Schoenberg’s Annotated Libretto of Erwartung as Analytic Guide

Schoenberg’s Annotated Libretto of Erwartung as Analytic Guide

Dr. Philip Fried

with translations from the German by Michael J. Spudic

Introduction   [presented April 12b 1992]

A serious title implies a dreary lecture, however the title “Schoenberg’s Annotated Libretto as an Analytic Guide” is not only serious, but also seriously misleading. My discussion of Schoenberg’s annotation to Marie (Mitzi) Pappenheim’s libretto may in fact confuse the the issues surrounding Erwartung even more. There is a simple reason for this, and that is: since I have so much material on Erwartung to present, I have chose ( or rather it was strongly suggested to me) that I present this particular aspect of my larger study. It is my intention to confine this paper solely to the issue of the annotated libretto. It is true then, that many questions thereby created will be answered by my larger study of Erwartung, if time permits I will answer those questions that are outside of the proposed topic.

The libretto is the creation of two people: 1) Marie Pappenheim whose handwriting appears on the left of the libretto, and 2) Schoenberg whose annotations appear on the right in addition to his editing of Ms. Pappenheim’s original ideas. (So, unlike Ezra Pound’s editing of Eliot’s The Wasteland, Schoenberg deletes his own annotations relating to any of Ms. Pappenheim’s texts that he omits). I must note at the outset that Ms. Pappenheim’s original poem includes no notated sections, so that the division into four scenes is Schoenberg’s own creation.

The annotated libretto is, on its own, a fascinating document. Yet, I hope to show that Schoenberg’s annotated libretto for Erwartung represents the only sketches known for the work, as the holograph first draft of the short score is almost complete in its entirety. The annotated libretto, however, not only features extensive text revisions, but seven musical excerpts with tempo and dynamics, and fourteen Roman numeral indications as well.

I originally intended to investigate in detail the meaning of the three elements that appear in this libretto: text, musical excerpts, and the 14 Roman numerals that appear, to see if they could shed any light on the completed work. Recently I became aware through Joe Auner, that Jose Laborda has already published these textual changes.i Fortunately for me, Laborda confines his study of the annotated libretto to the text changes alone (I refer to Laborda’s transcription in a translation into English by our own Michael Spudic). Since the text work is already done, that still leaves two more elements of the libretto to discuss: 1) the musical “sketches,” and 2) the Roman numerals. A study of the seven musical “sketches” in detail would bring us into another section of my work, “Compositional Procedures in Schoenberg’s Erwartung. “ Since this is outside this paper’s topic, I will save it for another time, and focus on The Roman numeral meanings.

Some Historical Questions

The exact date or dates of Mitzi Pappenheim’s libretto are not known, nor do we know when she gave the libretto to Schoenberg. David Hamilton, in his paper on Schoenberg’s first opera, quotes an interview by musicologist Helmut Kirchmeyer with Mitzi Pappenheim some 50 years after the composition of Erwartung.ii Kirchmeyer and Hamilton seem to imply that Schoenberg, who worked from an incomplete libretto, and composed a page at time as the pages were given to him. I am not reading from David Hamilton’s quotation of Helmut Kirchmeyer:

The sketchy historical record indicates that the designation, like the subject matter itself, originated with the text’s author Marie Pappenheim (1882-1966). “On a summer holiday in Steinakirchen in lower Austria, where Stein, Berg, Mopp, land other artists were staying near the Schoenberg and Zemlinsky families, Schoenberg suddenly challenged the young poetess: ‘ Then write me an opera libretto, young lady… Write whatever you wish, I need a libretto.’ Marie Pappenheim responded: ‘I certainly cannot write a libretto, at most I could write a monodrama… Two days later, Marie Pappenheim went to friends at Traunkirchen, and there wrote the libretto for Erwartung. She had experiences the forest a year earlier in Ischl, where every night around 10:30 she had to go through a stretch of dark forest on her way home; therein she found the plot of the drama. Lying in the grass, she wrote in pencil on large sheets of paper, and made no copy; she hardly read through what she had written, and expected that Schoenberg, whom she did not yet know very well, would surely make proposals for changes… Three weeks later, she returned to Steinakirchen, firmly believing that her poem was no opera libretto. But Schoenberg took it from her page by page (she wanted to correct it), and composed it immediately.”iii

These statements concerning Erwartung’s compositional genesis are ambiguous, in that according to Kirchmeyer Pappenheim does not say that Schoenberg composed it a page at a time, but, merely that he took it form her page by page. Dika Newlin, in her reminiscence of Schoenberg, implies the opposite; that Schoenberg had to stop composing Erwartung until Marie Pappenheim could agree to a revision. “When he was about halfway through he found something in the text that didn’t seem to fit the rest[!], so he lost a whole day correcting that. He had to write Marie P. about it and wait for her answer.”iv Perhaps these are the revisions that occur around Roman numeral V [p. 2413].

The “Freudian” connection.

One of the phrases constantly used in conjunction with Erwartung is that it is a “Freudian” drama. For example, Robert Craft states: “This first Freudian music drama was born in the barely credible span of seventeen days (August 27-September 12, 1909).”v Yet Craft also states that “no contact has been recorded between Schoenberg and Freud…, but the emotional climate of Freud belongs to this music by his contemporary and compatriot as to no other score before or since.”vi Perle and Antokoletz concur, when they describe the composition of Erwartung as coming from “…the Vienna of Sigmund Freud,” and further: “..the symbolism of Erwartung suggests roots in Freud’s Vienna…”vii John Crawford states: “Pappenheim’s libretto reflects the knowledge of psychology and psychoanalysis which she had gained as a medical student in the Vienna of Sigmund Freud (her relative, Bertha Pappenheim, was in fact the original subject of Freud’s case-history “Anna O”). viii This same information turns up in David Hamilton’s study.ix

Popular thinking frequently equates any psychological idea with things Freudian. This is a simplistic view, since psychology existed before Freud, and after. So, however attractive these analogies may seem to be, we have the right to question any assertions on the history of psychiatry, made my musicologists, theorists, or worst of all, composers. This is perhaps unfair, but I believe that the overemphasis on Freud has inhibited the study of Erwartung by limiting possible readings of the text. Further, Freudian interpreters have yet to provide convincing, thorough analyses.

