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Playlist of Anton Webern

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  • Anton Webern Symphonie op.21

    6:45

    Anton Webern Symphonie op.21
    I. Langsam schreitend

    One of my absolute favorites

  • Anton Webern - Symphony Op. 21

    9:18

    Anton Webern (3 December 1883 – 15 September 1945) was an Austrian composer and conductor. Along with his mentor Arnold Schoenberg and his colleague Alban Berg, Webern comprised the core among those within and more peripheral to the circle of the Second Viennese School, including Ernst Krenek and Theodor W. Adorno. As an exponent of atonality and twelve-tone technique, Webern exerted influence on contemporaries Luigi Dallapiccola, Křenek, and even Schoenberg himself. As tutor Webern guided and variously influenced Arnold Elston, Frederick Dorian (Friederich Deutsch), Fré Focke, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Philipp Herschkowitz, René Leibowitz, Humphrey Searle, Leopold Spinner, and Stefan Wolpe.

    Symphony Op. 21

    Staatskapelle Dresden conducted by Giuseppe Sinopoli

    Description by Alexander Carpenter [-]
    The Symphony, Op. 21, was the first large-scale orchestral work Webern had written since the Five Pieces, Op. 10, 15 years earlier. The work marks the beginning of a period of extreme compression in Webern's music. Dedicated to his daughter Christine, the Symphony is a work of severe economy and restrained expression. Its symmetrical structure and pointillistic texture are quintessential hallmarks of Webern's mature compositional style.

    Scored for clarinet, bass clarinet, two horns, harp, first and second violins, viola, and cello, the Symphony is widely regarded as a masterpiece in miniature: Webern's teacher and mentor Arnold Schoenberg was astounded and moved by the work's concision. Like most of Webern's 12-tone works, the Symphony is based on a single series dominated by semitones. The work consists of two short movements. The first is in two parts -- statement and development -- and begins with a double canon in four parts; the second movement is a theme with seven variations and a coda, and also includes the use of canon.

    The Symphony is perhaps most remarkable for its use of symmetry, which in some quarters has stirred accusations against Webern of a certain excessive pedantry. That symmetry takes several forms, from the work's palindromic series to the canonic variations that work in both directions from the exact center of the piece outwards. The astute listener can spend a lifetime hearing an intricate web of such structural correlations within the Symphony, which is a sort of super palindrome.

  • x
  • Anton von Webern, explained in 10 minutes

    11:35

    Composer Samuel Andreyev attempts to summarize key aspects of Webern's life and work in 10 minutes.

    Works mentioned:
    • Webern's Drei Kleine Stücke (Three Little Pieces) for cello and piano, Op. 11
    • Webern's Bagatelles for string quartet, Op. 9

    Recommended listening:
    • Webern, Im Sommerwind, for orchestra
    • Schoenberg, Gurrelieder, for soloists, speaker, mixed chorus and large orchestra
    • Gustav Mahler, Symphony N° 9




    Two ways to support the channel:
    Patreon:
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  • Pierre Boulez conducts Anton Webern

    1:6:45

    Anton Webern (1883 - 1945)
    Conductor: Pierre Boulez
    Berliner Philharmoniker
    Date: 1995

    0:00 Passacaglia for orchestra, Op. 1
    10:13 Movements for string quartet, Op. 5: No. 1, Heftig bewegt
    13:06 Movements for string quartet, Op. 5: No. 2, Sehr langsam
    15:19 Movements for string quartet, Op. 5: No. 3, Sehr bewegt
    16:02 Movements for string quartet, Op. 5: No. 4, Sehr langsam
    17:30 Movements for string quartet, Op. 5: No. 5, In zarter Bewegung
    20:59 Pieces for orchestra, Op. 6: No. 1, Etwas bewegte
    22:03 Pieces for orchestra, Op. 6: No. 2, Bewegte
    23:32 Pieces for orchestra, Op. 6: No. 3, Zart bewegte
    24:22 Pieces for orchestra, Op. 6: No. 4, Langsam marcia funebre
    28:42 Pieces for orchestra, Op. 6: No. 5, Sehr langsam
    31:05 Pieces for orchestra, Op. 6: No. 6, Zart bewegt
    32:56 Musikalisches Opfer (Musical Offering), BWV 1079: Fuga (Ricercata) A 6 Voci
    40:14 German Dances for piano, D. 820
    44:41 German Dances for piano, D. 820
    50:48 Im Sommerwind, for orchestra

  • x
  • Anton Webern: String Quartet, Op. 28

    8:05

    I. Mässig
    II. Gemächlich
    III. Sehr fliessend

    Twelve-tone work using Webern's typical distillations of classical form: variations (mvt. 1), scherzo (mvt. 2) and rondo (mvt. 3). Through the use of canon and fugue in the second and particularly third movements, he was proud of his fusion of horizontal and vertical methods of composition.

    Lasalle Quartet performs. Art by Paul Klee.

  • Anton Webern - Cantata No. 1

    8:48

    Cantata No. 1 for soprano, chorus & orchestra, Op. 29 (1938-1939)

    I. Zündender Lichtblitz des Lebens (Getragen--Lebhaft)
    II. Kleiner Flügel Ahornsamen (Leicht bewegt)
    III. Tönen die seligen Saiten Apolls (Ruhig)

    Christiane Oelze, soprano
    BBC Singers
    Simon Joly, chorus master
    Berliner Philharmoniker
    Pierre Boulez

    Anton Webern's 1939 Cantata No. 1, Op. 29, is one of only two cantatas Webern completed in his lifetime. The librettist was Hildegard Jone, a friend of Webern who supplied the texts for all of his late works. The cantatas were the most ambitious and rewarding of all their combined efforts, but are rarely recorded or performed because of their difficulty. Many Webern fans regard the smaller First cantata as a warm up for the Second, but this opinion fails to recognize the specific strengths of the Op. 29. The first cantata, with its three brief movements and scoring for orchestra, chorus, and soprano, has the intimate appeal of community church music from the late Renaissance/early Baroque period. Its liturgy, almost rustic, shares a common prayer that sounds as though it was not intended to resonate outside the performance space, or to be heard as art for secular appreciation. [allmusic.com]

    Art by Fernando de Szyszlo

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  • Great Composers: Anton Webern

    13:26

    A look at the grandfather of serialism.

    This was a video request from YouTubers BASSOONISTFROMHELL and Eric Rakestraw. See all current requests at

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    Classical Nerd is a weekly video series covering music history, theoretical concepts, and techniques, hosted by composer, pianist, and music history aficionado Thomas Little.

    ----------

    Music:

    - Anton Webern: Variations, Op. 27, performed by Chiara Bertoglio
    [free recording courtesy pianosociety.com]
    - Thomas Little: Dance! #2 in E minor, Op. 1 No. 2, performed by Rachel Fellows, Michael King, and Bruce Tippette

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    Contact Information:

    Questions and comments can be directed to:
    nerdofclassical [at] gmail.com

    Tumblr:
    classical-nerd.tumblr.com

    ----------

    All images and audio in this video are for educational purposes only and are not intended as copyright infringement. If you have a copyright concern, please contact me using the above information.

  • Anton Webern - Passacaglia for orchestra, Op. 1

    10:57

    Anton Webern (3 December 1883 – 15 September 1945) was an Austrian composer and conductor. Along with his mentor Arnold Schoenberg and his colleague Alban Berg, Webern comprised the core among those within and more peripheral to the circle of the Second Viennese School, including Ernst Krenek and Theodor W. Adorno. As an exponent of atonality and twelve-tone technique, Webern exerted influence on contemporaries Luigi Dallapiccola, Křenek, and even Schoenberg himself. As tutor Webern guided and variously influenced Arnold Elston, Frederick Dorian (Friederich Deutsch), Fré Focke, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Philipp Herschkowitz, René Leibowitz, Humphrey Searle, Leopold Spinner, and Stefan Wolpe.

