Anton von Webern


Anton (von) Webern was one of the key figures in the so-called Second Viennese School. A pupil of Schoenberg, he became known for his concise and highly individual atonal and serial compositions. In many ways he was more influential than his teacher: in the postwar years leading figures in the avant-garde like Boulez, Stockhausen, and Dallapiccola, found more substance in his music and forms than in those of Schoenberg. Hence, one often heard -- Read more and still hears -- the term "post-Webern serialism." His mature style was relatively straightforward, featuring simple harmonies and transparent textures, silent pauses, and brevity of expression. While his influence and stature are acknowledged and his music often played, Webern has landed no work in the standard repertory. Much of his music is viewed as difficult and intellectual by the public, though it is in fact comparatively quite approachable, much less challenging than the works of Boulez, Cage, and others.
Webern's family moved to Graz in 1890, then four years later to Klagenfurt, where he would attend the gymnasium for his general education. He showed talent early on and studied both piano and cello with Edwin Komauer during his early years in Klagenfurt. He graduated from the gymnasium in 1902 and enrolled at the University of Vienna. There he studied under Graedener, Adler, and Navratil. In 1904, however, he began his most serious period of study, when he became a pupil of Schoenberg.
Schoenberg was then, and remained for some time to come, one of the most progressive figures in musical composition, being among the first to write entirely atonal music, and then finalizing his serial technique in the 1920s. Webern now became a close friend of Alban Berg, also one of Schoenberg's pupils. During these years of study, Webern began to focus on vocal composition, turning out several sets of songs. He also wrote some important chamber works, including the String Quartet (1905).
In 1908, Webern launched a career as a conductor, taking a position at Bad Ischl. He was not particularly successful in this new endeavor, but acquired subsequent posts at Teplitz, Danzig, Stettin, and Prague, this last assignment ending in 1918, when he returned to Vienna. During these years Webern had continued to write song collections (for example, Four Songs, Op. 13; 1917), as well as chamber music (Sonata for Cello and Piano; 1914).
After the war, Webern, along with Berg, took part in Schoenberg's Society for Private Musical Performances, an organization dedicated to the performance of modern works. After this, he returned to conducting, but for the most part garnered only secondary posts, such as director of the Vienna Workers' Chorus (1922-1934), which he fulfilled concurrently with other positions. He did manage, however, to obtain regular conducting appearances on Austrian Radio. In 1926, he took on a teaching post at the Jewish Cultural Institute for the Blind.
After the Nazis came to power, Webern's work with the Vienna Workers' Chorus was ended, and four years later, his relationship with Austrian Radio was terminated. He composed three important choral works -- the Cantatas Nos. 1, 2, and 3 -- in the period 1938-1944, and in 1940 he produced his orchestral composition Variations, Op. 30. Webern's death nearly a half year after the end of the war in Europe occurred in a freak incident in Mittersill (near Salzburg) when an American soldier mistakenly shot him while he was on an extended excursion to visit his daughter. Read less
Browse 1-7 of 7 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Brahms|Schoenberg, Bach|Webern / Jarvi, Frankfurt Radio Symphony
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 5447 Release Date: 01/05/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Anton von Webern,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Paavo Järvi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 2.
    Endre Wolf in Sweden (Studio & Private Recordings: 1944-78)
    Label: Danacord   Catalog: DACOCD763-768 Release Date: 01/05/2018   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Anton von Webern,  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Endre Wolf,  Hans Leygraf,  Erling Blondal Bengtsson,  Sixten Eckerberg
    Conductor:  Michael Gielen,  Endre Wolf,  Stig Westerberg,  Sergiu Commissiona  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra,  Copenhagen Chamber Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Stockholm  ... 
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  • 3.
    Webern, Wagner, Stravinsky [Blu-ray]
    Label: Accentus   Catalog: 10380 Release Date: 01/05/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anton von Webern,  Richard Wagner,  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Christianne Stotijn
    Conductor:  Andris Nelsons
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gewandhausorchester Leipzig
    Blu-ray Video: $39.99
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  • 4.
    Idil Biret: 20th Century Piano Edition
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8501503 Release Date: 10/13/2017   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Igor Stravinsky,  Pierre Boulez  ... 
    Performer:  Idil Biret
    CD: $68.99
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  • 5.
    In the Moment: Short Pieces for String Quartet / Arabella String Quartet
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8579013 Release Date: 05/12/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Joaquin Turina,  Anton von Webern,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Dmitri Shostakovich  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arabella String Quartet
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  • 6.
    125 Years of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 241 Release Date: 06/24/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Hamish MacCunn,  Carl Nielsen,  George Enescu  ... 
    Performer:  Felicity Lott,  Lydia Mordkovitch
    Conductor:  Neeme Järvi,  Sir Alexander Gibson,  Bryden Thomson,  Matthias Bamert  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra,  Royal Scottish National Orchestra Chorus
    CD: $18.99
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  • 7.
    Mariss Jansons Live: The Radio Recordings, 1990-2014 [13-CDs & 1 DVD]
    Label: Rco Live   Catalog: 15002 Release Date: 06/30/2015   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Louis Andriessen,  Hector Berlioz,  Anton Bruckner,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Dmitri Sitkovetsky,  Frank Peter Zimmermann,  Ferruccio Furlanetto,  Leo van Doeselaar  ... 
    Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
    CD: $158.99
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