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A Canon across Time: György Kurtág's "Officium Breve in Memoriam Andreae Szervánszky",

op. 28
Author(s): Benjamin Frandzel
Source: Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, T. 43, Fasc. 3/4 (2002), pp. 383-
396
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A CanonAcrossTime:Gydrgy Kurtaig's
Breveinmemoriam
Officium AndreaeSzervinszky,
op. 28
BenjaminFRANDZEL
San FranciscoStateUniversity

Gy6rgy Kurtig'sOfficium Breveinmemoriam AndreaeSzervanszky, op. 28,


forstringquartet, is a remarkable synthesis of varied compositional tech-
niques,musicalsources,andextramusical associations.
Itssourcesinthemu-
sicofits'dedicatee andthatofAntonWebern providethebasisforan original
andmoving workinthespirit ofthetitle,
a short inthiscasea requiem.
service,
Thepieceorbitsaroundoneliteralquotation fromeachofthetwocom-
poserstowhomitpayshomage.Although Szervinszky (1911-77)beganhis
careerinthemoldofBart6k, writing workslargely basedonHungarian folk
materials, Kurtaig explains in hisprefatory notethatthemusicallanguageof
Webernformed theprimary influence on Szervinszky's workforthefinal
twodecadesofhislife.Indeed,Szervainszky's SixOrchestral Pieces of1959
havebeencredited withhavinga catalytic influenceupontheyounger gener-
ationofHungarian composers, the
introducing possibilities ofserial
compo-
sition,andofWebern'smethodsinparticular.1 Because ofthis,Kurtaig not
onlyquotes Webem in the Officium Breve, but makes extensiveuse ofhis
compositional materials andpractices.
Kurtaig's choiceofmaterial fortheWebernquoteis particularly impor-
tant.In thespiritofbothtribute andrequiem, he quotesthefinalmovement
ofWebern's finalcompleted work,theKantateno.2, op.31. TheKantateis
a settingofsixpoemsbythepoetHildegardJone,a closefriend withwhom
Webern felta specialkinship andwhosetextsheusedforall ofhislatevocal
works.Although theKantateis a setting ofsecularpoetry, thecontent ofthe
sixpoemsis quitereligiousandmystical, andWebernlikenedtheworkto a
CatholicMissa Brevis.He saw thesixthmovement, quotedby Kurtig,as
I
Halmy,p. 2.

StudiaMusicologicaAcademiaeScientiarum
Hungaricae43/3-4,2002,pp. 383-396
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384 BenjaminFrandzel

analogoustoan AgnusDei,2andthetextofthismovement, a remembrance


ofa departed soul,is especiallyfitting forKurtaig's intentions.
In quotingWebern'sfinalmusic,KurtSig also makestheworka sortof
requiemforWebern as well.Inmorethanoneway,Kurtigacknowledges the
earliercomposer'sinfluence bycarrying on where Webern leftoff,making
Webern'smusica pointofdeparture forhisownwork.Notonlydoesheem-
bed Webern'sfinalmusicintothisquartet,but in a broadersense,like
Szervinszky, he has absorbedWebern'saestheticand techniques, making
thema basis forhisownmusic.Webern'sinfluence on Kurtig'scomposi-
tionsis evidencedbytheirconstruction, frequently insetsofminiatures, and
intheirlyrical,intensely focusedgestures. In theOfficium Breve,Kurtaig is
notonlypayinghomagetohisfellowcomposers, butexamining thetriangu-
lationofinfluences among the two of them and himself.
In doingso,he also includesquotesfromhisownbodyofwork.Move-
mentsIII andXII aredrawnfromthethirdvolumeofhispianocollection
Jitdkok, andarethetwoversionsofhis 'Hommage& Szervinszky.'3 In his
introductory notestotheOfficium Breve,he explainsthatitis notonlywrit-
tenin memoryof Szervinszky, butthatfourindividualmovements also
carry dedications to departed friends. Movement I honors thecellistTibor
Turcsinyi, movement II is fortherecorder playerZsoltBaranyai, movement
VIII for Gabriella Garz6, and movement XI forthe pianistGydirgy Szol-
ts~anyi.Two of these movements, I and VIII, as well as movement XIII, in-
clude variationson Kurtag'stheme,'Virig az ember...' ['Flowerswe
are...'] fromhis ownsongcycle,ThesayingsofPeterBornemisza.4 Like
Webern'sKantate,thisworkof Kurtag'suses a groupofmysticaltextsto
evokethesoul'sjourneytowardredemption, and againrecallsWebern's
model,theAgnusDei.
The Officium Breveis emblematic ofoneofKurtag'sprimary creative
outlets, thehomage.He is forever paying tribute to his masters,dedicating
manyworksormovements within themtocomposersofthepastorpresent,
andis equallyeffusive inpayingtribute tohisHungarian colleagues.In its
deliberate balancebetweenconscioustribute andimaginative freedom, be-
tweenabsorption andcreation, theOfficium Breveembodiesmanyoftheis-
suesthathaveoccupiedKurtaig overthecourseofhiscreativelife.
2 Bailey,p. 330.
3 Walsh,p. 526.
4 Willson,p.19.