    Passacaglia for orchestra, Op. 1 (1908)

    Dresden Staatskapelle conducted by Giuseppe Sinopoli

    Description by Blair Johnston [-]
    There has hardly been a composer who didn't disown some of his works. Some, like Johannes Brahms, simply destroyed the unworthy pieces and leave posterity to wonder what treasures might have been lost to painstaking perfectionism. Others, not finding it within themselves to physically obliterate what they toiled so hard to produce, bury the offending manuscripts in their personal libraries or attics, leaving open the possibility that someday the lost may be found. Anton Webern was of the second type -- dozens and dozens of previously unknown works by him trickled onto the field in the decades following his death in 1945, some early student works, some finished mature compositions that never saw the light of day, and some pieces caught halfway between draft and finished product. His Opus 1, the Passacaglia for orchestra is, as is known well today, hardly his first effort at the craft; many, many pieces predate it. The label Opus 1 is thus a touch misleading: the Passacaglia is not so much the beginning of Webern's journey as it is the first waystation at which he stopped to say, aha -- here we have something. Each of the pieces that preceded it is to some degree irreparably flawed, technically and often aesthetically; by contrast, the Passacaglia is the first piece that might truly and proudly be reckoned a Webern -- hence, Opus 1.

    The Passacaglia dates from spring 1908, a time during which its composer was caught in an uncomfortable limbo between student life and life as a professional conductor; Webern found his first real job, assistant conductor and chorus coach at the theater of the posh resort town of Bad Ischl, during the summer of 1908. His first conducting experiences were not apparently everything Webern had hoped them to be, but he remained relatively undaunted, and in November conducted the premiere of the Passacaglia back in Vienna. The piece was and would always remain the most welcome of Webern's works so far as concert promoters and ticket sellers were concerned, and in 1918, partly as a response to the work's relative popularity, Webern made a version for piano six-hands (yes, six, not four!); this arrangement has since, however, been lost.

    Opus 1 is a proper passacaglia; it has an eight-bar ground bass in D minor, which is repeated over and over again as new music unfolds around it. The individual variations are not explicitly identified and marked as such, but for most of the piece they are simple enough to follow, even after Webern surrounds the ground bass with chromatic gusts and torrents that put a real strain on D minor and tosses the ground bass out of the actual bass up into the upper voices. A great deal of the latter portion of Webern's Passacaglia is, however, more freely composed; here the eight-bar theme disappears for large spans, and the rigid, repetitive structure is disguised as music that sounds, curiously, a little like a sonata-form development and recapitulation.

  • Anton Webern, Cinq Pièces, op. 10 - Ensemble intercontemporain

    6:07

    Anton Webern
    Cinq Pièces, op. 10
    pour orchestre
    Ensemble intercontemporain
    Matthias Pintscher, direction

    Enregistré en direct le 04.09.2018 à la Cité de la musique - Philharmonie de Paris

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  • Webern: Im Sommerwind

    16:01

    Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group

    Webern: Im Sommerwind · Berliner Philharmoniker · Pierre Boulez

    Boulez conducts Webern II

    ℗ 1995 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

    Released on: 1995-01-01

    Producer: Roger Wright
    Producer, Recording Producer: Karl-August Naegler
    Studio Personnel, Balance Engineer: Helmut Burk
    Studio Personnel, Recording Engineer: Klaus Behrens
    Editor: Reinhard Lagemann
    Composer: Anton Webern

    Auto-generated by YouTube.

  • Webern: Passacaglia

    10:43

    WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln
    Anton Webern: Passacaglia op.1
    Conducted by Jukka-Pekka Saraste
    Recorded at Philharmonie Cologne, Germany, 12.6.2015

    WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln social media:

    facebook.com/wdrsinfonieorcheste

  • Anton Webern - Concerto for nine instruments, Op. 24

    5:56

    Anton Webern (3 December 1883 – 15 September 1945) was an Austrian composer and conductor. Along with his mentor Arnold Schoenberg and his colleague Alban Berg, Webern comprised the core among those within and more peripheral to the circle of the Second Viennese School, including Ernst Krenek and Theodor W. Adorno. As an exponent of atonality and twelve-tone technique, Webern exerted influence on contemporaries Luigi Dallapiccola, Křenek, and even Schoenberg himself. As tutor Webern guided and variously influenced Arnold Elston, Frederick Dorian (Friederich Deutsch), Fré Focke, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Philipp Herschkowitz, René Leibowitz, Humphrey Searle, Leopold Spinner, and Stefan Wolpe.

    Concerto for 9 instruments, Op. 24 (1934)

    1. Etwas lebhaft
    2. Sehr langsam
    3. Sehr rasch

    Description by James Leonard [-]
    In the early 1930s, while the world economy was disintegrating and German politics were descending into barbarism, Anton Webern retreated into his world of strictly organized sounds. Webern first sketched the work that would become his Konzert, Op. 24, on January, 16, 1931; it began life as a single-movement orchestral piece inspired by his visit to his parents' graves, and based on a twelve-tone row so tightly organized that the standard 48 permutations were reduced to only 12. As the work grew into three movements, Webern continued distilling its essence and concentrating its form. In the final version, Webern reduced the number of instruments to nine -- flute, oboe, and clarinet; horn, trumpet, and trombone; violin, viola, and piano. The Konzert was completed on September 13, 1934, and dedicated to Webern's teacher and friend Arnold Schoenberg.

    The opening movement (in duple time, marked Etwas lebhaft), is in three parts with an introduction and postlude; each section is clearly articulated by tempo markings. Each section is more intensely worked out then the one before it, culminating in a fortissimo stringendo climax at the end of the third section. The central movement is a brief, gentle waltz for muted instruments in two sections; the closing movement is a quick dance for winds, strings, and muted brass above the piano, rushing headlong toward a climactic chord in the winds, brass, and piano in the final bars.

  • Webern: Symphony, Op.21 - 1. Ruhig schreitend

    6:31

    Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group

    Webern: Symphony, Op.21 - 1. Ruhig schreitend · Berliner Philharmoniker · Pierre Boulez

    Boulez conducts Webern III

    ℗ 1996 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

    Released on: 1996-01-01

    Producer: Roger Wright
    Producer, Recording Producer: Christian Gansch
    Studio Personnel, Balance Engineer: Rainer Maillard
    Studio Personnel, Recording Engineer: Jobst Eberhardt
    Editor: Ludger Boeckenhoff
    Composer: Anton Webern

    Auto-generated by YouTube.

  • Anton Webern - Three Songs

    3:37

    Three Songs for soprano, E flat clarinet & guitar, Op. 18 (1925)

    I. Schatzerl klein
    II. Erlösung (1:00)
    III. Ave Regina (2:07)

    Halina Lukomska, soprano
    John Williams, guitar
    Colin Bradley, clarinet
    Pierre Boulez

    Anton Webern's Three Songs, Op. 18, are, in character, siblings to his Three Traditional Rhymes, Op. 17, of the previous year; both sets exude a self-assured intimacy and clarity of expressive purpose. The combination of the composer's characteristically sparse textures and an unconventional scoring (soprano voice, E flat clarinet, and guitar) presents a number of special performance challenges, not the least of which is managing to bring out dynamic variety without ever exceeding the volume constraints of the guitar. The rhythmic difficulty of the score and the intervallically challenging voice part risk, in less than fully capable hands, sounding like modernistic pretension; however, a faithful performance reveals the composer's lighthearted approach, and an undercurrent of depth that somehow affirms the goodhearted, free breaths that constitute these minute-long songs.

