The first critically edited score of Schönberg's oratorio “Die Jakobsleiter” marks the completion of a major music editorial project within the complete edition of his works. The manuscript source for the edition is held at the Arnold Schönberg Center.

The volume contains the music text of Schönberg’s incomplete oratorio, “Die Jakobsleiter”, in that form of the work composed mostly between the beginning of June and the end of September 1917, then repeatedly resumed in subsequent years and ultimately abandoned in July 1922. It is in a short-score form totalling 684 bars that has in fact remained fragmentary in two respects: lt covers, on the one hand, only about two-fifths of the libretto that Schocnberg himself wrote; on the other, it has in three places in the orchestral portion gaps comprising between two and 16 bars that he apparently intended to close in conjunction with the fair copy of the score, which, however, never materialised. That the work in its present form was nevertheless included in series A consisting of the performable works and edited according to the principlcs of a “work edition”, was based on the fact that not only is it one of Schönberg’s chief works, but also that the music text recorded is so extensively indicated in nearly all essential areas (with the exception of an only sporadically specified orchestration), that the musical conception can be clearly enough recognised even in view of an intended performance.
In terms of reproducing the short score where the layout of pages and staves could not be taken over owing to the autograph’s oversize and almost square format, the editor was compelled to compromise between maximally approximating the original appearance, on the one hand, and clearly reproducing the individual parts progressions for intuitive comprehension whilst managing without reference signs. The aim was to achieve a printed image of sufficiently great transparency to facilitate the study of the complex compositional structure, involving several often variously scored choral groups as well as off-stage and elevated orchestras diversely joining in with the main orchestra. […]
The edition of the short score of “Die Jakobsleiter” within the context of the Complete Edition may well be doubly regarded as a milestone for the music edition: whereas, on the one hand, it makes Schönberg’s unfinished chief work from his middle creative period accessible for the first time in its initial, oversized scoring not yet adapted to orchestral practice – as in a later incomplete autograph copy which served as a model for the orchestral score realised by Winfried Zillig and edited by Rudolf Stephan in 1985 in the Supplement to the Complete Edition –, it undertakes, on the other hand, for the first time ever the attempt to present a short score in an historico-critical edition

Cited from:
Ulrich Krämer: Preliminary Remarks, in Arnold Schönberg: Sämtliche Werke. Abteilung V: Chorwerke. Reihe A, Band 17: Die Jakobsleiter. Oratorium (Fragment) für Soli, Chöre und Orchester. Particell. Edited by Ulrich Krämer. Mainz, Vienna 2018, p. VIIf.

Schott Music


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