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RITING in his dedicatory open letter to Schoenberg about the

W use of a "constructive rhythm" in the Rondo Ritmico of the
Chamber Concerto, Berg says:

It was in a scene in my opera Wozzeck that I showed for the first time the possi-
bility of this method of allotting such an important constructive role to a rhythm.
But that such a degree of thematic transformation on the basis of a rhythm, such as
I have attempted in the Rondo under discussion, is admissible, was proved to me
by a passage from your Serenade, where in the last movement (admittedly for
quite different motives) you place a number of motifs and themes from preceding
movements on rhythms that did not originally belong to them. And I have just read
an article by Felix Greissle (Anbruch, February, 1925) about the formal founda-
tions of your Wind Quintet in which he writes, among other things, in the last
sentence, "The theme always has. the same rhythm but in each case it is made up
of notes from a different series," and this seems to me to be further proof of the
rightness of such a method of rhythmic construction.1

A study of the rhythmic techniques employed in his music, however, sug-

gests that Berg's modest disavowal of originality is not to be taken seri-
ously, for these techniques are handled with an ingenuity and an inven-
tion that far surpass those of the works Berg cites as his models.
Although Berg's interest in the structural possibilities of rhythm is
well-known, it has as yet received little critical attention. In this article I
shall consider some of the rhythmic and metric procedures employed in
Berg's last work, the opera Lulu. Three distinct forms of rhythmic and
metric procedures can be found in this work: (1) the use of a construc-
tive rhythm similar to that described in the "Open letter on the Chamber
Concerto," which may be stated as a purely rhythmic pattern (on per-
Willi Reich, Alban Btrg (London and New York, 1965) pp. 146-47.

350 The Musical Quarterly

cussion or as a repeated single note) or may determine the presentation of

harmonic and mdodic material; (2) the use of mathematically related
metronome markings as a means of binding the apparently separate num-
bers into a larger musical and dramatic structure; (3) the use of charac-
teristic rhythmic and metric patterns as leitmotifs assodated with some of
the figures in the opera. The first two of these techniques can be found
in Berg's earlier works, although their importance and the way in which
they are handled are here greatly extended. The third is peculiar to Lvdu.
Unlike the constructive rhythm of Wozzeck, which plays an important
role only in one scene of the work, that of Lulu (Ex. 1) permeates the
whole opera, appearing at every important point in the devdopment of
the dramatic action and having far-reaching musical and dramatic func-
Ex. 1

J. J. J> J.

For the sake of convenience I shall adopt the abbreviation used in the
published score of the opera and shall henceforth refer to this rhythm,
the Hauptrhythmus, as the RH. 1 Statements of this rhythmic cell not only
open and dose all three acts of the opera and mark all the turning points
in Lulu's career, but also subtly underline every significant word or
phrase. Thus, for example, a statement of the RH as a repeated chord
accompanies Dr. Schon's prophetic words "Mann ist ja seines Lebens
nicht sicher" ("One can not even be sure of one's own safety") in his
Arietta "Das mein Lebensabend" in Act II, scene 1; the significance of
this statement of the RH only becomes dear later in the scene when the
same passage reappears as the Introduction to the Five-Strophe Aria
which culminates in Schon's death. The same version of the RH appears
elsewhere in the scene — when Lulu accuses Schon of suffering from a
persecution complex (Schon had told the police in Act I that the Paint-
er's death was caused by a persecution complex). Similarly, overlapping
statements of the RH accompany the shouts and cheers of the offstage
audience watching Lulu's theatrical performance in Act I, scene 3, caus-
ing Aiwa to comment that they sound like "beasts in the menagerie at
feeding time," a comment which is crucial to our understanding of the
work, since it draws a direct parallel between the characters on stage
In the discussion that follows I have not, however, confined myielf to a dis-
cussion of those appearances of the RH which are marked in the score, since these
indications are clearly incomplete.
Some Rhythmic and Metric Techniques in Berg's Lulu 351

(who were originally introduced as beasts in a menagerie) and us, the

audience, watching the performance of Lulu in the opera house.
A feature of Berg's handling of the RH of Lulu is the large number
of variants which appear during the course of the opera. Such variants
are not peculiar to Lulu for, although the RH of Wozzeck always ap-
pears in its original or retrograde form, that of the Chamber Concerto is
subjected to many different methods of variation during the course of the
last movement* Ex. 2 illustrates some of the methods Berg had em-
ployed in the Chamber Concerto: Ex. 2b is an inexact diminution of the
original RH (Ex. 2a); 2c an inexact augmentation; 2d, which Berg him-
self marks RH in the score of the work, substitutes rests for some of the
note values of the original and is an inexact and incomplete diminution of
the original RH; 2f is similar to the retrograde version shown in 2e, but
has added notes which fill out the values of the last two notes of Ex. 2e;
2g and 2h are both compound patterns built from modified versions of
the original and retrograde forms of the RH, but in Ex. 2h rests are sub-
stituted for part of the note values of 2g.

