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From Bach to Busoni: transcription as visionary process in Ferruccio Busoni's Fantasia Contrappuntistica Kingsbury, Brett Alexander 2006

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FROM BACH TO BUSONI: TRANSCRIPTION AS VISIONARY PROCESSIN FERRUCCIO BUSONI’S FANTASIA CONTRAPPUNTISTICAbyBRETT KINGSBURYB.Mus., The University of British Columbia, 2000M.Mus., The University of British Columbia, 2002A THESIS SUBMITTED 1N PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF MUSICAL ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Piano)THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAOctober 2006© Brett Kingsbury, 2006ABSTRACTThis thesis begins with a historical synopsis of the compositional considerations and processesthat inspired Busoni’s Fantasia Contrappuntistica. A meeting in Chicago with Bernhard Ziehnand Wilhelm Middelschulte provided the impetus for the composition of the FantasiaContrappuntistica. At this meeting, Busoni was shown Ziehn’s solution to the uncompletedFuga a 3 Soggetti from Bach’s Art ofFugue, as well as Ziehn’s novel compositional techniqueemploying symmetrical inversion of harmonies. Busoni’s efforts following this meeting resultedin four different forms of the Fantasia Contrappuntistica which were published throughout thecourse of his career.The second section of the thesis surveys the overall structure of the FantasiaContrappuntistica with reference to Busoni’s love of architecture and also to the architecturaldrawings he provided for the structure of the work.The remainder of the thesis explores some of Busoni’s aesthetic principles (as presentedin his EnrwurfEiner Neuen Asthetik Der Tonkunst) and how they are realised in the FantasiaContrappuntistica. Transcription is shown to be a broadly-defined process in Busoni’s thought,operating on many different levels in the realisation of musical works in general and of theFantasia Contrappuntistica in particular. Transcription as a process is discussed largely withreference to Ziehn’s solution for completing Bach’s unfinished work. Ziehn’s concept ofsymmetrical inversion of harmony is also discussed, with reference to those sections of theFantasia, such as the Chorale Prelude, Intermezzo, and Variations, in which Busoni is morecomposer than transcriber. These two compositional ideas, the completion and transcription ofBach’s work and the application of a new compositional technique, are linked in the thesis to thewords Fantasia and Contrappuntistica respectively.11TABLE OF CONTENTSAbstract iiTable of Contents iiiList of Tables ivList of Figures VAcknowledgments viDedication viiSECTION § 1: Introduction 1SECTION §2: Historical Background 3SECTION §3: Busoni’s Architectonic Conception of the Fantasia 8§3.1: The Chorale Prelude 11§3.2: Fugues I through III 18§3.3: The Intermezzo and Variations 22§3.4: The Cadenza, Fugue IV, Corale and Stretta 25§3.5: Overview 28SECTION §4: Compositional Influences 34SECTION §5: Busoni’s Aesthetics 44SECTION §6: Two Aspects of Transcription: Fantasia and Contrappuntistica 47§6.1: Fantasia 50§6.2: Contrappuntistica 56SECTION §7: Concluding Remarks 64WORKS CITED 66APPENDIX A: List of Changes Made to the Fuga a 3 Soggetti 68APPENDIX B: Recital Programmes 74111LIST OF TABLESTable 1: Formal Components in the Chorale Prelude 13Table 2: Outline of the derivation of the Stretta from Contrapunctus XIfrom the Art of Fugue 57ivLIST OF FIGURESFigure 1: Bernhard Ziebn’s combination of the four Art ofFugue subjects 5Figure 2: Busoni’s architectural drawing for the frontispiece of the two-pianoversion of the Fantasia Contrappuntistica 10Figure 3: mm. 184-185 of the Fantasia Contrappuntistica 18Figure 4: mm. 585-588 of the Fantasia Contrappuntistica 24Figure 5: Harmonic Sketch of the Fantasia Contrappuntistica 29Figure 6: mm. 774-776 of the Fantasia Contrappuntistica 35Figure 7: mm. 117-118 of Liszt’s Variations on “Weinen, Kiagen, Zorgen, Sagen”..39vACKNOWLEDGMENTSThis document would never have come into being without the support, encouragement,thoughtful comments and occasional prodding from a good many excellent persons. I would liketo thank first of all the external examiner and university examiners who partook in the defense ofthis thesis, Dr. Jonathan Wisenthal, Dr. Gregory Butler and Professor Bruce Vogt. Theirexcellent questions and comments were extremely helpful in clarifying and polishing the ideashere presented.I would like also to thank especially Professor Jane Coop for her constant encouragement, kindassistance and helpful smiles which transformed seemingly impassable organizational quagmiresinto tiny bumps in the road. Also special thanks go to Dr. Sarah Buechner, a great apostle for thechurch of Busoni, by whose insightful comments and profound knowledge I was very fortunateto be enlightened.To Dr. Robert Silverman I am so profoundly in debt artistically that words fail me. Hisinstruction and help over the years have changed everything, how I hear, how I think andespecially how I work. If I can play the piano at all, it is in no small part his doing.Dr. Richard Kurth has been a great mentor, an even better friend and a superb example for meduring the course of my degree. In writing this document, he has been supremely patient andunderstanding, a deep well of contemplation, a mental whetstone, constantly sharpening ideasand giving edge to their presentation. His contribution towards the preparation of this documentis immense.. .it simply would not be without him.Finally, to Erika I express my deepest thanks and gratitude. She is for me the most honest oflisteners, my best critic, and a constant help. It is a great delight to have travelled this road withher.viDEDICATIONFor Richard,Then he, ahead of me, entered the fire...”(Dante, Purgatorio, Canto XXVII, 46)vii§1 IntroductionBusoni’s first awareness of the work of J. S. Bach came at an early age, when his piano studieswere overseen by his father. In the Epilogue to his edition of Bach’s keyboard works, Busoniwrites a touching testimony of this early seminal encounter:I have to thank my father for the good fortune that he kept me strictly to the study of Bach in mychildhood and that in a time and in a country in which the master was rated little higher than aCarl Czerny. My father was a simple virtuoso on the clarinet ... he was a man of incompletemusical education. How did such a man in his ambition for his son’s career hit upon the onevery thing that was right? I can only compare it to a mysterious revelation.1This Epilogue, written in August 1923 during the final year of Busoni’s life (he died on July27,1924), testifies to the enduring engagement he maintained with Bach’s work. The centralexpression of Busoni’s interaction with Bach’s output is the seven-volume Bach-Busoni editionissued in 1920. The Fantasia Contrappuntistica was republished in two of its forms, theEdizione Definitiva and the Edizione Minore, in Volume IV of this series. The Bach-Busoniedition demonstrates the broad range of Busoni’s responses to Bach. It contains criticalcommentary on the works of Bach and the works of other composers; transcriptions; originalworks inspired by Bach; treatises on the technical aspects of transcription, the nature of fugue,and other topics; and works that blur the lines between some of these categories. The FantasiaContrappuntistica is in this latter category: it is partly an original work inspired by Bach and‘As quoted in Larry Sitsky, Busoni and the Piano (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986), p. 180and Edward J. Dent, Ferruccio Busoni: A Biography (London: Oxford University Press, 1933),p. 18.partly a transcription of Bach’s own fugues. Bach’s and Busoni’s spirits become so intermingledthat it is in some ways difficult to separate the two from each other without close awareness oftheir respective contributions. The Bach edition as a whole and the Fantasia in particular aretestaments to Busoni’s intense imaginative encounter with Bach’s music, and to his vigorous andexuberant response. The richness and enormousness of this encounter demand that we reassessthe image of Busoni as mainly a transcriber who churned out virtuosic Bach arrangements for thepiano--an inaccurate image all too common during his lifetime--with a clearer understanding ofthe creative scope of his achievements.Two facets of Busoni’s attitude towards Bach are compactly expressed in a passage fromthe Sketch ofa New Esthetic ofMusic:[Bach] had no reverence for his predecessors (although he esteemed and made use of them)the still novel acquisition of equal temperament opened a vista of--for the time being--endlessnew possibilities. 2The aspects of Bach’s artistic process that Busoni holds up for inspection here are Bach’sunfettered attitude towards the use of the works of others--his own art was shaped by thetranscriptions and study he made of his contemporaries and predecessors--and his determinationto exploit the latest technical resources available. These two values are also at the heart ofBusoni’s Fantasia Contrappuntistica, in which Bach’s own fugues encounter the harmonic idiom2 Ferruccio Busoni, Sketch ofa New Esthetic ofMusic, trans. Dr. Theodore Baker, in ThreeClassics in the Aesthetics ofMusic (New York: Dover reprint edition, 1962), pg. 80. Baker’stranslation originally appeared in 1911. All references to this work will maintain Baker’s spelling(“Esthetic”) in the title of the work.2and the pianistic techniques of Busoni’s era. It is the purpose of this document to show howBusoni modeled his own artistic thought on the attitudes he perceived in Bach, to examine theunderlying aesthetic on which these attitudes are based, and to explore how these attitudes aremanifested in the Fantasia Contrappuntistica.§2 Historical BackgroundBefore examining the Fantasia Contrappuntistica in detail, a brief account of the history of itscomposition and an outline of the piec&s formal architecture will be given. There are alreadyseveral fine and detailed accounts of the compositional history of the Fantasia (by AnthonyBeaumont, Larry Sitsky, Marc-André Roberge), as well as a number of good biographies ofBusoni’s life (by Della Couling, H.H. Stuckenschmidt, and Edward Dent) that position theFantasia in Busoni’s output.3 The following historical account relies heavily on these sourcesand does not claim to add anything new to them. It provides a synopsis of ideas pertaining to theFantasia that are presented more diffusely in these more broadly-focused volumes.At the end of 1909 and in January of 1910, Busoni was involved in preparations for hisBach edition. On the sea voyage to America for a concert tour, Busoni was studying the Art ofFugue and the unfinished Fuga a 3 Soggetti (BWV 1080/19) in particular. Busoni recorded in3Anthony Beaumont, Busoni the Composer (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985);Larry Sitsky, Busoni and the Piano (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986); Marc-André Roberge,“Ferruccio Busoni, His Chicago Friends, and Frederick Stock’s Transcription for Large Orchestraand Organ of the ‘Fantasia contrappuntistica’,” The Musical Quarterly 80/2 (Summer 1996):302-331; Della Couling, Ferruccio Busoni: “A Musical Ishmael” (Lanham, Md.: TheScarecrow Press, 2005); H. H. Stuckenschmidt, Ferruccio Busoni: Chronicle ofa European(London: Calder and Boyers, 1970. [German original, 1967]; Edward Dent, Ferruccio Busoni:A Biography (London: Oxford University Press, 1933).3his notebook an idea for a composition that would consist of a set of variations based on the firstfourteen contrapunctae, followed by a completion of the unfinished Fuga a 3 Soggetti, andpreceded by a prelude based on the chorale Wenn wir in die hOchsten NOten, which had beenprinted at the end of the original edition of the Art ofFugue. In his notes, however, Busonidescribes this chorale as “dubious” (although he does not specify in which sense), and he did notuse it for the eventual composition that would soon emerge from this first idea.4 Thiscompositional seed germinated immediately after Busoni’s meeting, two weeks later in Chicago,with the theorist and composer Bernhard Ziehn and his student the organist WilhelmMiddelschulte (to whom Busoni would later dedicate the first and second versions of theFantasia Contrappuntistica). This meeting was highly stimulating for Busoni--who was likelynot looking forward to another grueling concert tour and long periods away from his family--andthe discussion centred on the completion of the Fuga a 3 Soggetti and on a new compositionaldevice with which Ziehn was experimenting. Ziehn introduced Busoni to the ideas aboutsymmetrical inversion he was developing at the time. The fruits of Ziehn’s researches intosymmetrical inversion would be published in 1912 in his Canonical Studies.5 The details of thisdevice will be discussed in some detail later, in connection with the Fantasia. Ziehn believedthat the Fuga a 3 Soggetti was likely intended by Bach to be completed by writing a final fourth,quadruple fugue in which the three fugue subjects would be combined with the principal Art ofFugue subject, and he showed Busoni his solution for combining these four subjects. Busonilater acknowledged his debt to Ziehn for this idea in the first edition of the prototype for theFantasia Contrappuntistica, which appeared under the title Grosse Fuge. It is difficult to argueBeaumont, Busoni the Composer, p. 161Bernhard Ziehn, Canonic Studies (London: Kahn & Averill, 1976).4with the ingenious way in which the four fugue subjects mesh together in Ziehn’s solution, whichis shown inFigure 1.Figure 1. Bernhard Ziehn’s combination of the four Art ofFugue subjects.A__________________.________JJ rJk-r. trrrr9:—‘PBusoni’s imagination was obviously sparked by Ziehn’s ideas, and he later wrote an article aboutZiehn and Middelschulte entitled “The Gothics of Chicago, Illinois” which was published inSignale fur das Musikalische Welt.6 He took with him sketches that Ziehn had made, and beganworking out some uses of Ziehn’s new compositional tool.1Busoni worked on his new composition while on the concert tour, and a complete worksoon took shape. By March 1; 1910, in New Orleans, the Grosse Fuge was finished. In a letterfrom Cincinnati on February 19, 1910, Busoni told his wife that he had abandoned the idea ofprefacing this first version with a fantasia introduction (presumably based on the “dubious”chorale). The Grosse Fuge consists of an extremely brief introduction (rising fifths D-A repeatedthree times), followed by a transcription of the Fuga a 3 Soggetti involving substantial alterationsto the original score. Busoni fmished Bach’s fragment with his own substantial development ofFerruccio Busoni, “Die ‘Gotiker’ von Chicago, Illinois,” Signalefür die Musikalische Welt,LXVIII/14: 6/4/10.5the three fugue subjects. There follows an intermezzo, three variations, a cadenza, a fourth fuguebased on the solution Ziehn had shown him, and finally a stretta finale. The Grosse Fugeconstitutes the bulk of what would eventually become the Fantasia Contrappuntistica.Six weeks after completing the Grosse Fuge, Busoni had “a beautiful idea on the train ... Ithought I would arrange the great fugue for orchestra. Transcribe the choral prelude (Meine Seelebangt und hoffi zu Dir) as an introduction to it and let it recur as a reminiscence just before thestretta in the Fugue.”7 Busoni never did orchestrate the Grosse Fuge or the FantasiaContrappuntistica, but during his lifetime the conductor Frederick Stock made a transcription fororchestra of the Fantasia.8 Although Busoni had dropped the idea of writing a prelude based onthe “dubious” chorale from the Art ofFugue, he realised that he had a ready-made choraleprelude in the form of his third Elegy, subtitled Meine Seele bangt und hoffi zu Dir, which he hadfirst published in 1907. Busoni grafted this Elegy onto the beginning and end of the Grosse Fugea few weeks later, in June 1910. Busoni also made some changes to the Elegy, which will bediscussed later. In this form, Busoni published his work with the daunting title FantasiaContrappuntistica--Edizione Dejmnitiva: Preludio al Corale “Gloria al Signore nei Cieli” e Fugaa quattro soggetti obbligati sopra unframmento di Bach. It was in this version that Busonipremiered the Fantasia Contrappuntistica on September 30, 1910 at the Musikhochschule inBasle.9 It is this version which will be the focus of the thesis, for several reasons. First, it is byfar the most recorded and published solo version of the piece. Second, Busoni was sufficientlyLetter to his