On the Possibility of Understanding

Schoenberg’s own statement concerning Erwartung’s dramatic argument, “the whole drama can be understood as a nightmare”x is ambiguous enough to leave room for interpretation. But, recourse to the “Freudian” nature of the “nightmare” makes it extremely difficult to get a handle on what is happening on stage. In fact, it can preclude the possibility of understanding the action at all. For example, what can one make of a text where Antokoletz (Perle in a phone interview says that this article is Antokoletz’s) states: “The work is highly symbolic, metaphoric, and ambiguous in that we do not know whether what we see on the stage is supposed to be a representation of a series of events or of a dream.” This is echoed by David Hamilton, who after proposing a Wagnerian reading of the text states: In fact the reality of the entire action is ambiguous at least,”xi or, as the Opera News proposes Erwartung’s operatic argument: “Erwartung does not depict literal events…”xii Another possibility, is that Erwartung is an John Simon says: “…for the whole piece, except for a cry for help, [Erwartung] is an interior monologue.” xiii would point out that if it is only a dream, it’s a dream occurring in real time on a real stage, or, if it’s an internal monologue, it’s a particularly noisy one.

The focus on symbolism, Freudian or otherwise, in Erwartung is also overstated.xiv Schoenberg’s own statement implies that symbolism is not the only path to understanding Erwartung. Referring to the stage design of the forest: “But for that very reason [because the drama can be understood as a nightmare] it must be a real forest…”xv If we consider the work of Robert Donnington, a short list of opera’s without “symbolism” would be very short indeed.xvi Laborda in his example on page 47 points out that Erwartung is not a symbolic opera like Schoenberg’s The Lucky Hand.xvii This distinction between Erwartung as a psychological monodrama, and The Lucky Hand’s elemental symbolism is further supported by Charles Rosen who proposes, “The concentrated expressive force of Schoenberg’s atonal style is more at ease with the nightmare of The Woman in Erwartung… than with the idealist symbolism of Die Glückliche Hand.”xviii

A Visit

Michael Spudic, when he heard that I was interested in the subject of Erwartung, suggested that we visit the relative (a niece) of Mitzi Pappenheim, Else Pappenheim, a Viennese psychiatrist who now lives in New York. During that visit Else Pappenheim,, showed me letters that have a direct bearing on the question of the relationship of Freud to Marie (Mitzi) Pappenheim and the Schoenberg circle. It is a letter to her from a musicologist Mr. W, who was in Germany doing research on the “Freudian connection.” Mr. W was directed to Mrs. Pappenheim not just because she was related to Mitzi, but because of her expertise in this field of psychiatric history. To summarize Mr. W, he asks Elsa Pappenheim for the “smoking gun” that will directly prove all of his “Freudian” hypothesis (that is – he wanted J. Crawford’s above quoted remarks to be facts) and further, speculates that Mitzi Pappenheim, a skin doctor, began her medical studies late because she underwent psychoanalysis [PSA].

In answer to this request for a “smoking gun” Else Pappenheim gives Mr. Wickes both barrels, the bum’s rush, negatory, no way Jose, not, when fish walk, or to sum up n-o-spells no. This is an English translation by Michael J. Spudic of Else Pappenheim’s replay to Mr. W:

April 19, 1989

Dear Mr. W:

I have received your letter dated April 4, 1989, and will attempt to address the questions raised therein. I really do not know all that much more than my cousin, Prof. Chauffeur.xix I am writing in German, since you apparently intend to hold your lecture in that language.xx

Concerning Anna O. i.e. Bertha Pappenheimxxi: I believe her consanguinity within my family to be a legend, and I am uncertain as to when and by whom this fiction was raised. After Jones revealed their names, I received a few inquiries in the United States. Bertha P. was totally unknown to me, right up until the time of publication of the book by Hirschmüller. Neither my grandfather nor my father nor even that matter my aunt had ever mentioned any relatives at all. Only my grandmother had siblings in Vienna. Pappenheim is by no means a rare geographical name ( a small city not far from Nuremberg). Every pupil in Austria and Germany knows that “Pappenheimer” by Schiller in Wallenstein, and there is even a street bearing this name in Vienna. As to this day, I am only questioned about this by American,xxii never by Viennese. Irrespective of the question of blood relationship or not, how should my aunt Dr. Marie Pappenheim have known Bertha Pappenheim? Bertha Pappenheim was in a sanatorium in Kreuzlingen in 1882, the year of my aunt’s birth! Furthermore Bertha Pappenheim resettled permanently in Frankfurt as of 1888 (see Hirschmüller).[Albrecht Hirschmüller, author of several books and articles on psychoanalysis, Freud, and Josef Breuer]

It never occurred to me that my aunt graduated late; this is however easy to explain. My grandparents did not want that she should study, as they probably just could not afford this. She also did not attend high school (Gymnasium) and therefore had to study Latin privately, ultimately on her own, with the help of a sole, well-to-do maternal uncle; this uncle also provided her with shelter. Perhaps she was just able to finish by the age of 21, only after becoming of full legal age. This would then make sense, that she was only able to begin studying medicine at the age of 22 or 23.

