalling the dance music of the 1920s. The unusual scoring with its affinity to the reeds section of a swing band – three clarinets, string trio and piano – contributes to this feeling. However, the particular attraction of the Suite originates from the tension in the relationship between its cheerful character and the rigidity of its musical structure. The work is based on a twelve-tone row whose final group of four tones is a transposed retrograde form of the first group of four tones, while two groups of two tones are arranged as a mirror image in the middle group. The hexachords solely consist of semitones and minor thirds; the first hexachord comprises the triads of E flat major and B minor, the second hexachord comprises the triads of C sharp major and A minor. Schönberg also worked other "degrees of relationships" into the row's structure which demonstrates supreme artistry in the handling of a – at the time new – method of composition.

© Arnold Schönberg Center