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AcademiaeScientiarum
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A CanonAcrossTime:GyirgyKurtaig'sOfficium
Breve 385

In an homagemoretraditional thantheWebernquote,Kurtagalso in-


cludesa quotationfromSzervinszky'sSerenadefor StringOrchestraof
1947-48.Although Kurtigdoes notinsertthisquoteuntilthefinalmove-
ment,itforms thebasisfortheopeningportion oftheworkuntilthematerial
based on Webernbecomespredominant. The transition betweenthetwo
sourcesis easedbya facetcommontobothworks,theuseofadjacentordis-
placedneighbor motionintheirlinearconstruction. Thistechniqueis used
bothatlocalandlargerstructural levels,andis oneofthetwomostimportant
sourcesfordevelopment intheworkas a whole,alongwiththeuseofcanon.
Kurt~g'sfinalmovement, theopeningoftheLarghetto fromtheSere-
nadeforStringOrchestra, is theprimary source forthemusic ofmovements
I-III, VIII-IX, andXI-XIII. Italso providestheneighbor motivethatdrives
theconstruction ofthesemovements, as repeating neighbor-note figures
ap-
pearinalternating voices,inbothdirectanddisplacedmotion.Inthefirst vi-
a
olin, repeated G anchors the figureE-D-E-D-C beforemoving down toF.
Next,a repeatedC inthesecondviolinis interpolated betweenthepitches
A-G-A-G-F. This figureis transferred to thefirstviolin,again moving
E-D-E-D-C, whilean uppercounter-melody movesA-B-C-B-A-B-A.
Above this,thehighestvoice movesE-F-E beforedescending, and the
quoteendswitha descending Bb-A figure inthefirstviolin.
Webern'srowis also largelyconstructed ofneighbor tones,eitheradja-
centor displaced,andthischaracteristic allowsfora synergy betweenthe
twosources.The accompanying diagramsshowthechromatic andwhole-
stepneighbor relationships inherent in the row and inSzervinszky's melody,
as wellas therowforms usedbyWebern inop.31/VI.