wife, Denver, April 18, 1910; in Rosamond Ley (trans.). Ferruccio Busoni:Letters to his Wife (New York: Da Capo Press, 1975), p. 175.There is an excellent account of Stock’s orchestration in Marc-André Roberge, “FerruccioBusoni, His Chicago Friends, and Frederick Stock’s Transcription for Large Orchestra and Organof the ‘Fantasia contrappuntistica’,” The Musical Quarterly 80/2 (Summer 1996): 302-331.9Beaumont, Busoni the Composer, p. 160.6satisfied with it to premiere it and play it numerous times. And third, although it is not the finalversion, the fact that it is marked as Edizione Definitiva suggests that it represented for Busoni akey stage in his development of the piece--a stage that rewards detailed examination.There exist two other versions of the Fantasia Contrappuntistica by Busoni. They are theEdizione Minore of 1912 and the version for two pianos of 1921. The Edizione Minore isdescribed by Busoni as a work for study and not performance: “The present smaller Edition isintended more for pianoforte study than for performance at concerts.”0 This edition replaces theElegy as a prelude with new variations on the same chorale tune. The Edizione Definitiva hadmade cuts made in Fugues 1, 2 and 3, and additions in these and other fugues; the EdizioneMinore restores the cut original material and removes most of Busoni’s transcriptional additions.The Intermezzo and Variations are cut completely and the fourth fugue and stretta are simplifiedand laid bare in a sort of musical anatomy lesson. The main interest in the Edizione Minore liesin the new chorale prelude which comprises three completely new variations of the chorale thatinspired the third Elegy.In the final version of the Fantasia Contrappuntistica, written in 1921 for two pianos,these new variations of the chorale melody were combined with the older third Elegy to create anexpanded prelude. Composed at the suggestion of the pianist Frida Kwast-Hodapp for use by herhusband and herself, the two-piano version thus reworks the opening prelude completely byamalgamating the 1910 and 1912 versions. Busoni also made substantial cuts to the first fugue,cut about 15 measures from the third fugue, and cut the fourth fugue so that it is shorter than inthe 1910 version. Larry Sitsky feels that Busoni’s insecurities over the length of the piece,particularly regarding the first and fourth fugues, caused him to make cuts to the two-pianothe Preface to the Edizione Minore; quoted from Sitsky, Busoni and the Piano, p 150.7version and also to some extent to the 1910 version which cause them to misfire.1’ Beforediscussing the aesthetic success of the 1910 Edizione Definitiva, it will be helpful to get a moredetailed perspective on its construction.§3 Busoni’s Architectonic Conception of the FantasiaArchitecture was a source of much interest to Busoni. Egon Petri, Busoni’s student and closefriend, used to say that Busoni could have been a great architect.’2 For both his 1904 PianoConcerto and the 1921 two-piano version of the Fantasia Contrappuntistica, Busoni madearchitectural drawings to be used as frontispieces for the scores.The drawing for the Piano Concerto shows three edifices: a Greek-inspired temple; acentral building with Egyptian and Masonic motifs, housing a torch and fronted by a sphinx; anda tomb, guarded by something between a Seraph and an Egyptian god. Lush gardens separate thebuildings: the first has an exotic bird propelling itself upwards, and the second opens a vista toan erupting volcano in the distance. It is clear that Busoni’s drawing aims to express andsymbolize something of the overall form and character of the five movements of his concerto.The volatility, rich inventiveness, and Mediterranean character of the melodic second and fourthmovements are admirably represented by paradisal gardens. The first, third, and fifthmovements, more austere and more composed (in every sense), are aptly depicted as temple-likeedifices, each housing its own mysteries.For the two-piano version of the Fantasia Contrappuntistica, Busoni used a singleSitsky, Busoni and the Piano, p. 148.12 Ibid., p. 152.8structure to represent its formal principle. This architectural drawing, shown in Figure 2 on thefollowing page, also aptly expresses the formal outline of the 1910 Edizione Definitiva, eventhough Busoni made some changes in interior detail for the 1920 two-piano version.13 Accordingto Busoni, the overall architectural design for this drawing was inspired by the Papal palace atAvignon.14 Beaumont suggests that the Palais des Papes, which was a refuge for the Popes fromthe violence and chaos of Rome, serves as a metaphor for the Fantasia in both its function as amusical refuge from the chaos of the age and also in its superhuman proportions.15 Busoni saidthat the Fantasia was his most important work for the piano, with the exception of his PianoConcerto.16 In letters to Egon Petri, Busoni referred to his concerto as the “SkyscraperConcerto,” making reference to another architectural structure of superhuman proportions.17The Papal palace also serves as a metaphor for the spiritual function and spatiality of theFantasia. The art of transcription was viewed by Busoni as a quasi-mystical artistic act of thehighest order, in a way that sets him apart from his musical contemporaries, and it is embodied inthe Fantasia in much the same way that the Papal palace at Avignon represents a historicalschism in the Catholic church. Busoni’s drawing has little to do with the Palais des Papes interms of proportions, but resembles it in the detailing of the arches and the use of larger towers asimposing masses that break up the uniformity of the façade. The relative sizes of the numberedareas of the drawing do not correspond to the relative temporal lengths of the Fantasia’scomponents. Busoni seems instead to be suggesting that the interior formal boundaries of the13 For a description of the changes, see Ibid., pp. 152-155.Ibid., p. 161, footnote 18.15Beaumont, Busoni the Composer, p. 174.‘6Rosamond Ley (trans.), Ferruccio Busoni: Letters to His p. 156.Beaumont (ed. and trans.), Ferruccio Busoni: Selected Letters (London: Faber andFaber, 19W7),p. 174.9Figure 2. Busoni’s architectural drawing for the frontispiece of the two-piano version of the FantasiaContrappuntisticaPlan des Werkes.,.. Analytischer:r. Choral - Variationen (Einleitung — Choral und Variationen — Ubergang)2. Fuga I. 3. Fuga II. 4.. Fuga III. 5. Intermezzo. 6. Variatio I. 7. Variatio II.8. Variatio III. 9. Cadenza. .10. Fuga IV. 11, Corale. 12. Stretta,B. Architektonischer:10Fantasia Contrappuntistica divide it into a series of musical spaces of differing architecturalcharacters. Since the expansiveness of the impression we receive from a room has little to dowith the amount of time we spend in it, the proportions in Busoni’s drawing perhaps represent thecharacter and spatiality of each section relative to the others.The three artistic manifestations, in different media--the Fantasia itself, the idealizedarchitectural graphic representation of the piece, and the Papal palace--are all transcriptions of asingle “feeling,” as Busoni would call it. This layering of sensations in different media is verytypical of Busoni’ s manner of thinking.There are twelve sections in total in the architectural plan of the Fantasia and theirpresentation suggests to the eye possible larger groupings among those twelve. It will beprofitable to return to this idea after surveying in detail the musical components of the work. Thearchitectural drawing represents the compartmentalized structure of the Fantasia. Beaumontpoints out that assembling the work in this way had practical compositional advantages forBusoni, who was writing the work while on tour: “By dividing the great fugue into ‘chapters,’ hedevised a rapid and economical way of working.”8§3.1 The Chorale PreludeThe first “chapter” of the Fantasia is the “Choral Variations” as they are referred to in thedrawing. In the 1910 Edizione Definitiva, Busoni calls this section “Preludio corale,” and here itwill be consistently referred to as the Chorale Prelude. Busoni’s drawing further divides this first“chapter” into 3 parts, the introduction (Einleitung), the choral variations, and a bridge8 Beaumont, Busoni the Composer, p. 169.11(Ubergang) leading to the ensuing fugues. These subsections correspond with mm. 1-23, mm.24-183, and mm. 184-203 respectively.The Chorale Prelude is based on Busoni’s Elegy No. 3 (1907), which he subtitled MeineSeele bangt und hoffi zu Dir. Despite the subtitle, the chorale tune on which its variations arebased is Allein Gott in der HOh sei ehr, which Bach set numerous times, mostly in his ownchorale preludes for organ. When Busoni first wrote this elegy, it represented for him a furtherconsolidation of his style and another step towards the music he envisioned for the future. Thereis some question as to what inspired Busoni’ s subtitle for the piece. It has been suggested thePsalms were an influence.19 Sitsky simply suggests that the title is Busoni’s own and doesn’tattempt to account for it further.2° Beaumont suggests the German subtitle makes reference toBusoni’s hopes for the music of the future and his fears at making the attempt.21 Certainly thescore is filled with markings that suppoert such a claim, particulary the part concerning fears:“angstlich,” “flehend,” “ansioso,” and “in hochster Angst” (this last indication appears only in theoriginal version of the Elegy). Busoni also wrote on the manuscript of the Elegy the words“Angst und Glauben” (fear and belief).22 The performer who is aware that this dichotomy offeeling is inherent in the work will be able to characterize the phrase structure moreappropriately, as will be demonstrated in the following account.The table on the following page presents an overview of the Chorale Prelude’sarchitecture. The introduction (Einleitung) is divided into two sections: the first half runs frommm. 1-13 and the second from mm. 14-22. Measures 1-6 consist of three two-note figures (inRoberge, “Ferruccio Busoni, His Chicago Friends, and Frederick Stock’sTranscription for Large Orchestra and Organ of the ‘Fantasia contrappuntistica’,” p. 304.20 Sitsky, Busoni and the Piano, pp. 14 1-2.21 Beaumont, Busoni the Composer, p. 102.22 Ibid., p. 102.12Table 1. Formal Components in the Chorale PreludeSection Length! Measures CommentsIntroduction (Einleitung) 22 = mm. 1-22 Two subsections: A = mm. 1-13; B = mm. 14-22;cadence in Eb major at m. 22 --Variation 1 19 = mm. 23-41 Variation based on the Chorale tune “Allein Gottin der Höh sei Ehr” in registrally-layered threepart texture. Two subsections: A = mm. 23 -33(A Lydian over Eb pedal); B = mm. 35-41;cadence in Eb at m. 41First Episode 10 = nmi 42-51 Based on B material ofthe Introduction, this timeclosing on Ab in bassVariation 2 27 = nmi. 52-78 This variation also in registrally-layeredthree-part texture but with principal voice in themiddle register and highly chromatic tremolofigures in the highest register; the structure issimilar to Variation 1: A = mm. 52-65; B = mm.66-73 extended cadence closing on Gmajor, mm.73-78Second Episode 25 = mm. 79-103 This episode is a quasi-variation with incompletestatements of the Chorale tune, chromaticallyaltered, at mm. 83-84 and 93-98; cadences in AminorVariation 3 20 = mm. 104-123 Variation in registrally layered 3 part texture withthe Chorale tune appearing in the middle voice insingle notes, the lower register has tripletoctaves on beats 2 and 3, the upper register hasrepeated chords on beats 1 and 4; initiallycadences falsely in F major in mm. 116 and 118but then closes on a D major chord in firstinversion in m. 123Third Episode 23 = mm. 124-146 Development ofthe first four notes oftheChorale tune in the middle part of a three parttexture, supported by pedal Bb’s in the bass andornamented with different scalar modespresented as arpeggios in thirds in the higherClosing section 38 mm. 146-183 Another quasi-variation, this time based on thefirst eight notes of the Chorale tune; texturereminiscent of Liszt’s “Un Sospiro,” surprisemodulation up from F major to Gmajor in m. 154;Section closes in GmajorTransition (Ubergang) 20=mm. 184-203 Bass line is built fromthe subject of Fugue I;upper voices are constructed from the intervalsofthe chorale tune and various forms of BACHor quasi-BACH figures; ends on a strongdominant A in D minor which is not resolveduntil five bars into the fugue at the close of thefirst subject.13octaves), each spanning a progressively larger interval: ascending minor third, then descendingperfect fifth, then ascending octave. These figures are presented in octaves in both hands, andseem to make an affirmative expression of faith, with an appropriately monumental sense of GDorian modality. (The right-hand octaves are simultaneous, while the left-hand octaves are set asthirty-second note tremolos.) Measures 7-13, on the other hand, express uncertainty. The leftand right hands are each still in octaves, but the left hand (still tremolo) no longer duplicates theright-hand pitches; instead, it echoes the right hand at changing intervals, creating a sense ofconstant melodic and harmonic reinterpretation. The right-hand intervalsalso progress differentlyin this segment: instead of consistently expanding as before, they first expand but then contractand tentatively settle on A, perceived here as the fifth of the dominant D. The left-hand tremoloscause us to question whether D is actually a dominant, because they waver alternately between Dmajor and D minor harmonies in mm. 11-13. Thus, if mm. 1-6 seem to be a positive affirmationof faith, then measures 7-13 in contrast are more permeated by Angst and uncertainty. Moreover,they lead into the triple meter and new rhythms of the ‘pauroso” music at m. 14. In a reversal ofthe emotions expressed in the first half of the introduction, the first four measures of the secondhalf begin with fear. In the pauroso section itself, in mm. 14-17, the left-hand octaves undulatechromatically between the tritone poles Eb and A, which will each be differently manifested inthe ensuing chorale variations proper. The chromatically ascending lines in thirds in the righthand of mm. 13-17 reinforce a feeling of dread, in part through the Ab minor sonorities that aresuggested at the end of each slur. To complete the mirror image of the emotions in the first half,the second half ends more hopefully. Eb is strongly reinforced by the cadence in mm. 22-23, andby the repeated right-hand figures in mm. 18-19 and 20-21, which develop out of the two-notefigures in mm. 1-13, and which here present (in displaced hemiola rhythm) a harmonic motion14from tonic to dominant in Eb major. These right-hand figures also highlight, through the use oftenuto markings, a setting of the stepwise ascent through a third (Bb-C-D, mm. 18-19) that ischaracteristic of all the fugue subjects and also the chorale theme.The first statement of the chorale tune Al/em Gott in der HOh sei ehr, in mm. 24-4 1, hassomething of the character of a variation, since it is based on a Bach chorale, but in this context itseems also like an initial statement of a theme. The fact that Busoni has labelled this piece as aChorale Prelude suggests that he expected his audience to know that it was based on a preexisting chorale; consequently, this initial statement will henceforth be referred to as the firstvariation in this document.The first phrase of this variation begins strongly, in the right hand at least, with a versionof the chorale tune that presents a bright and hopeful A Lydian modality in triadic organum. Butthe phrase gradually decays into the chromatic sighs of mm. 30-33, and the whole right-handLydian modality is also subverted by the Eb pedal tone beneath the entire passage. In mm. 36-41,a new sense of positive closure is achieved as the pedal Eb is reaffirmed by the right-handcadential figure which closes agreeably in Eb major. But even this closure is partially subvertedby the repeated descending D-C-B-Bb octaves in the left hand (over the Eb pedal), which create asense that dominant harmony (rather than tonic) is being prolonged here, and which can be heardas the partially-liquidated residue of the chromatic undulation between Eb and A that opened thepauroso section (m. 14). It is tempting to associate the multi-layered texture and strongly wholetone flavor of the harmonies in this passage with Debussy’s work of around the same time. Thisis perhaps a misleading connection to make for reasons that will be addressed in the section ofthis document pertaining to Busoni’s