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Y. Finkelshtein

Semantics of the timbre of classical guitar in works for ensemble by composers of the Second Viennese School

The article touches upon the issue of appeal of the composers of the Second Viennese School to the classical guitar performers. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the properties of the instrument attracted professional composers. Experiments with guitar timbre are in line with the development of the orchestra’s capabilities. The guitar, which had never been part of an orchestra before, first became a member of the score of G. Mahler’s Seventh Symphony in 1905 to create a stylization of the serenade genre. Following Mahler, the Second Viennese School composers used the timbre of the instrument in chamber music (Schönberg, Webern) and opera (Berg). As a result of the analysis, it was found that in A. Webern’s compositions of the 1910s, the guitar is used as a coloristic instrument that can create a sound spot, anticipating the use of the guitar in the music of P. Boulez, A. Volkonsky. In the songs of the 1920s, the guitar part loses its colorful function; it becomes part of the atonal score, tart and dissonant, which was not characteristic of the language of the instrument before. The guitar is used by A. Schönberg in one of the compositions in which a new twelve-tone technique is maturing. Becoming a part of the counterpoint, it also participates in the creation of the picture of music playing in the open air, sometimes determines the texture of the composition, forming the image of a “big guitar“ (guitar sound production is imitated by strings and wood). In A. Berg’s opera “Vozzek“, the guitar contributes to the creation of a democratic atmosphere of a domestic scene. It is revealed that in the music of composers of the Second Viennese School, the guitar, being a part of the ensemble, is interpreted as a coloristic, melodic-harmonic, percussive instrument. In their compositions, a new vocabulary of the instrument matures, which determined the ways of its development in the second half of the twentieth century.

Key words

six-string guitar, Schönberg, Webern, Berg, music of the first half of the 20th century, music for guitar, guitar in an ensemble, Second Viennese School.

For citation

Finkelshtein Y. Semantics of the timbre of classical guitar in works for ensemble by composers of the Second Viennese School // South-Russian Musical Anthology. 2021. No. 2. Pp. 12–19.