Figurela. Neighbor-note inSzervinszky


figures andWebern

Figurelb. Therowforms
ofWebemrn's
op. 31/VI

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386 BenjaminFrandzel

MovementI growsoutoftheSzervainszky material, butis basedmore


onitsprevalent useofperfect both and
fifths, harmonically melodically, than
on theneighbor idea.In movement XV,themelodicfigures oftencontaina
descendingperfectfifth, and thelowervoices also utilizethisintervalin
quintalharmony. In the firstmovement, thisis extrapolated intothesolo
cello'smotioninperfect fifths,as wellas itsverticalpresentation oftheinter-
val.Theneighbor figure occurs inthe D-C motion ofmm. 2-3, and inthede-
scentfrom A toAbtomakea transition tomovement II. Thebeginning ofthe
piece on a G-D dyad is also noteworthy, in thatitsuggests a dominant ofC
thatwillnotbe resolveduntiltheC majormusicofthefinalmovement.
Written inmemory ofcellistTiborTurcsfanyi, theopeningmovement is,
fittingly,for solo cello. The open fifths, in addition to referencing Szer-
vinszky,also suggestchant,andimmediately establishanauralreference to
liturgical music. Kurtig even deepens the connection to the mass through
non-aural references. The secondmovement's rhythmic notation inbreves
suggestsancientchurch music,5 andKurtiggivesa Latinrespelling toSzer-
vinszky'sfirst nameinthework'stitle.
In thesecondmovement, dedicatedto therecorder playerZsoltBara-
nyai,fifths remainimportant harmonically, buta moreimportant develop-
mentis theexpandeduse oftheneighbor concept. While a figure as the
such
firstviolin'sD-E-F inm.2,resolving tothesecondviolin'sE inm.3,contin-
ues thediatonicuse ofneighbor figures,italso beginsthetransition toa dif-
ferent kindofneighbor usage,an outwardexpansionfroma centralpitch.
Thistechnique is crucialtothedevelopment ofthenextseveralmovements,
andrepresents a linktoWebem'spracticeinop. 3 1/VI.
Extendedandunresolved neighbors beginto appearin movement II.
Thefirst violinendswithanunresolved Db, a neighbor tothetonicC, while
thecello'sfinalG#servesas anupperneighbor tothedominant, G, andper-
haps also as a lower neighbor to A, thedominant of D, which gradually re-
placesC as thecentral pitchinthenextseveralmovements.
MovementIII, thetranscription of Kurtig'sfirst'Hommage" Szer-
vinszky'fromJatdkok, returns tothefallingmotiveofmovement XV with
thedescending E-G figure intheviolaandtherepeated F-C inthecello.The
viola'supperlinecontinues theneighbor motive,movingbetweenE andD
overthecourseofthemovement. TheG towhichitdescendsinm. 1 is con-
nectedtothelowervoiceofthecello,andthetwoinstruments ornament this
5 ThankstoDean Suzukiforhisobservations
onKurtig'snotation.

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A CanonAcrossTime.GyirgyKurtcig's Breve
Officium 387

pitchwithsparse,alternating figures:G-G#,A-G, G#-G,thenG-A-B in


theviola.ThefinalC#harmonic inthecelloformsan upperneighbor tothe
tonicC, andsuggestsitsdecreasingimportance as a centralpitch,particu-
larlyas C doesnotsoundafterward. Thecello'srepeatedlowC through the
movement has lessofa stepwiseconnection totheupperlines,anditsfunc-
tionis essentially thatofa tonicpedal,a roleitplaysmorefullyinthenext
movement beforebeingdisplaced.
Kurt~g'schoiceofinstrumentation inthesefirst threemovements also
reflectstheinfluence of andhomageto theWebernKantate.Thatwork's
first
movement is fora solobassvoicewithsparseaccompaniment, a texture
thatmusthaveinfluenced Kurtig'sopeningchoiceofsolocello.Thisis fur-
therreinforced by the parallelbetweenWebern'ssecondmovement and
Kurt~g'sthirdmovement. In theWebern, a solo bass voice is heardagain,
whiletheonlyaccompanying a
strings soloviolaandsolo cello,thetwo
are
instruments ofKurtig'sthird movement.
Atthispoint,Webern'semphasisonsymmetry intheKantatebeginsto
forma stronger influence the
upon Officium Breve. In Webern'scanon,for
example,thetenorandbass beginon D, whilethealtoand sopranobegin
theirlineson Bb andF#,respectively, creating a symmetry ofmajorthirds
aroundD. Conversely, themovement endswiththevoices reversed:the
tenoron Bb, thebass on F#,andtheuppervoiceson D, extending thesym-
metrical construction. Thisuse ofsymmetry arounda central pitchrelates to
Szerv~inszky's focuson specificpitchesthrough neighbour-based writing,
andtheuse of suchsymmetrical in
pitcharrangementsKurtig's work ex-
pandsas theWebern-based material takesa primary role.
Inmovement this
IV, practice also continues theshift incentrality from C
upwardto D. Forthefirst threemeasures, C functions as a pedalinthecello
whilebeingsurrounded bya symmetrical cluster:A, Bb, B, C#,D, D#.This
groupappears firstvoiced in majorthirds, a more denselyimagined versionof
Webern'sopeningsonority, thenin minorsixths.In m. 3, thisgroupis
supplanted by another symmetrical cluster, fromE to G#.TheF#is central,
voicedinoctaves,andis also sustained whenitssurrounding clusterandthe
pedal C are no longersounding. Its extreme tonaldistancefromC, while
forming a symmetrical divisionoftheoctave,emphasises thedeparture from
thatnote,as doestheappearance inm.5 ofa chromatic clusterfromE-flatto
A#,againcentred aroundF#,andthechangein dynamicfrom pp toff The
movement awayfrom C is againreinforced attheendofm.5,whenthepedal
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388 BenjaminFrandzel

C is answeredbya C#upperneighbor inthecelloandthefirst violin'shighD.


