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Studies in Music with Text$
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David Lewin

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182088

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182088.001.0001

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Moses und Aron

Moses und Aron

Some General Remarks and Analytic Notes for Act I, Scene 1

(p.367) Chapter Eighteen Moses und Aron
Studies in Music with Text

David Lewin

Oxford University Press

The dramatic idea of Arnold Schoenberg's opera hinges on the paradoxical nature of God: the Unvorstellbares that commands itself to be vorgestellt. The musical metaphor that reflects (or better defines) the dramatic idea is the nature of the 12-tone row and system as “musical idea” in Schoenberg's terminology. The multiple proportion—God : Moses : Aron : Volk equals “the idea” (row) : composer (Schoenberg) : performer : audience—is suggestive. If the triple-play combination of God to Moses to Aron to Volk has broken down between Moses and Aron, and if the Moses–Aron link cannot be repaired, then the catastrophe of the philosophical tragedy has occurred in Act II and the drama is over. By opening the opera with the bush scene, Schoenberg first presents the singing and/or speaking vocal ensemble as the voice of God. The effect is to bind God and the Volk together in a special way which, so to speak, includes both Aron (singing) and Moses (speaking).

Keywords:   Arnold Schoenberg, opera, God, Moses, Aron, Volk, metaphor, tragedy, singing, speaking

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