Ex.2 "9
«. m nj
m.«J3 f.


m. 678-9


Variants for the RH of Lulu, some of which function as leitmotifs, are

shown in Ex. 3. The variant shown in Ex. 3a is associated with the Medi-
cal Specialist; * that shown in Ex. 3b accompanies the canon between
' T h e finale (Rondo Ritmico) of the Chamber Concerto is a limultaneous re-
capitulation of the first two movements. The thematic material of the earlier move-
ments, however, is rhythmically altered by the "constructive rhythm."
* The orthodox analysis of the work, expounded by Reich and Redlich, and the
sketches which Berg himself made for Reich (see Reich's "An der Seite von Alban
Berg," Melos, X X V I I [1960], pp. 37ff.) show this variant as arising from one of the
thematic transformations applied to the basic set as a means of deriving the tone row
associated with Schigolch. Not only does this RH variant appear when Schigolch first
enters in Act I, scene 2, but both the derivation of this RH variant and the derivation
of Schigolch's tone row from the basic set are made clear in the opera itself in meat.
352 The Musical Quarterly

Lulu and the Painter in Act I, scene 1; that in Ex. 3c, which represents
the RH in skeletal form, appears at the climax of the Monoritmica in the
next scene. A further variant, which is associate with the Countess Gesch-
witz, will be discussed later.
Ex. 3


[r r 9 r]
The variants given in Ex. 3a and b appear in a number of fragmentary
versions before being stated in their complete form and, thus, both seem
to evolve gradually from the music which precedes their first complete
statement. Fragmentary statements of the Medical Specialist's RH ap-
pear at measures 91 and 103; that at measure 103 is marked RH in the
published orchestral score of the opera. The variant which eventually
accompanies the Canon in Act I, scene 1, evolves from the piano figura-
tions at measures 125-31.
The most obvious statements of the variant shown in Ex. 3a appear
in the "Melodrama" which accompanies the death of the Medical Spe-
cialist in the first scene of Act I. The first half of the Melodrama is ac-
companied by canonic statements of the Medical Specialist's RH on the
percussion, the second half by reiterated statements on the harp or, as
in the following example, on the harp and in the voice part (see Ex. 4).
But the whole rhythmic structure of the first scene from measure 107 to
measure 255 is affected by the characteristics of the Medical Specialist's
RH variant. The first complete statement of this variant appears at meas-
ures 108-110, where it accompanies Alwa's words "Aber wo ist der Herr
Gemahl?" ("But where is your husband?"). Two statements of the Medi-

113-114 of the preceding scene. Although George Perle's analyiij of the work (tee
"The Music of Lulu — A New Analysis," Journal of tht American Musicological So-
citty, XII [1959], pp. 185-200) undoubtedly makes better musical sense than the
"official"1 analysis, the care with which Berg projects the derivation of this variant and
Schigolch's row during these bars tuggests that he himself really did regard both as
springing from the basic set in the way described by Reich. Neither analysis fully ex-
plains this passage, however, since Perle fails to explain why, unless it is intended to
demonstrate the derivation of this RH variant, such prominence should be given to
Schigolch's row at this point, while Reich fails to explain why a rhythm which arises
in the process of deriving Schigolch's row should be arbitrarily associated with the
Medical Specialist.
Some Rhythmic and Metric Techniques in Berg's Lulu 353
m. 220



(All examples from Berg's Lulu are printed with the permission of the publisher
Universal Edition, Vienna.)

cal Specialist's variant are followed by a further variant which incorpo-

rates a number of extra notes into the original rhythmic pattern. This
further variant is marked (z) in the following example:

