A new volume of the Complete Edition of Schönberg’s compositions, edited by Ulrich Krämer, contains the editorial report for the music text of “Die Jakobsleiter” together with a critical edition of its complete poetic text, including all concept and text drafts.

Besides the extensive sketch material, the music sources constitute the first inscription [Erste Niederschrift] surviving in the form of a non-linear succession of various longer continuity drafts notated in Sketchbook IV, the short-score’s inked autograph copy serving as a main source, and a short score fair copy of the first 44 bars in a significantly reduced orchestration prepared in 1944 by Schönberg in his American exile. The first draft shows, in fact, two minor gaps, although it is 16 bars longer than the short score. Whereas these final 16 bars of the fragment are included for practical musical reasons in the full score version by Winfried Zillig, published in the Supplement volume to the Complete Edition edited by Rudolf Stephan (cf. GA series A, vol. 29), they will be printed in the present edition’s second volume in conjunction with the sketches and the accompanying commentary.

The source material for the “Jakobsleiter” literary text authored by Schönberg himself is not only more extensive, but also more complex than that for the music. This is owing primarily to the fact that Schönberg not only completed the poetry, but also went on immediately thereafter to prepare the definitive version for publication. Extant, accordingly, are sources from all stages of the text genesis: from the extensive preliminary work in forming the concept and text drafts, to the first inscription, partly assembled from preliminary drafts and repeatedly revised by means of deletions and paste overs; the fair copy in ink and then the typescript, serving as the model for composition [Kompositionsvorlage], with two carbon copies, each showing its own corrections; the first print appearing in 1917, extant of which are various personal exemplars in the composer’s estate; up to the slightly revised reprint as part of the anthology “Texte” of 1926, including its associated galley proofs. The various readings of the text sources are disclosed in conjunction with the edition of the emended literary text.

The numerous concept and text drafts are of interest not only for the genesis of the work, but above all, also as an intellectual and ideational background to the oratorio. They document not only Schönberg’s striving for the hierarchy of figure types directly associated with the religious and moral-philosophical core of the poetry, but also the fact that the figures of the “rebellious” and the “struggling” emerged from a combined typology that only gradually began to breakdown, or that Schönberg conceived the figure of the “chosen one” as a prototype of genius with unmistakably autobiographical features. The order and the way the text drafts are presented does not attempt to reproduce their genesis chronology but strives to clarify the textual relationships in order thus to inspire continuing exploration of the conceptual content of the poetry also on a contextual level. In order to provide the most complete overview of the materials, the paste overs within the preliminary and first drafts were either detached, or the covered earlier text layers were made visible with the aid of transparency scans and digital image processing. The volume is complemented by the reprint of the oratorio’s text in the GA version.

Ulrich Krämer (Preface)

Arnold Schönberg, Sämtliche Werke. Abteilung V: Chorwerke. Reihe B, Teil 1: Die Jakobsleiter. Oratorium (Fragment) für Soli, Chöre und Orchester. Kritischer Bericht, Dichtung. Herausgegeben von Ulrich Krämer. Schott Music, Mainz; Universal Edition AG, Wien, 2020; XXVI, 369 S.