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DURATION: ca. 6 Min.

PUBLISHER: Belmont Music Publishers

Schönberg composed the Prelude Op. 44 for mixed chorus and orchestra in September 1945 as an introduction to a cantata on the biblical Creation story. It consists of the beginning of a pastiche of Genesis, commissioned by the composer and the publisher Nathaniel Shilkret (the other parts are by Shilkret himself [The Creation], Alexander Tansman [The Fall of Man], Darius Milhaud [Cain and Abel], Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco [The Flood], Ernst Toch [The Promise] and Igor Stravinsky [The Tower of Babel]).
Schönberg depicts the universe before the Creation with a fugue (which includes an introduction and a coda), the beginning seeming to be preamble to a preamble. He shapes melodic designs from changing row permutations, but refrains from drawing formal consequences from the “subjects.” The fugue – or fugato – consists of six subject entries which, despite their dodecaphonic transformation, clearly evince Bach as their model. “I used to say, ‘Bach was the first twelve-tone composer.’ That was meant as a joke, of course” (Schönberg, Bach, 1950).

© Arnold Schönberg Center