influences. Busoni’s use of whole-tone language is muchmore likely to have been developed with an ear turned towards Liszt’s whole-tone idiom than any15of Busoni’s French contemporaries, whom he generally dismissed as being too restricted in theirharmonic language.23 Also the organ-like texture of this passage is very likely to have beeninfluenced by the works of the quintessential composer-organist of the day, César Franck.At m. 42, material from the introduction is restated and developed into a modulatoryepisode that leads to Variation 2 at m. 53. The end of Variation 2 is expanded until it settleschromatically through a Neapolitan cadential figure onto G major at m. 73. The rising third G-B,derived from the first two notes of the chorale theme, is repeated three times leading into thesecond episode. This episode looks deceptively like another variation since it is filled withchorale-prelude-style development of the first half of the material which made up the first twovariations (mm. 24-31, first note). These quasi-variations are interspersed with repetitions of therising thirds of the chorale theme until Variation 3 begins. Variation 3 runs from mm. 104-123with an extension similar but not identical to that of mm. 71-73. From mm. 124-146, there is athird modulatory episode which focuses on the first four notes of the chorale. Beginning at m.146 is a final quasi-variation which works with the first eight notes of the chorale tune and theminor-third sighs featured earlier in mm. 79-82.The large-scale structure of the Chorale Prelude projects an opposition between chromaticuncertainty and diatonic hopefulness. Beginning at m. 79 and moving through to m. 146, there isa gradual increase in chromatic tension, climaxing with the presentation of the chorale theme atmm. 104-113, which begins diatonically (in A Aeolian), but soon gives way to chromaticinfluences from the accompanying textures above and below the tune. A kaleidoscope of thirdbased harmonies ensues in the Presto section of mm. 124-145, which through their chromatic23 For Busoni’s comments on Debussy’s use of the whole-tone scale, see Ferruccio Busoni, TheEssence ofMusic and Other Papers, trans. Rosamond Ley (London: Rockliff, 1957), p. 24.16meanderings and exploration of increasingly high registers, heighten a sense of uncertainty andsearching until the music falls to the repose of m. 146, and moves into alla breve. At m. 146begins a final quasi-variation which develops the first eight notes of the chorale tune and theminor-third sighs which featured in mm. 79-82. In this quasi-variation, Busoni adopts a texturesimilar to the etude “Un Sospiro” by Liszt. The technical difficulties of this section are happilyresolved here by the hand-crossing technique on which “Un Sospiro” is based, making for a kindof physical quotation. The sense of release which the music creates here makes the reference to“Un Sospiro” particularly relevant. Also, the melodic shape of the first phrase in “Un Sospiro” isremarkably similar to that of the chorale tune on which the variations of the Chorale Prelude arebased. In m. 163, the rising and falling third figure is marked gemendo (groaning) and furthersigh-like motives are presented in mm. 179 and 180 in B major/minor chords over the closing Gchords of the choral variations. A potential referential framework for all of this sighing andgroaning will be suggested later (in Section §6.1, under the heading “Fantasia”).The Ubergang (transition) from the Chorale Prelude to the fugues is based on a statementof the subject of the first fugue. The opening D-A of the fugue subject is repeated twice in thebass. The second repetition of D-A continues with an ornamented version of the first subjectwhich stops on the dominant A (mm. 195-20 1) and is not resolved until the completion of thefirst fugue subject in Fugue I. By not allowing the transition section to resolve harmonically untilafter the material of Fugue I has already begun, the listener is led smoothly from Busoni’smaterial in the Chorale Prelude into the transcription of Bach’s material in the first fugue. Thereference to the subject of Fugue I in the bass of the transition subtly hints at the coming materialand helps to make clear that the music between mm. 184-203 is heading towards a new largersection. The upper voices of the Ubergang are ingeniously constructed to make reference to the17chorale theme and also to foreshadow some of the material from later in the piece.Figure 3. mm. 184-185 of the Fantasia Contrappuntistica.A( FA — —‘-—-V• 11‘J&h.—I Izzzz ii-. I7 fT Ij.— IT’ 4I\ - II________________ __________________________mf/Figure 3 shows the first two bars of the Ubergang. In the upper voice in the right hand, the notesA-F#-E-D are presented in an inversion of the first four notes of the chorale theme. The repeatedE-E-D is a motive used later, particularly in the variations of the Intermezzo (e.g. mm. 62 1-3, atthe beginning of Variation 2) and in Fugue IV (e.g. mm. 742-4, upper voice). The motives E-DF-E and G-F#-A-G are very similar in contour to B-A-C-H, the theme of Fugue III. At m. 195, inannouncement of the upcoming material from the Art ofFugue, the B-A-C-H motive begins todominate the texture until the end of the Ubergang and the beginning of Fugue I. The twodirections in which the musicof the transition points the listener, backwards in time towards themusic of the chorale theme and also forwards in time towards the music of the coming fugues,help to smooth out the transition section and provide time for the listener to adapt to the stylisticchange which is coming up in the fugues.§3.2 Fugues I through IIIThe first three fugues, up to m. 431 in Fugue III, are a transcription, with some additions and18alterations, of the unfinished Fuga a 3 Soggetti from The Art ofFugue, and together constitute alarger architectonic unit in the work. (Each fugue is devoted to one of three subjects, with thefamous B-A-C-H motto appearing as the incipit of the subject for Fugue III.) The alterationsmade by Busoni to this section of the piece are discussed later in the section entitled “Fantasia”(Section §6.1) and are also listed in detail in the Appendix. Busoni’s continuation andcompletion of Fugue III, from m. 432 onward, gradually introduces and develops his own voice,and employs the new techniques introduced to him by Bernhard Ziehn. Busoni closes Fugue IIIwith a grand climax that deploys all three subjects simultaneously.Busoni’s markings suggest that he wished Fugue Ito be interpreted in a fairly subduedmanner. Except for the initial entry of the subject--in octaves, fortissimo, and marked con moltoimportanza e sostenutissimo--the only markings to indicate dynamics are piano, pianissimo, and,perhaps most surprisingly, sotto voce at the point of the final entry of the subject in octaves in thebass (m. 303). This final sotto voce is surprising since the texture and registration of mm. 303-312 naturally suggest a substantial amount of sound. Although it is not necessary to play theentire fugue in a soft dynamic, it does seem likely that Busoni wanted a controlled, introductorycharacter for this fugue so that a larger arch can be projected across the next two fugues.Fugue II has a more active character simply as a result of the nature of its subject--whichis in eighth and sixteenth notes rather than quarters and eighths like the first. Once again,however, dynamic indications suggest a restrained approach. Busoni indicates dolce at m. 333,leggiero for the octaves at m. 336, nonforte at m. 355, and onlypocoforte at m. 371 where thefinal climax begins to build toward the close of the fugue. A broader dynamic palette than theseindications may be necessary, but restraint is nonetheless required for the larger form to emergeclearly.19Busoni addresses the issue of dynamics in a letter to his wife that includes maxims forpracticing the piano. He suggests that dynamics can help with overcoming physical difficulties:Always join technical practise with the study of the interpretation; the difficulty, often, doesnot lie in the notes but in the dynamic shading prescribed.24Also, in the Sketch ofa New Esthetic ofMusic, Busoni addresses the relationship betweenrestraint and the projection of larger forms more generally:Feeling on a grand scale is mistaken by the amateur, the semi-artist, the public (and the criticstoo unhappily!), for a want of emotion, because they all are unable to hear the longer reaches asparts of a yet more extended whole. Feeling, therefore, is likewise economy.25Buson?s economical application of dynamic indications in these fugues exemplifies hispreference for a clear conception and presentation of the musical architecture (projecting “thelonger reaches as parts of a yet more extended whole”). The supposition that he applied otherexpressive nuances (i.e. rhythmic freedoms, physical gestures, pedaling) just as economically inhis interpretations would help account for the often-laid charge that his playing was cold andaustere.Fugue III suddenly slows down the flow of the work, as the basic movement changes to24 Letter to Gerda, 20 July 1898; see Rosamond Ley (trans.) Ferruccio Busoni: Letters to hisWife, pp. 27-28.25 Busoni, Sketch ofa New Esthetic, p. 98.20half notes with the entry of the B-A-C-H subject. Busoni accordingly marks the beginning of thefugue pensoso, which could be interpreted as meaning something like “contemplative” or“ponderous” (in the sense of pondering but without the suggestion of heaviness often associatedwith this word). The arrival of the B-A-C-H motive at this point in the piece is certainly worthsome thought. It appears in single notes after a substantial and thickly-orchestrated climax at theend of the second fugue. It is as though, after leaving the turbulence of the musical space whichis the second fugue, Busoni presents us with a single object of contemplation, the B-A-C-Hmotive, which instantly suggests itself as a kind of synecdoche for everything that Bach’s workmeans for Busoni. This motive stands as a kind of musical sculpture at the heart of Busoni’smusical palace, an object to be contemplated from many perspectives, as though perceived fromdifferent angles in musical space, or sustained in memory when we have moved on to another“room” in the musical edifice.At mm. 411, 417 and 419, there are a series of allargando markings suggesting a sort ofexhaustion of motion just before the point where Bach’s fragment finishes. At m. 422, Busonimarks riprendendo ii movimento so that the performer will make a running start towards both theplace where all three subjects first enter simultaneously and where Bach’s fragment ends. Thereis a sense that Busoni, in order to reach the new music within his grasp, needs to buildmomentum to get past the point where Bach stumbled, hindered by the constraints of his owntimes.Busoni’s completion of Fugue III makes it by far the longest fugal section in the Fantasia,at 179 measures in length. Fugue III divides into four sections, of 47, 39, 36, and 57 measuresrespectively, with climaxes at the end of each section. The first section ends where Bach’sfragment comes to a finish (m. 431). The second section, mm. 432-470, ends with another21statement of all three subjects simultaneously. This occurs in a thick, widely registered texturefrom m. 466-470. After an abrupt change of texture and a dynamic drop back to piano dolce, thethird section builds up, through a crescendo subito at m. 490, to the remarkably un-Bach-likeclimax at mm. 494-498, where the B-A-C-H motto is transformed and chained in the top voiceand echoed in strict canon at the minor sixth below in the adjacent voice. The third section ofFugue III ends on dominant harmony (A major) with a short pause at m. 506. The fourth andfinal section then begins risoluto and builds to the final statement of all three subjects, in Bb, atm. 544 where there is finally a fortissimo marking. The first and third fugue subjects are statedin bass and tenor octaves respectively, and the second fugue subject is presented in the upperregisters against a largely mirror-like counterpoint. The second fugue subject and itscounterpoint expand in and out from intervals as close together as a second to as far apart as atenth. The whole fugue closes with a huge cadence in D major.§3.3 The Intermezzo and VariationsThe following short Intermezzo (20 measures long) is marked piu tranquillo e misticamente andsotto voce. It comprises a series of statements of B-A-C-H as well as variants of it, such as thechromatic lower voice in the dotted-quarter-sixteenth motion in m. 565. Busoni’s idea of themystical, transfigured character of the Intermezzo and its relation to other sections of theFantasia can be discerned from a letter he wrote to Egon Petri. It concerns a 1911 performanceof a version of the Fantasia for orchestra and organ, arranged by Frederick Stock, who conductedthe performance with Middelschulte at the organ:22The greatest event of the festival was Middelschulte’s superhumanly beautiful organplaying. What the layman understands by “Music of the angels” was realized. Thetransition to the first fugue, the Intermezzo, the cadenza (particularly the march-likesection) were artistry of the highest order and sounded as if from another world.”26As will be discussed in more detail later, the Intermezzo is the first place in the FantasiaContrappuntistica where Busoni uses Bernhard Ziehn’s technique of symmetrical inversionopenly and transparently. The knowledge that this section is introducing a new harmonictechnique, in combination with the indication misticamente, and Busoni’s pleasure thatMiddelschulte had made this music sound “as if from another world,” suggest that Busoni viewedthis section as being pivotal in the overall structure of the work. It operates as a gateway leadingfrom the past towards the music of the future that Busoni desired so intensely. The Intermezzo,and the three Variations that follow it, together suggest a parallel structure to what has alreadybeen presented in the Chorale Prelude and Fugues 1-111. The first large group, the ChoralePrelude and Fugues I-Ill, revolves around revisiting and transcribing the works of the past; bycontrast, the second large group, the Intermezzo and the three Variations, rework the materialpresented in the first large group through the latest techniques available to Busoni.The three variations are not variations in the classical sense, based on a harmonicstructure. They are fugal variations: essays in counterpoint that use variants of the three fuguesubjects to present short characteristic studies in contrapuntal technique. Variation I (see Fig. 4)uses the theme from Fugue I in modified inverted form, with added suspensions and chromatic26 Beaumont, Selected Letters, p. 13623passing tones. The counterpoint to the subject involves a descending figure in eighth notes thatis similar to, and eventually changes into, the second fugue subject, but is characterized by adouble-neighbour figure at the end of each slur, derived from theE-A-C-H motive from thesubject of Fugue III.Figure 4. mm. 585-588 of the Fantasia Contrappuntistica.Variazione I.A tempo, tranquillo moltodolc4 cantabireI I I::-F?I-I I — II I -—‘4 I2 ‘1’—- I N 1vI I’ I—. F,. —The counterpoint in the first half of Variation I is closely related to certain novel-soundingsections of Fugue III, places in which Busoni begins to expand his harmonic language morefreely, particularly mm. 494-498 and mm. 532-53 5.The second half of Variation I returns to a dolce cantabile character, and is roughlybipartite: the initial part is composed in the highly chromatic harmonic language derived from theB-A-C-H theme, while the second part is in a suddenly and unexpectedly more diatonic mode(mm. 608ff). The diatonic section, in Db major, is highly reminiscent of another Db-majorepisode from a fugue in a set of variations: mm. 278-284 of Brahms’s Handel Variations.Variation II, marked sempre sotto voce, is constructed around rhythmic and intervallicvariants of the subject from Fugue III. (The subject first appears in transposition as Db-C-Eb-D,but the three-pitch variant F-E-Gb-F follows immediately; both motives then appear in manytranspositions.) Early on in this variation, the basic rhythm of the countersubj ect-like material24Ishifts from duplet to triplet-eighth notes. These two layers of texture--the transformed fuguesubject and the triplet-eighth notes--are interspersed with two transposed B-A-C-H statements invery low registers in staccato octaves. As the variation progresses, the triplet layer becomesincreasingly hectic while statements of the inverted B-A-C-H motive are set in counterpointagainst the upright B-A-C-H rhythmic variant in stretto. A new, spiccato version of the B-A-C-Hmotive is introduced and played with towards the end of the variation.Variation III continues the use of textural layers similar to those achieved by the end ofVariation II, but now uses them to present variants of all three fhgue subjects instead ofjust theB-A-C-H subject. The tension of the counterpoint increases until the voices explode in adoubling of octaves atm. 677. Variation III closes in Db major after an expansion reminiscent ofthe ends of the variations in the chorale preludes at mm. 71-73 and mm. 118-121.