PT—1 r i*—-pen*
The melodic and rhythmic patterns of this variant are the basis of the
Introduction and Coda to the Canon. The three-note figure (x), which
is an elaboration of the final notes of the original RH, is especially im-
portant. The melodic and rhythmic shape of the variant marked (z) in
Ex. 5 and the Medical Specialist's RH itself are used with considerable
freedom and are submitted to a number of complex methods of thematic
and rhythmic variation during the course of the scene — methods similar
to those which I have already mentioned in relation to the final move-
ment of the Chamber Concerto. Many of the resulting variations are far
removed from the RH from which they derive and the Medical Spe-
cialist's RH thus affects, and is absorbed into, the musical texture of the
whole scene.
The following example shows just two of the many variations em-
ployed during the Introduction and Coda to the Canon in this scene. In
the first bar of Ex. 6a the cello presents an augmented version of the
Medical Specialist's RH, the first note of which is extended from three to
five sixteenth-notes in length; in the second bar the original version of the
Medical Specialist's RH is combined with a version of the variant called
354 The Musical Quarterly

It, mir wlr' es aucfa l i e - ber, er wi - re en-dlkh di

f pane

Ex. 6b

Luh T i n
ft ' 'tfJ,VT * 'tfj^r
" Mem_Miim_vrird|lefch_ Uer •em. Mir scheme dl in er

^ ^

(z). The two subsidiary parts in this example, both of which employ the
three-note figure (x), are also derived from the Medical Specialist's RH
— in the first bar of the example the bass and bassoon line points the RH
rhythm of the cello part, the flute and viola line points it in the second
bar. The second bar of Ex. 6b combines an augmented version of the RH,
which now includes the three-note figure (x), with a version of the orig-
inal cell in which rests are substituted for part of the duration of the orig-
inal note values. Similarly, at measure 136 a version of (z) is shared be-
tween the double bassoon and the voice, and in the woodwinds at meas-
ure 141 the durations of the original versions of the Medical Specialist's
RH are filled, in part, with the three-note figure of (x). (The three-note
rhythm (x), which dominates the Introduction and Coda to the Canon
in Act I, scene 1, is particularly associated with the Painter and reap-
pears at the beginning of the next scene, where it introduces the Duettino
between the Painter and Lulu.)
Some Rhythmic and Metric Techniques in Berg's Lulu 355

The complex methods of variation applied to the Medical Specialist's

RH in Act I, scene 1, are untypical of Berg's handling of the RH in the
opera as a whole, where for the most part, it is either stated as a purely
rhythmic element or is applied to statements of important harmonic
material. Apart from the theme of the Coda to Dr. Schon's Sonata Move-
ment, the rhythm of which is determined by reiterated statements of the
RH, 1 the RH is applied to thematic material only in the Monoritmica
of Act I, scene 2.
The Monoritmica, which leads up to the suicide of the Painter, is an
extended passage of over three hundred bars the rhythmic structure of
which is based throughout on repeated or superimposed statements of the
RH. This rhythmic structure binds together a series of short reprises of
music heard earner in the opera. The appearance of these reprises is de-
termined by the course of the dialogue on the stage. During the first half
of the passage Dr. Schon tells the Painter, Lulu's husband, of her past life
and admits to having had an affair with her; each topic of conversation
is accompanied by suitable musical quotations from earlier sections of the
opera. Thus, Schon's words "Es war nach dem Tod meiner Frau, als ich
die ersten Beziehungen zu meiner jetzigen Verlobten ankniipfte" ("It was
after the death of my wife, when I first made the acquaintance of my
present fianceV') are accompanied by the Gavotte theme from the earlier
Sonata Movement, a theme that has throughout been associated with
Schon's desire to marry his fiancee. The Gavotte theme, however, is now
rhythmically transformed by the RH. Similarly, when Schon tries to en-
courage the Painter to exercise his authority over Lulu, the orchestral
accompaniment in measures 724-27 combines a version of the "picture
chords," which symbolizes the Painter's portrait of Lulu, with a rhyth-
mically altered version of the energetic main theme of the Sonata, which
symbolizes Schon'tf own authority — the Gewaltmensch as Lulu, accom-
panied by the same Sonata theme, calls him later in the work (see Ex. 7).
The handling of the RH in the Monoritmica can be understood as an
extension and an intensification of the techniques employed in the Rondo
Ritmico of the Chamber Concerto; whereas in the last movement of the
Chamber Concerto the rhythmic transformation of themes from the ear-
lier movements served a purely musical purpose here, in Lulu, the same
technique serves both a musical * and a complex dramatic purpose. The
•See Perle, "The Character of Lulu: A Sequel," Music Review, XXV (1964),
In addition to acting a* a recapitulation of the most important of the material
heard in the opera up to that point, many sections of the Monoritmica are so designed
that they have closed binary or ternary musical forms.
356 The Musical Quarterly

lip i »< "

