Arnold Schönberg: Die Jakobsleiter

Arnold Schönberg Die Jakobsleiter
Die Jakobsleiter

Arnold Schönberg: Die Jakobsleiter

Year of composition:
1917/1922/1944
Scored for:
for soli, mixed choir and orchestra
Composer:
Arnold Schönberg
Editor:
Rudolf Stephan
Text author:
Arnold Schönberg
Piano reduction:
Winfried Zillig
Choir:
SMezzoSATBarB (12-stimmig)
Instrumentation:
4 4 5 4 - 4 3 3 1 - timp, hp, cel, pno, str; 2 off-stage ens; 2 heightened orchestra
Instrumentation details:
piccolo
1st flute
2nd flute
3rd flute
1st oboe
2nd oboe
3rd oboe
cor anglais
clarinet in Eb
1st clarinet in Bb(+cl(A))
2nd clarinet in Bb
3rd clarinet in Bb(+cl(A))
bass clarinet in Bb
1st bassoon
2nd bassoon
3rd bassoon
contra 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
tuba
timpani + percussion (triangle, cymbal, tam-tam, bass drum)
harp
celesta
piano
violin I
violin II
viola
violoncello
contrabass
off-stage ensemble 1: violins
harmonium
1st horn in F
2nd horn in F
1st trumpet in Bb
2nd trumpet in Bb
3rd trumpet in Bb
off-stage ensemble 2: violins
1st horn in F
2nd horn in F
1st trombone
2nd trombone
harmonium
musicians on gallery 1: harmonium
violins
musicians on gallery 2: violins
1st oboe
2nd oboe
3rd oboe
cor anglais
clarinet
bass clarinet
1st trumpet in Bb
2nd trumpet in Bb
3rd trumpet in Bb
celesta
harp
harmonium
Duration:
44’
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Audiosamples

Die Jakobsleiter
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Work introduction

Arnold Schönberg described Jacob’s Ladder as an oratorio. The dramatic qualities of this work for soloists, choirs and orchestra, which was left as a fragment, make the composition suitable for staging – as it is now and again. Schönberg himself took on the role of librettist, using the Bible as a basis (Genesis, Chapter 28, Verses 1213), but also moving beyond Judaeo-Christian tradition. Schönberg conveys his message in suspense-filled solos, which are frequently employed as ‘sprechgesang’ (speech-song), as well as in stirring passages for choir. His Archangel Gabriel proclaims: ‘Ob rechts, ob links, vorwärts oder rückwärts, bergauf oder bergab – man hat weiterzugehen, ohne zu fragen, was vor oder hinter einem liegt’ (whether to the right, to the left, forwards or backwards, uphill or down – one must keep on going without asking what lies ahead or behind).

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