§3.4 The Cadenza, Fugue IV, Corale and StrettaVariation III breaks off, a bit suddenly, with a first-inversion Db major chord on the downbeat ofm. 683, where the Cadenza begins, serving as a transition to Fugue IV. The Cadenza starts withafortissimo descent, in dotted rhythms, that foreshadows one strand of the texture in theupcoming fourth fugue. The fortissimo soon gives way, through decrescendo, to a dolcementeimprovvisando marking, where the B-A-C-H theme appears as the main subject to be developedinitially in the Cadenza (m. 685). Inverted and upright forms of this motto are ornamented withascending and descending arpeggios based on stacked-third harmonies, similar to those used inthe opening chorale variations. At m. 698, about halfway through the cadenza, the texture isaltered into what Busoni referred to as “the march-like section” in the letter to Petri. In long,25floating half-note and whole-note chords, variants of the B-A-C-H motive are sounded in theupper voices senza agitazione ma andando and molto sommessamente. Underneath, the newdotted “march-like” rhythm is used to present the principal Art ofFugue theme, which Busonibelieved Bach intended to use as the fourth subject in his unfinished fugue. Here Busoni adoptsa modem harmonic instability, treating the subject freely and altering its modal character,modulating rapidly through pseudo-tonalities that suggest Db Mixolydian, D major, then minor,Bb minor, G major, B major, finally cadencing on D-minor harmony. The harmonic progressionhere, but not the musical content, has a certain affinity with the opening cadenza that opens thefinal movement of Beethoven’s op. 106, the Hammerkiavier sonata, which will be discussed lateras a compositional influence on Busoni.At m. 716, the fourth and final fugue begins. It is appropriate to discuss at this pointanother drawing, mentioned by Beaumont, that Busoni uses to express the form of the earliestform of the Fantasia Contrappuntistica, the Grosse Fuge.27 It depicts a ship with five sailssailing over the ocean and framed by a decahedron. The decahedron represents the ten sectionsof the Grosse Fuge, which were later expanded to twelve sections with the addition of theChorale Prelude and the reminiscence of the Chorale near the end of the Fantasia in the EdizioneDefinitiva. The five sails are emblematic of the five fugue subjects that propel the Fantasiaforward into unknown seas. Busoni chooses as his fifth subject the rhythmic variant of the B-AC-H motive first presented in Variation II (mm. 622-623 with pickup). These five subjects,consisting of the three fugue subjects, the principal Art ofFugue subject and the rhythmic variantof B-A-C-H, are all presented together at the climax of the Fugue IV--and indeed of the entirepiece--beginning at m. 742.27Beaumont Busoni the Composer, p. 169.26The first part of Fugue IV, beginning at m. 716, focuses on establishing the newly-introduced Art ofFugue subject, initially in Bb minor. It is stated in a rhythmic variant used byBach in Contrapunctus VI of the Art ofFugue. Atm. 731, there is a dramatic change in texturewhere the dotted rhythm takes over. It sounds by itself in a recitative marked byforzato chordswhenever the dotted rhythm is suspended over a beat. At m. 742, the climactic point where allthe subjects are presented, Busoni writes in a substantial supplement, but indicates that it is notintended to be used in performance. It evidently serves a purpose similar to the later EdizioneMinore, as a study of new contrapuntal techniques applied to all of the fugue subjects. Sitsky hasargued that a version of the Fantasia should be assembled using as much material as possiblefrom all the different versions of the work, including this supplement to Fugue IV from the 1910Edizione Dejmnitiva. But Busoni did not want the supplement to be performed, perhaps becausefurther contrapuntal development is not what is required just before the final climax of this piece.By developing the subjects at length before this final climax, the supplement blunts the impactand the precision of the climactic presentation of all the fugue subjects at m. 742.As the climax progresses, the density of its chromaticism increases until it disintegratesinto trills over an ostinato version of the B-A-C-H motto in octaves in the lowest registers,beginning at m. 771. The trills fade to nothing, and the chorale melody then appears one lasttime, marked come un vago rflesso (like an unclear reflection), over the B-A-C-H ostinato (m.775). The version used here is very similar to mm. 24-4 1. After the final statement of thechorale’s melody, the ostinato alters slightly at m. 792 to lead into the closing Stretta. The Strettais based, in its first half until m. 827 (142/4/2) on material from Contrapunctus XI. The B-A-C-H motto is then sounded extensively in mm. 827-843, in four-note chords in the right hand and ina new variant in octaves in the left hand. The D-A ascending fifth with which the fugues began27is presented again at mm. 844-5, again at mm. 848-50 with the first four notes of the first fuguesubject, and then finally the entire subject is presented in octaves, sostenutissimo, with extendedtertian harmonies over the subdominant and dominant at mm. 857-860, and the piece ends withthe tonic root D alone, reinforced in six octaves.§ 3.5 OverviewAn outline of some central points of harmonic orientation and arrival in the Fantasia is presentedon the following page in Figure 5. The overwhelming size of the Fantasia Contrappuntistica issuch that a truly adequate discussion of its harmonic structure is beyond the scope of the presentdocument. Rather, the sketch in Figure 5 is aimed at delineating those moments in the Fantasiawhich could be thought of as important from a performer’s point of view, moments whichsuggest the articulation of some formal aspect of the work which the performer would want toproject clearly. The harmonic sketch focuses principally on bass notes, but some harmonies havebeen added above the bass in order to show important formal articulations or to highlightimportant larger harmonic features that will be discussed below. Determining key in the Fantasiais often fraught with difficulty due to the often complexity and ambiguity of the harmonies.Often, great harmonic complexities have been drastically reduced in the harmonic sketch. Forinstance, for mm. 565-585, Figure 5 presents only two chords, closely related to one another.The corresponding passage is the entirety of the Intermezzo and contains some of the mostvisionary music in the entire piece from a harmonic and tonal point of view. However, as will beshown later in section § 6.2, the Intermezzo can be conceived as prolonging dominant-seventhharmony on D. In general, Figure 5 offers that sort of scale and degree of precision, in order to28%4CI02C))0aI‘1-I(V.,IC.’m‘4,“C’000CH4I0C.)show “middleground” harmonic relationships important for a performer’s sense of form anddirection. Little attempt has been made at presenting harmonic features of the Bach Fugues sincetheir larger-scale harmonic features have not been altered by Busoni and do not present anyanalytical novelties which are characteristic of the Fantasia. It must also be said that thisharmonic sketch makes no claim to present a systematic analysis of the Fantasia, such as wouldarise from a detailed Schenkerian approach (sufficiently adjusted to the idiom). It simply pointsout important and interesting larger-scale harmonic features, and these can nonetheless provideuseful insights for the performer.Tritone relations feature very prominently in the Fantasia, particularly in the ChoralePrelude and the return of the chorale just before the Stretta. In mm. 14-22 and mm. 44-51 thebass oscillates between two notes a tritone apart (Eb-A and D-G# respectively) whereas in mm.23 an A major harmony is presented over a bass Eb, a tritone away. In the return of the choraleat m. 776, Busoni reintroduces a sonority similar to that of m. 23, with an E major harmonyovertop of a Bb in the bass. Although in other sections of the Fantasia this tritone relationship isnot always presented quite as openly, it can be seen (and heard) operating on a larger scale. InFugue III, from m. 534-560, harmonies featuring Ab in the bass (Bb 4/2 in m. 534 and Ab 7 at m.555) figure prominently before the final resolution a tritone away in D major at m. 564.Variation I is almost equally divided between two harmonies a tritone apart. It begins with a G7harmony at m. 585 which progresses eventually to the startling moment of harmonic clarity in Dbat m. 608 and then to the end of the variation in the same key.Another point of interest in Figure 5 is the tendency to return to the subdominant G,particularly in the Chorale Prelude but also at the end of Fugue II and at the beginning ofVariation I. The Chorale Prelude is in the key of G but it spends a significant enough time on its31dominant, particularly in the opening measures, to make the listener question whether G isactually the tonic. This works nicely in the context of the Fantasia, keeping in mind that theChorale Prelude was a later addition, since the key of the Fantasia is in fact D. The harmonicfunction of the Ubergang between the Chorale Prelude and Fugue I can be seen in this context aspreparing the arrival of the tonic at the beginning of Fugue I by convincing the listener that, insome sense, the music thus far has really been on the subdominant. This process is renewed to acertain extant with the arrival of the Intermezzo and Variation I. Fugue III concludes quiteforcefully on the tonic harmony D major at m. 564. As soon as the Intermezzo begins, a processof contrapuntal meandering begins which ultimately transforms the D major harmony into adominant by the Intermezzosconclusion at m. 585. Variation I then begins with a G7 harmonywhich calls again into question the tonic function of D. These ambivalences in tonal functionlend the entire work a certain feeling of instability and perpetual becoming, expressing (inharmonic and formal terms) its contemplative and constantly questioning spirit.One final point of harmonic interest relates certain of Busoni’s harmonic choices to the B-A-C-H motive. Beginning at m. 457 with the Bb major harmony, the B-A-C-H motive can beseen to be worked out through the harmonies: A in mm. 462-506, C in m. 519, and finally B(=H) in m. 531. The bass note A is prolonged from m. 462 through a minor third relationshipwith C which features prominently from m. 47 1-494. The dominant of A is deceptively resolvedto C in m. 471, and C and A are further associated at the arrival at mm. 494-496. At m. 519, Cmajor harmony returns once again and then moves to an E minor 6/4 harmony over B with thepresentation of a variant of the subject of Fugue I in the bass at m. 525. A similar kind ofmotivic structuring also occurs towards the end of the piece, beginning at the climax of theFantasia, the culmination of Fugue IV. That presentation begins at m. 742 in the tonic, D minor,32but quickly falls at m. 748 to C# minor. At m 764, an E half-diminished-seventh harmony ispresented at a particularly pivotal moment in the piece, where the climax of Fugue IV begins totransform into the return of the chorale at m. 776. The E major harmony in which the chorale isthen presented gradually falls to Eb major by m. 793, completing a large scale presentation of theB-A-C-H motive, transposed up a major third. Although these presentations of the B-A-C-Hmotive as a harmonic foundation are not necessarily explicit to the listener, it is easy to imagineBusoni’s experimentations with different ways to harmonize the B-A-C-H motive informing hischoices for the completion of both Fugue III, which is based on that motive, and for hiscomposition of the conclusion of the entire Fantasia.Looking back at the architectural ground plan Busoni made to show the form of theFantasia, it is possible to perceive a middle level of partitioning composed of three groups offour sections each. The first group, containing the Chorale Prelude and Fugues I-Ill, consistslargely of Busoni’s revisioning of past works--his own third Elegy and Bach’s Fuga a 3 Soggetti.The second group consists of the Intermezzo and the three Variations and develops the musicalbuilding blocks of the Fugues through the newest contrapuntal techniques Busoni had availableto him. The final group, consisting of the Cadenza, Fugue IV, the recurrence of the chorale, andthe closing Stretta, represents the culmination of the various devices, both transcriptional andcompositional, used in the first two large sections. In this unfolding process, the second groupacts as a kind of counterthesis to the first group. The juxtaposition of two kinds of musicaldevelopment--namely the transcription of the old in the first group, set in contrast with the use ofthe latest contrapuntal techniques applied to the fugue subjects in the second group--bursts forthin the final group in a kind of Hegelian synthesis, in which the textural complexities of the33transcriptions are intertwined with the new harmonies that result from Ziehn’s contrapuntalmethods.§4 Compositional InfluencesA substantial work like the Fantasia Contrappuntistica is bound to have a wide variety of worksas influences, especially when it is based on a fragment by J. S. Bach, whose own influence isuniversal. Bach’s name is literally imprinted on the Fantasia through use of the B-A-C-H fuguesubject. The B-A-C-H motive is used by Busoni in a variety of ways. When it appears at thebeginning of Fugue III, Busoni marks it with the word pensoso, as has already been mentioned,suggesting that it is worthy of thoughtful pause and not to be passed over lightly. As the thirdfugue progresses, the minor seconds of the B-A-C-H motive give rise to some of its moredistinctive-sounding and forward-looking music, particularly in the sections from mm. 494-498and from mm. 532-53 5. By the end of the work, particularly in the return to the chorale themeand in the Stretta, the B-A-C-H motive has become a source of unrest, something that needsreconciliation in order to attain the conclusion of the piece. The reminiscence of the choraletheme in mm. 774-793, as shown in Figure 6, exemplifies the unsettling influence the B-A-C-Hmotive becomes near the end, when it is presented as a seething ostinato in eighth notes in thelowest register of the piano. If the B-A-C-H motive is truly a source of unrest towards the end ofthe piece, then the Stretta can be seen as an attempt to focus and project its energies forward.The final statements of the B-A-C-H motive, in 6/4 triads in mm. 84 1-2 and mm. 845-6, first inmajor then in minor, do not resolve the motive but rather seem to allow it to project further intothe future, suggesting Bach’s status as an inexhaustible source of inspiration.34Figure 6 mm. 774-776 of the Fantasia Contrappuntistica.sostenuto, dolciss.Zr.Corale.1 -_____________________(come un vago riflesso)frt.t.t.t..ttttttt*ttttttttttttttt —con SvaThe ways in which Bach as a composer influenced the Fantasia Contrappuntistica inparticular, and Busoni’s career more generally, are numerous and diverse. In the Sketch ofa newEsthetic, Busoni mentions Bach’s Organ Fantasias as instances of a composer approaching theInfinite music that was his own ideal.28 The Chorale Prelude of the Fantasia Contrappuntisticais clearly modeled on Bach’s chorale preludes, which Busoni edited and transcribed for pianoextensively. Bach himself set the hymn tune Allein Gott in der HOh sei Ehr--the basis for theChorale Prelude in the Fantasia--numerous times for organ. (It is quite possible that by “OrganFantasias” Busoni may have had in mind Bach’s chorale preludes as well as other works for organtitled “Fantasia.”) The entire Fantasia Contrappuntistica is in the general form of a Fantasia andFugue, albeit a highly elaborate one. Bach’s own career also served as a more general model forBusoni in that Bach was also a prolific transcriber of other composers’ works. Bach usedtranscription as a way to absorb the styles of other composers and augment his own idiom.Busoni also uses the works of his predecessors to undergird and motivate his own compositions,and nowhere more clearly than in the Fantasia Contrappuntistica.28 Busoni, Sketch ofa New Esthetic, p. 79.35While composing the work, Busoni described his own impressions of his new piece in aletter to his wife Gerda, and mentioned two important influences: “It will sound like somethingbetween a composition by César Franck and the Hammerkiavier sonata, with an individualnuance.”29 Liszt’s “Variations on Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen” also suggest themselves asclosely connected with technique and spirit of the Fantasia. These important pieces andcomposers (along with Bach) create the fuller picture of the place Busoni saw his pieceoccupying in the history of composition.Insight into the role of Franck’s music in Busoni’s thinking can be gleaned fromstatements in Busoni’s writings about what he called “Gothic Art”: “It is a preponderantlyTeutonic or Frankish Art ... and Franck is the name, significantly, of a later representative of itssymbols and forms.”3° In the same article, Busoni further describes Gothic Art as “that art inwhich delight in delicacy combines with fantasy, strict calculation with mystical belief.”3’Thework by Franck that bears the greatest similarity to the Fantasia Contrappuntistica is thePrelude, Chorale and Fugue. The title of Franck’s work could almost be a description of thegeneral structure of the Fantasia, and indicates the common root of the two pieces in the work ofJ.S. Bach. Busoni was familiar with the Prelude, Choral and Fugue and had performed it inBerlin in 1902.32 According to Harold Schonberg, he even rewrote certain parts with which hewas unhappy.33 The Fantasia Contrappuntistica bears many similarities with the Prelude,Choral and Fugue in terms of its overall structure. Franck’s cyclical development of themes,29 to Gerda, 19 February 1910; see Rosamond Ley (trans.) Ferruccio Busoni: Letters to hisWfe, p.155.30Beaumont, Busoni the Composer, p. 161, quoting from Busoni’s 1910 article “Die Gotiker vonChicago.”