Matthew James, DMA student, saxophone

James Riggs, Major Professor
January 15, 200
Analysis of Quartett, Op. 22, mvt. I,
for !io"in, #"arinet, $enor %axophone and Piano &y Anton 'e&ern
The five-measure introduction to the first movement of Anton Webern’s Quartett, Op. 22
(1930) contains elements which, ro!ected across the entire movement, rovide it with a dee
level of or"ani#ation$ The use of a tone row which emhasi#es the tritone, trichordal
se"mentation, canon, "eneratin" motives, and the inte"ration of rh%thm, color and articulation
are all established in the introduction, and la% out in remar&able fashion over the san of the
The imortance of the tritone to this movement is immediatel% aarent when comarin"
first and last notes of the tone row in an% of its forms, as shown in the tone row matri', (igure 1$
Within the movement, Webern creates elided row statements in m$ 10 (where the ( in sa'ohone
elides )1 and )*), m$ ++ (where the , in violin and iano elide -)0-.0 and -0-)0), and m$ 3+
(where the ( - this time in violin - a"ain elides )1 and )*)$ The elision of rows results in closed
statements that be"in and end on the same note$ )n addition, there are five instances where
ad!acent rows share be"innin"/endin" tones$ These occur in mm$ 0-1, 11-1+, +*-+2, 33-33, and
3*b$ )n all, fifteen row forms are used$ 4o row is used more than once in each of the ma!or
sections of the movement$
Figure 1
$one Row Matrix for Op. 22
,5 A5 A , 6 75 8 9 95 (5 7 (
8 ,5 , 8b 7 95 ( (5 A 6 9 6b
9 7 ,5 8 8b ( (5 A 6b , 95 6
7 6 A5 ,5 , 8 9 95 ( A 8b Ab
75 , 6 7 ,5 9 95 ( (5 6b 8 A
6 (5 ( 6b A ,5 7 8b 8 95 , 9
6b ( 95 A (5 , ,5 7 75 9 6 8
A 95 9 (5 ( 6 , ,5 7 8 6b 8b
(5 9 8 ( 95 6b 6 , ,5 75 A 7
95 8b 7 9 8 (5 A 6b 6 ,5 ( ,
, A (5 6 6b 7 8b 8 9 ( ,5 95
( 8 8b 95 9 A 6b 6 , 7 (5 ,5
The F#-C tritone is also used in this movement to create structure through invariance.
Webern bases the entire two-voice canon (discussed below) on paired rows that share the F# and
C under inversion. Figure 2 shows that, in six of the paired rows, F# and C represent the fourth
and ninth notes of the row, creating a palindromic sense of unisons. In the eight remaining row
forms, F# and C occupy other positions in the paired rows.
Figure 2
Invariance Under Inversion Between All Rows Used by Canonic Voices
P1 ,5 A5 A # 6 75 8 9 () (5 7 (
*11 6 7 8b # ,5 A (5 ( () 8 6b 9
*5 9 (5 A ()+ ( 8b 7 ,5 # 6b 8 6
P, ( 8 8b () 9 A 6b 6 # 7 (5 ,5
R1 ( 7 (5 () 9 8 8b 6 # A A5 ,5
R*11 9 6b 8 () ( (5 A ,5 # 8b 7 6
R*0 () 6 9 ( (5 A 6b 7 ,5 8 8b #
R0 () ,5 ( 9 8 8b 7 6b 6 (5 A #
P0 # A (5 6 6b 7 8b 8 9 ( ,5 ()
*0 # 8b 8 ,5 7 6b A (5 ( 9 6 ()
P10 6b ( () A (5 # ,5 7 75 9 6 8
*2 7 9 () 8b 8 # 6 6b A ( ,5 (5
*1 ,5 8 9 7 75 6 6b A (5 () # (
P11 6 (5 ( 6b A ,5 7 8b 8 () # 9
The introduction foreshadows the si"nificance that the invariant tones will have in the
movement$ )n m$ 3, both .1 and )11 conver"e to share the clarinet’s 95, interrutin" the attern
of imitation between the two voices (see -xamp"e 1)$ This is one of onl% three instances in the
movement where voices conver"e uon a unison$ )n the second instance after the introduction,
the two canonic rows conver"e on the , in violin, m$ 10$ 9inall%, at the clima' of the movement
in m$ ++, the , in violin reresents an elision between -)0 and .0, and the , in the ri"ht hand of
the iano reresents an elision between -0 and )0$ The ,’s in m$ ++ reresent the hi"hest and
lowest notes of the movement, lendin" additional imact to that climactic measure$
Example 1
Convergence Upon F# in Introduction, m. 4