Lus sic Au-to- ri - tit fuh-len, tic vw-fangt nicht michr i b un-be - dingt Ge-bor-nm

VIn. 1


(incomplete texture)

reprise of earlier sections of the opera are not purely, or even primarily,
illustrative, but mirror the exact psychological state of the Painter as he
begins to understand the implications of what Schon is telling him —
the rhythmic distortion of the themes reflecting the Painter's growing
horror as he realizes the true significance of the events to which they
refer. These reprises are also the means by which the composer, from his
vantage point outside the work, comments on the dramatic action. Thus,
for example, by accompanying the Painter's words "She told me that she
had never loved anyone" (measure 705) by the melody of the earlier duet
"Kannst Du der Wahrheit sagen?" ("Can you tell the truth?") between
the Painter and Lulu in the opening scene of Act I, Berg reminds the
listener that Lulu replied "I don't know" to the Painter's question and
thus comments ironically upon the Painter's capacity for self-deception.
The Monoritmica is the only section of Lulu in which Berg makes
extensive use of the retrograde form of the RH. The retrograde RH first
begins to appear at measures 675-76 (it has appeared only once before
in the opera, at measure 85 where it led "backwards" from the Prologue
into Act I, scene 1); on its first complete appearance at measure 679 the
retrograde is used in such a way that its first two notes overlap with the
last two notes of a statement of the original RH:

r r u *•
On its earliest appearances in the Monoritmica the retrograde RH is al-
\vays used in this way and its relationship to the original form is thus
Some Rhythmic and Metric Techniques in Berg's Lulu 357

established before it is employed as an independent rhythmic pattern.

Despite the care with which the retrograde form is introduced, it is used
far less frequently than is the original form, its appearances being usually
reserved for particular effects. At measures 680-81, for example, Dr.
Schon says "Ich komme nicht hierher urn Skandal zu machen, Ich
komme um Dich vor dem Skandal zu retten" ("I didn't come here to
make a scandal, I came to save you from one"); the contradiction of the
first part by the second part of the sentence and the symmetrical construc-
tion of the sentence itself is expressed, in a typical Bergian conceit, by set-
ting the second part as a melodic and rhythmic retrograde of the first.
The same technique is used later in the Monoritmica (measures 708-9)
to symbolize the contradiction implied in Schon's words "Bei einer
Herkunft wie sie Mignon hat, kannst Du unmoglich mit den Begriffen der
biirglichen Gesellschaft rechnen" ("One can not judge someone with a
background like Mignon's 7 by the usual standards of bourgeois society").
The Monoritmica is also subjected to a highly organized method of
tempo control which determines the overall shape of the passage. Starting
with a metronome marking of / = 76 at measure 666 (the tempo of the
Sonata Coda which leads into the Monoritmica), the tempo progresses
through a sequence of mathematically related metronomic speeds until it
reaches J = 132 at measure 748; it then decreases to the original «T =
76, at which point (measure 957) it resumes the recapitulation of the
Sonata Coda. Of the eighteen sections which make up the first half of
the passage, seven have metronome markings moving from J* = 76 to
J = 132 (marked / = 76, 84, 92, 100, 108, 120 and 132 respec-
tively), six from J = 76 to J = 132 (J = 76, 86, 96, 106, 118 and
132) and five from J = 76 to J = 132 (J = 76, 86, 96, 112 and
132.) The eighteen sections of the second half of the movement have the
same metronome markings but in the reverse order. The central climax
coincides with the discovery of the Painter's corpse.
Although the controlled accelerando-ritardando plan of the Monorit-
mica is unique in its dramatic effect, this method of controlling and inter-
relating tempos through the use of mathematically related metronome
markings is not unusual in Berg's music. (It can be found, for example, in
both the Lyric Suite and Wozzeck.) In many sections of Lulu Berg ex-
ploits the sense of formal cohesion that such a sequence of interrelated
tempos can give as a means of binding the separate numbers into larger
musical and dramatic units. Act II, scene 1, of Lulu, for example, con-
Of the male characters in Lulu only Schigolch calls Lulu by her real name;
Schon calls her Mignon, the Medical Specialist, Eva, and the Painter, Nelly.
358 The Musical Quarterly