‘ Ibid.32Dent Ferruccio Busoni: A Biography, p. 323.Harold Schonberg, The Great Pianists (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987), p. 371.36which culminates at the close of the fugue, where all the work’s themes appear simultaneously ina contrapuntal tour deforce, is, of course, similar to the central process of the Fantasia thatculminates in Fugue IV. Busoni also perhaps got the idea for his Cadenza section from the “comeuna Cadenza” section (m. 129 from the beginning of the fugue) in the Prelude, Chorale andFugue, which is similar in texture and spirit. The central motive of the Prelude, Choral andFugue--the fugue subject’s first three notes (B-B-A#), from which most of the piece isconstructed--is a motive found extensively in Bach’s music (for instance, in the fugue subjectfrom the first movement of the sixth Partita, or in the F minor prelude from Book II of the WellTempered Clavier). It is also very similar to the rhythmic variant of B-A-C-H used by Busoni inVariation II and again as the fifth “sail” of Fugue IV. Even though their harmonic languages arevery different, the textural build-up in the Variations in the Fantasia is extremely similar to theoverall structure of Franck’s fugue. (Variation I uses quarters against duplet eighths, Variation IIuses quarters against triplet eighths, and then Variation ifi builds up a thick chordal texture thatleads into a cadenza.) It even seems plausible that Franck’s Prelude, Chorale and Fugue was insome sense a structural model for these sections of the Fantasia Contrappuntistica, especiallysince Busoni explicitly mentioned Franck in connection with the piece during its composition.The Fantasia also shares certain features in common with the fourth movement ofBeethoven’s op. 106, the Hammerkiavier sonata. Both are gigantic in scope and both usecontrapuntal ingenuity to produce striking new sonorities. In the Hammerklavier, as in other ofhis late works, Beethoven sought inspiration from the past to produce a new style, very much inthe way that Busoni espoused in his Sketch ofa New Esthetic. Certain specific sections of thefugue in Op. 106 are very similar to sections of the Fantasia. For instance, the extensive trills ofmm. 117-129 in the Hammerkiavier fugue, although different in character, are similar in their37strange effect to the trills at the end of the Intermezzo in the Fantasia. It also seems very likelythat Busoni learned the value of breaking up a large contrapuntal work with periods of repose,such as the Intermezzo and the Cadenza in the Fantasia, from Beethoven’s late works (forinstance, mm. 250-278 in the Hammerkiavier fugue, and similar sections in the Grosse Fuge, Op.133).Liszt’s works played an enormous role in Busoni’s compositional and pianisticdevelopment. Busoni was renowned as an interpreter of Liszt’s works and received great praisefrom Liszt’s students on numerous occasions. He was considered to be such an authority on Lisztthat he was asked to join the editorial board for Breitkopf and Härtel’s collected edition of Liszt’sworks.34 It is therefore not surprising that Liszt’s works should have an impact on the Fantasia.Liszt’s organ transcriptions, and the organ-transcription style developed in Franck’s last pianoworks, provided Busoni with the monumental organ/piano style employed throughout the fugalsections of the Fantasia. Certain features of Liszt’s Weinen, Kiagen, Sorgen, Zagen Variationsbear a striking resemblance to the Fantasia Contrappuntistica. Like Beethoven in theHammerkiavier fugue, Liszt used music of the past as an inspiration for new harmonicexplorations. Liszt’s Variations use two chorales for their compositional development, the first asa basis for chaconne-like variations, the second as an apotheosis at the end. Busoni, somewhatdifferently, sets the chorale material in contrast against the themes given contrapuntal treatmentin the fugues and variations. Busoni’s use of chorale material at the end of the Fantasia is also asort of demonic parody of the second chorale used at the end of Liszt’s piece. By returning to thechorale he had used earlier, Busoni instills a reminiscence of the “Angst und Glauben” oppositionof the chorale prelude, casting a shadow over the piece’s final resolution, whereas Liszt’s use ofSitsky, Busoni and the Piano, p. 208.38the Bach chorale Was Gott tut das 1st wohigetan at the end of the Weinen, Kiagen Variationsdispels all fear and sorrow in a glorious resolution and affirmation of faith. Busoni treats hischorale as a resource for nuanced, layered, and complex meaning, both musical and symbolic,and because it conjoins faith (Glauben) with fear (Angst), it cannot allow the same type ofovertly triumphant return to faith with which Liszt closes his variation set.The highly chromatic bass line from the chorale Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen givesLiszt the opportunity for harmonic excursions in much the same way that the B-A-C-H motivedoes for Busoni. Certain forward-looking passages in the Liszt Variations seem to point towardsthe chromatic part-writing in the Fantasia. The modal experimentation of the triplet-eighthstrand of the texture in Variation III of the Fantasia is foreshadowed in the Weinen, KiagenVariations, both in the ascending and descending triplet eighth-note scales in m. 117 of that work(presented in Figure 7 below) and in the searching scales and chromatic sighs of the variationbeginning with the recitative at m. 217 and continuing to m. 246.Figure 7 mm. 117-118 of Liszt’s Variations on “Weinen, Kiagen, Zorgen, Sagen”.irtrPPU1U corda—I) —.___- IFranck and Liszt are important recent precursors for Busoni’s work. It is as thoughBusoni developed his variation set in the Fantasia by using Franck’s Prelude, Chorale and Fugueas a structural model, and late Liszt as a starting point for harmonic and contrapuntal39development. Busoni not only attempts to absorb the influence of Bach, he also attempts toabsorb the influence of some of the major composers after Bach, namely Franck and Liszt, whotreated him directly.§5 Busoni’s AestheticsIn his Sketch ofa New Aesthetic ofMusic, first published in 1907 in German and first translatedinto English in 1911, Busoni begins by making a distinction between the eternal and the transientaspects of a work of art:The Spirit [Geist] of an Artwork, the measure of emotion [Empfindung], the humanity, that is init--these remain unvaried in value through changing times; the form which these three assume,the means that express them, and the taste infused in them by the epoch in which they arise, aretransient, and age rapidly.35On its own, this statement does not tell us exactly what Busoni conceives “Geist” or“Empfindung” to be. Determining the specific senses in which Busoni intended such key termsas “Spirit,” “feeling,” and “emotion” is one of the most difficult obstacles to an accurateunderstanding of his ideas. Perhaps sensing this deficiency, Busoni composed an addenda for hisSketch ofa New Esthetic ofMusic in 1909 which deals specifically with the categories of Feelingand Emotion.36 Unfortunately, he did not do the same for the word “Spirit” and so it is left to thereader to conclude as to what exactly “Spirit” is. It is vital to be sensitive to the specificu Busoni, Sketch ofa New Esthetic ofMusic, p. 75, translation adjusted.36Ibid., pp. 97-100.40meanings Busoni ascribes to these terms, in so far as possible, but it is also necessary toremember that he writes as a composing and performing artist, concerned with philosophicalcontent but not with systematic philosophical exposition. Busoni makes clear that he does notintend to develop a philosophical system by giving his work the title “Sketch”.Although Busoni does not do us the favor of attempting a definition of “Spirit,” he doesuse the word in a variety of circumstances that can help give us some clue as to what he held it tobe. In the early part of the Sketch, Busoni consistently pairs the words Spirit and Emotion.37 Tothese two concepts can be added the term “feeling” which Busoni incorporates into the largercategory of “emotion”:“Feeling” is generally understood to mean tenderness, pathos, and extravagance ofexpression. But how much more does the marvelous flower “Emotion” unfold! Restraintand forbearance, renunciation, power, activity, patience, magnanimity, joyousness, and that all-controlling intelligence wherein feeling actually takes its rise.38These three, Spirit, Emotion, and Feeling, form a unified constellation of intimately linkedconcepts. Emotion, which contains in it the sub-category of Feeling, is that which is interpretedthrough music:[The] emotional interpretation [of music] derives from those free heights whencedescended the Art itself.39Ibid., p. 75 (twice), p. 78, and p. 80 (twice).38Ibid., p. 98.Ibid., p. 8441The relationship of Emotion and Spirit is reciprocal: Emotion is translated into the Spiritualthrough music that, in turn, leads us back to Emotion. The vast array of human emotions aredescribed by Busoni as “moods of the soul,” which it is the calling of music to “set in vibration”:To Music it is given to set in vibration our human moods ... : Dread (Leporello),Oppression of soul, invigoration, lassitude (Beethoven’s last Quartets), decision (Wotan),hesitation, despondency, encouragement, harshness, tenderness, excitement, tranquil lization, thefeeling of surprise or expectancy and still others; likewise the inner echo of external occurrenceswhich is bound up in these moods of the soul.4°These “soul-states” (as he calls them a few lines later) are infinite in number, and consequentlythe category of emotion defies the generalizing tendencies of language. Rather, “Its [Music’s]emotion seizes the human heart with that intensity which is independent of the idea.”4’ Emotionencompasses the vast panoply of states that we experience and that inspire expression in musicbecause they thwart expression in language. For Busoni, music addresses itself to extra-verbalexpression of emotion, and he concludes that, “Therefore, representation and description are notthe nature of music.”42 (Incidentally, in this way, he answers half of the programme-versus-absolute music debate. His answer to the advocates ofAbsolute Music is substantially moreinvolved.)For Busoni, the artist’s awareness of the world of emotion is a point of honor: “In art,40 Ibid., p. 82.‘ Ibid.42 Ibid., p. 78.42feeling is held to be the highest moral qualification.”43Although Busoni never suggests in thisessay that a given emotion may be inappropriate to music, he does suggest a moral response toemotion that is quantitative. The degree to which a composer can immerse himself in a moodprovides the measure by which to judge the spiritual aspect of his achievement: “This gives aconfirmation of the fact, that the depth of feeling roots in a complete absorption in the givenmood, however frivolous, and blossoms in the interpretation of that mood.”44 Busoni suggeststhat this ability is what allows us to form canonical conceptions. He says of Bach and Beethoventhat, “In spirit and emotion they will probably remain unexcelled.”45The nature of the expression of Emotion as it occurs in music, and its relationship to theworld of Spirit, lead Busoni to conclude that “Music was born free and to win freedom is itsdestiny.”46The freedom that is the essence of music seems to lie mainly for Busoni in the natureof sound, which “knows no law of gravitation. It is well nigh incorporeal. Its material issonorous air. It is almost Nature herself. It is--free.”47Because sound lacks the (philosophical)attribute of extension, it can connect directly to feeling and emotion, bypassing language andconcepts. The intangibility of sound gives music its freedom, and provides a natural analogy tothe world of Spirit. The Eternal quality in music also seems to be associated with Spirit,presumably since capacity for feeling is to some degree universal. Busoni also opposes theEternal with that which exists in time: “For the musical artwork exists, before its tones resoundand after they die away, complete and intact. It exists within and outside of time, and through itsnature we can obtain a definite conception of the otherwise intangible notion of the Ideality of“ Ibid., p. 98.44Ibid., pp. 99-100Ibid., p. 80.46Ibjd p. 77.4743time.”48 It would be difficult to work out exactly what Busoni is suggesting by the Ideality oftime, and is not necessary for our purposes. It is important to recognize that Freedom andEternity, as aspects of Spirit, are essential to Busoni’s vision of how music clarifies itself over thecourse of its history.Now that we have some idea of the place Spirit occupies in Busoni’s thought, we canconsider the way that it manifests itself in individual works of art. Spirit is made present in timethrough various means in Busoni’s model of the artistic process. Not all of these means areequivalent experiences but they all share the property of allowing the participants to come intosome kind of contact with the world of Spirit. The first process that creates the work of artwould be improvisation for a person like Busoni. This would be a direct translation of the worldof Spirit into the phenomena of sound. “The audible presentation of music” is primary in acertain sense, since it involves the least number of filters between the participants and thespiritual. “Performance, the audible presentation of music,”49 is the first method of musicalcreation mentioned by Busoni when he begins his discussion of the production of music in thefourth section of the Sketch ofa New Esthetic. Notation is the next medium Busoni discusses.“Notation, the writing out of compositions, is primarily an ingenious expedient for catching aninspiration, with the purpose of exploiting it later.”5°Busoni emphasizes that what is foremost inhis thought is the ability to access the world of Spirit/feeling which was the impetus for theinvention of notation in the first place. “It is for the interpreter to resolve the rigidity of the signsinto the primitive emotion.”5’ Busoni then rails against the “Lawgivers” who mistake the lens of48 Ibid., p. 86.“ Ibid., p. 84.50Ibid.44notation for the visions of Spirit.This leads Busoni to a discussion of transcription. In his own time, and still in thepresent, Busoni’s other creative endeavors have been overshadowed by his transcriptions of Bach.