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During a tour of Austria-Hungary in December 1910, Debussy met a young Hungarian Francophile composer, Géza Vilmos Zágon (1889–1918). The latter sent him the manuscript of the Pierrot lunaire, a cycle of six melodies from the collection of the Belgian poet Albert Giraud. Debussy reviews the vocal line, emphasizing that the corrections he has made almost all concern “prosodic accents.” This rereading of a work by a young composer is a unique case for Debussy and testifies not only to his openness to young composers, but also to his interest in Giraud's poems, as André Schaeffner had so rightly anticipated in 1953 in his article “Variations Schoenberg.” It also reveals Debussy's deep sensitivity to the French language verse and rhythm.

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The years between 1908 and 1913 brought about a radical change in Arnold Schoenberg’s manner of composition with the transition to atonality and aphoristic style. It was no longer the carefully planned work of art, developed through sketches and drafts, but the spontaneous musical idea that became the leading maxim for him. Works like the Piano pieces op. 11 and 19, the Orchestral pieces op. 16, the monodrama Erwartung op. 17 or Pierrot lunaire op. 21 were indeed realised without longer sketches. However, from 1912 on Schoenberg entered a crisis which delayed the completion of Die glückliche Hand for several years, and which at the end made the turning away from this manner of musical thinking inevitable. In spite of the primacy of the first idea emphasized by Schoenberg, works were ever so often changed in the process of elaboration and printing. The paper will try to systemize such alterations, and evaluate their relevance for their edition. The example of String Quartet op. 3 (1910) will demonstrate the working method of Alban Berg, in which sketches and drafts have always played a significant role. Thus, the typical working method of both composers will be illustrated.

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