    The texts illustrate a flirtation with one's betrothed and the Mother Mary. It is a strange romance to contemporary sensibilities, but it has a prevailing sweetness that affirms both love and faith in a holistic way.

    Expressionism, which pervaded the Austrian avant-garde as recently as ten years earlier, had more or less been exhausted in the imaginations of most composers. Among Webern's most immediate peers, the Second Viennese School, only Alban Berg's opera Wozzeck, completed in 1925, adhered to the psycho-dramatic conventions of Expressionism to any lasting effect. At that time, Schoenberg was working with loosely classical forms, and Webern was drawing inspiration from Dutch music of the Renaissance. With Expressionism past, there was no movement to replace it the way Romanticism seamlessly replaced Classicism. Webern's newly independent outlook was free to accommodate his own worldview and musical outlook, which were inextricable from a need to celebrate God's creations. A large part of this investigation took the form of botanical research. The natural lines of development that he found in flora would translate to him as methods of manipulating the tone row. The musical compositions that resulted from Webern's enquiries took the form of a constant recombination of basic elements that never transform their beginnings, but constantly rearticulate the initial music in new ways. Webern's atonal investigations had taught him how to use the most basic elements of music to glean their maximum expressive power. His use of the tone row in these songs is still fairly simple, perhaps because he could make so much out of comparatively little. It would be a few years down the road before he would break down the row into mirror forms, cells, and other, more complex 12-tone innovations.

    Like his Op. 17, Webern's Three Songs, Op. 18 was not heard publicly during the composer's lifetime. Robert Craft conducted the songs' premiere on February 8, 1954, in Los Angeles. The soloist was Grace-Lynne Martin. [allmusic.com]

    Art by Delia Dietziker Fatu

  • Anton Webern - Concerto

    6:43

    Concerto for 9 instruments, Op. 24 (1934)

    I. Etwas lebhaft
    II. Sehr langsam
    III. Sehr rasch

    Members of the London Symphony Orchestra
    Pierre Boulez

    In the early 1930s, while the world economy was disintegrating and German politics were descending into barbarism, Anton Webern retreated into his world of strictly organized sounds. Webern first sketched the work that would become his Konzert, Op. 24, on January, 16, 1931; it began life as a single-movement orchestral piece inspired by his visit to his parents' graves, and based on a twelve-tone row so tightly organized that the standard 48 permutations were reduced to only 12. As the work grew into three movements, Webern continued distilling its essence and concentrating its form. In the final version, Webern reduced the number of instruments to nine -- flute, oboe, and clarinet; horn, trumpet, and trombone; violin, viola, and piano. The Konzert was completed on September 13, 1934, and dedicated to Webern's teacher and friend Arnold Schoenberg.

    The opening movement (in duple time, marked Etwas lebhaft), is in three parts with an introduction and postlude; each section is clearly articulated by tempo markings. Each section is more intensely worked out than the one before it, culminating in a fortissimo stringendo climax at the end of the third section. The central movement is a brief, gentle waltz for muted instruments in two sections; the closing movement is a quick dance for winds, strings, and muted brass above the piano, rushing headlong toward a climactic chord in the winds, brass, and piano in the final bars. [allmusic.com]

    Art by Louis Schanker

  • Anton Webern - 2 pieces for cello and piano

    4:29

    Anton Webern (1883-1945) - 2 pieces for cello and piano (1899)

    00:00 - I. Langsam
    02:40 - II. Langsam

    Vc. - Daniel McDonough
    Pf. - Gilbert Kalish

  • Anton Webern - Kinderstück

    2:05

    The Kinderstück by Anton Webern [formerly Anton von Webern]. My recording can be downloaded here:

    Twelve-tone music (sometimes also called serial music or just serialism) is really fascinating to me. Apart from its tonality or rather atonality, the compositions of Anton Webern are also having a very minimal touch. To underline the deep and minimal feel I've used a tape delay on this piano recording ...

    -----------------
    Wikipedia says about Webern this:

    Anton Friedrich Wilhelm (von) Webern; 3 December 1883 – 15 September 1945) was an Austrian composer and conductor. Along with his mentor Arnold Schoenberg and his colleague Alban Berg, Webern was in the core of those in the circle of the Second Viennese School, including Ernst Krenek and Theodor W. Adorno. As an exponent of atonality and twelve-tone technique, Webern exerted influence on contemporaries Luigi Dallapiccola, K?enek, and even Schoenberg himself. As a tutor, Webern guided and variously influenced Arnold Elston, Frederick Dorian (Friederich Deutsch), Matty Niël, Fré Focke, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Philipp Herschkowitz, René Leibowitz, Humphrey Searle, Leopold Spinner, and Stefan Wolpe.

    Webern's music was among the most radical of its milieu, both in its concision and in its rigorous and resolute apprehension of twelve-tone technique. His innovations in schematic organization of pitch, rhythm, register, timbre, dynamics, articulation, and melodic contour; his eagerness to redefine imitative contrapuntal techniques such as canon and fugue; and his inclination toward athematicism, abstraction, and lyricism all greatly informed and oriented intra- and post-war European, typically serial or avant-garde composers such as Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luigi Nono, Bruno Maderna, Henri Pousseur, and György Ligeti. In the United States, meanwhile, his music attracted the interest of Elliott Carter, whose critical ambivalence was marked by a certain enthusiasm nonetheless; Milton Babbitt, who ultimately derived more inspiration from Schoenberg's twelve-tone practice than that of Webern; and Igor Stravinsky, to whom it was very fruitfully reintroduced by Robert Craft.

    During and shortly after the post-war period, then, Webern was posthumously received with attention first diverted from his sociocultural upbringing and surroundings and, moreover, focused in a direction apparently antithetical to his participation in German Romanticism and Expressionism. A richer understanding of Webern began to emerge in the later half of the 20th century, notably in the work of scholars Kathryn Bailey, Julian Johnson, Felix Meyer, Anne Schreffler, as archivists and biographers (most importantly Hans and Rosaleen Moldenhauer) gained access to sketches, letters, lectures, audio recordings, and other articles of or associated with Webern's estate.

    [more:
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    Artwork Clover Hearts ( by Erik von Ploennies under CC BY NC ND 2.0 (

    (12 tone piano music)

  • Glenn Gould plays Webern Variations Opus 27

    5:13

    Webern Variations Opus 27

    It would seem to many that this piece by Austrian composer Anton Webern (1883 -- 1945) is the complete opposite of what one would expect from Bach's Prophet. I had to laugh when one Youtuber responded: loneliness makes horrible things to one's mental equilibrium.... poor Gould (I'm not ironic, I really feel sorry for him), as I'm sure many would agree. Gould's absolute precision of such unholy dissonance makes for a downright frightening display. And yet, I have to argue, it shouldn't be too surprising, because the piece is actually in the same vein as Bach. Like Bach, one gets the feeling that Webern has followed a method in order to compose-- a method that is obscure upon listening, complex; and yet we can tell that each section has a certain theme, carried out to seemingly mathematical precision, explored to its fullest and not a bit more. A method that must have made enough sense for Gould to memorize and have intimately mapped in his head.

    It is paradoxically both the opposite and the continuation of Bach. If we may think of Bach as the perfect right, as Bach believed his work came from God, almost as if Music itself was its composer, we might think of this piece as the perfect wrong. Chaos, or apathy, would simply be no composition at all, no forsight; but rather this piece has been carefully and meticulously constructed to be unexpected and jarring to our senses in every way possible (except for the fact that it has the structure of rise and falls that appeals to us in the sense that it's a story or song). Bach, of course, is the opposite, in that everything unfolds exactly as we'd like it; in fact he reveals the sense of rightness to us even moreso than we could imagine on our own. In this light, this piece can be seen as equally illuminating in the opposite way; though one will probably prefer to experience perfect order more often than perfect disorder.




