Four Orchestral Songs

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Four Orchestral Songs, Op. 22[1][2] (in German: Vier Lieder für Gesang und Orchester or Vier Orchesterlieder) is a composition by Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg, scored for soprano and large orchestra.


The songs were composed separately, even though they were published as a set. The first song was finished in October 6, 1913; the second one was composed between November 30 and December 3, 1914; the third one was composed between December 3, 1914, and January 1, 1915; and, after a hiatus, the fourth one was composed between July 19 and 28, 1916.[3] These songs were the last works that Schoenberg was to write in the freely atonal style. After finishing this composition, Schoenberg would complete no new works for seven years, when he composed the Five Piano Pieces, Op. 23. During this compositional hiatus, he would develop the twelve-tone technique; thereafter, he would compose mainly (though not exclusively) using the twelve-note method.[4] It was premiered in February 21, 1932, in Frankfurt am Main, conducted by Hans Rosbaud with soprano Hertha Reinecke. The second movement was dedicated to student and fellow composer Anton Webern. It was eventually published by Universal Edition in Vienna, in November 7, 1917.[3]


The four songs are as follows:

  • I. Seraphita
  • II. Alle, welche dich Suchen (All that Seek Thee)
  • III. Mach mich zum Wächter deiner Weiten (Make me thy Guardian)
  • IV. Vorgefühle (Premonition)

The first of the songs, Seraphita, was composed in October 1913. The text comes from a poem by Ernest Dowson, translated by Stefan George. This is the most extended of the four songs with the vocal line separated by substantial orchestral interludes. The six clarinets open this song with a melody primarily based on seconds and thirds. The second song was written from November to December 1914, taking a text from a collection of poetry entitled The Book of Hours, by Rainer Maria Rilke; it is found in the second volume, Das Buch von der Pilgerschaft (The Book of Pilgrimage).

The third song, which also comes from Rilke's The Book the Hours, Das Buch von der Armut und vom Tode (The Book of Poverty and Death), was written between December 1914 to January 1915 and is divided into three sections. The fourth and final song, Vorgefühle, was finished in July 1916 with the text coming from Rilke's The Book of Images.[5]


Felix Greissle wrote an arrangement of the whole set of songs in 1921. It was scored for a small ensemble which included a baritone, a piccolo, a flute, a clarinet, a bass clarinet, a violin, a viola, a violoncello, and a piano. The arrangement has only been recorded once by EMI, which was released in LP format. The performance of this recording was carried out by the Pierrot Ensemble Köln in August 1980.[6]

Notable recordings[edit]


  1. ^ "Tracklist from the CD 8.557523 in the Naxos Records catalogue". Hong Kong: Naxos Digital Services Ltd. March 2007. Retrieved July 22, 2011. Four Orchestral Songs 
  2. ^ "Composition overview hosted at". Rovi Corporation. Retrieved July 22, 2011. Orchestral Songs (4), Op. 22 
  3. ^ a b "Vier Lieder für Gesang und Orchester [For songs for voice and orchestra] op. 22". Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  4. ^ John Palmer. "Composition description hosted at". Santa Clara: Rovi Corporation. Retrieved July 22, 2011. 
  5. ^ Arnold Schoenberg; Ernest Dowson; Stefan George; Rainer Maria Rilke (2007). "Libretto from Four Orchestral Songs, Op. 22" (PDF) (in German). Hong Kong: Naxos Digital Services Ltd. pp. 7–9. Retrieved July 23, 2011. 
  6. ^ "4 Lieder [4 Songs], op. 22 (arr. Felix Greissle (1921) (baritone, piccolo, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, violin, viola, violoncello, piano))". Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  7. ^ "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. 
  8. ^ 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 

External links[edit]