(The names Bach and Busoni became so intertwined that at one point Busoni’s wife, Gerda, wasintroduced by a society matron as “Mrs. Bach-Busoni.”52)“The frequent antagonism which Ihave excited with ‘transcriptions’, and the opposition to which an ofttimes irrational criticism hasprovoked me, caused me to seek a clear understanding of this point.”53 Busoni justifies his rightto make transcriptions in the following way, which readily follows from the dialectic surroundingthe Spirit/Appearance dichotomy with which Busoni begins his essay. “Every notation is, initself, the transcription of an abstract idea. The instant the pen seizes it, the idea loses its originalform.”54 It follows from the identity of notation and transcription that if one is faithful to, or“absorbed in,” as Busoni puts it,55 the original spirit which inspired the notation of a piece, thenchanges in the technique of embodying that spirit in sound, those things dictated by notation, canbe made.We can now return to some of Busoni’s comments about Bach and Beethoven earlier inthe Sketch and understand better what he thinks about their efforts. Although Bach andBeethoven may be unsurpassed in terms of their measure of Spirit, Busoni also says that they “areto be conceived of as a beginning and not as unsurpassable finalities . . .What still remains to besurpassed is their form of expression and their freedom.”56The degree to which a composer such as Busoni can immerse himself in Spirit is52 Sitsky, Busoni and the Piano, p. 177.Busoni, Sketch ofa New Esthetic ofMusic, p. 85.54Ibid., p. 99.56 Ibid., p. 80.45ultimately an individual concern. The technical achievements made in expressing Spirit are thework of musicians in general. It is this aspect, the transcription/notation/performance process,which Busoni asserts can be improved upon. There are two motivations to the improvement ofthe phenomenal qualities of music. One results from the desire for liberation of Spirit throughincreasingly flexible forms that will better enable us to perceive the freedom that is music’sessence. The other is the desire to communicate with the world in which one happens to beliving. Busoni refers to these respectively as “Style” and “Taste.”57 The improvement of theformal/notational representation of music gives rise to the notion of a kind of historical processreminiscent in certain ways of Hegel. (I am not suggesting that Busoni modeled his ideas onHegel’s, simply that there is some similarity.) The spirit of music, which is freedom, is revealedto us through the works of different composers at different times. These composers arehampered by the constraints, biases, and predilections (i.e. the tastes) of the times in which theywork. Later composers, bound by different tastes, look at the works of earlier composers andadmire what is eternal in them, but cast off what is constricting, to put on new styles reflecting tosome extent the tastes of the time in which they work. Busoni’s ideal for music would be theresult of many such harvests of the musical achievements of former times which he hopes willresult in an “Infinite Music.”58 As examples of what Busoni hopes this free music will be, hecites the quasi-improvisational sections from the beginning of the last movement (the fugue)from Beethoven’s Hammerkiavier Sonata, Op. 106, and the Organ Fantasias (not the fugues) ofBach. In these works there are glimpses of Busoni’s ideal musical expression: quasiimprovisational forms with clearly defined changes of mood and great harmonic freedomIbid., p. 98.58Ibid., p. 79.46unhindered by constrictive rules or forms.§6 Two Aspects of Transcription: Fantasia and ContrappuntisticaFor Busoni, liberty is the essence of music. Busoni envisioned that the composer had twoprincipal means for releasing music into a state of freedom. The first involves the interpretationof the works of past composers. Their music is necessarily bound up in the opinions, technicallimitations, and shortcomings of the times in which it was composed, which affect the form themusic takes. Busoni believed that the improvements, both instrumental and compositional, oflater eras allow the composer to revisit and rework the music of the past in an attempt to free itfrom the constraints of its era. In this situation, the composer’s job is to revitalize and releaseartistic vision through imaginative engagement with the past. Transcription was an ideal meansfor Busoni to enliven the works of the past in their forms as instrumental compositions. It isthrough transcriptions that he found a way to actively engage the past. Busoni took this approachnot only to works of past composers but also to the music of his contemporaries and even to hisown music (when he had surpassed an earlier technical or aesthetic limitation).An interesting example of Busoni’s engagement with a contemporary composition comesto light in his fascinating correspondence with Arnold Schoenberg regarding Schoenberg’sKlavierstuck Op. 11 No. Although Busoni was impressed with the compositional ideaspresented in the piece, he found Schoenberg’s piano writing constrictive and not suited to theinstrument. To make the work conform with his own aesthetic of piano writing (and playing),Busoni reset the movement in his own “konzertmassige Interpretation,” which was eventuallySee Beaumont, Selected Letters, pp. 384-408, Letters 6-19.47published separately in 1910 by Universal Edition. Although Schoenberg respected Busoni’sabilities and artistic opinions, he reacted defensively to Busoni’s changes, and refused to alter hispiece in any way. Their intense (but mutually respectful) disagreement probably reinforcedBusoni’s general reluctance to play the piano music of his contemporaries. He was happy toconduct the chamber and orchestral works of Bartok, Debussy, and Schoenberg, but would rarelyprogram their piano music on his own recitals. Perhaps because the act of making music at thepiano was for him so akin to improvisation and composition, he found it difficult not to alter anew composition as though he was improvising and refining one of his own. Busoni was alwaystinkering with his own pieces too--as can be seen from the compositional history of the FantasiaContrappuntistica--and he considered it natural to tinker with other composers’ works as well.The other means by which a composer can realize freedom in (and through) music is byemploying the latest compositional techniques. Busoni thought that composers should constantlybe seeking new and more liberated compositional techniques and forms. Busoni devotes a largeportion of the Sketch ofa New Esthetic ofMusic to discussing new scale systems, new methodsof notation, and new instruments for creating new sounds. In an article for Signale written inJanuary l9lland titled “The New Harmony,” Busoni lists five means by which the harmony ofthe future can be achieved:The first new harmonic system rests upon chord formation according to customary scales ... Bythe symmetrical inversion of the harmonic order Bernhard Ziehn shows me the second wayKeeping the voices independent of each other in polyphonic compositions produces the thirdroad ... A fourth road is anarchy, an arbitrary pacing of intervals next [to] and over one another,according to mood and taste. Arnold Schoenberg is trying it; but already he is beginning to turnround in a circle. The fifth will be the birth of a new key system which will include all the four48aforementioned ways.6°In the Fantasia Contrappuntistica, Busoni incorporates new compositional techniques, andbrings them into contact with Bach’s music. The title of the Fantasia Contrappuntistica canitself be understood as a descriptive conflation of Busoni’s two principal approaches tocomposition: “Fantasia” corresponds with liberating the works of the past, and“Contrappuntistica” with the opening of new harmonic doors by means of technical innovations,both old and new. This interpretation of Fantasia and Contrappuntistica could also be reversedin keeping with the natural associations most musicians would have with these words: Fantasiabeing associated with the freedom derived from new techniques and Contrappuntisticareminding us of the largely antiquated and highly academic study of contrapuntal techniques ofthe past. The inversion of these associations is more in keeping with Busoni’s spirit, however,since Fantasia then becomes associated with a liberating and imaginative approach to the past,rather than treating the past with a stuffs’, academic approach, and Contrappuntistica becomesassociated with the revitalization of a noble tradition which looks not backwards, but toward thefuture.In keeping with the distinction between “Fantasia” and “Contrappuntistica,” the followingdiscussion will fall into two parts: the section entitled “Fantasia” will examine how Busonialtered his Third Elegy and different sections of the Art ofFugue through transcription andadditions of his own; the “Contrappuntistica” section will discuss the new methods Busoni usedto enliven his composition.60Fenucio Busoni, The Essence ofMusic and Other Papers (Translated by Rosamond Ley.London: Rockliff, 1957), p. 24.49§6.1 FantasiaWith one important exception, the overall structure of the Chorale Prelude of the FantasiaContrappuntistica is identical to the Elegy on which it is based. The exception lies in the climaxof the Elegy, which is shortened in the Fantasia. The strength of the Elegys climax (mm. 114-123) is unsuitable for the introductory role of the Chorale Prelude in the Fantasia. The majortextural alteration made by Busoni occurs in the buildup to this climax (mm. 99-110) in the Elegyand mm. 102-113 in the Fantasia). In the Elegy, the texture consists of a continuous stream ofbroken octaves in sixteenth notes in the left hand, punctuated in the right hand by triplet-eighthnotes on the fourth and first beats in each measure. Busoni modifies this passage for theFantasia by setting the lower octaves in solid triplet eighths on beats two and three, in antiphonywith the upper-voice chords in triplet eighths on beats four and one. This change allows Busonito introduce the choral theme in the middle register in an ingenious three-part texture for twohands. The new texture is substantially more impressive in its virtuosic effect, and the listenercan also more easily hear how the passage is a variation on the choral theme. Busoni alsochanges some harmonies in this passage, most notably in mm. 110-113 of the Fantasia. Thecorresponding passage in the Elegy (mm. 107-110) gets stuck on the diminished-seventh chordon Eb in the right hand. To make this section less stagnant, Busoni makes the right-handharmonies ascend chromatically, with minor and major in alternation (i.e. C minor, C major, Dbminor, Db major, D minor, D major instead of C minor, C major, D minor, Eb diminished 7, Dminor, Eb diminished 7).The obsessive quality of the left hand in this passage from the Elegy, with its waves of50sixteenths constantly rising and falling back down again, is maintained in the Fantasia. Itremains obsessive but is made more interesting simply by reversing the direction of the octavesat m. 108 of the Fantasia. Instead of continually rising and falling, suddenly all the octaves fallby thirds deeper into the lower registers of the piano. Meanwhile, the upper parts of the left-handharmonies ascend chromatically with each iteration, much like the right-hand chords above them.The overall effect is one of greater tension and direction in the musical line. Because Busoniremoved the climax of the Elegy, the section in mm. 113-123 arrives earlier and in a different keythan in the Elegy. Whereas the Elegy remained entirely in D major at this point, Busoni exploitsthe instability of the third relationship between F major and D major in this section in theFantasia to create an expectation for large-scale continuation.Aside from these major changes, there are few other differences between the third Elegyand the Chorale Prelude of the Fantasia. In mm. 1-13 of the Fantasia, Busoni adds tremolos inthe left hand to help sustain the opening sonorities. From mm. 3-6, the arrival on D is expandedby almost four bars. The arrival on A in m. 11 is also elongated by a measure and supported byan alternation between D major and minor harmonies (in place of the Elegy’s simple open Dmajor sound in the left hand). Altogether, these changes suggest that Busoni desired a moresustained and impressive sound for the opening measures of the Fantasia, whose granddimensions call for an impressive entrance-way. The right hand in mm. 6-8 differs from theoriginal published version of the Elegy as per the instructions given by Busoni in a letter to EgonPetri, requesting that the original G, Bb, C, F, D, D be altered to F, Ab, G, C, A, D.6’ In mm.45-46 and mm. 47-48, Busoni adds the ascending octave D-D in the upper voice in an echo theclosing interval of mm. 4 1-44. In m. 128, Busoni adds a third extra statement of the arpeggio6! Beaumont, Selected Letters, p. 97.51first presented in m. 126. A more interesting change is made in m. 179. In the correspondingplace in the Elegy, there is simply a B major chord in the upper registers, followed by a B minorchord in the same register two measures later. For the Fantasia, Busoni augments themajor/minor mixture in these two measures with a sigh motif reminiscent of another work basedon Bach. A few months before the composition of the Fantasia Contrappuntistica, Busoni hadcomposed a Fantasia nach Bach (which is also a set of variations based on a Bach chorale) inmemory of his recently-departed father. This work uses a motif consisting of three chords inquarter notes, marked with an articulation identical to the quarter-note chords in m. 181, andcharacterized by the word sospiro. It has already been noted that this entire section, from m. 146on, contains physical and melodic references to Liszt’s etude which is also titled “Un Sospiro.”Although the majority of this closing section of the chorale variations was composed in 1907before the death of his father, it seems not unreasonable to suggest that Busoni’s sense of lossinfused this music with new meaning for him and inspired him to alter the chords in m. 179 and181 in reference to this fact. It seems fitting that just before Busoni is about to plunge into one ofhis most intense encounters with Bach, in the form of the Fantasia Contrappuntistica, that heshould sigh for his father, who introduced him to the world of Bach as a child.The changes Busoni made to the Fuga a 3 Soggetti to create the first three fugues of theFantasia are extensive. They can, however, be grouped into categories determined by thepurpose for which Busoni made them (even though some changes are not done exclusively toachieve one purpose and sometimes numerous changes are made into order to achieve a singleeffect). By discussing some of Busoni’s alterations, insight can be acquired into the various waysBusoni envisions Bach’s work.Textural changes constitute the first category of changes to be addressed. These alter the52fabric of the work by adding (or subtracting) effects that are not primarily of harmonic or melodicinterest; they include changes of register, octave doublings, dynamic indications, and otheralterations that effect timbre and sonority on the piano, and constitute what might be called“pianistic orchestration.” Another similar category of change is the addition of new voices(beyond new voice-doublings) not originally in the Fuga a 3 Soggetti. Since the addition of newvoices alters the nature of the texture itself, these two types of change will be discussedsimultaneously, but will be considered as distinct operations.The opening of Fugue I provides examples of both types of change. In mm. 212-219Busoni adds a new bass voice, with twofold purpose. It anchors the opening of the fugue in thekey of D minor by activating the lowest registers and by ending on a sustained low D pedal point.It also presents a modified form of the Art ofFugue subject, which will re-emerge later as the keyto finishing Fugue IV at the end of the Fantasia. This theme statement is also quite similar to theArt ofFugue theme-variant first used in Contrapunctus VI of the Art ofFugue. In mm. 220-221,Busoni continues with even lower D and A bass pedals, thereby intensifying the sensation thatthe upper voices, although moving, are suspended from development by the weight and stabilityof the pedal harmony. These alterations lend to the opening of Fugue I a feeling that the spirit ofthe music rises gradually from great depths. The low D’s also give the fugue’s opening