    Sheet music:

  • Anton Webern - String Quartet, Op. 28

    8:07

    Anton Webern (1883 - 1945) - String Quartet, Op. 28 (1938)

    I. Mässig [0:00]
    II. Gemächlich [3:56]
    III. Sehr fliessend [5:45]

    LaSalle Quartet (1974)

    Webern's String Quartet, Op. 28, is his third major work for string quartet and typically lasts around 7 - 8 minutes.

    The piece is in three movements:
    Mässig (Moderately) – a movement in variation form.
    Gemächlich (Leisurely) – in ternary form (ABA), the outer parts being a four-part canon with all the notes the same length (fluctuations in tempo aside).
    Sehr fliessend (Very flowing) – a freer movement with numerous changes in texture and mood. In a letter to Erwin Stein, Webern described the middle part of this movement as a fugue.

    The String Quartet is composed using the twelve-tone technique. The tone row on which the piece is based (B♭, A, C, B, D♯, E, C♯, D, G♭, F, A♭, G) is intricately constructed and based on the BACH motif (B♭, A, C, B♮). The first four notes of the row are the BACH motif itself, followed by its inversion, followed by same motif transposed up a minor sixth. A special property of this row is that its inversion (G, A♭, F, G♭, D, C♯, E, D♯, B, C, A, B♭) is equivalent to its retrograde.

    The String Quartet, Op. 28, was Webern's last completed chamber work. It was written in 1938 and dedicated to the American Elisabeth Sprague Coolidge, who commissioned the work. Its austere manipulations of twelve-tone mirror forms and canons invoke a meditative intensity that has been influential on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Unlike Webern's earlier quartets, Opp. 5 and 9, the Op. 28 does not rely on the dramatic curve that dominated Germanic musical writing throughout history. More than any other piece from the Second Viennese School, it explores the possibilities of the twelve-tone row without excessive narrative baggage. This non-discursive technique heard before in different forms. Satie, in Paris, had created a sound he called furniture music that hovered and did not bring the listener through an aesthetic transformation, sustaining a level of deliberate detachment. There were several differences between the approaches of Satie and Webern. The most immediate is Satie's use of a post-tonal, salon music sound, which was meant to maintain an ironic relationship to light parlor fare. Webern's twelve-tone music does not engage in a dialogue with societal music or a dilettante public. He was not an urbane man, and his music had everything to do with where music was meant to go, as he saw it. Satie's music related to art and society; Webern's music related to nature and history.

    Since World War II, American and European composers have drawn inspiration from Webern's late works. European composers such as Boulez and Stockhausen have gravitated towards the twelve-tone organization of Webern, regarding the Op. 28 as the greatest chamber work among his output. American composers such as Cage and Feldman were attracted to the mysterious ambivalence that Webern's late music seems to maintain. Even the late quartets of Schoenberg sound, by comparison, grounded in traditions the composer may not have wished to perpetuate. Webern made music from such a remote, yet interior perspective that his works had great appeal to the individualist, New World psyche. The specific power of his final string quartet will immediately strike anyone who listens to the music of the New York School, the post-war American equivalent to Austria's Second Viennese School. Even when the New Yorkers were making music on the principle of chance, the quartets of Cage and Earl Brown have a remote delicacy that cannot escape comparisons to Webern's Op. 28. Though American composers have sought to create art that is indigenous to the artists of the New World and without European influence, their admiration for Webern has remained unqualified. The String Quartet, Op 28, is one of the most uncluttered, precise, and evocative works of the twentieth century.

    (sources: Wikipedia, AllMusic)

    Original audio:

    In memory of Johann Sebastian Bach (31 March 1685 - 28 July 1750)

  • Anton Webern: 4 Lieder, op. 12 - Anna Molnár, Ferenc János Szabó

    6:45

    Anna Molnár - mezzosoprano
    Ferenc János Szabó - piano

    Master recital
    Grand Hall of the Liszt Academy (Budapest, Hungary)
    6 June 2017

    recorded by AVISO



    1. Der Tag ist vergangen (Peter Rosegger)
    Der Tag ist vergangen,
    Die Nacht ist schon hier;
    Gute Nacht, o Maria,
    Bleib ewig bei mir.

    Der Tag ist vergangen,
    Die Nacht kommt herzu;
    Gib auch den Verstorbnen
    Die ewige Ruh.

    1. The day has passed
    The day has passed,
    and night is already here;
    Good night, o Maria,
    stay with me forever.

    The day has passed,
    and night is coming;
    give also to the dead
    eternal peace.

    2. Die geheimnisvolle Flöte (Hans Bethge, appears in Die chinesische Flöte)
    An einem Abend, da die Blumen dufteten
    Und alle Blätter an den Bäumen, trug der Wind mir
    Das Lied einer entfernten Flöte zu. Da schnitt
    Ich einen Weidenzweig vom Strauche, und
    Mein Lied flog, Antwort gebend, durch die blühende Nacht.
    Seit jenem Abend hören, wann die Erde schläft,
    Die Vögel ein Gespräch in ihrer Sprache.

    2. The mysterious flute
    One evening, when flowers were wafting their scents
    and all the leaves were on the trees, the wind brought to me
    the song of a far-off flute. Immediately I cut
    a branch from the willow, and
    my song flew to give answer through the blossoming night.
    Ever since that evening, when the earth is sleeping,
    the birds hear conversations in their language.

    3. Schien mir's, als ich sah die Sonne
    Schien mir's, als ich sah die Sonne,
    daß ich schaute den Verborgnen:
    jeder Mensch genießt die Werke,
    selig, der das Gute übet.
    Für die Zornestat, die du verübtest,
    büße nicht mit Bosheit;
    tröste den, den du betrübtest,
    gütig, und es wird dir frommen.
    Der nur fürchtet, der sich hat vergangen:
    gut ist schuldlos leben.

    3. It seems to me that when I saw the sun
    It seems to me that when I saw the sun,
    I also saw the Hidden One:
    every man delights in His works;
    blissful is he who does good.
    If you do something in rage,
    do not heap spite upon your deed;
    comfort the person you have wronged
    and be kind, for it will benefit you.
    Only those who have sinned live in fear:
    it is good to live without guilt.

    4. Gleich und gleich (Goethe)
    Ein Blumenglöckchen
    Vom Boden hervor
    War früh gesprosset
    In lieblichem Flor;
    Da kam ein Bienchen
    Und naschte fein: --
    Die müssen wohl beide
    Für einander sein.

    4. Like to like
    A little flower-bell
    had sprouted early
    from the ground
    with a lovely little flourish;
    there came a little bee
    and sipped it delicately:
    they must have been made
    for each other.

  • x
  • Anton Webern - Kinderstück

    56

    lieblich
    für Klavier

  • Anton Webern - Five songs

    5:06

    from Anton Webern: complete works opp. 1-31, Pierre Boulez, Sony classical 1991

    I. Dies ist ein Lied für dich allein, Fließend
    II. Im Windesweben, Sehr fließend
    III. Am Bachesranft, Ziemlich rasch
    IV. Im Morgentaun, Fließend
    V. Kahl reckt der Baum, Langsam

  • Anton Webern - String Trio

    9:30

    String Trio, Op. 20 (1927)

    I. Sehr langsam
    II. Sehr getragen und ausdrucksvoll

    Members of the Juilliard String Quartet

    The chamber works of Anton Webern, especially those written after his adoption of the 12-tone technique in the late 1920s, present the listener with an enigmatic combination of austere structural integrity and intense, koan-like expressivity. In the Trio for Strings, which Webern began writing in 1926, completed in 1927, and premiered in 1928, the composer seems at first glance to be at his most rarefied. The piece is made of the most tenuous of musical materials; indeed, it is characterized by what scholar Julian Johnson has described as an ungraspability of surface. Its occasional fits of restless melodic energy are separated by veils of sustained notes and static harmonies that presage minimalist ruminations (indeed, minimalist pioneer La Monte Young's groundbreaking Trio for Strings was composed under the influence of heavy doses of Webern's chamber music). Webern's signature symmetries and palindromes unfold and spin in eccentric motivic orbits, while frequent changes in timbre and articulation add an additional plane of discourse to Webern's contrapuntal shapes.