sists of three main dramatic units: a scene between Lulu and Dr. Schon,
which is preceded by a short introductory scene which includes the
Countess Geschwitz; an Ensemble scene between Lulu and her admirers,
which includes the exposition of Alwa's Rondo movement; and a final
scene between Lulu and Dr. Schon, which culminates in Schon's death.
The first of these units consists of an opening recitative, a solo Arietta for
Schon and a Cavatina for Schon and Lulu. The opening recitative moves
between three interrelated tempos, marked J = 52, J = 65 and J =
78 (which are 13 x 4, 5, and 6, respectively); the Arietta has a metro-
nome mark of J = 52 and the Cavatina, beginning with a M.M. of J =
65 moves to J =• 78 and ends J = 52, the tempo at which the whole
section began. The central section of the Arietta has a metronome mark-
ing, not of J = 65 but of J = 66; this tempo is related to that of the
final section of the scene where Dr. Schon's Aria has a metronome mark-
ing of J = 132 (i.e., J = 66) and starts with the repetition of a pass-
age from the central section of the Arietta in note values which are twice
as long as those of the original. The Grave passage which accompanies
Schon's death has a metronome marking of J = 44, at which tempo the
half-note is equal to the dotted half of the previous Aria. Not only is each
of these three units thus delineated as a separate musical and dramatic
structure but the first and last units are also linked in a way that reflects
their dramatic similarities and separates them from the central Ensemble
The most extended and the most interesting example of this technique
in Lulu occurs in the second and third scenes of Act I where a series of
interrelated tempos bind together over a thousand bars of music. The fol-
lowing diagram shows the metronome markings of the whole of this sec-
tion, from the opening of Dr. Schon's Sonata Movement (at measure 533
of Act I, scene 2) to the end of the act.

Sonata Exposition
533 First Subject J =80
Bridge Passage:
554 Section A J. = 46 1 = 69)
563 Section B J.=>46
579 Section C J =52
587 Second Subject
(Gavotte) J =69
615 Coda J =58
Some Rhythmic and Metric Techniques in Berg's Lulu 359

First Sonata Reprise

625 First Subject J =80
633 Bridge Passage J. = 46
650 Second Subject No metronome marking (See fn. 8.)
666 Coda ;=76
669 Monoritmica S = 76, accelerating to J = 132
and returning to / = 76
957 Interlude J = 38 (approx. J = 40 at end)
992 Jazz Band I =120
1020 Orchestra J =60
1113 Chorale J = 80 (J. = J of previous tempo)
1150 Orchestra: Animato J = 120 (/. = J of previous tempo)
1155 Jazz Band J = 120 (as at meas. 992 but in
double note lengths)
Sonata Development
1209 J = 80 (J = J. of previous tempo)
1236 J = 52 (J = J. of previous tempo)
1248 J =80
1275 J = 120 (J = J \ of previous tempo)
1284 J = 80 (/. = J of previous tempo)
Final Sonata Reprise
1289 First Subject J =80
1299 Bridge Passage / = 1 3 8 (J = 69 as at meas. 554)
1309 Second Subject No M.M. but 'Quasi tempo di
Gavotte' (i.e., J = 69)
1356 Coda J = 46 ( J = J. of previous tempo)

Although most of the relationships indicated in the above diagram

are self-explanatory,' those of the Sonata Exposition should perhaps be
discussed in greater detail. In the bars immediately preceding the bridge
passage (measures 552-53) eighth-note triplets and sixteenth-notes are
gradually introduced into the 4/4 meter of the first subject group. The
• Here, as eliewhere in the opera, there appear to be tome inconsistencies in the
metronome markings and tempo indications of the published score. The reprise of the
Gavotte at meas. 650, for example, has no M.M. but has the indication "Quasi Tempo
di Gavotte" (i.e. J = 69); the following Coda reprise, however, has the M.M. J
= 76 and the indication "Doppelt so Langsam." Similarly the indication 3^ — [71
appears, meas. 1299 of the Final Reprise, the move from J = 80 to J = 138, but is
not preceded by the necessary ritardando marking. Had Berg lived to supervise the
publication of the score of Lulu he would, perhaps, have removed these and «imilar
360 The Musical Quarterly

