The influence of Anton Webern in the two decades following World War II exceeded that of any other composer including his teacher Arnold Schoenberg. Webern introduced new forms for new contents, and imposed a sensibility challenging that of the modern music of the day—for example, a Bartok Orchestra Concerto, a Schoenberg Piano Concerto, or a Stravinsky Danses concertantes. But more recently, Webern’s range of feeling has been called into question, as has the validity of the relationships between some of his complex constructions and the music one hears. An examination of his musical philosophy, of his approach to composition, and of his own analyses of his later works is needed.
This much and more is provided in a forthcoming biography1 of the composer by Hans Moldenhauer, the first full (Wagner-not-Webern-length) one, a definitive “life” not likely to require significant amplification or revision for at least a decade. Much of the book consists of primary documents, the principal sources being diaries that span most of Webern’s career, several hundred pages of his letters to Schoenberg (together with many of the master’s replies), correspondence with Alban Berg as well as with many lesser musicians and friends, and an oral history that, in view of the comparatively limited sphere of Webern’s activities in his earlier years and the enforced seclusion in his final ones, must be nearly complete.
Even those who have felt the attraction of Webern’s music, and who followed the astonishing shift from esoteric to exoteric in his postwar recognition, will discover from the new book that they knew virtually nothing about the man apart from the circumstances of his death. Also, because his life, work, and philosophy were for thirty years inseparable from his teacher’s, Anton von Webern is Schoenberg biography as well. Finally, Moldenhauer gives new information on the friendship between Webern and Berg. Far from being confined to the most “enigmatic” of the Viennese triumvirate, therefore, the volume is a history of the anti-tonality movement that, twenty-six years after Schoenberg’s death, has become established as the center of gravity in twentieth-century music.
Webern was of noble descent, and his genealogy, longer than that of any other composer, can be traced from the late Renaissance in Alto Adige to present-day America, where one cousin taught Asian art history at Bryn Mawr, and another, an inventor, introduced rotogravure to The New York Sun, and died in Dayton, Ohio, in 1962. An ancestor of the composer fought in America in 1785—but as a captain of Hessian mercenaries, thus making the second of the founding fathers of twelve-tone music ineligible for membership in the Sons of the American Revolution. In the same year, a certain “Herr von Webern,” also probably an ancestor—the name, originally “Weber,” seems to have acquired the “n” of the dative case through a clerical error—is mentioned in a letter by Haydn as his sponsor for the Masonic Lodge to which Mozart already belonged.
The musical education of the young Webern in Klagenfurt during the late 1890s had many advantages over that of an aspiring composer of the same period living in Paris, London, or New York, the most important being the proximity of the provincial Austrian city to Vienna and therefore to the most vital creative forces of the time, Strauss, Mahler, and Schoenberg. At fourteen Webern was a cellist in the local symphony orchestra, learning the classical repertory from the inside—rather than from classroom dissections of it, or, as the case might be today, passively listening to recordings. Even at this age Webern in his letters displays exceptional musical insight, as when he comments on Liszt’s ingenuity in “weaving elements of old church music” into his Christus. A year later Webern’s taste had matured to the extent that he acknowledged Bach as “the supreme master of music,” a less common judgment then than today, especially from a young musician who shared the current idolatry for Bayreuth and who made the pilgrimage there. But he recovered from his Wagneritis sooner than most worshipers, and from then on Beethoven occupied the highest place in Webern’s pantheon, an edifice allotting more space to Schubert, it would seem, than to Haydn or Mozart; Beethoven was to remain the mainstay of Webern’s conducting, teaching, and lecturing.
Webern’s general education at Klagenfurt Gymnasium and at Vienna University included a thorough grounding in both humanistic and scientific studies: Latin and Greek, German and foreign literature, mathematics and philosophy. His intellectual temperament is evident in his first letter to Schoenberg (July 1906), urging him to read Kant’s Metaphysics of Ethics, and in exchanges of books with Berg—at one Christmas a volume of Baudelaire from Berg, and, from Webern, kant’s letters and Plato: the young composers must have spent hours discussing the theory of transcendent form. Besides being familiar with Goethe, Balzac, Stendhal, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and other venerables, Webern had read Ruskin, Emerson (Society and Solitude), Thoreau, and such nearer contemporaries as Ibsen, Schnitzler, Strindberg, George, Trakl, Kraus, and Rilke, setting words by the last five to music. In the summer of 1910, shortly after the publication of The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, Webern was extolling it to Schoenberg, and Rilke’s letters were a vade mecum for Webern in the last months of his life, when he copied passages from them into a commonplace book.
Webern wrote poetry and even a play, and it scarcely needs to be said that he chose the verses for his music with great deliberation. In his search for Latin texts in what was to become a group of canons, he ransacked the complete Breviary, though three of the five pieces in the opus were ultimately taken from other sources: “Dormi Jesu” from Das Knaben Wunderhorn, “Asperges me” from the Psalms, and “Christus factus est” from Philippians 2. In later years he especially revered Hölderlin, yet after 1930 his cantata libretti and lieder verses come exclusively from the writings of his (and Martin Buber’s) friend Hildegard Jone, the wife of the sculptor Joseph Humplik and a descendant of Beethoven’s friend the Countess Deym. The reason for this less than ideal preference seems to be Frau Humplik’s affinity for Webern’s mystical nature philosophy: “How much our modes of representation resemble each other,” he wrote to her. It should also be noted that he was an amateur of other arts, being a friend of the architect Adolf Loos, of Klimt—whom the composer lauds in a letter to Berg—and of Kokoschka and Schiele, both of whom drew portraits of Webern.