    The first of the Trio's two movements (which was actually composed second) creates a finely wrought pointillistic surface, with angular glyphs set against sustained harmonies that have elicited comparisons to Debussy. The sense of temporal pause is enhanced by the use of another of Webern's signature techniques: some notes appear only in a specific register when they are encountered in their serial order, thus lending an analogous sense of deliberate spatiality and acoustic consistency to the piece's overall sound field -- a technique also used quite famously in the elaborate canons of his next numbered work, the Symphony, Op. 21. The second movement weaves a denser, less diaphanous texture, its semi-contrapuntal substructures and thematic interconnections flowing in more rapid succession and floating nearer to the surface. Themes expand and contrast, widen and narrow in their arcs, and extend in opposite directions around a moving axis. The momentarily held chords serve as suspense rather than repose, while wide intervallic leaps and looser rhythmic divisions resist alighting comfortably on the ear. Of particular interest is the middle portion of the movement, which Webern referred to unassumingly as the development section. Here Webern articulates contours in various positions and durational proportions, in a kind of cubist fashion, while further disrupting the temporal geometry with repeated notes and held harmonies. The drastic contrasts in line and timbre unfold analogously in the movement's dynamics as well, from suddenly proximate sforzandos to distant, whispering harmonics. [allmusic.com]

    Art by Frank Stella

  • Anton Webern - Five songs

    7:51

    from Anton Webern: complete works opp. 1-31, Pierre Boulez, Sony classical 1991

    I. Eingang, Ruhevoll
    II. Noch zwingt mich Treue, Bewegt
    III. Ja Heil und Dank, Sehr langsam
    IV. So ich traurig bin, Sehr fließend und zart
    V. Ihr tratet zu dem Herde, Langsam

  • Anton Webern - Quartet With score

    7:14

    Composer: Anton Webern (3 December 1883 -- 15 September 1945)
    Performers: Charles Rosen (piano), Daniel Majeske (violin), Robert Marcellus (clarinet), Abraham Weinstein (saxophone)
    Conductor: Pierre Boulez

    Quartet for violin, clarinet, tenor saxophone and piano, op. 22, written between 1928-1930

    00:00 - I. Sehr mäßig
    03:30 - II. Sehr schwungvoll

    Webern wrote his Quartet for violin, clarinet, tenor saxophone, and piano, Op. 22 (1928-1930) for the 60th birthday of architect Adolf Loos. As happened during the composition of his String Trio, Op. 20 (1926-1927), Webern discarded sketches for a projected third movement after deeming the first two movements a complete entity. Another connection the quartet shares with the String Trio is an opaque structure Stravinsky described as scatty.

    The quartet was originally intended as a sort of reflection of nature, depicting landscapes and flora. After Webern had sketched themes according to this intent, the work gradually morphed into its completely different final form. The canons that had by this time begun to permeate Webern's music are more loosely realized in the quartet than in the composer's previous works. In the first movement, for example, their most conspicuous feature is a two-note limping motive, a short-long rhythm that is later reversed; in the middle of the movement, the motive is sounded both in its original rhythmic values and in augmentation.

    The second movement alludes to techniques Webern more fully developed in his Concerto, Op. 24 (1931-1934). Most prominent is the splintering of notes within a phrase among the various instruments in the sort of intricate pointillistic texture that became one of the most identifiable hallmarks of the composer's style. When uniformly unfavorable reviews poured in after the quartet's premiere in Vienna on April 13, 1931, Webern was unworried. Though the performance must have been superb -- the personnel included violinist Rudolf Kolisch and pianist Eduard Steuermann -- one critic wrote that the work displayed amazing similarity to certain basic human utterances of an indecent nature.


    Original Audio with description: and

  • Anton Webern: Variations, Op 27 Glenn Gould, piano

    5:13

    Anton Webern (1883-1945): Variations, Op.27 (1936).

    1. Sehr mäßig
    2. Sehr schnell
    3. Ruhig fileßend

    Glenn Gould, pianoforte (filmed in 1974).

    ***

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  • Anton Webern - Symphony Op. 21

    9:45

    Symphony, Op. 21 (1927-1928)

    I. Ruhig schreitend
    II. Variationen:
    Thema. Sehr ruhig--
    Var. I. Lebhafter
    Var. II. Sehr lebhaft
    Var. III. Wieder mässiger
    Var. IV. Äusserst ruhig
    Var. V. Sehr lebhaft
    Var. VI. Marschmässig. Nicht eilen
    Var. VII. Etwas breiter
    Coda

    Berliner Philharmoniker
    Pierre Boulez

    The Symphony, Op. 21, was the first large-scale orchestral work Webern had written since the Five Pieces, Op. 10, 15 years earlier. The work marks the beginning of a period of extreme compression in Webern's music. Dedicated to his daughter Christine, the Symphony is a work of severe economy and restrained expression. Its symmetrical structure and pointillistic texture are quintessential hallmarks of Webern's mature compositional style.

    Scored for clarinet, bass clarinet, two horns, harp, first and second violins, viola, and cello, the Symphony is widely regarded as a masterpiece in miniature: Webern's teacher and mentor Arnold Schoenberg was astounded and moved by the work's concision. Like most of Webern's 12-tone works, the Symphony is based on a single series dominated by semitones. The work consists of two short movements. The first is in two parts -- statement and development -- and begins with a double canon in four parts; the second movement is a theme with seven variations and a coda, and also includes the use of canon.

    The Symphony is perhaps most remarkable for its use of symmetry, which in some quarters has stirred accusations against Webern of a certain excessive pedantry. That symmetry takes several forms, from the work's palindromic series to the canonic variations that work in both directions from the exact center of the piece outwards. The astute listener can spend a lifetime hearing an intricate web of such structural correlations within the Symphony, which is a sort of super palindrome. [allmusic.com]

    Art by Chuck Connelly

  • Anton Webern - Cantata No. 2, I-III

    8:23

    Cantata No. 2 op. 31, for soprano solo, bass solo, mixed chorus, and orchestra (1941-1943)

    I. Schweigt auch die Welt (Sehr lebhaft -- Ruhig)
    II. Sehr tief verhalten innerst Leben (Sehr verhalten)
    III. Schöpfen aus Brunnen des Himmels (Sehr bewegt)
    IV. Leichteste Bürden der Bäume (Sehr lebhaft)
    V. Freundselig ist das Wort (Sehr mässig)
    VI. Gelockert aus dem Schosse (Sehr fliessend)