Apropos Erwartung: I believe all this analytical hair-splitting is sheer mythology. I always held this idea [the Erwartung text] for a classic description of an acute hallucinatoric psychosis, described as “ametia” by the Viennese psychiatrist Meynert.xxiii My aunt certainly observed many such cases – as I did after her – in seminar courses. This brings me to the topic of “psychiatric schooling.” Every Viennese medical student was obliged to attend four semesters of seminars that comprised five hours of weekly lectures in psychiatry and neurology, which in turn involved case histories. Of course already earlier in time, men and women of letters have described such patients. Only to mention on example: Shakespeare’s Ophelia. Nothing is known to me concerning a psychiatric treatment or other such special concerns. In later years my aunt and her husband would joke about the PSA. It is true, Hermann Frischauf did attend Wednesday evening meetings in 1910/11, however his name fails to turn up anymore, this after being suggested for membership.

My father and my aunt stood close to one another, nevertheless my father came into contact with Freud, I believe, for the first time only after the war – and moreover, he was preoccupied through the course of his lifetime with more than just neurology. He as first inducted into the Viennese PSA in 1926.

I cannot say when the acquaintanceship was established between the Frischauf brothers and the Pappenheim family, in any case before 1914. They also had common friends. The marriage of my aunt to Dr. Hermann Frischauf only took place in 1918, because Hermann Frischauf, as well as my father, immediately had to report for duty at the outbreak of the war. Hermann Frischauf spent the course of the war in Russian captivity, caught already during the war’s initial phase.

As far as Schönberg’s relationship to the PSA and a possible medial treatment, I am duly unaware of this. That he knew people from the Freud circle to my mind proves nothing. Intellectual and artistic circles (also painters, architects, etc.) mixed freely with one another, to which incidentally also belonged disciples of Freud and Adler. This is also relevant regarding the PSA. The “Traumdeutung” (interpretation of dreams) has remained well into the course of the 20th century, a lively source for discussion, alongside with politics and art. Else Pappenheim M.D.

Though is is perhaps no surprise that Mr. W. never acknowledged Else Pappenheim’s reply, the lack of hard facts (or Else Pappenheim’s permission)hardly precludes the success of an analysis along these lines.

Are the Roman Numerals Inconsequential elements?

The question is, what is the meaning of the 14 Roman numerals that appear in Schoenberg’s annotated libretto? Can these Roman numerals offer the music analysts any guidance for a deeper understanding of the work? For example, do they relate to the text form, the musical form, or as a combined form? Perhaps these Roman numbers were intended more directly to relate to Marie Pappenheim’s original (as in this libretto and Laborda’s reconstruction) unedited poem. Perhaps then, the Roman numerals merely add another layer of complications, that in the end are only of historical interest and must be rejected. There is certainly reason to proceed with caution.

I suspect that these fourteen Roman numerals indicate text/musical sections which are confluent, yet independent from the four scenes. For example, Roman numerals I and II coincide exactly with scenes I and II. Are these roman numerals scene indications? The four scenes according to Schoenberg indicate three transformations of the stage set and woman (as the score indicates), and in each case as in scene one, “The Woman” starts off-stage! As part of Schoenberg’s editing process he removes all other off-stage motions. I will now refer to the annotated libretto. [in order to avoid confusion, I will not require you to follow Laborda’s transcription, but I will give page numbers that refer to the annotated libretto. You will have to trust me.]

Spudics No’s 115, page 2406 – [She crawls, once more concealed behind the trees.]

48, page 2412 – [along into the shadows]

57, page 2412 – [She lies in such a way that her body is in darkness. Her hair is fully undone, one sees almost nothing of her face.]

60, page 2412 – [She embarks further into the dark, …]

The Woman only goes off-stage during the change of scene, so the Roman numerals don’t indicate changes of scene.

If these Roman numerals are structural, are they equivalent structural values? Or, are some more important than others? I must point out that every work of Pappenheim’s poem that is not crossed out (and some of the poem that is, for example the end of Scene I) appears in the holograph and final score. My point is that these 14 Roman numerals are never crossed (see XII) even when they appear close to large text erasures (for example V). In such case, it seems obvious that the Roman numerals were mapped out before the text editing, yet the Roman numerals are not likewise moved or crossed out.

Is the Libretto a Compositional Sketch for Erwartung?

All Schoenberg’s annotations appear in the holograph and final score. These annotations, besides the textual revisions, provide minute tempo, dynamic and musical reactions to Pappenheim’s text, stage directions, and with some slight alteration five (or arguably six) of the seven musical “presketches?” that also occur in the libretto. Two questions arise: 1) If this libretto were used while he composed would there not have been similar cross out’s in the short score holograph, and 2) what would be the purpose of writing back into the libretto in minute detail, events that happen in the score?

Why am I belaboring the question as to whether of not this libretto is a sketch for Erwartung? The importance does become evident if we consider that if this is a sketch for Erwartung, perhaps the composition of Erwartung took longer than Schoenberg indicates in his short score holograph, which is well known, is dated, and almost complete in itself. Since there are no exact dates for the annotated libretto (other than the summer of 1909), questioning the official dates of the composition of Erwartung may be pure speculation. However, I seriously doubt that I have hurt Schoenberg’s reputation as the most important and influential composer of the 20th Century, by making him more human.

The Importance of the Text

Erwartung creates sonic form and obvious points of arrival without the need for obvious argument. Schoenberg not only wanted to free himself from tonality, but also from thematic-ism as well.xxiv If we consider, Schoenberg’s statement that musical length could not be achieved except by textual means it is possible to see Erwartung as perhaps the greatest (most important) work of tone painting of the century. Examples of tone painting are everywhere in the score, not to mention Schoenberg’s incredibly detailed reactions to Pappenheim’s text, shown in the right hand columns in his annotated libretto. Obviously, a close examination of the text to investigate its formal properties would seem in order. The Roman numerals, though removed graphically from the holograph short score, leave an indelible imprint in the composition because they seem to create textual/musical sections. From example, as Robert Craft states: “The Woman’s short hymn to her lover, for instance, in which she begs him to awaken, is even preceded by a formal introduction.” A look at example 1, will show that Craft’s hymn is Roman numeral XIV. It is possible to divide Erwartung into its 14 numbered sections described in Schoenberg’s annotated libretto, since other Roman numerals leave an unmistakable imprint on the score.