exposition of the first subject ends with a ritardando which slows the
music down to a speed at which the eighth-note triplets of the first sub-
ject group are equal to three eighths in the 6/8 meter of the bridge pass-
age. The bridge passage is in three sections, the first two of which have
metronome, markings of J. = 46 (J = 69); in the first of these sections
the meter is 6/8 and the eighth is the basic note value, in the second the
meter is 3/4 and the quarter-note is the basic note value so that, to the
listener, the second section seems to be moving at half the speed of the
first (i.e., J = 24, J = 34j/a) • The third section superimposes the mate-
rial of the two earlier sections and has a metronome marking of J = 52,
a tempo which is half way between the J = 69 of the first and the ap-
parent J = 34J/^ of the second section of the bridge passage (Berg writes
'langsamer als das erste und schneller als das zweitemal" in the score at
this point). The value of a quarter-note in this third section is equal to
that of the dotted quarter in the first subject group (J = 80, J. there-
fore = 52). The tempo of the Gavotte is the same as that of the first
section of the bridge passage.
Not only are the different tempos in these two scenes related to one
another mathematically, but in many cases and particularly in the Sonata
Development of scene 3, the relationships between the tempos are shown
in the music itself so that a new speed seems to evolve from the previous
one and the listener feels the gradual progression from one tempo to the
next. Thus the transition from J = 120 to J = 80 at the beginning of
the development at measure 1209, is made by introducing the first sub-
ject theme as eighth-note quadruplets into the 6/4 meter of the previous
section; at the transition from J = 80 to J = 52 in measures 1235-37 a
syncopated dotted quarter-note rhythm at one tempo becomes the main
pulse of the new tempo; for the change from J = 80 to J = 120 at meas-
ures 1274-75 a triplet eighth-note at J = 80 becomes an eighth-notevat J =
120; at the return from J = 120 to J = 80 in measures 1283-84, the
Coda theme in quarter-note duplets appears in a 6/4 bar of the J = 120
tempo; and the transition from J = 69 to J = 46 at measure 1355-6
introduces a syncopated dotted eighth-note rhythm which becomes the
eighth-note pulse of the following section. Ex. 9 shows a passage from the
Gavotte of the final Sonata reprise (measures 1336-40) in which two
tempos are superimposed; in this passage the music of the Gavotte (J =
69) is underpinned by a "syncopated" version of the Coda theme moving
at the speed at which it appears in the final bars of the act.
In a letter to Reich, Berg pointed out that the dramatic construction
of Lulu necessitated a different approach from that which he adopted
Some Rhythmic and Metric Techniques in Berg's Lulu 361


[quui J - 46]

in Wozzeck: "Lulu called for a musical orientation more along the lines
of the human personalities that run through the work . . . and practically
a leitmotiv treatment of both melodic and harmonic elements." In fact,
this leitmotif treatment of the musical elements is much more radical than
Berg suggests, for several of the figures in Lulu are associated with a par-
ticular instrument or group of instruments and with specific rhythmic
and metric patterns as well as with characteristic harmonic and melodic
formations. The characters most clearly associated with specific rhythmic
and metric patterns are Schigolch, the Athlete, and the Schoolboy (the
three characters who appear in the big Ensemble scene at the end of Act
II, scene 1) and the Countess Geschwitz. The figure of Schigolch is asso-
ciated with groups of four notes of the same value, in simple meter. In
the Ensemble of Act II, scene 1, and the central section of the Kam-
mermusik of Act I, scene 2 (which have metronome markings of J = 48
and J = 56, respectively) the figuration appears as eighth-note groups in
(f; in the outer sections of the Kammermusik (M.M. J = 48) Act I
and in the Prologue to the opera (J = 50), where the Animal Trainer
identifies Schigolch as the "worm," it appears as four sixteenth-notes in
4/4 or 3/4 time.
The Athlete and the Schoolboy make their first appearance in the
opera in Act II. The Athlete is associated with compound meter. Eighth-
note triplets are introduced in to the 3/4 meter of the Prologue and lead
to a short 9/8 section when the Animal Trainer, accompanied by the
Athlete's row, refers to the "bear"; triplets are also introduced in the 2/4
recitative meter of Act II, at measure 751, where they introduce the Ath-
lete's short arioso "Ich habe mir Trikots." In the Ensemble scene of Act II,
scene 1, the Athlete's compound meter is notated as 6/4 (J. = 56)
362 The Musical Quarterly

