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Arnold Schönberg: Pelleas und Melisande

  • Symphonic poem (after Maeterlinck) (1902-1903)
  • for orchestra
  • 4 4 5 4 - 8 4 5 1 - timp(2), perc(3), hp(2 od. 4), str(16 16 12 12 8)
  • Duration: 45’
  • Instrumentation details:
    1. flute
    2. flute
    3. flute (+picc.)
    1. oboe
    2. oboe
    3. oboe (+c.a.)
    cor anglais
    clarinet in Eb
    1. clarinet in A
    2. clarinet in A
    3. clarinet in A (+2. bass cl(Bb))
    bass clarinet in A (+bass cl.(Bb))
    1. bassoon
    2. bassoon
    3. bassoon
    1. horn in F
    2. horn in F
    3. horn in F
    4. horn in F
    5. horn in F
    6. horn in F
    7. horn in F
    8. horn in F
    1. trumpet in F (+tpt in E)
    2. trumpet in F (+tpt in E)
    3. trumpet in F (+tpt in E)
    4. trumpet in F (+tpt in E)
    1. tenor bass trombone
    2. tenor bass trombone
    3. tenor bass trombone
    4. tenor bass trombone
    contrabass tuba
    1.2. timpani
    1. harp
    2. harp
    I/II. harp
    III/Iv. harp
    violin I
    violin II
  • Composer: Arnold Schönberg
  • Piano reduction: Heinrich JalowetzFelix Greissle
  • Subject: Maurice Maeterlinck
  • Thematic analysis: Alban Berg

arrangements & translations

Work specifications



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Work introduction

Arnold Schönberg wrote Pelleas and Melisande in 1902 after Strauss had recommended to him Maurice Maeterlinck’s five-act drama with its sequence of mood and scene paintings heavily laden with symbolism.

The post-Romantic musical gestures of the large-scale orchestra are never “purely descriptive”, as Alban Berg insists in his analysis, but revolve around the aesthetic idea of interpreting the subject not as content of, but as pre-condition for the music (Therese Muxeneder).

The first performance in Vienna in 1905, under Schönberg’s direction, unleashed a grand furore – one of the critics suggested putting me in a mental institution and keeping manuscript paper out of my reach (Arnold Schönberg).

Sample pages

World première

Musikverein, Wien (AT)
Arnold Schönberg

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