The followingG-G#dyad in octavesalso weakensthe role of G as a
dominant.
Thesecondhalfofthemovement usesa newrhythmic a rarein-
profile,
stanceofpolyrhythmic writing inthepiece,to reinforce thetonalchanges
takingplace.Kurtig restrictseach instrument to a limited pitchcell,collec-
tivelyforming a chromatic cluster lackingonlyG. Thisagainde-emphasises
C through chromaticrichness andtheabsenceofitsdominant. D also comes
to theforeas theonlydoublednote,beinguppermost and lowermost, and
growing outofa Db lowerneighbor inthefirstviolin.Thefourinstrumental
linesendwithB, Bb,D#andD, concluding thetransition toD.
MovementV is significant in thatit introduces materialdrawnfrom
Webern'sop.3 1/VI,rather thanonlydrawing uponitscharacteristics. Subti-
tled'Fantasyontheharmonies ofWebern's canons,'italso continues theup-
warddirection ofthework'scentralpitch.Now thatD is becominga focal
point,themovements preceding movement X willcontinue theascentfrom
thenowcentral D upwardtoE.
Kurt~g'sharmonies generallyappeartranscribed a whole-step above
Webern's, foreshadowing thetransposition oftheentirecanonup a whole-
stepinmovement X. Forexample,Webern'sinitialF-Bb harmony between
thetenorandaltois matched by the violaand second violin's G and C, while
theDb andG thatfollowinWebernaresucceededbyKurtag'sEb andA, and
so on.Kurtigtherefore designstheendingwithtwoinstruments sounding E
andtwosoundingB, rather thanWebern'sA and D, a convincing but not
conclusiveemphasison E followingthe movement'saphoristic, almost
gestures.
pointillistic
Themovement is indeeda fantasy, beingstructured uponWebern's har-
moniesbutin a veryfreemanner. Although KurtigborrowsWebern'srow
forms, he departsfromWebern's highly ordered usage,changing theorderof
or
pitches repeating pitcheswhenneeded,transforming linearsuccessions of
into
pitches double-stops on the strings,and even beginning inthe middle of
individual rows.Thismakesa striking contrasttotheregularity ofWebern's
canon,andis indicative ofKurtag'simaginative freedom withWebern's mu-
sic,evenas hepayshomagetoit.Thecorrespondences between thecanonand
Kurtig's are
variations brief, as the movement lastsjust 18 measures at a
Prestotempo.KurtigalsobeginstoevokethesoundworldofWebern's instru-
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A CanonAcrossTime.Gydrgy Breve
Kurtag'sOfficium 389