measuresan introductory character and prepare the listener for a substantial musical journey.The entry of the inversion of the subject in m. 223, beat 3 which breaks the pedal point, isgiven in octaves; this keeps the lowest registers activated and gives the bass motion a feeling ofinertia and reluctance. The sense that all of the voices are now gradually beginning to moveupwards is increased subtly at m. 232 where the Alto entry of the subject is presented in octavesand marked dolce. This entry provides a halfway point between the depths of the opening and53the culmination of the ascending motion that will soon occur. Beginning at m. 245, beat 3, thebass and then the other voices are all transposed up one octave. The tenor enters in its originalregister in m. 256. The bass regains its original register in m. 257 after alterations to the notes inm. 256. The upper voices however all continue in the higher registers until m. 265. Theseregister changes increase the sense of climax achieved at m. 260, where the upper voices reachtheir highest point and the distance between the outer voices is the greatest that it has been thusfar in the fugue. However, this is not all that Busoni does to achieve a sense of culmination at m.260. In m. 250, the portato A’s on beats 3 and 4 were originally half notes suspended across thebar line into m. 251. The new voices added in mm. 251 and 252 echo the repeated A’s in lowerregisters, adding poignancy to the slight deflation in the musical line before the build-up to thearrival at m. 260. At m. 256, a new voice added in the tenor continues until m. 259. The end ofthis addition provides a notable example of another kind of alteration that Busoni makes toBach’s score: additions or alterations that foreshadow material from later fugues. In this case,Busoni foreshadows the subject of Fugue III, the B-A-C-H subject. In m. 258 beat 3 to m. 259beat 2.5, at the end of the added voice, Busoni uses the B-A-C-H motive in its original form intransposition.In many other places, Busoni has altered notes in Bach’s fugue chromatically to give--ifnot actual instances of the B-A-C-H motive--emphatic movement by semitone and often awavering between major and minor that is somewhat reminiscent of the B-A-C-H motive. Thiskind of alteration has already occurred several times earlier in the fugue (m. 222, tenor; m. 232,tenor; mm. 235-7 soprano of the original, which now looks like the alto because of octavedoublings; etc.) Sitsky also notes these kinds of changes in his discussion of the Fantasia,suggesting that they “prepare the ear for the transition from Bach to Busoni, with its wild54chromaticisms.”62Another category of alteration is exemplified at the climax at m. 260 in the form ofrhythmic alterations caused by suspensions. The first example of this species of change occursearlier, in the tenor at m. 234, where G is suspended over the barline and the notes F, G and A aremodified rhythmically into a three eighth-note figure beginning on the second half of the firstbeat. Beginning at m. 260, Busoni makes substantial use of this alteration in the lower right handvoice and in the lowest bass voice. The effect is to free the texture rhythmically, very much inthe improvisatory style of Bach’s chorale preludes. It also hints subtly at the coming secondfugue subject with its flowing eighth notes.Observation of all of the changes Busoni has made to Bach’s original composition showsthat they are structured to support his interpretation of the piece and to emphasize featuresalready inherent in the piece’s construction.The different kinds of changes exemplified in the above analysis--changes to the texture,addition of new voices, references to the B-A-C-H motto, and rhythmic alterations--are usedthroughout the transcription section of the Fantasia. The discussion above can serve (andsuffice) as an example and guide to how these sections of the Fantasia could be closelyexamined. A thorough commentary on all the changes would constitute a very substantialdocument, and is beyond the scope of this discussion, but the preceding remarks and examplessummarize the kinds of changes and effects that were integral to Busoni’s achievement in thisportion of the piece. All of Busoni’s changes are listed (by measure) in the Appendix, with briefdescriptions (but without thorough commentary or concordance). This listing serves principallyas an aid to readers who want to know where Busoni made changes; the brief descriptions62 Sitsky, Busoni and the Piano, pp. 144 and 147.55provided in the appendix cannot always tell the whole story, especially when multiple sorts ofalterations are at work, or when a series of alterations produces a large overall effect, but readerswho study the places in question will be able to use the descriptions as a point of departure fortheir own observations and conclusions.§6.2 ContrappuntisticaOf Busoni’s five different paths to the harmony of the future, the fourth and fifth ways-- which hedescribes as “anarchy” and “the birth of a new key system”--are not applicable to a discussion ofthe innovative techniques used in the Fantasia. From Busoni’s comments about the anarchicalpath, we can gather that he held it in contempt and expected that it would lose appeal for othercomposers as well. The birth of a new key system, on the other hand, is described by Busoni as afuture attainment, not as a present or imminent reality.The other three methods--namely keeping voices independent in polyphony, formingchords according to customary scales, and using the symmetrical inversion of harmonies--are allvividly exemplified in the final section of the Fantasia, the Stretta. This section employs thetechnique of keeping voices independent in polyphony, and much of it is also a transcription ofmaterial from Contrapunctus XI from the Art ofFugue. The Stretta thereby exemplifies aconfluence of the techniques described in the preceding “Fantasia” section with those to bediscussed in this section.Busoni’s decision to transcribe sections of Contrapunctus XI for use in the Stretta wasclearly not random. Contrapunctus XI contains some of Bach’s more daring harmonicinnovations and is one of the most exhilarating pieces in the entire Art ofFugue. About half of56the Stretta is transcribed and adapted from Contrapunctus XI. The following table shows thecorrespondences between the material as it appears in Busoni’s work and its original placement inthe Contrapunctus.Table 2. Outline of the derivation of the Stretta from Contrapunctus XI from the Art ofFugue.Stretta Contrapunctus XlFirst four bars of the Stretta are adapted mm. 89 (beat 4) - 92from the Bass line of the correspondingbars in the Contrapunctusmm. 798 (beat 4)- 807 mm. 89 {beat 4) - 99mm. 808 - 813 (beat 4) mm. 120- 125 (beat 4)mm. 815(beat2)-818 mm. 158(beat2)- 161mm. 819 - 822 mm. 142 - 145mm. 823-826 mm. 168- 170Busoni’s transcriptions maintain the length of the original passages, except that the second entryon the table includes a small internal cut: mm. 92-93 from the Contrapunctus are rewritten andcompressed into one measure, m. 801 of the Stretta. The transcribed excerpts, drawn from an 82-measure span in the Contrapunctus, are more-or-less adjacent in the Stretta, spanning 28consecutive measures with very little in the way of additional linking material; the original orderis largely maintained in the elliptical transcription, except that the passage based on mm. 158-161from the Contrapunctus precedes the one based on mm. 142-145.Busoni’s reworking of the material from the Contrapunctus takes three different forms.First, some material is transposed, to accord with the key scheme of the Stretta. For instance, inmm. 811-813 of the Stretta, the right hand is altered to close the section in Eb minor, rather than57the D minor of the corresponding Contrapunctus passage. Consequently, mm. 815-818, based onthe final statement of the principal subject of Contrapunctus XI (itself derived from the Art ofFugue theme and here presented in inversion), are transcribed up a semitone into Eb minor, tocontinue from the Eb minor arrival in m. 813.A second way in which Busoni reworks material from the Contrapunctus involvessmoothing the musical line to create more forward momentum. This is necessary because theStretta’s characteristic function is acceleration toward the conclusion of the piece. Busoniaccomplishes the desired new effect by continuing sequential patterns in places where Bach hadoriginally broken them up. The aforementioned conflation of Bach’s mm. 92-93 into a single barprovides a case in point: Busoni simply continues modulating upwards in m. 801 in the samesequential pattern as the previous two bars. Similarly, in mm. 805-807, Busoni uses the uppervoice of Bach’s m. 97 and then continues the same sequence, extensively modifying mm. 98-99from Bach’s original, to cut directly to the cadence in Bach’s m. 120. The continuation of thesesequential passages unifies the Stretta and gives it a suitably turbulent and forceful shape.The last type of reworking employed by Busoni is more subtle and also more pertinent tothe idea of expanding Bach’s harmonic language. By extending the sequence upward throughmm. 800-801, continuing with roughly the same interval structure as m. 799, Busoni entersharmonic terrain that Bach had avoided by means of the cadential material in mm. 92-93. Thisbecomes especially apparent between beat three of m. 800 and the downbeat of m. 801, wherethe implied harmonies, over the ascending bass Eb-E-F, are a G#/Ab minor triad chord in secondinversion, a half-diminished seventh chord on E, and an augmented triad on F. The harmonicprogression results from continuing the voice-leading progressions in each voice without concernfor the constraints of Bach’s harmonic idiom. Busoni probably regarded the two measures of58cadence at mm. 92-93 as an unnecessary interruption with which Bach hampered himself becauseof the harmonic limitations of his day. Another instance of this technique occurs in mm. 805-806. The different strands of the polyphony--particularly the outer voices--seem to move withlittle regard for the harmonic consistency or normative progression, and with concern only fortheir own internal structure. The left hand presents a series of descending tritones, while thesoprano line iterates the B-A-C-H motive in two transposed inversions: F#-G-E-F then D#-EC#-D. By focusing principally on the intervallic structure in the individual polyphonic strands,and thus liberating the incidental harmony from the control of convention, Busoni expands thepalette of Bach’s musical ideas to create a harmonic whirlwind in the Stretta.Another path to realizing the harmony of the future lay in using discoveries that hadalready been made. Busoni felt that composers had overlooked vast opportunities for harmonicexpansion by confining their attention chiefly to only two different scales:We teach four-and-twenty-keys, twelve times the two series of Seven; but, in point of fact, wehave at our command only two, the major and the minor key. The rest are merelytranspositions. By means of the several transpositions we are supposed to get the differentshades of the harmony; but this is an illusion.63A bit later, Busoni describes his own manner of overcoming this limitation:I have made an attempt to exhaust the possibilities of the arrangement of degrees within theseven-tone scale; and succeeded, by raising and lowering the intervals, in establishing one63Busoni, Sketch ofa New Esthetics, p. 90.59hundred and thirteen different scales.64In fact, the opening Chorale Prelude section of the Fantasia provides what amounts to an essayin some of the different ways that Busoni’s scales can be used. Beginning at m. 132 there are aseries of arpeggios in the right hand: six notes ascending, and then six notes descending, in eachmeasure. The descending arpeggio in the second half of each measure always maintains somenotes of the ascending arpeggio in the first half, and chromatically alters the others. In mm. 132-137, if each of the six-note arpeggios are considered as members of a single scale collection, withthe pedal tone providing the seventh note, four different scales with their own unique intervallicstructure can be derived. They are:1. D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, Cb = 1-2-2-1-2-l-(3)2. D, Eb, F, G, A, Bb, C = 1-2-2-2-l-2-(2)3. D, Eb, F#, G, A, Bb, C = 1-3-1-2-1-2-(2)4. D, E, F#, G, A, Bb, C = 2-2-1-2-1-2-(2)Scales 1 and 3 are rotated inversions of one another, but beyond that, the four scales are alldistinct, and cannot be related by any other combinations of transposition, inversion, or rotation.Busoni’s right-hand arpeggios also take advantage of the fact that these scale collections can bepresented as chains of thirds (minor or major), creating the impression--or perhaps the illusion--of superimposed or extended tertian harmonies. In fact, these measures and the scales derived64Ibid., p. 92.60from them indicate how Busoni developed some of his unique harmonic effects by usingunconventional scalar patterns. Measures 13 8-142 continue in this vein, but present only sixdifferent pitches per half bar, leaving the seventh scale member undefined. Even so, thesemeasures maintain the process of presenting a scalar structure as a stack of thirds in the first halfof the bar and then altering it slightly to produce a new structure. Busoni’s comments in theSketch ofa New Esthetic suggest that we should think of these apparently tertian harmonies aspseudo-harmonic presentations of different modes, connected by chromatic alteration, rather thanas some kind of bi-chordal or extended harmony. The harmonic effect is an illusory form ofpresentation: the “chords,” half-familiar but brief and fleeting, are just the surface manifestationof the new modes that Busoni saw as providing a path to the future, and to music’s ever-increasing liberty.The other path to the harmony of the future mentioned by Busoni involves the techniqueof symmetrical inversion developed by the German theorist Bernahard Ziehn. Ziehn spent thelatter part of his career in Chicago, where Busoni met with him and discussed his new techniqueand also his ideas about the ending of the Fuga a 3 Soggetti. Ziehn’s final work, CanonicalStudies/A new Technic [sic] in Composition, published posthumously in 1912, explores indepth--and with dozens of examples--the implications of symmetrical inversion. The premise ofsymmetrical inversion is simple: polyphonic writing should not be constricted by the harmonicconstraints of classical tonality but should rather develop according to the intervallic structure ofthe musical idea. Classical part-writing had made the intervallic structure of a musical ideasubsidiary in importance to the harmonic implications that result from its combination with othervoices; in a canon in inversion, for instance, the intervals may often be changed at some point tomaintain the integrity of the key. Ziehn proposed that by making the intervallic structure primary61in such instances, new harmonic possibilities would arise and could potentially be of great use tocomposers. By suggesting this reversal of priority between the individual parts and their mannerof combination, Ziehn hoped to renew interest in polyphonic writing among composers, ratherthan have it be merely the province of academics. After meeting with Ziehn, Busoni was quickto appreciate and exploit the potential in Ziehn’s idea. Busoni had been an avid polyphonist fromhis early youth, and remarked that the study of counterpoint “was a mania with me and at leastone Fugato actually comes into every one of my youthful works.”65In the Fantasia Contrappuntistica, the clearest example of symmetrical inversion occursin the Intermezzo, in a passage Busoni gave the extraordinary marking “visionario.” Thispassage, in mm. 573-58 1, involves an elaborate multi-canonic treatment of the B-A-C-H motive,moving essentially in half-note values. The Dux (leading voice) enters on the second half of m.573, starting on Bb in the right hand, and is paired with a simultaneous parallel Dux statementstarting on D, a minor sixth lower. The Comes (answering voice) enters a half note later, on thedownbeat of m. 574, starting on Eb, a fifth lower than the Dux, and it too is paired with asimultaneous statement, starting on G, a fifth below the parallel Dux statement; the intervalbetween the two parallel Comes statements is inverted registrally so that the minor sixth of theDux pair becomes a major third in the Comes pair. The majority of the four bars are presentedover a C pedal point in the