Triskaidecatet, Op.13

for 13 solo instruments
on a tone row by Arnold Schoenberg (Op.37)

(1) Piano (2) Plus violin (3) Plus horn (4) Plus clarinet (5) Plus violoncello (6) Plus flute (7) Plus tuba (8) Plus bassoon (9) Plus oboe (10) Plus trombone (11) Plus viola (12) Plus trumpet (13) Plus triangle

Date Duration Listen
Friday, 13 May 2011 13'13" Realization (.MP3) Score (.PDF)
18.1 MB 367 KB

A socio-cultural footnote

Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), the ur-father of 12-tone music, was reportedly a somewhat dour and gloomy individual, perhaps an understandable consequence of being a Viennese Jew who escaped from the Holocaust by the skin of his teeth. He suffered terribly from triskaidekaphobia, a fear of the number 13: so much so, that he changed the title of his only opera from "Moses und Aaron" to "Moses und Aron," in order to avoid having to use 13 letters. Unsurprisingly, he died at about a quarter to midnight on the night of Friday, the Thirteenth of July, 1951.

It is therefore no accident that the composer of this work (an extended elaboration on the tone-row used by Schoenberg in his Fourth String Quartet) chose to set his own Opus Number 13, copyright Friday, 13 May 2011, as a triskaidecatet for 13 solo instruments in 13 sections, the thirteenth and largest of which features the appearance of the thirteenth instrument in the ensemble, the triangle, which sounds exactly 13 notes - including its first and last. An adroit and punctilious performance of the entire piece, finally, may be completed in exactly 13 minutes and 13 seconds.

If the composer of this work had never produced an Opus Number 14, Arnold Schoenberg and others may have thought they knew the reason why.

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