Understanding the Text, Some Possibilities

Now I would like to start with a clean sheet of paper and consider the following: In Erwartung we are constantly aware of The Woman’s reactions to both her “stage” environment and her internal one. Therefore, in Erwartung all events that occur on stage are “real” to The Woman. If Erwartung is a nightmare it is a real one. Let’s consider her reactions to: a) her physical stage environment; b) her memory or internal environment; c) time – for just like Schoenberg’s Gurreliede, Erwartung starts at night and moves to daylight.

Another idea to consider is the association of related text ideas such as different body parts, and what Leonard Meyer call a “quantitative complex” which is the idea of associating fear, death, night, etc. into a single related textual category (for a differing view see J. Crawfordxxv). The use of a quantitative complex would also create implied text repetitions, since all these associated text ideas would now be considered variants of the same idea.

Besides the quantitative complex, there are many occurrences of exact work repetitions. For example, immediate repetitions such as No, No!. In fact, text repetitions could provide long range associative connections. For example, the repetition of the phrase “for these days,” in Roman numerals VI and IX.xxvi One could say in these cases that a word, or a phrase can act as a “text motive.” The point is that even though the pitch motivic structure in Erwartung is subtle to say the least, the text ideas repeat again, and again, and again.

Laborda on Form.

Laborda finds Erwartung to have several different formal aspects: “Text Form” which is in two parts (1-157, 158-426) or as they would say in Hollywood – girl loses boy girl finds boy dead; and “Momente Form” in 53 sections, which can best be described as phrase form. Further, Laborda notes the intervalic relationships, the pitch domain, and separately the ostinatos.xxvii Each of theses elements is independent of the four formal scenes.

Schoenberg’s Text Editing

Most of the text cutting is a matter of paring down, and removing repetitions of ideas – a general tightening up of the text. However, as Laborda’s reconstruction of Marie Pappenheim’s uncut libretto shows, the text changes in several respects, most importantly in Pappenheim’s original it is more strongly stated the The Woman was present at her lover’s murder:

Spudic No’s (77-8, page 2416 – [With rolled up fists to the trees…the shadow of the grotto…the thieves nest…here he clasp the trunk…and then the [gun]shot…)

(Score reference m. 243, Nein, Nein.)

Schoenberg removes any notions that would reduce our understanding of the “story” to conventional horror; Schoenberg removes reference to social moderators, that is, wine.

Spudic No’s 46, page 2411 – [who drinks our wine?],

and more strongly

114, page 2423 – [I dream inebriated as if from wine]

The Woman is not drunk and disorderly.

Schoenberg also removes references to the spirit work or “ghosts” S.N.’s

28, page 2409 – [I dare not disturb the ghost…if only a cloud would appear]


30, page 2409 – [the ghost is evil.]

Though it is highly recommended that this woman receive therapy, obvious references to insanity such as: S.N.’s

29, page 2409 – [la, la, la, la] The Woman is not in La La Land

or shrieking:

26, page 2410 – [She falls down with a shriek]


60-[1], page 2414 – [shrieking…How horrible] m. 233 are also cut.

Of course, the removal of shrieking may have a practical side as any singer will tell you.

Certain crossouts are placed back in:

Scene 1, page 2402 – [The moon is filled with horror]; [Does it look inside] and [I will sing and then he will hear me].

Roman Numerals

The placement of the Roman numerals would suggest that the text editing occurred last. T his is because these numerals are frequently featured in proximity to extensive textural cross-outs and revisions: for example II, IV, V, VI, and VII. However, these Roman numerals also appear to be written over various tempos, dynamic, and musical indications: IV, VI, VII (music), I (?), VIII, IX, XI, XIV over text. There is no ambiguity in the numbering of these Roman numerals except for XI 9 (is it XII? I would argue a slip of the pen) and XII (2419) the only Roman numeral that appears to be crossed out. A close look at Roman numeral XII reveals that arrows relating to two text annotations:

Spudic No’s 98, page 2419 – [brooding and aufspringend (springing up) – which is preferred… (reference m308) are colliding over the numeral.

In any event these Roman numerals are clearly visible to the eye and none are crossed out. The only ambiguity of placement to be found is with Roman numeral I, which appears to start measure 27 (see 2402). I speculate that because of the difference in the quality of the appearance or Roman numerals I and II, as well as their position that Roman numeral I, was placed as an afterthought and is back relating to page 2401 9only XIV is placed to the left side of the page, and, even so, is not so close to the edge). It is fascinating to consider that there might be a “0” section from mm. 1-27, which seems unlikely.

If we consider the sketches for Erwartung, the score is almost complete at first writing; it is the annotated libretto that functions as a compositional sketch. The question of the meaning of any sketch material to a finished score, relies solely on the presence of the sketch material making an appearance in that score. It has been previously noted by two writers, Craft and Rosen, that Erwartung might have more sections than the score notes, Rosen states that Erwartung is, “…a series of miniature…”xxviii As I have shown, Craft’s introduction and hymn are confluent with the Roman numerals (XIV), however, whether they are a separate section is another question.