mental musicinthismovement, withitsrapidandextreme alternationsoftone


textures,
color,transparent fleetinglines,andmostly subdueddynamics.
Movement VI isthefirst fullcanoninthepiece,anticipating theWebern
quotationmorefully.Webern'scombination of canonand mirror canon
is
baseduponthesameinitialline utilised,as aretheopeningsofseveralof
Webern's rowforms. Thismovement borrows a seriesofhalf-steps from the
row,extending themas minorninths andmajorsevenths ina sonority typical
ofWebern. A minorthird andanother half-stepfollow, continuing Webern's
chosenintervals.To emphasisetheneighbor relationship from thecello'sfi-
nalG inmovement V toitsinitialG#inmovement VI,Kurtigwritesa dotted
slurbetweenthetwopitches, eventhougha lowB intervenes. Thisis a local
instanceofthedisplacedneighbor relationships thatare so important tothe
work'soverallconstruction. The importance ofthisgestureis heardat the
endofVI, whenbothE andG#aredoubled,creating a strong sonority cen-
tredonE, confirming itsnewimportance.
Movement VII is a freecanonafterWebern'sop. 3I/VI,andcontinues
thetransitionfromSzervainszky's materialto Webern's, usingthecanon's
rowinitsentirety andcallingfora tempoapproximating Webern's.The2nd
violinopenswithP2,followedinmirror canonbythecelloplayingI10. The
1stviolinandtheviolaalso playa separatelinecanonically, buttheirparts
aredesignedto shadeandamplify thelinesofthe2ndviolinandcello,re-
spectively, or
anticipating imitating them.Kurtaig also introduces thetritone
intothiscanonicmaterial, an interval thatoccursvertically butnotmelodi-
callyin Webern's canon. Again, much of thematerial that is drawndirectly
fromtheWeberncanonappearstransposed up a whole-step. Forexample,
thecelloendswiththefinalfivenotesofR8,thefinaltwonotesbeingB and
G#,effectinga strong relationship withE.
Movements VIII andIX return to D as a centralpitch,a sortof large-
scalelowerneighbor betweenmovements V-VII andX, withtheircentrality
aroundE. Theydepart inanothersense,recalling Szervinszky's musicbefore
the full Webernquote. MovementVIII, the second appearanceof the
'Flowersweare...' themeandthememorial movement fortheKurtaigs' close
friend,GabriellaGarz6,alludesrather closelyto thefirstfewmovements,
a
containingquintal D-A-E chord in itsuppervoiceswhichis statedmelodi-
cally by the cello, a whole step higherthanits appearancein Szervinszky.
Thecelloalsoplaysthe1stviolin'smusicfrom
thesecondmovementinanal-
mostexactretrograde.Although thefinalmeasure'sBb-B-D-F#chordre-
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390 BenjaminFrandzel

callsthesymmetry ofWebern's openingandclosingchords, suggesting their


impending presence, the Bb a
provides strong dissonance, 1st
andthe violin's
finalG prepares movement IX. Anexactechoisthusavoided,pavingtheway
forfurthertransition.
Theninthmovement providesa sortoflimitedsummation ofthetonal
transitionfromthefirst movement to thetenth, thoughitis certainly more
closelyrelatedto the Szervanszky material than to Webern'scanon.While
bothviolinsandthecelloascendchromatically inoctaves,fromG toD, out-
liningthework'sopeningsonority, thesolo violaperforms half-step neigh-
bourfiguresthatare relatedto thetuttipitchesby half-steps. The viola's
microtonally raisedorloweredhalf-steps area moredirecthomagetoSzer-
vanszky.His earliermusicutilisedHungarian folkmaterials thatoftencon-
tainsuchinflections, whichhad also beenused by Bart6k,Szervanszky's
greatestearlyinfluence.Also, in their'crying'inflection, theysuitthe
work'sspirit ofa requiem.
The movement's quietcadence,to a unisonD, bids farewellto these
earlierinfluences. The departure fromtheseorigins, a commonpathshared
and
by Szervanszky Kurtag,opens way the for the unmediated entryinto
Webern'smusicalworld.It's also worthwhile to examinethesymbolism of
the ascendingschemeof centralpitches.Justas thepitchis ascending,
Szervinszky's roots,andbyextension thesoulofthecomposer, disappear.
The notionofan ascendinglinebeinganalogousto thesoul's departure is
particularlyappropriate a
to requiem.6
Atfirst,Kurtag's decision totranspose Webern'scanonup bya whole-
stepin movement X seemsverycurious.Althoughit is appropriate to the
tonaldirection ofthepiece,itraisesthequestionofwhythismaterial is in-
sertedat a pointat whichitcalls fortransposition. However,his choiceof
pitch-levelis inkeepingwithserialprocedures, inthattransposition is oneof
theprimary for
techniques varyingrepeated row materials. Because Kur-
tag'suse ofWebern'scanonis,in effect, a repetition ofearliertwelve-tone
material,his choice of a different
pitch-level for itsrestatement is essentially
6 An
pointofreference
interesting forthissortoftonalimagery isBach,whosesymbolic useofmelodicand
harmonic ascentanddescentis discussedatlength byEricChafe(pp.209-215and236-239).IfKurtaig composed
theOfficiumBrevewiththissortofsymbolism inmind,itspresenceis certainly
farmoremaskedthanBach'ssome-
timesoverttonalrhetoric.
TheascendingcanonpertonosoftheMusicalOffering, forexample,carriesthisdedica-
tiontoFredericktheGreat:"As themodulation ascendsso maytheKing'sgloryincrease"(Ascendenteque Modu-
lationeascendatGloriaRegis),quotedbyChafeonp. 214. I thinkthisconnection is worth
mentioning, though,not
onlybecauseofbothKurtaig's andWebern's forBach,butbecauseGavinThomas(p. 706) notesanal-
greataffinity
lusiontotheSt.JohnPassioninmovement II oftheQfficiumBreve.