against the 4/4 (J = 56) of Schigolch's part, or as quarter-note triplets

in 4/4. The Schoolboy is usually associated with eighth-note triplets in 9/8,"
the meter of the Kammermusik of Act II, scene 2, which starts as the
Schoolboy enters and which includes his aria "Mein Leben ist so wenig
mchr wert." The Schoolboy is less consistently associated with a regular
meter than are Schigolch and the Athlete and is occasionally allotted
eighth-note duplets instead of triplets, so that his part seems to fluctuate
between 9/8 and 6/8.' In certain sections of Wozzeck Berg had already
explored the possibility of writing music in which the musical structure
was indivisibly linked to the dramatic action; in the fugue of Act II,
scene 2, for example, the three characters on stage are each represented
by a theme that has been associated with them earlier in the opera, and
the musical course of the fugue is completely determined by the dramatic
action.10 This device is greatly extended in the Ensemble scene of Lulu,
the three characters being associated not only with thematic material, as
in Wozzeck, but also with harmonic formations, rhythmic and metric
patterns and instrumental colors, Schigolch being usually represented by
the strings of the orchestra (which are reduced to violas, cellos and
double basses during this passage), the Athlete by the piano, brass and
percussion and the Schoolboy by the woodwind and occasionally the
percussion and the Schoolboy by the woodwind and occasionally the horn.
The musical elements associated with each character appear only
when that character is singing or when the stage directions in the score
indicate that he moves or performs some action. For example, in meas-
ures 95-104 of Act II, scene 1, Schigolch, who suffers from asthma, slowly
makes his way down the staircase, stopping to rest after every few steps;
the groups of four eighth-notes appear in the orchestra every time he
descends a step and disappear when he stops to rest, the points at which
he rests and begins to move about again being meticulously indicated in
the stage directions. So close is the correlation between the music and the
action in this scene that Schigolch's quadruplets enter at measure 137
when Schigolch is directed not to move, but simply to stare at the
The Ensemble scene is a collage of these different elements and is
built of juxtaposed or simultaneous statements of the material associated
with each of these three characters. The following example illustrates the
The Schoolboy ij not identified in the Prologue a» one of the beajts in the
See Donald Chittum, "The Triple Fugue in Berg's Wozztck," Music Rtview,
XXVIII (1967), pp. 52-62; and George Perle, "The Mmical Language of Wotztck,"
The Music Forum, I (1967), pp. 224-26.
Some Rhythmic and Metric Techniques in Berg's Lulu 363

way in which the various groups of material are superimposed:

Ex. 10

Ich ha-be

Icfa ha • be al - les im Hau - sc

i 11
Vom P» - pa Po-li-id - <h - rek - tor


ges-tcrn a n Ge-dkht ge-mtcbt

brtucht nur be - feh - leu

TT Wu tut


This kind of leitmotif treatment of the musical characteristics associated

with Schigolch, the Athlete and the Schoolboy reaches its climax in the
Tumultuoso at measures 225-42 of Act II, scene 1, when, the Manser-
vant having announced the arrival of Aiwa, the three of them try to find
somewhere to hide; the movements of each character are precisely indi-
364 The Musical Quarterly

cated in the score at this point and each movement is accompanied by a

fragment of the material associated with the character concerned.
In the Canon which forms the central section of the Ensemble scene
the three characters have the same or similar rhythmic patterns and the
same melodic line (which is based on the basic set of the opera, not on
their individual tone rows) but, at the points where the score indicates
that the vocal lines can be doubled on the orchestra, the Athlete's part is
always doubled by the trombone, the Schoolboy's by the oboe, and Schi-
golch's by the viola. On its reappearance at measure 908 in the following
scene, when the Schoolboy reads of Lulu's cholera in the newspaper, the
canon is metrically transformed from its original 6/8 to the Schoolboy's
The Countess Geschwitz is associated not with a particular meter but
with a rhythmic pattern consisting of a group of notes of increasing or
decreasing durations (Ex. l l a and b ) ; the two figures are frequently jux-
taposed to form a rhythmic unit with an accelerando-ritardando pattern
(Ex. l i e ) , the rhythmic retrograde being often also a melodic retrograde
of the first half.
Ex. l i t b. c

The accelerando-ritardando pattern first appears at measures 39-41 of

the Prologue, where the Countess is identified as the "crocodile" in the
Animal Trainer's menagerie (Ex. 12) and permeates all the music asso-
ciated with the Countess. For instance, this figuration appears at measures
m. 39
voi« i v innri 5
'i J=
Sic sehD d u Kro - ko - dH and m - dres roefar

