Wien... Leipzig: Universal=Edition [PN U.E. 5334.5336], . Folio. Original publisher's light green printed wrappers. 1f. (recto title, verso blank), [i] ("Vorwort" by Schoenberg), [ii] (contents), [iii]-[iv] (text of poems), pp. 5-78 music.
Wrappers slightly worn and soiled; minor browning to margins; spine with titling in manuscript.
First Edition, later printing, one of 96 copies only, without the word "Weag" to lower right of final page of music. Rufer pp. 38-40.
The full score was printed in two print runs, the first consisting of 50 numbered and signed copies on fine paper and the second of 200 copies on regular paper. The full score was re-issued in 1924 in a print run of 96 copies. Website of the Arnold Schoenberg Center, Vienna.
"Parody assumes a very important role in Pierrot lunaire. This work, composed in 1912, before the framing choral scenes of Die glückliche Hand, consists of 21 poems set for speaker and chamber ensemble. Schoenberg had employed melodrama before in the summer wind narrative of the Gurre-Lieder. His highly stylized use of the speaking voice, for which he notated relative pitches as well as exact rhythms, proved an ideal vehicle for the Pierrot settings, which were conceived in what he described as a light, ironic–satirical tone. The rather modish verses, by turns grotesque, macabre or consciously sentimental, provide the occasion for presenting, with the detachment that the protagonist in Die glückliche Hand failed to achieve, human activity as a shadow play in which menace and absurdity are on a level. The focus shifts at random, as in a dream, between the lunatic activities of the clown, impersonal scenes, the poet in the first person and the self-absorbed artist, who is not spared. Within his new style Schoenberg parodies the characteristics of a great range of genre pieces, very often retaining the ghost of their formal layout as well. In music the lines dividing ironic from direct reference are often hard to detect.The peculiar fascination of Pierrot lunaire lies in this ambiguity. The nightmare imagery of some of the poems might scarcely be admissible without ironic distancing, yet the music often strikes with authentic horror. Mockery constantly shades into good humour, exaggerated pathos into the genuinely touching." O.W. Neighbour in Grove Music Online.
Albertine Zehme (1857-1946), an actress born in Vienna and later active in Berlin, is now exclusively remembered as the person who commissioned and first performed Pierrot Lunaire. "Read the preface, looked at the poems. I am enthusiastic. A brilliant idea, entirely in my spirit. I would do it even without a fee." Schoenberg in his diary. The poems are by the Belgian writer Albert Giraud (1860-1929) in a German translation by Erich Otto Hartleben (1864-1905). Item #32105
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