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A CanonAcrossTime:Gydrgy Breve
Qfficium
Kurtdig's 391

inlinewithWebern'sownprocedures. Italso signifies


a sensethatthecanon
is no longerWebern'spiece perse, butinsteadKurtag'smaterialwithina
largerwork.7
Kurtaig maintains
thestructure
ofthreestatements ofcanonicmaterial,
whichinWebern'soriginalis basedonthethree-stanza structureofthetext.
However,Kurtagvariesthematerial byaddingmovement Xa, whichis fol-
lowedbya da caporeturn toX. Xa variesthecanonicarrangement byhaving
bothvoicesthatbeginon primary rowforms, the1stviolinandviola,enter
together.Next,bothvoicesthatbeginwithinverted forms, the2ndviolinand
cello,also entertogether.
The materialused is therefore thesame,butits
statement is foreshortened
by two measures.This arrangement alsoturnsXa
intoa mirror canonwiththeopeningvoiceharmonised inmajorthirdsand
theimitative voiceharmonisedinminorsixths,makingWebern'sextended
use ofinversion andemphasisonthirdsevenmoreapparent.

10 13 11 10 2
2 9
9
1 1 58
5 4 8 7 6
PO F# 1310F
A E Ab Eb G B Bb D C# C R6
9 Eb F# D C# F C E Ab G B Bb A
1 G Bb F# F A E Ab C B Eb D C#
2 Ab B G F# Bb F A C# C E Eb D
10 E G Eb D F#A C# Ab C B Bb
3 A C Ab G B F# Bb D C# F E Eb
11 F Ab E Eb G D F# Bb A C# C B
7 C# E C B Eb Bb D F# F A Ab G
8 D F C# C E B Eb G F# Bb A Ab R2
4 Bb C# A Ab C G B Eb D F# F E
5 B D Ab A C# Ab C E Eb G F# F
6 C B B Bb D A C# F E Ab G F# Ro
RI4 - Rho R12
, i '
Figure2a: Row-chart
ofWebern,
op.31

7 FollowingmypresentationofthispaperattheFaldvirMusicDays conference,AlanWilliamsraisedthe
valuable questionof whetheror not Kurtig'sverypersonaluse of Webern'smaterialsignifiednot only
compositional freedombutevenan ironicdistancefromWebern.As Dr. Williamspointedout,one shouldespe-
ciallyconsiderthethreedecadesbetweenKurtig'sdiscovery ofWebern'smusicandthecomposition oftheOffi-
ciumBreve.GivenKurtag'spenchant forallusionandhomage,anexaminationofhisattitudetowardhissourcesis
certainlya complexandimportantsubject,onethatcouldbe coveredmorefullyina paperfocusedexclusively
on
thistopic.