Ctx- and
Piano m
89-92 of Act II, scene 1, when the Countess enters and hides behind the
firescreen, and at measures 606-7 when she enters at the moment of
Schon's death. The same pattern dominates the recitative which opens
Act II; it appears in the second scene of that act at measures 732-35 and
748-51, where is accompanies two passages of recitative by the Countess
herself, measures 780-84, when Aiwa expresses his admiration of the
Countess's courage, and measures 818-833, when the Countess prepares
Some Rhythmic and Metric Techniques in Berg's Lulu 365

to leave for prison. Measures 1-45 of the Adagio of the Lulu Suite, which
Berg intended to accompany a passage in Act III, scene 2, where the
Countess is left alone,11 are almost completely built on variants of this
rhythmic pattern and the same pattern reappears at measures 80ff. (the
bars following the Todesschrei, as the Countess rushes to Lulu's help) and
measures 96-100 of the Lulu Suite.
An important variant of the RH, built of a group of notes of decreas-
ing duration, is specifically associated with the Countess Geschwitz. This
variant first appears at measures 779 and 808 of Act II, scene 2 (Ex.
13a and b), and reappears at measures 90-91 of the Adagio of the Lulu
Suite — the moment when Jack stabs the Countess (Ex. 13c). All three
statements are marked RH by Berg in the score of the opera.

Ban Dram

Reiterated statements of the Countess's RH also determine the rhythm

of the figuration which appears at measures 25-28 of the Adagio of the
Lulu Suite.
Despite certain tendencies in the later works of Webern, and despite
the fact that Berg himself cites Schoenberg as the source of his rhythmic
techniques, Berg seems to have been the only composer of the Viennese
School to have considered and to have consistently exploited the possibil-
ities of treating rhythm as a self-sufficient structural element, to which
could be applied many of the traditional thematic procedures applied to
the twelve-tone row, and that could be applied to different thematic pat-
terns or subjected to various methods of rhythmic transformation. The
rhythmic techniques employed in Lulu are, with the possible exception of
the third movement of the Chamber Concerto, Berg's most advanced and
most radical exploration of such possibilities. For us today perhaps the
most striking feature of these techniques is their apparent modernity. In
an essay on Elliott Carter, Richard Franko Goldman describes Carter's
See Perie, "A Note on Act III of Lulu," Ptrsptctivts of New Music, Vol. II,
no. 2 (Spring/Summer, 1964), pp.8-14.
366 The Musical Quarterly

idea of metric modulation as a "means of going smoothly but with com-

plete accuracy from one absolute metronomic speed to another by length-
ening or shortening the value of the basic note unit."1' Carter himself has
described the process in the following words:

You will find that there is a constant change of pulse. This is caused by an over-
lapping of speeds. Say, one part in triplets will enter against another part in quin-
tuplets and the quintuplets will fade irto the background and the triplets will es-
tablish a new speed that will become the springboard for another such operation.
The structure of such speeds is correlated throughout the work and gives the im-
pression of varying rates of flux and change* of material and character.11

Although the tempo changes in the Sonata Development of Lulu are

far less frequent and far less complex than those which Carter employs,
Carter's description of the process and the effect of "metric modulation"
is as applicable to Berg's music as to his own. Similarly, Berg's treatment
of the RH of both Lulu and the Chamber Concerto as rhythmic cells
which can be subjected to different methods of variation (such as the
addition or subtraction of notes, exact and inexact forms of augmentation
and diminution and the substitution of rests for notes) is not only remi-
niscent of the methods of varying rhythmic cells which Messiaen describes
in his "Technique of My Musical Language" and which Boulez discusses
in his analysis of Le Sucre but seems to anticipate some of Boulez's own
rhythmic techniques. Even more striking is Berg's use in Lulu of certain
rhythmic and metric patterns as leitmotifs; the association of characteris-
tic rhythms and meters, as well as instrumental colors, tone rows, and
melodic and harmonic formations, with particular figures in the opera is
so schematic in conception and so strictly observed in the work itself as to
bring to mind the total serialism of some post-Webernian composers. In
the light of such techniques, Berg, often regarded as the most spontaneous
and the most traditional of twelve-tone composers, suddenly begins to
seem the most modern of the Viennese school and to have an extraor-
dinary relevance to more recent musical developments.
Tht Musical Quartirly, XLIII (1957), 161.
"Ibid., XLV1 (I960), 193.