Chamber Symphony No. 1
The Chamber Symphony No. 1 in E major, Op. 9 (also known by its title in German Kammersymphonie, für 15 soloinstrumente, or simply as Kammersymphonie) is a composition by Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg.
It was finished in 1906 and premiered on February 8, 1907 in Vienna by the Rosé Quartet together with a wind ensemble from the Vienna Philharmonic, under the composer's baton. Schoenberg again conducted the piece, as part of the famed Skandalkonzert in 1913, in which the heterodox tonalities of Schoenberg's Symphony and, more so, of his student Alban Berg's works incited the attendees to riot in protest and prematurely end the concert.
The first British performance was on 6 May 1921 (or possibly on 16 April) at the Aeolian Hall, London, conducted by Edward Clark, Schoenberg's champion and former student. The players included Charles Woodhouse (violin), John Barbirolli (cello), Léon Goossens (oboe), Aubrey Brain and Alfred Brain (horns).
The piece is a well-known example of the use of quartal harmony.
The Chamber Symphony is a single-movement work which lasts approximately 20 minutes. Even though it is listed as one movement, the form can be considered as subdivided into as many as five continuous movements. Schoenberg himself outlined the following form using the rehearsal numbers as reference points:
- I. Sonata. Allegro (Beginning to No. 38)
- II. Scherzo (Nos. 38–60)
- III. Development (Nos. 60–77)
- IV. Adagio (Nos. 77–90)
- V. Recapitulation and Finale (Nos. 90–100)
Schoenberg claimed in later years that the work "was a first attempt to create a chamber orchestra." It is scored for the following instruments:
Schoenberg respected the classical arrangement of the musicians on stage, instructing that all strings should be seated in the front row, the winds in the second row, and all the bass sounds should be grouped together. Although this composition is commonly called a chamber work, its performance requires a conductor. Some critics have claimed that an ensemble formed of ten winds and only five strings is inherently unbalanced; however, some of the voices are doubled so that no instrument is playing one-on-one against another. Nevertheless the piece requires highly trained musicians.
- The composer himself arranged this piece for large orchestra in 1923 and again in 1935, catalogued as 9b. The latter was premiered in Los Angeles by Schoenberg himself.
- Between 1922 and 1923, Schoenberg's disciple Anton Webern arranged the symphony for violin, flute, clarinet, cello and piano. The arrangement was intended to be played alongside Pierrot Lunaire, which is similarly scored.
Chamber Symphony No. 1 is one of the most recorded of Schoenberg's works and has received attention from conductors including Sir Simon Rattle, Riccardo Chailly, Claudio Abbado, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Zubin Mehta, and chamber groups such as the Hyperion Ensemble, Hagen Quartett and Orpheus. A 1998 performance conducted by Robert Craft on the Koch International Classics label and reissued in 2007 on Naxos received a positive critical response.
- Jennifer Ruth Doctor, 2007, The BBC and Ultra-Modern Music, 1922-1936: Shaping a Nation's Tastes, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521035864, Note 44, p.425.
- British Library, Notable Acquisitions 1985-1994
- Jennifer Doctor, The BBC and Ultra-Modern Music, 1922-1936: Shaping a Nation's Tastes
- Robert Craft (2007). "Liner notes from the CD 8.557523 from the Naxos catalogue". Naxos. Hong Kong: Naxos Digital Services Ltd. Retrieved July 25, 2011. "[...] a first attempt to create a chamber orchestra."
- Arnold Schönberg - Kammersymphonie (PDF) (in German). Vienna: Universal Edition. pp. 4–6. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
- Kammersymphonie für 15 soloinstrumente von Arnold Schönberg (PDF) (in German). Vienna: Universal Edition. p. 2. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
- Richard Whitehouse (2011). "Liner notes from the CD 8.572442 from the Naxos catalogue". Naxos. Hong Kong: Naxos Digital Services Ltd. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
- "Reviews for the CD 8.557523 from the Naxos catalogue". MusicWeb International, Gramophone, Limelight, David's Review Corner. Hong Kong: Naxos Digital Services Ltd. March–August 2007. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
- Blair Sanderson (2007). "Review for the CD 8.557523 from the Naxos catalogue.". Santa Clara: Rovi Corporation. Retrieved July 23, 2011. "7 stars out of 10"
- Chamber Symphony No. 1 in E major, Op. 9: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project