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392 BenjaminFrandzel

Soprano: P P6 R12

Alto 14 R2
1o
Tenor P8 R14
Rlo0
Bass 18 Ro R6

Figure2b: RowsinchoralvoicesinWebern,
op.31,VI

Webern'srowconstruction leads to theoverlapping of rowsin each


voice.Forexample,theC thatendsPOinthesopranois alsothefirst pitchof
itsstatement ofP6.On a largescale,thisconstruction is paralleltoKurtig's
compositional strategy,in which two different setsofmaterials increasingly
overlapandcommingle.
Movements XI-XV makea powerful returntotheSzervinszky-based
material, althoughtheinfluence of Webern'smusicis readilyapparentat
times.MovementXI is againdrawnfromKurtatg's previouswork.It is a
transcriptionofa pianopiecewritten forGyirgySzoltsanyi, andis dedicated
tohismemory. Despite itsearlier
origin,in the context of theOfficium Breve
itclearlyrefers toSzervinszky. Themovement returnstoC as a pitchcenter,
its
making importance emphatic with almost unceasingrepetition as a pedal
tone.Whenthevoicesdo moveawayfromC, itis mostoftento neighbors
suchas D, Db orBb. Themovement also bringsbackthechromatic clusters
centredonC, as wellas diatonicfigures basedonneighbor tones.Themove-
mentevenduplicatestheA minorcadenceandtheambiguousconcluding
appearance ofBb andD from theSzervwinszky excerpt.
The immediate andemphatic dropfromthefully-stated Weberncanon
to theSzervinszkymaterialsuggeststhatonce thecompletetransition to
Webernhas been achieved,culminating in an exactquote,itsuse in the
piece,at least as primary is
material, over,and Szervanszky's materialre-
turns,movingfromtransformed statements to an exactquotein thefinal
movement. It can also be seenas an acknowledgement thatonceWebern's
influence hadbeenabsorbed,itopenedthedoortoa moreindividual devel-
opment inbothSzervinszky andKurtag.
MovementXII continues thereturn to theopeningmaterial.Thisis a
transcription ofKurtag'ssecond'Hommagea Szervinszky'fromJctdkok,
andtheviolaandcellorepeattheirmusicfrommovement III exactly.This
time,though, theviolinsjoininwitha chromatic setofpitchesvoicedinhar-
monics,fromBb up to F#,excludingC andC#.Thissetincludestheonly
pitchesthatwereexcludedfromthethirdmovement, D#and F#.Thisre-

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A CanonAcrossTime.Gydrgy
Kurtcig's Breve
Officium 393

flectsthetransition awayfromtheWebernmaterial, inthattheearlierviola


andcelloinstrumentation hadmirrored thesecondmovement ofop.31.
Movement XIII continues thereturn totheearliermaterial, withan em-
phasisonperfect fifths andhalf-steps, inbothlinearandvertical aspects.This
is also thefinalvariation onthe'Flowerswe are...' theme, andnowhereare
Kurtag'saffinity forWebem,and thecomplexlinesof influence between
Webern, and
Szervinszky Kurtag more and
clearly succinctly expressed than
here.In thismovement, Kurtagsubjectshisownmottothemetothedouble
canonand mirror canontreatment of Webem'swork.The seriesof initial
pitchesamongthefourcanonicvoicesis E-flat, D, D, C#,symmetrical half-
stepsthatrecallWebern, whilethemelodyis constructed in perfect fifths,
reminiscent ofSzervinszky. Thegestureofa risingminorthirdendingon a
downbeatfromtheWebemcanonappearsnext,harmonised and marked
espressivo doloroso, as if the focus ofthe had
requiem shifted toWebem.The
movementends with neighbour-tone clusters,forminga chord of
A-A#-C#-F-F#. The arrangement inthirdssuggestthelingering presence
ofthecanon'srowmaterial, as doestheemphasisonhalf-steps.
MovementXIV is againa mixture ofthetwosourcesofmaterial, but
mostcloselyrecallsWebem.Based predominantly on linearhalf-steps,
sometimes voicedinWebemian majorsevenths andminorninths, themove-
mentconsistsof shortcanonicor quasi-canonicepisodesthatbuildinto
highlydissonant textures. The combination ofcanonandmirror canonoc-
cursin thethird-to-last measureand again in thefinalmeasure,withthe
movement ending on a cluster spanning C#toGb.
Thefinalmovement is,ofcourse,theSzervinszky quoteuponwhichso
muchoftheworkisbased.After theharshly accenteddissonances ofthepre-
cedingmovement, andindeed,aftertheextreme, evenconflicting variation
ofstyleandmanner thatleadtothiselegiacfinale,Szervinszky's simplicity
ismadeallthemorepowerful. Kurtag adds a heartbreakingpoignancy tothis
movement, whichhe subtitles arioso interrotto,
byendingduringan unre-
solvedpassage,leavingthefinalsystem open,with nodoublebar.
Thesystematic usageintheworkofneighbor figuresandcanonicpro-
ceduresis also reflected intheirbroaderstructural andconceptualuses.Al-
thoughthestructure of Szervanszky-Webem-Szervinszky, ortonal-chro-
matic-tonal couldbe viewedas an ABA schemeofsorts,itis moreaccurate
toviewitas a structural extension oftheneighbor motive,movingfromsta-
bilitytogreaterdissonance tostability.Ofcourse,thetransitions arenotnec-
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394 BenjaminFrandzel

