Alexander Zemlinsky: Ein Lichtstrahl

Zemlinsky Lichtstrahl Critical Edition by Ricordi

Edited and translated by Antony Beaumont

Mime drama with piano 
Text: Oskar Geller
World premiere: 23.04.1992, Vienna

About the work

Both the scenario and the music of Ein Lichtstrahl anticipate the silent movie style of a later era. In certain respects the drama can also be read as a prophetic parody of Zemlinsky’s one-act opera A Florentine Tragedy of 1915-16. Yet despite a veiled reference to his Symphony in B-major of 1897 (bars 373 and 38116) and extended use of the principal theme of the Lustspielouvertüre of 1894 (bar 368 et seq.), the work’s position in his oeuvre is unique. In search of Ueberbrettl appeal, he jettisoned much of the technical sophistication and polish which was his hall-mark, revelling in unrefined piano textures, abrupt, almost primitive transitions (bars 21-23 and 364-5), Klezmer-style syncopations (bars 344-351), parodies of Tchaikovsky, and a singularly sardonic Viennese waltz.

Critical edition

The edition largely follows the musical text of Zemlinsky’s autograph. 20 Reference to the copyist’s MS (which is not always reliable) has been made only in those few instances where clarification was needed (e.g. in the autograph bars 3–4, which are indicated by a caret sign, but not written out). Wulf Konold’s transcription of the scenario is based on the autograph score and the two inserts for the ‘Dresden’ version. As neither version of the work is not without its respective merits, both are included.

Text: Antony Beaumont