The Question of a Linear Narrative

The fact that many commentators believe that there is no linear narrative in Erwartung creates problems for the music analyst, for if there is no linear text continuity what about the music? Philip Friedheim in his musical discussion of Erwartung’s four scenes, describes the first 3 as introduction to the fourth scene, thereby implying a linear form.xxix Yet this leads us to other problems. Schoenberg himself sates that the story is a single moment expanded in Perhaps then, the libretto is a group of several simultaneous thoughts and ideas that are then expressed (by reason of a single singer [a monodrama]) linearly. Music does have the possibility of expressing several ideas at once (see for example, John Eaton’s opera, The Tempest) and Erwartung does have quite a large orchestra.

To consider the question of Erwartung as a narrative, an examination of the notes from Mitzi Pappenheim to Schoenberg (the reverse letters are not available) can be of some help. In particular, one note from Mittzi Pappenheim to Schoenberg (in response to a note from Schoenberg) several years after the composition of Erwartung , refers to an exact point in the libretto where The Woman discovers her lover’s infidelity, perhaps Roman numeral X, or from Mitzi’s original libretto, Spudic No. 103, page 2421 – [You had a way, which I was not familiar with, a woman, who was not permitted to have a notion of me…stranger, whom you concealed before me…] It is not difficult then to find a linear story.

The Roman Numerals Examined

I now propose to discuss the meaning of the Roman numerals for the text, and by extension, the music form of the complicated score. This would follow Schoenberg’s own statement; “…I discovered how to construct larger forms by following a text or a poem.”xxxi However, I must limit my comments to the text only, as the scope of my work precludes an in depth discussion of that aspect of Erwartung here. The point I want to make is that the Roman numerals encapsulate particular text ideas. I now draw attention to Example 1.

These Roman numerals are not of equivalent length, II and XIII are the longest, some are extremely short (VIII is only 4 bars long). As with the scenes, the Roman numerals do not follow Laborda’s two-part text form mm. 1-158, 159-426.

Roman numerals I and III are concurrent with the first two scenes. These two Roman numerals express similar text ideas as their first lines show: “Is it here?” and “Is this still the way.” In both of these Roman numerals The Woman mostly reacts to her stage environment. However, the last line of the text at the end of Scene/Roman numeral I, mm. 31-2, text Schoenberg originally deleted he puts back in: “I will sing then he will hear me.” This becomes the first explicit reference to the “man.” Roman numeral III comes in sooner than Scene 3, with the text “But you have not come” underlining another very unambiguous reference to “him.” As Roman numeral III is the largest section, it overlaps into Scene 4 encompassing The Woman’s finding the body m. 153-7, and her cry for help mm. 190-3, and finally, for this section, her attempt to revive him with her sexuality.

The next three Roman numerals come rapidly and make direct references to time, in various guises and brooding on “him;” IV, which is 3 bars long, I can quote in its entirety: “night will be over soon…you wanted me this night…” V, “Oh, it is daylight..” a hopeful moment, which dissolves in m. 233 “Oh, how rigid your eyes are” a short transition into VI “for three days you have not been with me…” and includes her anger and denial of his death starting in mm. 243 “No, No it’ snot true, how can you be dead…” This ideas is repeated at the beginning of Roman numeral VI, “Not true…is it not true.” The question of the “blood dripping with a light beat” (mm. 259-60) here, would seem to imply the He is not dead yet, but dying.

Roman numeral VIII, marks a move internally, in the annotated libretto it’s marked “fast unhorbar,” (almost inaudible) pp and ppp in the score (m. 263). “I will kiss it [the blood?] to the last breath…never let you go…” Roman numeral VIII overlaps directly into IX, “To look into your eyes…All light, indeed came from your eyes…” which takes us to the deepest point of her obsession, or at least the most Wagnerian part “now kissing you I kiss myself to death…” This is different from the end of numeral III, because instead of trying to revive Him with her (breast), she tries to use her sexuality to join him in death.

In order to carry the thread forward, I must now do some skipping around with your indulgence. Roman numeral X, “Where are you looking” (m. 275) introduces a new idea, that the man has a lover, but she can’t seem to remember. XI repeats the phrase “for three days…” from Roman numeral VI, in a different context (rather than pp, leading towards the climax at m. 289 “so often you didn’t have time in these last few months…” She denies his death (m. 293 “No, not possible”, remembers him alive (m. 296) and denies death again (mm. 304-7 “I don’t want it, no, I will not.) Roman numeral XIII picks up and expands the thread from Roman numeral X (m. 325) “Again you are looking there…” and make the “other woman” most explicit (. 326) “Where is she then?…” Now a digression: it is well known Schoenberg’s fascination for number play, and a certain superstition about the number 13. For example in the holograph score the pagination replaces the number 13, with page 13b. It is perhaps no coincidence that in Erwartung section XIII occurs in measure 313 with the following text “No, no…my only love, not that.” Actually this section has an even darker aspect, speaking of bad luck and troubles, in the Roman numeral XIII dwells almost exclusively on The Woman’s jealousy of this “other woman with white arms.”xxxii

I now return to Roman numeral XII, “why did they kill you…” which brings us to an important problem in Erwartung, since this is the only explicit statement of The Woman’s possible knowledge of “his” death. As I have shown, Schoenberg removed Mitzi Pappenheim’s other references, which made this more explicit. For example, on p. 2419 (Spudic No. 97) in the unedited text, it went as follows: [it was so turbulent…so extraordinarily tender…absent-minded] “Why did they kill you…” This might imply that the man was killed defending The Woman, and further, perhaps her trauma relates to her being raped as well [her clothes torn etc.]. Roman numeral XII’s shortness and integration into the general texture (6 bars with a bar and a half introduction), would seem to argue against its importance. Yet the Roman numeral and its important text idea would argue for it. Fortunately, that is not only decision, rather it is my pleasure to make known to you a fascinating aspect of Arnold Schoenberg’s work. I’m afraid that I must leave this question unanswered until I can discuss the musical construction questions at length.

Finally (or so we suppose), in XIV, as the sun rises, The Woman calls to her “beloved…” and forgets her jealousy. Her life came only from him (his eyes), now this light is denied her. AS she acknowledges the coming of morning (m. 404), moving through the song quotation noted by Buchanan, which leads us to her final plea: “where are you” (mm. 415-16).xxxiii From here to eternity, or the curtain, which ever comes first, adds another element of ambiguity. That is the final dissolve(?), the rising musical motion in m. 426, could indicate The Woman wakening from her [day]dream. Note that the text could indicate this: “Oh there you are (fff)..I was seeking (pp-apologetically?)”.

A Linear Possibility

To make a long story short, I am proposing that each of the roman numerals creates a boundary for particular text/musical ideas. Further, there Roman numerals could be grouped into a higher four part order as:

  1. I, II anxiety

  2. III, IX, disaster, and denial

  3. X-XIII, jealousy (anger)

  4. XIV, anguish (relief?)

This appears to be a linear narrative.


The question of this paper is a matter of the “Lucky Hand.” Though Jose Laborda had the same annotated libretto that I have, fortunately for me he did not respond to the Roman numerals, or investigate their formal possibilities. In this case I had the “Lucky Hand” to present this information to you. I must point out here that most of the articles criticized for their “Freudian” bias, were never intended as detailed studies, but only as attractive descriptions. My interpretations of Erwartung’s text, though based on new evidence are personal and not the only ones possible. It is important, however, to “reevaluate” our comfortably held notions or for that matter uncomfortably held notions of any work of art from time to time. That is the scholar’s trade.

Appendix 1

An English translation of all of Schoenberg’s deletions of Marie Pappenheim’s and Arnold Schoenberg’s original unedited libretto by Michael J. Spudicxxxiv


  1. Ich fürchte mich.. [I am afraid]
  2. Es rührt sich so vieles da drin [ So much is stirring inside there]




  1. Der Mond ist voll entsetzen… [The moon is filled with horror]
  2. Sieht der hinein? [Does it look inside?]
  3. Ich will singen, dann hört er mich… [I want to sing, then he will hear me]




  1. Nicht mehr das zischen der Sensen im gras und der Schritt der Pferde. [ No more the swishing of the scythe in the grass and the gallop of horses.]
  2. (sah) [looked]
  3. etwas [somewhat]




  1. Schwämme [Mushrooms]
  2. (Sie hält sich an einem Baustamm im Dunkel an, sieht hinüber.) [She halts in the dark at a tree trunk, gazes about.]
  3. (zusammenschreckend:) [startled]





  1. Ganz [Completely]
  2. (Der Wind lässt nach) [the wind subsides]
  3. Ah er zischt… er lacht wie eine Schlange…Still, da liegter… [Ah he hisses…he laughs like a snake…Motionless, there he lies…]
  4. (Sie schleicht, hinter den Bäumen gedeckt weiter. [She crawls, once more concealed behind the trees]
  5. (Rauschen. Sie hält an!) [rustling. She halts!]
  6. Rufst du?…Oh etwas bricht durchs Gras… [Do you call?…Oh something is emerging out of the grass]




  1. (Mondbeschiene) [Moon illuminated]
  2. (Links) [to the left]
  3. (es ist fast noch entsetzlicher heir als im Walde) [it is almost more frightful here than in the forest]
  4. (sich…) [itself]




  1. Die Strasse krümmt sich endlos [The path arches itself along endlessly]
  2. überall [everywhere]
  3. Nichts als [Nothing but]
  4. (Heftig entschlossen: Aber ich kann nicht zu lang ohne ihn sein) [Vehemenetly decided: But I cannot be without him for very long]




  1. (Aufschreiend) [Shrieking]




  1. Da…da [There…there]
  2. Ich wage es nicht, das Gespenst zu berühren…Wenn nur eine Wolke käme… [I do not dare to disturb the spectre…If only a cloud would appear…]
  3. la, la, la, la
  4. Das Gespenst ist boshaft… [The phantom is evil]
  5. (Eine Minute) [One minute] (note fermata!)




  1. (wieder) [again]
  2. (..bis ihr Kopf den Gegenstand berührt. . [..until her head touches the object]
  3. (Sie erhebt sich auf die Knie. tastet:) [She lifts herself up upon her knees. gropes:]
  4. (Es hat) [ It has]
  5. (Sie fällt mit einem Schrei nieder:) [She falls down with a shriek]




  1. Hilfe [Help]
  2. ..erliegt da..Ganz finster.. [he lies there..Totally dark]
  3. sieht [sees]
  4. (von ferne ferne) [from afar afar]
  5. (Kurze Pause) [Short Pause]
  6. Bis in die Stadt?.. [Until reaching the city?]
  7. (Verzweifelt um sich schauend,) [Confused, glancing around]
  8. mein [mein]
  9. (Fast wimmernd) [almost whimpering]
  10. Wer trinkt unsern Wein? (?) [who drinks our wine? (?)]
  11. Oh du..nur ein liebest Wort..Deine Augen nicht in den Himmel [Oh you..only a precious word..Your eyes not skyward]