lowest register. A second presentation of this elaborate canon is thengiven in inversion, in two senses: the subject is inverted intervallically, and the order of entries isalso inverted registrally. Relative to the former Dux entries, the interval of inversion is thetritone. The Dux is now presented in the left hand beginning on the second half of m. 577,65 Busoni, The Essence ofMusic, p. 48.62starting on E (a tritone away from the original Dux), and with a simultaneous parallel Duxstarting on G# (likewise a tritone from the original parallel Dux). The Comes enters on thedownbeat of m. 578 in the right hand, now starting on B, a fifth higher (instead of lower) than theDux, and the simultaneous parallel Comes starts on D#, a fifth higher than the parallel Dux. TheDux entries are now in the left hand, and the Comes in the right, giving another (registral andmanual) form of inversion relative to the first canon. The inverted double canon unfolds over alow C# in the bass, which is the end-point of a massive C-B-D-C# transposed statement of the B-A-C-H motive that was initiated by the pedal C beneath the first double canon.Beneath the sustained right-hand sonority (with trills) that follows the double canon inmm. 58 1-83, Busoni appends to the bass C# another transposed B-A-C-H statement: C#-C-Eb-D(with F-E-G-F# added in parallel with it, and both motives doubled in octaves). Thus from m.573 we hear two successive motive statements controlling the lowest register, C-B-D-C# and C#C-Eb-D, moving the bass up a whole tone overall, from C to D. Looking back at the harmonicsketch in Figure 5, we see only an inverted D 4/2 harmony in m. 573 and a root position Dseventh chord (with diminished fifth, Ab) atm. 585. Overall, the complexities of the canonicdevices in the Intermezzo serve to invert the D 4/2 harmony at m. 573 to a root position D chordat m. 585 and to alter the fifth of that chord by introducing Ab (the trilled note in mm. 58 1-83).The resultant harmony at m. 583 (D, F#, Ab, C) is a dominant (with diminished 5th) of G andalso Db (by virtue of its symmetry and enharmonic equivalence), and it thus serves to strengthenthe association of these two tritone-related keys. This is a further manifestation of the idea oftritone association, already mentioned (in connection with Figure 5) as one of the prominenttypes of relation in the Fantasia.Many of the canonical techniques mentioned above in connection with the Intermezzo are63not original to Bernhard Ziehn or Busoni.66 However, the use of more classic canonic techniquesin combination with Ziehn’s technique, which retains the intervallic integrity of the musical lines,distinguishes this music from its predecessors. The resultant harmonies in each double canonusually belong to alternating whole-tone collections, creating an ethereal sensation of harmonicsuspension. In both double canons, the whole-tone harmonies start “even” and alternate “odd,”but the first canon transpires over the C pedal, while the second unfolds over the C# pedal, so thealternating relation of the harmonies to the pedal is also reversed from the first canon to thesecond. Busoni’s visionario canons, derived from Ziehn’s new technique, point the way to areinvigorated approach to counterpoint, which Busoni believed would bring the music of thefuture one step closer.§7 Concluding RemarksTranscription is sometimes regarded as one of the lower mediums of musical expression. Thebias against transcription has its roots in a particular type of response to the early nineteenth-century transcriptions and fantasias by Liszt and Thalberg, among others, of operatic works. Thisresponse sees these works as being interested only in developing and exploiting more and morevirtuosic effects. The bias against transcription, if held, seems to be one against an apparentfocus on appearance in these works, on the surface details of their musical expression. Thisfocus on appearance seems derivative and uninterested in the more profound aspects of musical66 Dr. Gregory Butler pointed out to me in conversation the remarkable similarities between the canonical techniquesused in this passage and those used, particularly towards the end, of the Fugue in Bb minor from Book II of Bach’sWell-Tempered Kiavier. This Fugue, similar in its techniques to the Intermezzo down to the use of thirds and sixthsin the canons and inversions, serves well to point out both the indebtedness Busoni owed to his studies of Bach andalso the remarkably different results achieved by the shift in focus from the tonal intervallic alterations in Bach’sworking out of inversions and Busoni’s insistence on intervallic structural integrity in keeping with Ziehn’s technique.64creativity. Interestingly, other movements in music during the latter half of the twentieth century,which might be thought of as being in opposition to the aesthetic principles of nineteenth-centuryoperatic transcriptions, have shown an almost obsessive attitude towards the appearance thatmusic takes. For instance, some feel that music is best performed on instruments and usingtechniques belonging to the epoch in which it was written. Another example is the insistencethat the printed score is the final authority when it comes to decisions to be made in theperformance of music of the past. Both of these examples point towards a larger desire for thepreservation of the past which is manifested in the fantastic number of museums, galleries,historical societies, etc. which are expressive of some of the modern world’s cultural attitudes.Busoni’s written works and compositions provide an interesting perspective on whattranscription can be, as a musical process, and as a way to engage the past. Although Busoniclearly understood transcription as an activity that necessarily must focus on technical issues, bethey compositional or performance-related, his greater concern was the way in which the worksof the past are to be engaged in the present. A work of art for Busoni is not a relic to be reveredas the remnant of some great mind in the past. Rather, the work of art is a manifestation ofhuman spirit, the only purpose of which is to be engaged by the individual in as exuberant amanner as possible. This act, exemplified in the many guises in which Busoni thoughttranscription could be manifested, points towards the freedoms that he wished for the music ofthe future. The spirit in which Busoni perceives the act of transcription can be valuable in thelife of any artist, to help avoid stagnation and despondency in the face of the many seeminglytyrannical forms that the world of appearance can seem to take. Instead, it admonishes us toactively revitalize the objects with which we interact as artists, and to fill them with the Spiritand imagination that it is our task to give.65Works CitedScoresBusoni, Ferruccio. The Complete Elegies, the Six Sonatinas and Other Original Works for SoloPiano. New York: Dover, 1996.Materials by BusoniBusoni, Ferruccio. “Die ‘Gotiker’ von Chicago, Illinois.” Signalefür die Musicalische Welt,LXVIII/14: 6/4/10Busoni, Ferruccio. The Essence ofMusic and Other Papers. Translated by Rosamond Ley.London: Rockliff, 1957.Busoni, Ferruccio. Sketch ofa New Esthetic ofMusic. Translated by Dr. Th. Baker. In ThreeClassics in the Aesthetics ofMusic. New York: Dover, 1962. [Reprint of the 1911 translationby Dr. Th. Baker.]Books and Articles About BusoniBeaumont, Antony. Busoni the Composer. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985.Beaumont, Antony (ed. and trans.). Ferruccio Busoni: Selected Letters. London: Faber andFaber, 1987.Couling, Della. Ferruccio Busoni: “A Musical Ishmael.” Lanham, Md.: The Scarecrow Press,2005.Dent, Edward J. Ferruccio Busoni: A Biography. London: Oxford University Press, 1933.Ley, Rosamond (trans.). Ferruccio Busoni: Letters to his Wife. New York: Da Capo Press,1975.Roberge, Marc-André. “Ferruccio Busoni, His Chicago Friends, and Frederick StocksTranscription for Large Orchestra and Organ of the ‘Fantasia contrappuntistica’.” The MusicalQuarterly 80/2 (Summer, 1996): 302-331.Sitsky, Larry. Busoni and the Piano. New York: Greenwood Press, 1986.Stuckenschmidt, H. H. Ferruccio Busoni: Chronicle ofa European. London: Calder andBoyers, 1970. [German original, 1967]66Miscellaneous Other WorksSchonberg, Harold C. The Great Pianists. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987.Ziehn, Bernhard. Canonic Studies. London: Kahn & Averill, 1976.67Appendix AList of Changes made to the Fuga a 3 SoggettiThe following list contains brief descriptions of the changes made by Busoni to the Fuga a 3Soggetti in his transcription for the Fantasia Contrappuntistica. The numbers at the beginningof each description refer to measures from the beginning of the Fantasia and not to Bach’soriginal. Where notes are listed, they likewise refer to they way they appear in Busoni’s work,not Bach’s. No attempt has been made to account for added ornaments, such as trills.In order to give some idea of the reasons for changes, letters will appear in parantheses before thedescriptions, if applicable, corresponding to the following system:(Q) References to or quotations of the BACH motive through alteration of notes.(T) Textural changes such as octave doublings, added voices, or registral changes.(NP) Added or removing neighbouring or passing tones(R) Rhythmic alterationsFugue I206-9212-15 (T)220-2 (T)221-3 (T,NP)222 (Q)223-8 (T)229 (NP)232 (T)232 (Q)233 (Q)233-8 (T)Completion of Ubergang in upper voicesVariant of Art of Fugue theme in BassLow pedal A and D, pianissimoD-A motive in the bass, resolves to G# in 223Tenor altered to C, B, C#, DBass entry of Fugue I subject inversion in octavesAdded lower F# in tenor, beat 3.5Alto entry in octavesTenor altered chromaticallyB natural in right hand altered from BbAdded lowest voice which ascends from D up to A and then rejoins withthe original bass line at m. 238.Tenor altered to create suspension across 1St beat followed by threeeighths rising.234 (R)68235 (Q) Bass altered on fourth beat to F natural.235-7 (Q) Alters soprano from 2nd beat of 235 to C#, D, C, Bb, A, Bb, B, C#, B,C#, D.240 (NP) Added A in tenor on beat 3245-6 (T) Beginning with the bass in m. 245 beat 3, all voices are displaced up oneoctave. The bass regains its original register by way of alterations in m.256. The tenor enters in its original register in m. 256. The upper voicesdon’t reattain their original registers until m. 265.250 Busoni anticipates the beginning of the bass sequence by 1 bar.250 (T) An alteration of the suspension in the soprano on A (beat 3-4 m. 250)introduces repeated G’s and C’s in m. 251-2 and 252-3 in lower voices.256 (Q,T) New added fifth voice in upper Bass Clef (beginning with Bb, Eb, G, C)continues to m. 259, beat 3260-4 (R) Suspensions and eighth notes added as per m. 234 in alto and bass260 Eb in upper voice changed from E natural in original262-3 (Q,T) New voice added in lower voice, right hand.265 (R) Altered rhythm in alto266 (NP) Upper neighbour in alto changed to passing tone27 1-4 (T,R) Bass in octaves with rhythmic alterations273 (T) Alto voice has octave doubling276 (Q) Soprano chromatically altered277 (R) Soprano rhythmically altered280 (R) Suspensions added in alto in tenor (see m. 234)281 (NP,R) Run extended in alto, bass rhythmically altered (see m. 234)282 (Q) B natural in tenor, Alto changed to get rising fourth283 (R) Rising fourth echoed in tenor through rhythmic alteration69283-4 (NP,R) Bass altered with lower neighbour and rhythmic changes284 (NP) Tenor, last beat, changed to C#286 (NP,R) Second beat in bass altered287-8 (NP,R) Tenor altered rhythmically and scale extended288 m. 86-9 of Fuga a 3 Soggetti cut289 (R) Alto and Soprano rhythmically altered (see m. 234)290 (R) Bass rhythmically altered (see m. 234)291 (R) Soprano rhythmically altered (see m. 234)292 (T,R) Bass displaced down one octave for one bar, Soprano has added note, D,is rhythmically altered and is displaced down one octave for two bars293 (NP,R) Bass changed to G from Bb in first beat, soprano heavily elaborated ineighth notes294 (R) Bass, beat two eight notes changed to D, Eb. Soprano reinstated tooriginal register.295 (R) Tenor and Soprano rhythmically altered296 (Q) Soprano and Alto chromatically altered298 (NP,R) Alto suspended from previous bar, added lower neighbour299 (NP,R) Soprano passing note Eb added300 (NP,R) Bass notes and rhythm altered301 (R) Soprano rhythm altered (see m. 234)302 (NP, R) Soprano has added sixteenth note ornament and added Eb in third beat303 (NP,R) Soprano adds eighth notes on second beat304 (NP,R) Alto Eb is alteration from original F natural, beat 1. Soprano escape toneEb added305 Alto beat 4, Ab changed from original A70306 (NP,R) Alto rhythm altered (see m. 234), tenor escape tone F added, beat 3.5307 (Q,T) Tenor and Alto voices fused into single inner voice and chromaticallyaltered308 Soprano F# is an alteration from original F natural.309 (T) Fifth inner voice added (stepwise eighths in lower right hand) until m. 312310 (NP) Alto chromatic passing tone added, Ab in beat 3Fugue II315 (T) Modified form of the motive from beginning of Fantasia presented insmall notes322 (T) Same type of alteration as m. 315, using right hand notes from mm. 6-8(beat 1) with last two notes altered325 (NP,R) Beat 2, Alto chromatic passing tone added329 Same type of alteration as mm. 315 and 322, using variants of right handnotes from mm. 8 (beat 4)- 11.331 (Q) Alto beat 2 Ab changed from A in original.332 (Q,NP) Soprano and Alto altered to create an echo of the Alto from m. 331 in theSoprano and a chromatic scale in the Alto336 (T) Bass doubled in octaves until m.339337 (NP) Small note ascending third added in highest register338 Soprano C originally E33 8-9 (Q) Soprano and Bass substantially altered to make BACH motives341-3 (T) Bass doubled in octaves344 (NP,R) Tenor altered to produce chromatic scale345 (T) Soprano raised one octave and marked quasi Flauto348 (NP,R) Tenor altered to produce descending chromatic scale349 Tenor altered to make arch shape71351 (Q,T) Bass raised one octave and modified to make quasi-BACH352 (NP) E in Bass makes 6/4 instead of original root position harmony, Sopranoadds passing note C# on downbeat353 (Q) Tenor modified to produce BACH355 (T) Tenor Subject in octaves, Soprano changed to sequence until m. 357354-5 (NP) Bass altered on beat 4 of m. 354/355 to ElF358 (T) Introduction of fourth, inner voice (beginning A, G, F)360-1 Four measures (m. 163-66 of Bach) cut36 1-3 (T) Top voice is new addition368-70 m. 175-179 in Bach are cut and replaced with new material371 (T) Bass entry in octaves374 (T) Soprano entry, beat 3, in octaves3 79-82 (T) Additional inner voice in small eighth notesFugue III394 (T) Bass enters in octaves396 (T) Soprano down one octave397 (T) Alto down one octave398 (T) Bass raised one octave, causing an inversion of the counterpoint401 (NP) Passing note D between E and C# on beat 4.5 removed402 (NP) Alto modified to create descending chromatic line405 Variante written above staff as Ossia409 (NP) Bass presented in octaves415 Tenor altered to Eb, F, C (Eb, D, G in original) for reasons of playability72418 (T) Fusion of Soprano and Tenor voices so that the tenor is in the highestregister420 Three measures cut (mm. 229-31) and replaced with a bar of new material422-7 Expansion of 1.5 measures of the original (m. 233-234.5 in Bach)73Appendix BTHE UMVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIASCHOOL OF MUSICRecital HallTuesday, Sept. 13, 20058:00 p.m.DOCTORAL RECITAL*BRETT KINGSBURY, PianoAria mit Verschiednen Veranderungen BWV 988 J.S. Bach(Goldberg Variations) (1685-1750)- INTERMISSION-13 Preludes Op. 32 Sergei Rachmaninoff(1873-1943)1. Allegro Vivace2. Allegretto3. Allegro Vivace4. Allegro con brio5. Moderato6. Allegro Appasionato7. Moderato8. Vivo9. Allegro moderato10. Lento11. Allegretto12. Allegro13. Grave*111 partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree with amajor in Piano Performance.74THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIASCHOOL OF MUSICRecital HallSunday, October 22, 20068:00 p.m.DOCTORAL LECTURERECITAL*BRETT KINGSBURY, PianoLecture: From Bach to Busoni: Transcription as Visionary Process inFerruccio Busoni’s Fantasia Contrappuntistica- INTERMISSION -Fantasia Contrappuntistica (1910) Ferruccio Busoni(1866-1924)Preludio CoraleFuga IFuga IIFuga IIIIntermezzoVariation IVariation IIVariation IIICadenzaFuga IVCoraleStretta*In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree with amajor in Piano Performance.75


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