Even when rows do not converge in unison upon F# or C, Webern places these notes in
close proximity to their invariant counterparts. The notes are found in different voices, but are
often in the same octave, often separated by a sixteenth note, but never separated by more than
an eighth note. One finds adjacent F#’s or adjacent C’s in mm. 3, 7, 17, 22, 25, 29, 32-33, 35,
36, 38 and 39.
Also important is the setting of the F#-C tritone in succession as a motive. Both F# and
C are adjacent tones in rows I1 and I7, and each time they are used (mm. 10, 13, 21, 32, and 35-
36), Webern sets the tritone off as a rhythmically exposed motive. Webern’s use of these five
tritone motives is palindromic: in all but m. 21 the tritone uses rhythmic motive a’ (see Example
5). Additionally, in all but m. 21 he presents the tritone motive in the third, non-canonic voice of
the ensemble (described below). None of these tritone motives are heard in the piano. Example
2 shows the tritone as it appears in m. 32.
Example 2
Tritone Motive in m. 32

As established in the introduction, a prime form of the series is always heard with an
inverted form, resulting in an index number that is always 0. As a result, there are only seven
different pitch-class dyads between canonic rows in the movement, as shown in Figure 3. These
dyads result in only four different interval classes (0, 2, 4 and 6). However, since the two
canonic rows are always slightly rhythmically displaced (except for the unisons in mm. 4 and
10), these dyads are not heard as simultaneities. Rather, dyads based on odd-numbered interval
classes are heard simultaneously.
Figure 3
Seven Different Pitch-class Dyads Between Canonic Rows
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
B E F D Eb F# C
C# G# G Bb A F# C
Class 2 4 2 4 6 0 0
The introduction is based upon trichordal segmentation of the row. Figure 4 shows the
substructure of the row, consisting of adjacent trichords belonging to three different set classes.
Figure 5 shows the instruments assigned to each trichord of the introduction. Example 3 shows
the trichordal organization of the introduction.
Figure 4
Trichordal Analysis of Op.22 Tone Row P1

