Epstein\, David, Grundgestalt


**Epstein, David

Beyond Orpheus; Studies in Musical Structure; David Epstein

from Schonberg's teaching, 1919-22:

a motif is the smallest musical form, consisting of at least one interval and one rhythm. The next sized form is the Gru-ndgestalt of phrase, "as a rule 2 to 3 bars long" (the number of bars depending on the tempo, among other things), and consisting of the "firm connection of more or less varied repetitions." The next sized form, the theme "arises from the need to connect several shapes together" and consists of "the connection (here he expressly does not say firm) of the Grundgestalt (basic shape) with its more or less varied repetitions."

p. 18.

Schonberg\, Arnold, composition



A real composer does not compose merely one or more themes, but a whole piece. In an apple tree's blossoms, even in the bud, the whole future apple is present in all its details - they have only to mature, to grow, to become the apple, the apple tree, and its power of reproduction. Similarly, a real composer's musical conception, like the physical, is one single act, comprising the totality of the product. The from in its outline, characteris-tics of tempo, dynamics, mood of the main and subordinate ideas, their relations, derivations, their contrasts and deviations - all these are there at once, though in embryonic state. The ultimate formulation of the melodies, themes, rhythms, and many details will subsequently develop through the generating power of the germs.

quoted from Style and Idea

Hindemith\, Paul, composition


We all know the impression of a very heavy flash of light-ning in the night. Within a second's time we see a broad land-scape, not only in its general outlines but with every detail... We experience a view, immensely comprehensive and at the same time immensely detailed...

Composition must be conceived the same way. If we cannot, in the flash of a single moment, see a composition in its abso-lute entirety, with every pertinent detail in its proper place, we are not genuine creators... Not only will he [the genuine creator] have the gift of seeing - illuminated in his mind's eye as if by a flash of lightning - a complete musical form (though its subsequent realization in a performance may take three hours or more); he will have the energy, persistence, and skill to bring this envisioned form into existence, so that even after months of work not one of its details will be lost or fail to fit into his photo - mental picture.... In working out his material he will always have before his mental eye the entire picture. In writing melodies or harmonic progressions he does not have to select them arbitrarily, he merely has to fulfill what the con-ceived totality demands. This is the true reason for Beethoven's apparently more than Philistine bickering with his material: a desire not to improve or change any Einfall but to accommodate it to the unalterable necessities of an envisioned totality....

Paul Hindemith, A Composer's World pp. 70-72.

[Einfall - invasion]

Mann, Thomas, composition as a whole

Thomas Mann:

The artist always carries a work of art as a whole within himself. Although aesthetics may insist that literary and musi-cal works, in contradistinction to the plastic arts, are depend-ent upon time and succession of events, it is nevertheless true that such works strive at every moment to be present as a whole. Middle and end are alive in the beginning, the past suffuses the present, and even the greatest concentration upon the moment does not obviate concern for the future."

The Story of a Novel p. 220.