But I think instead I’m going to scale it back and make up a list of smaller pieces. I really don’t want to spend a lot of time on the Second Vienna School, who don’t interest me much – the payoff for me is all post-war Darmstadt – but I think with undergrads I probably should. I could teach one of the Webern Cantatas (I’ve grown deadly tired of dissecting the Symphony) and part of Berg’s Violin Concerto to start off, plus Dallapiccola’s Piccola Musica Notturna or Sex Carmina Alcaei. I can’t think what Schoenberg to teach, since I don’t like any of his 12-tone music except for Moses und Aron. Maybe I can suppress my gag reflex and do the Orchestra Variations or a movement from the Third Quartet. I do not want to waste my time teaching pieces I don’t like in this class. I’ve been analyzing Post-Partitions for years as a Babbitt example, and while it’s easy to outline, I just don’t think it’s a strong piece.
So I’m thinking All Set, for jazz ensemble, if there’s enough documentation about it in Andrew Mead’s book. I well know the folly of trying to analyze Babbitt without a cheat sheet. I regret that Mead doesn’t discuss The Widow’s Lament in the Springtime, which would be a perfect size. For another American, I’m thinking Rochberg’s lovely Serenata d’Estate, or possibly the first movement of his Second Symphony. For Stockhausen I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at Kontrapunkte, which I rather like. (I’m a little weary of rushing through Gruppen in alternate years.) I’d love to include Maderna, but the only score I have is Aura, which is too big. I don’t want to do early Boulez, Le Marteau included; the sonatas are too doctrinaire, and Marteau seems like more work than it’s worth. Ditto the Stockhausen Klavierstucke, with the possible exception of IX. Berio’s Sinfonia would be worth spending a few weeks with; that and Mantra could be the semester’s two major works. I’m also thinking about Berio’s Circles, a more manageable score. Ligeti’s Continuum is a good teaching piece, though I’d rather do something like Melodien or Monument-Selbstportrait-Bewegung. I’d love to do some later Nono, but I’m not inclined toward Il Canto Sospeso and even less to Polifonica-Monodia-Ritmica, which are the scores I own. I’ve always had a soft spot for Pousseur, but the only piece of his for which I own both score and recording is Jeu de Miroirs de Votre Faust, which is fun but hardly seems representative of serialism. The problem, as some of you know, is that some of these pieces contain complicated hidden structures, and don’t make much sense unless someone with inside information has written about them. I once had a frustrating experience trying to analyze Requiem Canticles in class, though I’ve since found enough information to want to try again. I shy away from Sessions for this reason, too – something about his row technique I don’t get.
What am I missing? What could I get and afford scores for, and find coherent analyses of?
UPDATE: Thanks to my readers for all your suggestions. I can now proceed feeling that I’ve left no stone unturned. Merry Christmas, happy Hannukah, have a good Kwanzaa or solstice, and all that jazz.