Figure 5
Trichordal Instrumentation of Introduction
Example 3
Trichordal Organization of the Introduction
With only a few exceptions throughout the movement, Webern maintains the technique
of assigning each dyad and trichord to a different voice, as established in the introduction.
However, the order of voice entries from the introduction is not followed in the rest of the
movement. One exception is found in mm. 6-15, where the non-canonic voice (discussed below)
gives full statements of I1 and I7, and is found entirely in the saxophone. Another exception is
m. 28, where individual tones of I5 and P7 momentarily cross between the left and right hands of
the piano.
While the introduction uses trichordal segmentation, both dyadic and trichordal motives
are employed throughout the movement. The canonic voices feature dyadic organization in mm.
6-11, and 28-33, which represent the first measures of each A section.
A study of the hexachordal qualities of the row, illustrated in Figure 6, reveals two self-
complementary hexachords. Additionally, Figure 7 illustrates that the hexachords are
combinatorial under inversion.
Figure 6
Hexachordal Analysis of Tone Row P1
Figure 7
Cominatoriality Between P1 and I4
The introduction immediately reveals Webern’s preference for scoring disjunct leaps of
at least a major 7
or minor 9
, rather than using conjunct minor seconds. Examples can be
found in both the tenor saxophone and violin, whose initial motives in the introduction include
leaps of a minor 9
. These disjunct motives serve a unifying role in the movement, and are
found throughout. While an analysis of the row for Op. 22 reveals Webern’s preference for
interval class 1 between adjacent tones (see Figure 8), the minor second interval is used only
four times in the movement (mm. 4, 10, 25 and 38).
Figure 8
Interval Class Analysis of Op.22 Tone Row P1
Row P1: C# A# A C B D# E F F# G# D G
IC: 3 1 3 1 4 1 1 1 2 6 5
The overall form is a large-scale palindrome, with an ABA form flanked by an
introduction and coda. While the existence of two large repeated sections initially suggests
binary form, the presence of a fermata at m. 28, the contrasting dynamics and rhythmic nature of
mm. 16-27, and the landscape of the tone rows lead to this conclusion. Figure 9 indicates the
form of mvt. I.
Figure 9
Form of Op. 22/i
%e.tion *ntrodu.tion A / A #oda
Measures 1-0 1-10 11-+* +2-3*b 32-31
Rows .1, )11 )1, .*, )0, )*, .1, )11
.10, )+, )1, .11, -)0, -0, .0, )0, -1,
-)11 )1, )0, .*, )*, .1, )11 -)11, -1
The introduction establishes two rows, P1 and I11, that are employed in the coda in
retrograde, creating a mirror image of the notes of the introduction. Also, P1 and I11 take on the
structural role of closing out the A sections of the movement. This is done in similar fashion
each time in mm. 5 (close of introduction), 15 and 37b (close of A sections), with fp closing
trichordal motives based on rhythmic motive b (see Example 5). These closing motives are
always on pitches 10, 11 and 12 of P1 and I11, although found in a different octave each time.
The tone rows and rhythm used in the two A sections are identical, except for
instrumentation and contour. The first A section features the tenor saxophone as the third, non-
canonic voice (discussed below), surrounded by the canon. In the second A section, the third,
non-canonic voice appears in violin, clarinet and saxophone entirely above the canon, found here
in the piano. Each note of the second A section moves in opposite contour when compared to its
counterpart in the first A section.
The B section includes a palindrome around the climax of the movement, m. 22.
Example 3 shows the palindrome, which features an escalation in the number of instruments,
rhythmic activity, and dynamics. Rows RI0/R0 and I0/P0 move outward in both directions from
m. 22. The C’s in the violin (highest note of the movement) and piano (lowest note of the
movement) serve as the axis of this palindrome, with the outer ends at mm. 21-24. These
fortissimo C’s represent the loudest dynamic in the movement. Rhythm is integrated into the
palindrome as well: a consistent stream of eight sixteenth-notes moves out from the axis,
culminating in slurred motives in the piano, saxophone and clarinet.
Example 3
Use of Palindrome in B Section, mm. 21-24
The two-voice canon established in the introduction continues to the end of the
movement. The two inverted lines are offset and use duplicate rhythms, but the rests between
imitative entrances are not always identical. The rhythmic separation between dux and comes is
usually a sixteenth-note, but alternates and can be as long as two eighth-notes. As a result, when
taking this rhythmic inconsistency into consideration, this is not a strict canon.
As set forth in the introduction, the canon’s roles of dux and comes alternate, but no
consistent pattern plays out in the movement. Figure 10 shows the palindromic pattern
established in the introduction, however this pattern is not found elsewhere. After being shared
by clarinet, violin and piano in the first A section, the canon is found only in the piano for the
second A section. The climactic B section involves each voice in presenting the canon.
Figure 10
Palindromic Pattern of Canonic Entrances in Introduction
Measure m. 1-2 m. 3 m. 3-4 m. 5
Dux P1 I11 I11 P1
Comes I11 P1 P1 I11
In each A section, a third voice is added which does not participate in the canon. This
third, non-canonic voice first appears in the rhythmically contrasting saxophone part, which
clearly presents I1 and I7 from mm. 6-15. This is shown in Example 4. The scoring for
saxophone is unique, in that its greater rhythmic activity separates the color of the instrument
from its surroundings. The non-canonic voice returns in mm. 28-37a, but is this time shared by
the violin, clarinet and saxophone, again performing I1 and I7, and duplicating the rhythm of
mm. 6-15. The B section does not feature the third, non-canonic voice, providing further
justification for mm. 16-27 as a separate section.
Example 4
Third, Non-Canonic Voice in Saxophone, mm. 6-15

The appearances of the third, non-canonic voice in the A sections are dissimilar in
another regard. While the non-canonic voice in each instance uses identical rows, the motion of
each canonic voice is inverted when compared to its counterpart. The only exceptions are the
final notes of I1 in m. 32, and the final notes of I7 in mm. 35-36, which duplicate the direction of
their counterparts in the first A section.
The third, non-canonic voice is also rhythmically unique. Vertically separated from the
canonic voices, it is given rhythmic independence in the style of a hocket. As stated earlier,
Webern sets the tritone off as a rhythmically exposed motive. The F# of that interval always
occurs on the downbeat of a measure (mm. 10, 14, 32 and 36a/b).
The introduction sets forth four distinct generating motives that supply motivic material
for all voices throughout the movement. These are labeled as motives a, b, c and c’ in Example
5. These motives are not consistently paired with dynamic markings, articulation, pitch, or
instrumentation. (One exception is that the piano part does not use motive a anywhere in the
The canon uses no more than three of these short motives in any one statement of a tone
row. In m. 6, the third, non-canonic voice begins with a portion of motive a, but adds two new
rhythms, a’ and c’’, closely related to motives a and c from the introduction. Motive a’ reverses
the order of the eighth and sixteenth