essarilythissimple.For example,movements VIII and IX returned to the


Szervainszky after
material a powerful transitionto the canon material had
alreadytakenplace,andmovement XV was precededbya movement refer-
encingWebern.Nevertheless, theoverall structure is thebroadestapplica-
tionoftheneighbor motiveas a developmental technique.
The three-sectionstructure also reflectsWebern'soriginalwork.The
threerepetitionsofthetextinthecanonareanalogoustothethree-part struc-
tureoftheAgnusDei, themassmovement towhichhe likenedthiscanon.
Kurtaig, too,mirrorsthe three sections of theAgnusDei, butapproximates
theA-B-A archstructure thatis itsmosttypicalmanifestation.
Theideaofcanonisalsoatworkinthepieceata deeperconceptual level
thanitsuseinmultiple movements. quotesfrom
Inutilising bothWebemand
Szervwinszky, in
Kurtigis, effect, creating a canon between theseearliercom-
positions andhisownwork.Inthesemovements, theworkbecomesa sortof
canonacrossdifferent worksofmusic,a canonacrosstime.Theideaofcanon
also extendstothiswork'sveryclearacknowledgement ofinfluences, espe-
ciallyin termsofWebem's influence onboth and
Szervainszky Kurtaig. Byex-
tending Webem'smethods andconcepts, thetwolatercomposers areessen-
tiallyina kindofcycle of imitation and with
development Webem,absorbing
thendeveloping ideasbaseduponhismusic.Thenotionofartistic debtas the
basisfordevelopment is inlinewithKurtig'sownpractices, andcertainlyre-
flectshisfocusonhomageas a compositional idiom.
A finalconceptual aspectofKurtig's work thatreflectsWebern'sthink-
inginthecanon,andWebern'sserialthinking ingeneral,is theconstruction
ofa musicalstructure reflecting multiple or combined usesofmaterial. Just
as rowsoverlap,so thattheend of one formsthebeginningof another,
Kurtaig combinessourcesfromtwodifferent musicalworksandtwodiffer-
entmindstofashiona newandverymovingworkofhisown.

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A CanonAcrossTime.Gydrgy
Kurtcig's Breve
Officium 395

ThetextofWebern's
Kantate,op. 3 1/VI(translated
by EricSmith)
Gelockertaus demSchoJ3e
HildegardJone
Itwas a wombthatborehim
InGod's eternity
He came,nonetoadorehim
To starandmanandtree
Wasmorethanall beforehim
A newlifeheavengaveus
Thelightofall thisworld
A newlifemustinvadeus
Beforehiseyesunfurled
He from thenightcansaveus

Holdsheavenlikea flower
Andleadstogreatest light
Inperfectpeacemovedourwill
By a child'ssweetmight
By holylove'sgreatpower

SelectedBibliography

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ofMusicandMusicians,2ndedition.
BAILEY,Kathryn
Thetwelve-note
musicofAntonWebern:Oldformsina newlanguage.Cambridge:
Cambridge Press1991.
University
BECKLES WILLSON,Rachel
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Music,1988-1998,'Tempo207 (December1998),15-21.
BYE,Antony
'BriefOffice,'TheStrad102(August1991),704-705.
CHAFE,Eric
TonalAllegoryin theVocalMusicofJ.S.Bach Berkeley:University
of California
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GAVIN,Thomas
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33 (Summer
1992),164-168.
GRIFFITHS,Paul
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'HungarianComposersToday: EndreSzervinszky,' Tempo(Spring 1969), 2-5.

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396 BenjaminFrandzel

HOFFMANN,Peter
'PostWebernische 7 (February
Musik?,'Musiktheorie 1992),129-148.
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tions.
PERLE,George
SerialComposition 6thed. BerkeleyandLos Angeles:University
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STENZL, Jfirg
'Gybirgy Kurtig'sMicrocosm,'trans.Catherine notesto Gybirgy
Schelbert, Kurtig:
Musik Streichinstrumente, ECM 1598.
ftir
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WALSH,Stephen
'A briefofficeforGy6rgyKurtig,'MusicalTimes130(September 1989),525-526.
'Webern,Anton,'inTheNewGroveDictionary ofMusicandMusicians,1stand2ndeditions.

StudiaMusicologicaAcademiaeScientiarum
Hungaricae43, 2002

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