Anton Webern

Webern, Anton (Friedrich Wilhelm von Webern). Austrian composer and conductor. Early tuition from his mother, a pianist. (Most of his works were written in her memory.) Studied at Klagenfurt with Edwin Komauer, composing first works in 1899. Entered Vienna Univ. 1902, studying musicology with Guido Adler. Studied comp. with Pfitzner but became pupil of Schoenberg 1904-8. Ed. works of 15th-cent. Dutch composer Heinrich Isaak. Became close friend of Berg. Was operetta cond. at Bad Ischl (1908), Teplitz (1910), Danzig (1910-11), Stettin (1911-12), and Prague 1917. In Vienna 1918-22 was active in Schoenberg's Soc. for Private Perfs., and cond. Vienna workers' sym. concerts 1922-34. Cond. and mus. adviser, Austrian Radio 1927-38. Visited London 5 times to conduct for BBC (1929, 1932, 1933, 1935, 1936). Music proscribed by Nazis as "cultural Bolshevism" although Webern was sympathetic to their cause (as is reflected in texts of his cantatas). Worked as publisher's proof-reader during war. Accidentally shot by Amer. sentry, 1945.

Largely ignored except by the BBC in his lifetime, Webern's music became a rallying-point for the post-1945 generation of European composers, such as Stockhausen, Boulez, and Maderna (and for some of the older generation, e.g. Stravinsky and Eimert). They were attracted by the way in which his music, through its sheer concentration, opened up a new and more complete serialism based on the est. of the relationship between a particular note and a particular quality of sound. Even in the earliest works to which he gave an opus no. there is preoccupation with the inter-relationship of symmetrical structures. From 1908 until the late 1920s Webern wrote in a free atonal style. A characteristic of many of the works of this period is their epigrammatic brevity. The 4th of his 6 Pieces for orch. has only 6 bars. Timbre plays an important role, also str. effects such as col legno and sul ponticello. In his vocal mus., the extremes of range are contrasted, with fragmented instr. accs. In this period he wrote his last atonal work, the 5 Canons, Op.16, and adopted 12-note technique from his Op.18, 3 Songs. His last group of works, 1928-45, is marked on the one hand by a simplification of the contrapuntal texture and on the other by an increasingly complex use of the note-row. The row is often broken down to 3 or 6 notes, and the resulting structures are related by imitation, inversion, retrograde-inversion, palindromic devices, etc. The sym. of 1928 has a theme and variations as its 2nd of 2 movts., the theme and each variation being symmetrical. He comp. an important set of pf. variations, and 3 cantatas in which the beauty of the vocal writing is a reminder of how much Webern derived from the medieval masters whose work he had studied. Although the post-war avant-garde admired his mus. for its technical innovations, such as serialization of durations and dynamic levels, it should not be forgotten that Webern's place is in the romantic tradition, as his choice of texts implies, and that his homage to classical forms, such as the passacaglia and the canon, is an unwavering feature of his work. He remained, too, a lifelong admirer of Wagner's operas and he was apparently a superb cond. of Schubert, Mahler, and Brahms.

Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1904 Im Sommerwind 4.00 stars CD
Webern Comments:

Article on this early work.

Berliner Philharmoniker cond. Pierre Boulez

1905 String Quartet 4.50 stars LP
Neue Wiener Schule Comments:
LaSalle Quartet
1907 Piano Quintet 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
Pierre-Laurent Aimard - Piano
Ensemble InterContemporain cond. Pierre Boulez
1908 Passacaglia for Orchestra Opus 1 4.50 stars CD
Webern Comments:
Webern's first published work

Berliner Philharmoniker cond. Pierre Boulez

1908 Entflieht auf Leichten Kaehnen I Opus 2 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
BBC Singers cond. Pierre Boulez
1909 Fünf Sätze für Streichquartett Opus 5 4.50 stars LP
Neue Wiener Schule Comments:
LaSalle Quartet
1909 Fünf Sätze für Streichquartett Opus 5 4.50 stars LP
Neue Wiener Schule Comments:
Version for String Orchestra

Solists from Zagreb cond. Antonio Janigro

1909 6 Piece for Large Orchestra Opus 6 4.50 stars CD
Webern Comments:

Berliner Philharmoniker cond. Pierre Boulez

1909 6 Piece for Large Orchestra Opus 6 4.50 stars DVD
Webern Comments:

Berliner Philharmoniker cond. Simon Rattle

Version from 1928

Recorded in Sept. 2010 from BBC TV

1910 Four Pieces Op. 7 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

Anne-Sophie Mutter - Violin
Lambert Orkis - Piano

1910 Two Songs of Poems of Ranier Maria Rilke Opus 8 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

'Du, der iches nicht sage'
'Du machst mich allein'

Francoise Pollet - Voice
Ensemble InterContemporain cond. Pierre Boulez

1911-1913 Five Pieces Opus 10
4.00 stars CD
Neue Wiener Schule Comments:
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Pierre Boulez
1911-1913 Five Pieces for Orchestra Opus 10 4.50 stars LP
Opus 10 Comments:
From the Philips Modern Music Series.

London Symphony Orchestra cond. Antal Dorati

1911-1913 Five Pieces for Orchestra Opus 10 4.50 stars CD
Comments:
From the Philips Modern Music Series.

London Symphony Orchestra cond. Antal Dorati

Release on CD from the same recording as above.