The two most important events in Webern’s musical development were his apprenticeship to Schoenberg, beginning in the autumn of 1904, and, concurrently, his study of fifteenth-century polyphony under Guido Adler at the University of Vienna. Too little has been made known about the second area, considering that the principles and techniques of the music of this period are almost as important to Webern’s later work as are those derived from Schoenberg. For the doctoral dissertation, Webern transcribed and annotated the second volume of the Choralis Constantinus by Heinrich Isaac (music tutor to Lorenzo de’ Medici’s children, as Poliziano was in other disciplines). Webern’s letters reveal that his training in this high contrapuntal art remained an essential part of his thinking. Here, in a letter to Berg, Webern exults over the just completed variation movement in his Symphony:
Not even the Netherlanders2 have managed this…. Constant mirrorings occur in the fourth variation and, after this central point, everything goes backwards, the entire movement representing a double canon with retrograde motion.
Webern also drew attention to the parallels between structural devices in his Orchestra Variations and those in the music of the period of Josquin, defending these similarities against comparisons with the aesthetics of neoclassicism. “A different style is present,” Webern argued, and, posing the question “Which sort?,” named and eliminated some of the great composers, conceding only that
a certain kinship in the manner of presentation associated with the “Netherlanders” could be found…. [My] music does not deny the development that came then, but, on the contrary, tries to continue it into the future…. What kind of style then? A new one, so I believe.
Later, referring to a movement in what was to become his last completed work, Webern wrote that
This section is constructed in a way that perhaps none of the “Netherlanders” ever thought up;…it is built on a four-part canon of the most complicated kind…only possible, I think, on the basis of the law of the row…. In fact, this may well be the first time it has been so completely operative…Plato[‘s] “nomos” (“law”) is also the word for “Weise” (“melody”): The melody…the soprano sings…may be the nomos for all that follows, in the sense of Goethe’s Urpflanze: “with this model and the key to it, one can proceed to invent plants ad infinitum.”
As for Schoenberg, Webern was not only his student in composition but also his friend, associate, proselytizer, and professional factotum—preparing piano reductions of his music, or arranging it for four-hands and other combinations, writing articles about it, rehearsing and conducting it. The pupil always appears to have been willing to sacrifice his own time and work for the teacher. Thus in September 1911, when Schoenberg’s financial position was even more precarious than usual, Webern undertook a fund-raising campaign and obtained contributions from an artistic intelligentsia that included Richard Strauss and Karl Kraus. And during World War I, Webern devoted his energies to securing Schoenberg’s release from the army—successfully, too, despite being in uniform himself, and no more happily so than the composer of Pierrot Lunaire. But what may have been most important of all for Schoenberg was simply Webern’s unwavering advocacy, which stood as a bulwark against the savage hostility of all but a handful of musicians.
The correspondence between the two composers indicates that they were as devoted as any in music history. “I believe that the disciples of Jesus Christ could not have felt more deeply for their Lord than I do for you,” Webern wrote in August 1911, a remark that seems slightly less intemperate when the reader knows that it came from a man who thought that “Beethoven’s birthday should be celebrated equally with Christmas.” Berg’s letters to Schoenberg are hardly less fervent, but the relations between these two were often strained, and never as intimate, which is indicated by Schoenberg’s use of the familiar “du” form with Webern years before he extended it to Berg. In a 1925 letter, Berg refers to his “faithfulness…toward myself, music, Schoenberg (and he makes this really hard for one)”; the parenthetical remark is inconceivable from Webern. But then, in May 1933, when Schoenberg had been forced to leave Berlin, Berg actually contemplated accepting a teaching post in that city, remarking to his wife that “It would be more feasible now than before, as Schoenberg is no longer there.”
Schoenberg was hardly less deeply involved with Webern, though this perspective is seldom mentioned. Alma Mahler recalled Schoenberg, c. 1915, having said that he had to struggle in order to resist the younger man’s influence, and it now appears that the pupil had preceded the teacher in developing the concept of employing twelve pitches before repeating one of them and that some of Webern’s other ideas attracted Schoenberg as well. Writing to a publisher in 1912, Schoenberg said that
Webern is my pupil. He who penetrates more deeply will soon see that we are dealing here with a truly great, truly outstanding, independent talent who in many respects surpasses my attainments.
But Webern’s dependence on Schoenberg continued for too long, and, twenty years after what should have been the pupil’s graduation, he was still pleading with the master not to withhold his advice and criticism—this though even the hint of a negative response would plunge the suppliant into despair. At nearly forty, with a wife and children, Webern wanted nothing more than to be allowed to live near Schoenberg and to bask in his genius and wisdom. Whether slavish or not, this was undoubtedly abnormal, but so was Webern’s excessive mourning for his mother and, part of the same syndrome, his extreme homesickness when away from his native Austria.
The breakdown that might have been foreseen was undoubtedly precipitated by Pierrot Lunaire (first performed in Berlin, October 16, 1912), which seems to have paralyzed as well as inspired Webern. He lived in Stettin at the time, holding a Kapellmeister’s post in which he was miserable, since it not only deprived him of the leisure for composition but also obliged him to conduct a repertory largely of operettas.3 Having written nothing in a year and a half, he was dissatisfied with himself and with his stagnation as a composer, frustrations exacerbated by Pierrot. He complained to Schoenberg of inability to function because of nervous attacks, headaches, insomnia, and of feeling persecuted, remarking, for instance, after being accidentally struck by the curtain in the theater, “These things seem to happen to me.” