Dramatic Vocalise Database

Othmar Schoeck (1886–1957)

Lebendig begraben, Op. 40 (1926)

Schoeck’s Lebendig begraben [Buried Alive], op. 40 (1926), proves to be an important piece in the history of dramatic vocalization, since it represents one of the first orchestral song cycles to include an offstage wordless chorus. According to Hans Corrodi, the work is:

Later in the same article Corrodi describes the work in further terms:

The fourteenth, and last, song includes wordless vocalization—four sopranos and four baritones indicated in the score as “wie aus der Ferne” [“as if from the distance”], singing in octaves, and doubled by trumpets and trombones respectively—as the narrator begins to sing his final farewell.

Schoeck, Lebendig begraben, mm. 822–30 3

In an article of 2001, Robin Holloway describes this ending as evoking “ecstatic abandonment—freedom at last—into a pantheistic compound of ocean, sky, eros, and Helvetia” and describes the inspired moment of the score as “among the great well-kept secrets of 20th-century music.” 4

(Nauman 2009, 225–26)



No. 14, mm. 819–62


1 Hans Corrodi, “Othmar Schoeck’s Songs,” Music & Letters 29 (1948): 130.

2 Ibid., 134.

3 Othmar Schoeck, Lebendig begraben (Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1956), 72–73.

4 Robin Holloway, “Schoeck the Evolutionary,” Tempo 218 (2001): 3.