1911-1913 Five Pieces for Orchestra Opus 10 4.50 stars CD
Comments:

Ensemble InterContemporain cond. Pierre Boulez

1913-1914 Drei Lieder 4.00 stars CD
Neue Wiener Schule Comments:
Christiane Oelze - Soprano
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Pierre Boulez
1914 Drei kleine Stücke Opus 11 4.00 stars LP
Opus 11 Comments:
Siegfried Palm - Cello
Aloys Kontrasky - Piano
1914 Cello Sonata 4.00 stars LP
Opus 11 Comments:
Siegfried Palm - Cello
Aloys Kontrasky - Piano
1917-1922 Vier Lieder für Stimme und Orchester Opus 13 4.00 stars LP
Opus 11 Comments:
"Wiese im Park" ("Wie wird mir zeitlos") (1917)
Text: Karl Kraus, Worte im Versen, part I

"Die Einsame" ("An dunkelblauem Himmel") (1914)
Text: wang-seng-yu (Hans Bethge, "Die Chinesische Floete")

"In der Fremde" ("In Fremdem Lande") (1917)
Text: Li-Tai-Po (Hans Bethge, "Die Chinesische Floete")

"Ein Winterabend" ("Wenn der Snee") (1918) [Revised 1922]
Text: Georg Trakl, (Der Hesbstes Einsamen)

Liliana Poli, soprano. Conductor Gilbert Amy.

1917-1922 Vier Lieder für Stimme und Orchester Opus 13 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

Francoise Pollet - Voice
Ensemble InterContemporain cond. Pierre Boulez

1917-1921 6 Lieder Opus 14 For Voice, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Violin And Cello 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

Francoise Pollet - Voice
Ensemble InterContemporain cond. Pierre Boulez

1917-1922 5 Sacred Songs Opus 15 For Voice, Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Trumpet, Harp, Violin And Viola 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

Francoise Pollet - Voice
Ensemble InterContemporain cond. Pierre Boulez

1924 Five Canons on Latin Texts Voice and Chamber ensemble Opus 16 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

Francoise Pollet - Voice
Ensemble InterContemporain cond. Pierre Boulez

1924-1925 3 Traditional Rhymes For Voice, Violin, Viola, Clarinet And Bass Clarinet Opus 17 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

Francoise Pollet - Voice
Ensemble InterContemporain cond. Pierre Boulez

1925 Three Songs Voice and Chamber Ensemble Opus 18 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

Francoise Pollet - Voice
Ensemble InterContemporain cond. Pierre Boulez

1926 2 Lieder Opus 19 For Mixed Choir Accompanied By Celesta, Guitar, Violin, Clarinet And Bass Clarinet 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
BBC Singers
Ensemble InterContemporain cond. Pierre Boulez
1928 Symphony Opus 21 4.00 stars CD
Neue Wiener Schule Comments:
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Pierre Boulez
1909-1929 Fünf Sätze für Streichquartett Opus 5 4.50 stars CD
Webern Comments:

Version for string orchestra from 1909 piece

Berliner Philharmoniker cond. Pierre Boulez

1928-1930 Quartet Opus 22 For Violin, Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone And Piano 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
Pierre-Laurent Aimard
Ensemble InterContemporain cond. Pierre Boulez
1931 German Dances (Schubert) 4.00 stars CD
Webern Comments:

Orchestrations from Schubert's German Dances D 820

Berliner Philharmoniker cond. Pierre Boulez

1931-1934 Concert Opus 24 4.00 stars LP
Opus 11 Comments:
This is something you will only find in France.
An 8 inch single with music by Anton Webern! I don't think it reached the top 40, though.. On the other hand, Weberns works have about the same length as a Phil Spector song. Don't open the jukebox yet, it is not 45 rpm, it is 33 rpm. Once you are familiarized with the genre, the concerto is pretty nice, and altogether no so different from some cool jazz from the 50's. (Just make-up the bass and drums part in your head.)

Liliana Poli, soprano. Conductor Gilbert Amy.

1931-1934 Concerto Opus 24 For Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Violin, Viola And Piano 4.50 stars CD
Comments:
Pierre-Laurent Aimard
Ensemble InterContemporain cond. Pierre Boulez
1934-1935 Fuga a 6 voci (J.S. Bach) 4.00 stars CD
Webern Comments:

Orchestration by Webern from The Musical Offering

Berliner Philharmoniker cond. Pierre Boulez

1935 Das Augenlicht Opus 26 4.00 stars CD
Neue Wiener Schule Comments:
BBC Singers
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Pierre Boulez
1935/1936 Variationen fuer Klavier Opus 27 4.50 stars CD
Piano Sonata No 7 Comments:
Maurizio Pollini - Piano
1935/1936 Variationen fuer Klavier Opus 27 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
Marcel Worms - Piano
1937-1938 String Quartet Opus 28 4.00 stars LP
Opus 11 Comments:
Claremont Quartet
1937-1938 String Quartet Opus 28 4.50 stars LP
Neue Wiener Schule Comments:
LaSalle Quartet
1938-1939 Cantate No 1 Opus 29 4.00 stars CD
Neue Wiener Schule Comments:
Christiane Oelze - Soprano
BBC Singers
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Pierre Boulez
1940 Variations Opus 30 4.00 stars CD
Neue Wiener Schule Comments:
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Pierre Boulez
1941-1943 Cantata No 2 Opus 31 4.00 stars CD
Neue Wiener Schule Comments:
Christiane Oelze - Soprano
Gerals Finley - Tenor
BBC Singers
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Pierre Boulez