  1. (entland in den Schatten) [along into the shadows]
  2. Mein Herz ist so heiss vom Warten…Alles ist für dich bereitet. Ich habe so lange gewartet..Die Nacht [My heart is so hot from waiting. I have waited so long..The night]
  3. Die Nacht ist bald vorbei.. [The night will soon pass..]
  4. mein Liebsger.. [my dearest]
  5. Über ihn gebeugt, küsst ihn) [bent over him, kisses him]
  6. Deine Lippen sind matt und schliessen sich nicht..Küss mich doch.. [You lips are faint and refuse to close…just kiss me..]
  7. []
  8. (Sie wirft sich ganz über ihn) [She throws her entire self over him]
  9. Ich liebe dich so sehr..Du bist heiss..heiss..Dein Atem… [I love you so much..You are breath…]
  10. Sie liegt so, dass ihr Körper im Dunkel ist. Das Haar ist völlig aufgegangen, man sieht fast nights von ihrem Gesicht. [She lies in such a way, that her body is in darkness. Her hair is fully undone, one sees almost nothing of her face]
  11. (Stille, wildes Atmen) [Hushed, wild breathing]
  12. So kalt?..Ach wie kalt du bist.. [So cold?..Ah how cold you are..]
  13. (Sie geht weider ins Dunkel, fährt zusammen.. [She embarks further into the dark, travels together..]
  14. (Sie stützt den Kopf halb auf den Arm) [She leans her head halfway upon her arm]




  1. (schreiend) [shrieking]
  2. …wie entsetzlich… Wie ensetzlich das ist. […how horrible…How horrible that is]
  3. Was sie in die Bäume starren..

Der Mond ist verzerrt wie vor

Schreck..offen wie im Hilferuf

Was haben sie dir getan

Oh du..du..ich war so friedlich..

Die zitternden Blätter vor dem Himmel…

dein Haar ist blutig..dein weiches braunes Haar..


[What they look at fixedly into the trees..

The moon is distorted as if from like in a call for help

What did they do to you

Oh was not here

The evening was so peaceful..

The quivering leaves before the sky…

your hair is bloody..your soft brown hair..


  1. Und Blut an meinen Händen.. [And blood on my hand..]

und Blut auf dem Boden.. [and blood on the ground..]




  1. Wer hat das getan?.. [Who has done that?..]
  2. (Aufspringend) [Leaping up]
  3. Wer hat das getan du?..Du bist dan Enzige hier du musst es wissen… [Who has done that, you?..You are the only one her you must know it..]
  4. (Mit drohenden Händen Zum House hinauf:) [with threatening hands Getting up towards home]
  5. (Traurig) [Mournful]
  6. Du boshaftes Steingesicht.. [You malicious face of stone..] Wie es die Lippen zusammenpresst..Grinse nicht deinem Ritteraltan.. [How the lips press not grimace you..with your knightly gallery..]
  7. (Plötzlich in sich Ganz versunken [Suddenly slumped in totally]
  8. (Wieder aufweinend:) [Again crying:]
  9. (Sehr traurig) [Very sad]
  10. (Zärtlich fragend:) [Tenderly questioning]
  11. Hast du von heir zu mir hinübergespäht? Hand über den Augen..heir in Schatten [Have you been spying on me from over here? hand over one’s in the shadow]




  1. (Mit geballten Fäusten zu den Bäumen hinauf) [With rolled up fists up to the trees]
  2. Die Schattenhöhlen..dan Räubernest..Hier drückte er sich an den Stamm..Und dann der Schuss… [The shadow of the grotto..the theives’ nest..Here he clasped the trunk..And then the shot…]
  3. …dein Schritt in Garten… […your footstep in the garden…]
  4. (in angstvoller Erinnerung) [in anguished memory]
  5. Oh, der Abdruck deiner Füsse im Grase..ganz früh, wenn du mich verliessest..Aber später stehen die Halme auf..dann kommt der Lä helle laute Schritte heiss der Tag

Aber doch sind immer deine Küsse auf meinem Lippen…die Süsse deiner Wort


[Oh, the imprint of your feet in the grass..very early, if you were to leave me..But later the stalks stand up..then comes the noise..such clear loud steps the day is hot

But still your kisses are always upon my lips…the sweetness of your words




  1. in mienem Herzen… [in my heart]
  2. (Stille, Träumen Angstvoll, mit gefalteten Händen:) [Quiet, dreams, anxious, with folded hands:]
  3. Wie ein Band auf der Brust. [Like a ribbon upon one’s breast]
  4. …das meine, sie wissen es nicht.. [..mine, they do not know it]
  5. (Sitzt halb auf, lieb kosend) [Sitting up half-way, fondling sweetly]
  6. Weisse Feur [White fire]




  1. und rote Glut… [and red passion]
  2. Nun werd ich mich nicht mehr an deinem Bilde müde küssen [Now I will not kiss to fatigue anymore your image]
  3. Sehr…Blick [Very…look]
  4. Was war nur [What was only]
  5. (Aufspringend:) [Vaunting up:]
  6. Wer hat dich denn getötet?.. {Who then killed you?..]




  1. Man haat dich nicht beraubt.. [One did not rob you..]
  2. (Sucht:) [Searches;]
  3. (Verzweifelt grübelnd:) [Confused brooding:]
  4. Es war so sonderbar zärtlich..abwesend.. [It was so extraordinarily tender..absent-minded..]
  5. (Wieder grübelnd) [Again brooding]
  6. Warum bist du nicht lebendig?.. [Why are you not alive?..]

Mit meinen Händen dich erwürgen [With my hands strangle you]

  1. (Von Ekel geschüttelt:) [From disgust agitated:]
  2. (Wieder fort) [Again onward]
  3. Ich will ihr Feuer ins Gesicht werfen… [I want to throw fire into her face…]




  1. Du hattest einen Weg, den ich night kannte, ein Weib, das mich night ahnen durfte..Fremde, vor denen du mich verstecktest.. [You had a way, which was not familiar with, a woman, who was not permitted to have a notion of me..Stranger, whom you concealed before me…]
  2. weiss [know]
  3. Kein Glück, kein Traum, keine Welt als du [No happiness, no dream, no world other than you]
  4. …immer zu deinen Füssen… [always at your feet…]




  1. (Sehr leise) [Very gently]
  2. Warst du sehr oft bei ihr?.. [Were you with her very often?..]