    Christiane Oelze, soprano
    Gerald Finley, bass

    BBC Singers
    Simon Joly, chorus master

    Berliner Philharmoniker
    Pierre Boulez

    Webern began work on what would become his Cantata No. 2 in spring 1941 and completed it in winter 1943. In it, he set six poems by Hildegard Jone that fuse the two great loves of Webern's spiritual life: pantheism and Christianity. Webern's largest work, the Cantata No. 2 is scored for soprano and bass soloists plus mixed choir and a delicately colored orchestra consisting of piccolo, flute, oboe, English horn, clarinet, bass clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, bells, glockenspiel, celesta, and strings. Cast in six movements and lasting more than a quarter of an hour, the cantata is Webern's longest work. It was also his last work: Webern was accidentally shot and killed at the end of World War II. The cantata received its posthumous premiere under Hans Rosbaud in 1950. The cantata opens with a powerful strophic setting of Schweigt auch die Welt (Silent Is the World) for heroic bass and brass-led orchestra in fast triple time. The second movement is Sehr tief verhalten innerst Leben singt (Very Deep Innermost Life Sings), a pastoral song for lyrical bass and shimmering orchestra in gently shuddering duple time. The third movement is Schöpfen aus Brunnen des Himmels (Created From the Springs of Heaven), a joyfully ringing, four-part work in lilting triple time scored for ecstatic soprano, blissful women's chorus, and glittering orchestra. The fourth movement, the first to be composed, is Leichteste Burden der Baume (Lightest Burden of Trees), a short aria in quick duple time for stratospheric soprano and very lightly scored orchestra. The fifth movement, the heart of the work, is Freundselig ist das Wort (Compassionate Is the Word), a three-part song with the expressive soprano alternating with the full chorus in the outer sections and then singing alone in the central section, with an evanescent orchestra made up of solo strings and winds against celesta and harp. The sixth and final movement is Gelockert aus dem Schosse (Delivered From the Womb), a finale canonic chorale for full chorus doubled by the warmly colored orchestra. [allmusic.com]

    Art by Otto Muehl

  • Webern, Anton von - Three Little Pieces, Op. 11

    2:25

    Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello); Alexandre Tharaud (piano).

    00:00 - I. Mäßige.
    00:54 - II. Sehr bewegt.
    1:14 - III. Äußerst ruhig.

  • Anton Webern - Three Orchestral Songs

    5:22

    Three songs for soprano & orchestra (1913-1914)

    I. Leise Düfte: Leise Düfte, Blüten so zart (Anton Webern)
    II. Kunfttag III: Nun wird es wieder lenz (Stefan George)
    III. O sanftes Glühn der Berge (Anton Weber)

    Christiane Oelze, soprano

    Berliner Philharmoniker
    Pierre Boulez

    Art by Jay Meuser

  • Anton Webern - Fuga

    7:07

    Fuga (Ricercata) a 6 voci for orchestra (arr. from Bach's Musical Offering), (1935)

    London Symphony Orchestra
    Pierre Boulez

    Intellectually rigorous and relentlessly contrapuntal describes the music of both Webern and J. S. Bach. Webern's orchestration of the six-voice fugue from the Musical Offering is a re-interpretation of Bach's masterpiece, one which is concerned with the work's detail, with its building blocks. Scored for flute, oboe, English horn, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, trombone, timpani, harp, and full strings, Bach's fugue, as musicologist Susan Bradshaw notes, is re-heard through Webern's ears. Webern's meticulous reconstruction of Bach's piece focus on intervallic relationships, and with the minutiae of Bach's counterpoint. Significant rhythms and motives are isolated and emphasized through colour, with Bach's long melodic lines being broken up and divided between the different instruments in the orchestra. Webern transforms a Baroque work into a pointillistic, modern piece, one that exemplifies the notion of Klangfarbenmelodie, or tone colour melody as the fugue becomes a coterie of soloists. For Webern, Bach's fugue was simply an abstract design, and as such it was susceptible to a modern reinterpretation. [allmusic.com]

    Art by Howard Hodgkin

  • Anton Webern: Im Sommerwind

    12:39

    WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln
    Anton Webern: Im Sommerwind
    Conducted by Jukka-Pekka Saraste
    Recorded at Philharmonie Cologne, Germany, 12.6.2015

    WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln social media:

    facebook.com/wdrsinfonieorcheste

  • Anton Webern: String Quartet

    18:33

    Anton Webern (1883-1945): String Quartet (1905), performed by the MultatuliStringQuartet. Paul Eggen, Heleen Kuiper, HedwigSmulders, FrankdeGee.

  • Anton Webern - Three Little Pieces, Op. 11

    2:23

    Three Little Pieces for cello & piano, Op. 11 (1914)

    I. Mässige Achtel
    II. Sehr bewegt
    III. Äusserst ruhig

    Gregor Piatigorsky, cello
    Charles Rosen, piano

    These pieces are among Webern's best known instrumental miniatures. Their extreme brevity is remarkable: Webern's melodic cells are reduced to groups of two or three notes, and phrases are strikingly concise. The overall effect is one of meticulous craftsmanship. These pieces are also important precursors to the twelve-tone method of composition: although Webern's teacher and mentor Arnold Schoenberg would not officially invent this method until 1921, in the Op. 11 pieces Webern is already using -- albeit unsystematically -- complete statements of the 12 notes of the chromatic scale as musical ideas.

    Many years after these pieces were completed, Webern still viewed them with fondness, and thought that they were good; however, he also regarded them as too experimental and felt that they should not be played. He was afraid that they were too difficult to understand and would be misunderstood by audiences, even decades after their first appearance. [allmusic.com]

    Art by Peter Doig

  • Anton Webern - Variations op.27

    6:09

    Anton Webern - Variations op.27
    pf: Maurizio Pollini


    Happy Birthday, Mr. Pollini.


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  • Anton Webern - Vier lieder Op. 12 -- v: Christiane Oelze - pf: Eric Schneider

    6:25

    1. Der tag ist vergangen
    2. Die geheimnisvolle Flote; 'An einem Abend, da die Blumen dufteten'
    3.'Schien mir's, als ich sah die Sonne'
    4.Gleich und gleich; 'Ein Blumenglockchen'

  • Anton Webern - Im Sommerwind Chicago/Haitink Live

    15:12

    Anton Webern (3 December 1883 – 15 September 1945) was an Austrian composer and conductor. Along with his mentor Arnold Schoenberg and his colleague Alban Berg, Webern comprised the core among those within and more peripheral to the circle of the Second Viennese School.

    Im Sommerwind, Idyll für großes Orchester (1904)
    On a poem by Bruno Wille
    First Performance: 1962-05-26 in Seattle
    The Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy

    Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink
    Live recording: Orchestra Hall, 28 April 2009.

    m Sommerwind, written prior to his studies with Arnold Schoenberg, is far removed from the lean compositions of Anton Webern’s maturity: some of the most influential music of the 20th century, which continues to resonate with composers of our own time and challenges today’s audiences with its compression and seeming expressive sparseness.

    Subtitled “Idyll for Large Orchestra,” Im Sommerwind – whose inspiration and structural divisions derive from a hymn-to-nature poem of the same name by the German poet, philosopher, and socialist thinker Bruno Wille (1860-1928) – dates from 1904, when the composer was 20 years old.

    Only weeks after completing this work, Webern met the 30-year-old Schoenberg and became his pupil. In his critique of Im Sommerwind Schoenberg expressed the opinion that the young composer had here reached a stylistic dead-end, a realization that had already dawned on Webern. He never tried to have it performed or published, but kept it as a memento of his youth.

  • Anton Webern: Two Pieces for Cello and Piano

    5:12

    Anton Webern
    Two Pieces for Cello and Piano
    Julian Schwarz, cello
    Marika Bournaki, piano
    Performed live at the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance
    on May 30, 2015

  • Anton Webern - Variations for Orchestra

    7:44

    Variations for orchestra, Op. 30 (1940-1941)

    Berliner Philharmoniker
    Pierre Boulez

    Anton Webern's Variations for Orchestra, Op. 30, was written in 1940-41. Consisting of a theme and six variations, this single movement work is just over seven minutes long, making it the composer's second longest single movement work. His Passacaglia, Op. 1, from 1907 is almost three minutes longer and is also a set of variations. In the thirty-three years that separate these pieces, the quality of Webern's composing remained at a consistently high level, while embracing quite divergent idioms. For instance, Op. 1 embodies post-Brahmsian tonality while Op. 30 is constructed from his unique twelve-tone technique, an operation that had a decisive influence on several generations of composers.

