|Composition Year||1945 (September 21-30)|
|Genre Categories||;; ; ;|
|Work Title||Prelude to Genesis for Mixed Chorus and Orchestra|
|Opus/Catalogue NumberOp./Cat. No.||Op.44|
|I-Catalogue NumberI-Cat. No.||IAS 32|
|Year/Date of CompositionY/D of Comp.||1945 (September 21-30)|
|First Performance.||1945-11-18 in Los Angeles, Wilshire Ebell Theater
|First Publication.||1973/75 – Los Angeles: Belmont Music Publishers|
|Average DurationAvg. Duration||5 minutes|
|Composer Time PeriodComp. Period||Early 20th century|
|Instrumentation||mixed chorus, orchestra|
|Extra Information||This is Schoenberg's prelude to Nathaniel Shilkret's Genesis Suite, to which other composers, including Stravinsky, also contributed.|
Schönberg composed the Prelude Op. 44 for mixed chorus and orchestra in September 1945 as an introduction to a cantata on the biblical Creation story. It consists of the beginning of a pastiche of Genesis, commissioned by the composer and the publisher Nathaniel Shilkret (the other parts are by Shilkret himself [The Creation], Alexander Tansman [The Fall of Man], Darius Milhaud [Cain and Abel], Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco [The Flood], Ernst Toch [The Promise] and Igor Stravinsky [The Tower of Babel]).
Schönberg depicts the universe before the Creation with a fugue (which includes an introduction and a coda), the beginning seeming to be preamble to a preamble. He shapes melodic designs from changing row permutations, but refrains from drawing formal consequences from the “subjects.” The fugue – or fugato – consists of six subject entries which, despite their dodecaphonic transformation, clearly evince Bach as their model. “I used to say, ‘Bach was the first twelve-tone composer.’ That was meant as a joke, of course” (Schönberg, Bach, 1950).