Während ich vor Sehnsucht verging?… [While I faded away out of yearning?…]

  1. Sie streichelt ihn wieder, über ihn liegend) [she strokes him again, lying over him]
  2. Konnte sie dich küssen wie ich?..(hat) sie dich so liebkost?.. [Could she kiss you like I?..(did) she fondle you so?..]
  3. (wieder eifersüchtig) [again jealously]
  4. Oh, liess dich ihr Blick erzittern..wie mich der Deine?..Ihre Bewegung nicht war..wie Feuer..oder Betäbender Duft.. [Oh, did her glance leave you mine for you?..
  5. ..und deine Lüge [..and your lies]





  1. Ich träumte berauscht wie von Wein.. [I dreamed as if inebriated from wine..]


Example 1


Roman Numerals (with first line of text) Scenes
I (2402 mm. 1-37

Hier heinen?” [Is it here?]

1 mm. 1-37
II (2402) mm. 38-68

Ist das noch der weg?..” [Is this still the road?]

2 mm. 38-89
III (2403) mm. 69-221

Aber du bist night gekommen” [But you have not come]

3 mm. 90-124

4 mm. 125-426

IV (2412) mm. 222-224

Du wolltest doch bei mir sein diese Nacht.”

[Yet you wanted to be with me this night]

V (2413) mm. 225-234

Oh! es ist heller Tag..” [Oh! It is broad day]

VI (2415) mm. 235-254

Drei Tage warst du nicht bei mir” [Three days you have not been to me]

VII (2416) mm. 254-262

Nicht ist nicht wahr” [Not true.. is it not true?]

VIII (2417) mm. 263-266

Ich will es Küssen” [I want to kiss it]

IX mm. 266-274

In deine Augen sehn” [to look into your eyes]

X (2418) mm. 274-283

Wohin schaust du?” [Where are you looking]

XI (2419) mm. 284-306

Und drei Tage” [And for three days]

XII (2419) mm. 306 1/2-313

Warum hat man dich getötet?” [Why did they kill you?]

XIII (2419) mm. 313-388

Nein, Nein..mein einzig Geliebter.. das nicht” [No, no my love..not that]

XIV (2433) mm. 389-426

Liebsger, Liebster..” [Beloved, beloved]

(English by Louis Stanley)





iJose Maria Garcia Laborda. Studeien Zu Schoenberg’s Monodram Ewartung Op. 17, Laaber-Verlag (1981)

iiDavid Hamilton. “Schoenberg’s First Opera: Erwartung” Opera Quarterly, VI/III (1989): 48-58

iiiDavid Hamilton notes in his footnote #6 that Schoenberg’s pupil Egon Wellesz said that Pappenheim “received the idea from Schoenberg;” see his Arnold Schoenberg (London: J. M. Dent, 1921), p. 28 “These statements suggest that Pappenheim’s account, was, at least, incomplete”

ivDika Newlin. Schoenberg Remembered: Diaries and Recollections (1938-1976), New York: Pendragon Press, 1981, p. 211

vRobert Craft. “Notes to the Music of Arnold Schoenberg, Vol 1, Columbia Records, 1963

viHeart and Brain in Music, Style and Idea: Selected Writing of Arnold Schoenberg., ed. Leonard Stein (New York: St. Martin’s Press 1965), p. 55, Schoenberg claims to have written Erwartung in 14 days.

viiNotes To Erwartung and Bluebeard’s Castle: State bill of the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (January 1989).

viii John Crawford; “Schoenberg’s Artistic Development to 1911,” Arnold Schoenberg Wassily Kandinsky Letter, Pictures and Documents, Farber and Farber 1984, London/Boston.

ixDavid Hamilton, “Schoenberg’s First Opera, The Opera Quarterly, Vol. 6, Number 6, Spring 1989, pp. 48-58.

x1930, letter to Ernst Lagal, The Kroll Opera Director, included with the libretto, Belmont Music Publishers

xivis. fft.


xiii John Simon, Hearts of Darkness: Stage Bill vis. fft.

xiv J. Crawford. The Relationship of the Text and Music in the Vocal Works of Arnold Schoenberg, 1908-1924

xvviz. fft. 7

xvi Robert Donnington. The Opera and Its Symbols

xvii vis. 1

xviii Charles Rosen. Arnold Schoenberg, Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ. 1981, p. 16For a complete transcription in German see Laborda.

xixMitzi’s son who is a professor of medicine currently residing in Vienna

xxThe correspondent, a musicologist, was residing at the time in Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany

xxiThe issue at stake here is the commonly held belief that Bertha Pappenheim, the original of Freud’s case-history “Anna O.,” was indeed a relative of Drs. Marie and Else Pappenheim

xxii Mr. W. is not American.

xxiii Pronouncements on music by psychiatrists may also be questioned.

xxivStyle and Idea, My Evolution, p. 88, “In fact, I myself and my pupils…believed that now music could renounce motivic features and remain coherent…”

xxv Ibid.

xxvi Also see the libretto p. 2407

xxvii His organization of the ostainatos are quantitative not qualitative

xxviii Vis. fft. 14, p. 56

xxix Philip Friedhaim, “Rhythmic Structure in Schoenberg’s Atonal Composition,” JAMS XIX, I (1966)

xxx “In Erwartung the aim is to represent in slow motion everything that occurs during a single second of maximum spiritual excitement, stretching it out to half an hour. Style and Idea, “New Music: My Music.” p. 105

xxxi Arnold Schoenberg, Style and Idea, “Composition with Twelve Tones,” p. 217

xxxii Hamilton relates this reference of a woman with white arms to other Irish legends. It can also be brought back to the Greek Goddesses, see Richard Lattimore’s Homeric translations.

xxxiii H. H. Buchanan, “A Key to Schoenberg’s Erwartung, “ in JAMS XX, (1967), pp. 434-49