    Written between January 1940 and February 1941, the Op. 30 is one of Webern's most elegant works, and has a discernable dramatic flair found in the recurrences of melodic shapes. Certain musical figures recur as if in dialogue with one another. There are also dramatic soundscapes that suggest an operatic setting. This work stands between his two cantatas, which are as close as Webern ever came to writing an opera, an endeavor that fell short twice earlier in his career. The bulk of Webern's output are songs and while his melodic abilities have never been questioned, his strengths as a dramatic composer reveal themselves in episodes of the cantatas--especially in the final vocal movement of the first cantata, Op. 29--and these Variations. Listeners find themselves in a state of anticipation, waiting for an absent curtain to rise, but the process of absorbing this would-be overture reveals much more substance than could be found in most operatic scores, or even in the composer's own Symphony, Op 21.

    Webern's Op. 30 tone row is more sophisticated than that of his Op. 21, and his manipulations of the row are subtler. In Op. 30 this is evident in the chords which convincingly accompany the melodic lines. The Op. 21 relied more on canons to maintain a cohesive direction while the Op. 30 contains independent contrapuntal lines. The ability to write twelve-tone counterpoint without repetition is indicative of Webern's command of this musical language, a command that has rarely, if ever been matched. The chords heard in these variations are another indication of hitherto unknown levels of tone row mastery. Webern's Variations and sections of his Concerto, Op. 24 contain chords that clarify and heighten the direction of the melody in a way that is often associated with tonal writing. Webern's genius for creating great tone-rows is found in their deep and multiple levels of symmetricality, yielding many points of self-reference that strengthen the integrity of the melodic direction, formal contour, and harmonic rhythm and color.

    The Variations were first performed in Winterthur, Switzerland on March 3, 1943, with Hermann Scherchen conducting. Webern was allowed out of Austria to attend the performance. It was against the law to perform his music in his own country, by order of the Nazis. It was his last trip out of Austria, and the last premiere of his work that he would hear. [allmusic.com]

    Art by Fernando de Szyszlo

  • Anton Webern - Variations for Orchestra, Op. 30

    7:03

    Anton Webern (3 December 1883 – 15 September 1945) was an Austrian composer and conductor. Along with his mentor Arnold Schoenberg and his colleague Alban Berg, Webern comprised the core among those within and more peripheral to the circle of the Second Viennese School, including Ernst Krenek and Theodor W. Adorno. As an exponent of atonality and twelve-tone technique, Webern exerted influence on contemporaries Luigi Dallapiccola, Křenek, and even Schoenberg himself. As tutor Webern guided and variously influenced Arnold Elston, Frederick Dorian (Friederich Deutsch), Fré Focke, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Philipp Herschkowitz, René Leibowitz, Humphrey Searle, Leopold Spinner, and Stefan Wolpe.

    Variations for orchestra Op. 30

    Staatskapelle Dresden conducted by Giuseppe Sinopoli

    Description by John Keillor [-]
    Anton Webern's Variations for Orchestra, Op. 30, was written in 1940-41. Consisting of a theme and six variations, this single movement work is just over seven minutes long, making it the composer's second longest single movement work. His Passacaglia, Op. 1, from 1907 is almost three minutes longer and is also a set of variations. In the thirty-three years that separate these pieces, the quality of Webern's composing remained at a consistently high level, while embracing quite divergent idioms. For instance, Op. 1 embodies post-Brahmsian tonality while Op. 30 is constructed from his unique twelve-tone technique, an operation that had a decisive influence on several generations of composers.

    Written between January 1940 and February 1941, the Op. 30 is one of Webern's most elegant works, and has a discernable dramatic flair found in the recurrences of melodic shapes. Certain musical figures recur as if in dialogue with one another. There are also dramatic soundscapes that suggest an operatic setting. This work stands between his two cantatas, which are as close as Webern ever came to writing an opera, an endeavor that fell short twice earlier in his career. The bulk of Webern's output are songs and while his melodic abilities have never been questioned, his strengths as a dramatic composer reveal themselves in episodes of the cantatas--especially in the final vocal movement of the first cantata, Op. 29--and these Variations. Listeners find themselves in a state of anticipation, waiting for an absent curtain to rise, but the process of absorbing this would-be overture reveals much more substance than could be found in most operatic scores, or even in the composer's own Symphony, Op 21.

    Webern's Op. 30 tone row is more sophisticated than that of his Op. 21, and his manipulations of the row are subtler. In Op. 30 this is evident in the chords which convincingly accompany the melodic lines. The Op. 21 relied more on canons to maintain a cohesive direction while the Op. 30 contains independent contrapuntal lines. The ability to write twelve-tone counterpoint without repetition is indicative of Webern's command of this musical language, a command that has rarely, if ever been matched. The chords heard in these variations are another indication of hitherto unknown levels of tone row mastery. Webern's Variations and sections of his Concerto, Op. 24 contain chords that clarify and heighten the direction of the melody in a way that is often associated with tonal writing. Webern's genius for creating great tone-rows is found in their deep and multiple levels of symmetricality, yielding many points of self-reference that strengthen the integrity of the melodic direction, formal contour, and harmonic rhythm and color.

    The Variations were first performed in Winterthur, Switzerland on March 3, 1943, with Hermann Scherchen conducting. Webern was allowed out of Austria to attend the performance. It was against the law to perform his music in his own country, by order of the Nazis. It was his last trip out of Austria, and the last premiere of his work that he would hear.

  • Антон Веберн - Anton Webern

    6:24

    Антон Веберн в программе АБСОЛЮТНЫЙ СЛУХ.
    Anton Webern in ABSOLUTE PITCH.

  • Anton Webern, zwei Lieder op. 8

    2:16

    Anton Webern (1883-1945)
    Anton Webern, zwei Lieder nach Gedichten von Rainer Maria Rilke, op. 8
    I Du, der ichs nicht sage
    II Du machst mich allein

    Heather Harper, Soprano
    Ensemble/Pierre Boulez

  • Bernard Haitink, Anton Webern: Im Sommerwind

    15:49

  • J.S. Bach/A. Webern: Ricercar a 6 ∙ hr-Sinfonieorchester ∙ Antonello Manacorda

    9:04

    hr-Sinfonieorchester – Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra ∙
    Antonello Manacorda, Dirigent ∙

    Alte Oper Frankfurt, 22. Mai 2015 ∙

    Website: ∙
    Facebook:

  • Tony Arnold - three songs by Anton Webern

    4:13

    Tony Arnold, soprano
    Jacob Greenberg, piano

    September 9, 2015
    Merkin Concert Hall, NYC
    Resonant Bodies Festival

    Anton Webern (1883-1945)
    Wie bin ich froh!, op. 25, no. 1
    Ja Heil und Dank dir, op. 4, no. 3
    Gleich und gleich, op. 12, no. 4

    Wie bin ich froh! (Hildegard Jone)
    Wie bin ich froh!
    Noch einmal wird mir alles grün
    und leuchtet so!
    Noch überblühn die Blumen mir die Welt!
    Noch einmal bin ich ganz ins Werden hingestellt
    und bin auf Erden.

    How happy I am!
    How happy I am!
    Once again all is become green
    and shines so bright!
    Once again the world is overgrown with flowers!
    Once again I am at the center of Creation,
    and yet am on Earth.