from motive a, and augments the final eighth note into a
quarter note. Motive c’’ repeats the rhythm of the dyad found in motive c.
Example 5
Generating Motives from Introduction and
Related Motives from Third Non-Canonic Voice
The B section is the most rhythmically active, with all four instruments used in close
proximity around mm. 22-23, based on motives a, c and c’. This rhythmic energy is integrated
with palindrome, dynamics, and extreme range to make m. 22 a unique, climactic moment in the
movement. The combination of all the instruments creates a new color which contrasts with the
sparse, economic instrumentation found elsewhere in the movement.
While Webern does not consistently tie instrumentation to the use of the row in a serial
manner, he does integrate the use of instrumentation into the form of the movement. In the
similar introduction and coda, each instrument is heard separately, playing minimal material with
only periodic overlapping. As discussed earlier, the first A section features an active saxophone
part as the non-canonic voice, surrounded by the canon. This is the only instance where an
instrument is featured in such a way, and supplies this section with a color not repeated
elsewhere in the movement. The second A section shares the same material, however each non-
canonic motive is spread among violin, clarinet and saxophone, with the canon placed solely in
the piano.
The introduction also serves to introduce each instrument of the ensemble. All four
instruments are capable of a wide spectrum of tone colors and dynamics. In particular, the violin
part includes consistent alternation between pizzicato and arco throughout the movement, along
with the use of a mute. Additionally, the saxophone and clarinet are capable of a wide dynamic
range. Finally, Webern’s treatment of the piano is unique: successive entrances of the left and
right hands almost always present notes from different tone rows, treating each hand separately,
rather than as a single unit. Across the movement, the relationship between the left and right
hands is rhythmically close, with entrances of the two hands usually no more than an eighth-note
As early as the first two measures, one hears the ability of the wind instruments to blend
with other members of the ensemble. Despite the potential for great contrast, this blending lends
a homogeneous sound to the work. Webern elides instrumental colors by rhythmically
connecting one instrument’s motives with notes that are very close in register to another
instrument. While the vertical combination of voices may somewhat obscure aural identification
of the trichordal organization, the overlapping of voices combines contrasting timbres of the
ensemble to generate a linear rhythmic momentum. In mm. 1-2, for example, the saxophone
completes its motive only a whole-step under the beginning of the violin’s figure, thereby
creating a rhythmic and coloristic connection between the first two trichords of the movement.
This is shown in Example 6. A few additional examples of this effect include mm. 9, 13, 16,
and 17.
Example 6
Elision of Saxophone and Violin Colors, mm. 1-2
The major 7
and minor 9
intervals, first heard in the introduction but found throughout,
create rapid changes of timbre within single voices. These timbre changes are periodically
emphasized by the fp dynamic, creating further contrast in the span of only two to three notes.
Both rhythm and instrumental color are further integrated through the use of hocket. The
use of hocket technique to link voices results in longer, connected passages. Measures 6-8, 20-
21, 22-23, 29-30 and 35-36 all feature displaced rests which serve to link the music together for
measures at a time. Also, as noted earlier, the non-canonic voice in each A section creates a
hocket with the canon.
Another compositional element established in the introduction is the sharing of identical
dynamic markings between each paired dyad or trichord between the two canonic voices. This
consistent sharing of dynamic markings continues throughout the movement, with the exception
of m. 16. The matched dynamics serve to intertwine voices and further the linear momentum
and elision of instrumental colors discussed earlier.
The five different dynamic markings, including pp, p, f, ff and fp, are not consistently tied
to statements of the row. Nor are they consistently tied to articulation or rhythmic motives.
However, Webern does match dynamic markings to the large-scale palindromic form. The
introduction and first A section use only p, pp and fp, as do the final A section and coda. The
climactic B section adds f and ff to build intensity.
As introduced in the introduction, every note of the movement is written with a precise
articulation marking. Webern employs legato, staccato, accents and pizzicato markings to
increase the variety of instrumental colors already at his disposal. But articulation is not
consistently paired with pitch, dynamics, or rhythmic motives. To illustrate, Example 7 shows
the various articulation styles assigned to motive b.
Example 7
Articulation Markings Assigned to Motive b in mm. 3, 17 and 20

Articulation plays a role in conjoining the canonic voices in the introduction and
throughout the movement. Their articulation markings are identical, except for m. 21, 25-27, 39,
and 40-41. Also, each presentation of the non-canonic voice uses identical articulation, despite
the change in instrumentation. Finally, when comparing the A sections, the second A section
begins by duplicating the articulation of the first A section, but soon (by m. 31) ceases that
In summary, numerous compositional elements are set forth in the introduction to mvt. I
of Webern’s Op. 22 which give the movement a high degree of organization and cohesion.
Canon, emphasis on the F#-C tritone and invariant tones, hocket, palindrome, dyadic and
trichordal segmentation and elision of instrumental colors were some of the techniques
uncovered in this movement. The identification of these elements provides fascinating insight
into the intricate inner workings of Webern’s compositional technique, and gives further impetus
to explore additional works by this 20
-century composer.