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Arnold Schönberg: Erwartung (Expectation)

  • Monodram in 1 act (1909)
  • for soprano and orchestra
  • 4 4 5 4 - 4 3 4 1 - timp, perc(3), xyl, glock, hp, cel, str
  • Duration: 30’
  • Instrumentation details:
    1st flute
    2nd flute
    3rd flute (+2ndpicc)
    1st oboe
    2nd oboe
    3rd oboe
    4th oboe (+c.a)
    clarinet in D
    1st clarinet in Bb
    2nd clarinet in A
    3rd clarinet in A
    bass clarinet in Bb
    1st bassoon
    2nd bassoon
    3rd bassoon
    1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    3rd horn in F
    4th horn in F
    1st trumpet in Bb
    2nd trumpet in Bb
    3rd trumpet in Bb
    1st trombone
    2nd trombone
    3rd trombone
    4th trombone
    bass tuba
    violin I
    violin II
  • Roles: A Woman (soprano)
  • Composer: Arnold Schönberg
  • Piano reduction: Eduard Steuermann
  • Text author: Marie Pappenheim
  • Original language: German
  • Translator: Arthur JacobsFedele D´AmicoMax Deutsch
  • Table of contents:
    Erwartung - Monodram in einem Akt op. 17

Work introduction

Alexander Zemlinsky gives a practical introduction to the way he rehearsed Erwartung (excerpted from Pult und Taktstock, March/April 1927 issue).

In my experience, the most difficult work is past when two artists, a singer and a conductor, convinced of the great value of this piece, devote themselves entirely to learning it until it is completely successful: the conductor, not burdened by any interests his boss might have, jokes along with the orchestra during rehearsals, and the singer, who – apart from having a beautiful voice (and the role absolutely must be sung beautifully) – must be capable of strong dramatic presentation. The most difficult hurdle is overcome when these requirements are met well enough. The orchestra part is not much more difficult than other modern works, and it has the advantage of virtually sounding “by itself,” so wonderfully is it scored.

I rehearsed the orchestra like this. I divided the players into very small groups, which I rehearsed separately; flutes and oboes: clarinet and bassoons: the horns alone: trumpets, trombones and percussion: first and second violins: violas, celli and contrabasses. Then all the strings and the harp: all the winds and percussion: and finally the whole orchestra without the singer. At that point, only two Sitzproben (rehearsals with the singer and orchestra) were sufficient before the actual stage rehearsals with orchestra began. Since the work lasts only a half an hour, much was accomplished during the usual three-hour rehearsals; it turned out that three such stage rehearsals were enough to achieve a thoroughly clear and impressive performance.

To alleviate certain intonation difficulties in the singing, I had a harmonium installed in a trapdoor located at a place onstage chiefly occupied by the singer, which occasionally cued her notes without disturbing the listeners in any way. Thus we managed a performance which betrayed not an iota of all its difficulties. 


The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

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