    Ja Heil und Dank(Stefan George)
    Ja Heil und Dank dir in den Segen brachte!
    Du schläfertest das immer laute Pochen
    mit der Erwartung deiner – Teure – sachte
    in diesen glanzerfüllten Sterbewochen.
    Du kamest und wir halten uns umschlungen,
    ich werde sanfte Worte für dich lernen
    und ganz als glichest du der Einen Fernen
    dich loben auf den Sonnenwanderungen.

    Yes, hail and thanks
    All hail and thanks to you who brought this blessing!
    You gently calmed the ever-loud heartbeat
    with that anticipation of you – dear one –
    during these radiance-filled weeks of dying.
    You came, and we hold each other in embrace,
    I will learn soft words for you
    and, completely, as if you were the Distant One,
    praise you on sunlit wanderings.

    Gleich und Gleich(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
    Ein Blumenglöckchen vom Boden hervor
    war früh gesprosset in lieblichem Flor;
    da kam ein Bienchen und naschte fein:
    Die müssen wohl beide für einander sein.

    The Perfect Match
    A flowerbell blossomed early
    from the ground in lovely bloom;
    there came a little bee and sucked:
    they must have been made for each other.

  • Anton Webern - Symphony

    9:44

    Anton Webern - Symphony (1928)

    Pierre Boulez conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker

    0:10 I. Ruhig schreitend
    6:40 II. Variationen

    ------------------
    Manuscript from the Morgan Library
    ------------------

    Recording:

  • Anton Webern - String Quartet, Op.28

    8:47

    Psappha Ensemble
    Benedict Holland and Sophie Rosa, violins
    Vicci Wardman, viola
    Jennifer Langridge, cello

    More at

    I Mässig
    II Gemächlich
    III Sehr fliessend

    'I am working on a string quartet' wrote Webern on 3 February 1937 to Hildegard Jone, the poet whose texts Webern set in the op.23 and 25 songs, Das Augenlicht and the two Cantatas. In fact he had been thinking about a string quartet since November 1936 but would not complete it until 1938. It was a work that gave him considerable difficulty and not only the nature but the order of the three movements changed continually- indeed even after its completion the Kolisch Quartet performed the work a number of times, playing the present second movement as the first.

    The note row of the work is built on two transpositions of BACH (that is B flat - A - C - B natural) with an inversion of the same four notes at the centre - although the Bach motif is obscured by the fact that, especially in the first and third movements, the intervals are often displaced by almost two octaves. The rigour of the row construction - in which the second half is the mirror of the first and the retrograde and the inversion are identical - is typical of Webern's twelve -note works: as he himself said, quoting Goethe's description of the primal plant, ’all shapes are similar and yet none are the same - that is the secret law'.

    The op.28 quartet is one of the few works by Webern for which there exists an extensive essay by the composer himself - an essay that is too long to quote in its entirety but which defines the form of Movement 1 as a variation movement, Movement II ( a double canon) as a scherzo and trio and Movement III as a 'fugue' but , since traditional fugues depended on the key contrast between subject and answer, a fugue that involves rhythmic retrogrades.

    As a result of the historical importance which the composers of the 1950s and 1960s invested in Webern - as expressed, for example, in the essays published by Boulez around 1952 which emphasised the purity and the serial rigour of Webern's music - we perhaps forget the deeply personal, programmatic aspects of much of his music. In this piece , for example, the first movement, was inspired by the landscape ('spruce forest, source of the brook' read his annotations in his sketchbook) of the Koralpe in Carinthia and by the villages of Schwabegg and Annabichil where his parents were buried, while the other movements have the initials of his children written next to them.

    As he was completing the quartet on 12 March 1938, writing to Jone that he was ‘deeply engrossed in work and could not be disturbed', Germany annexed Austria. After he had completed the quartet Webern received a commission from the great American patron of chamber music Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge and it received its first performance in the United States in September 1938, by which time it could no longer be performed in Austria. Webern's music was classified as 'degenerat', the Jewish executives at U.E., his publishers, were dismissed and the firm published no more of his music. Thanks to Erwin Stein, who had left Vienna for England, the quartet was published by Boosey and Hawkes.

    About the Composer: Anton Webern
    Born in 1883 Anton Webern studied musicology at the University of Vienna with Guido Adler (his doctorate in 1906 was for an edition of Heinrich Isacc’s Choralis Constantinus) and composition privately with Arnold Schoenberg from 1904-08. Although his published output at his death (he was accidentally shot by an American soldier in 1945) consisted of only 31 works – most of them very short – he became perhaps the most influential composer on the following generation of composers, that included Stockhausen and Boulez, which saw in Webern’s music a purity, logic and the possibility of organizing music in a new way that led to a period in the 1950s and 1960s of what became known as total serialism.

  • Anton Webern - String Quartet, Op. 28

    8:48

    String Quartet, Op. 28 (1938)

    I. Mässig
    II. Gemächlich
    III. Sehr fliessend

    Juilliard String Quartet

    The String Quartet, Op. 28, was Webern's last completed chamber work. It was written in 1938 and dedicated to the American Elisabeth Sprague Coolidge, who commissioned the work. Its austere manipulations of twelve-tone mirror forms and canons invoke a meditative intensity that has been influential on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Unlike Webern's earlier quartets, Opp. 5 and 9, the Op. 28 does not rely on the dramatic curve that dominated Germanic musical writing throughout history. More than any other piece from the Second Viennese School, it explores the possibilities of the twelve-tone row without excessive narrative baggage. This non-discursive technique was heard before in different forms. Satie, in Paris, had created a sound he called furniture music that hovered and did not bring the listener through an aesthetic transformation, sustaining a level of deliberate detachment. There were several differences between the approaches of Satie and Webern. The most immediate is Satie's use of a post-tonal, salon music sound, which was meant to maintain an ironic relationship to light parlor fare. Webern's twelve-tone music does not engage in a dialogue with societal music or a dilettante public. He was not an urbane man, and his music had everything to do with where music was meant to go, as he saw it. Satie's music related to art and society; Webern's music related to nature and history.

    Since World War II, American and European composers have drawn inspiration from Webern's late works. European composers such as Boulez and Stockhausen have gravitated towards the twelve-tone organization of Webern, regarding the Op. 28 as the greatest chamber work among his output. American composers such as Cage and Feldman were attracted to the mysterious ambivalence that Webern's late music seems to maintain. Even the late quartets of Schoenberg sound, by comparison, grounded in traditions the composer may not have wished to perpetuate. Webern made music from such a remote, yet interior perspective that his works had great appeal to the individualist, New World psyche. The specific power of his final string quartet will immediately strike anyone who listens to the music of the New York School, the post-war American equivalent to Austria's Second Viennese School. Even when the New Yorkers were making music on the principle of chance, the quartets of Cage and Earl Brown have a remote delicacy that cannot escape comparisons to Webern's Op. 28. Though American composers have sought to create art that is indigenous to the artists of the New World and without European influence, their admiration for Webern has remained unqualified. The String Quartet, Op 28, is one of the most uncluttered, precise, and evocative works of the twentieth century. The Kolisch String Quartet premiered it in Pittsfield, Massachusetts on September 22, 1938. It was the only work by Webern to be premiered in the United States. [allmusic.com]

    Art by Howard Hodgkin

  • Anton Webern, Kantate II

    14:41

    Anton Webern (1883-1945): Kantate II, per soprano, basso, coro e orchestra, su testo di Hildegard Jone op.31 (1943) - Halina Lukomska, soprano; Barry Mac Daniel, basso; Choeur et Orchestre de l'O.R.T.F. diretti da Pierre Boulez (Paris 8.II.1966)

  • Anton Webern Dies ist ein lied op .3,1.wmv

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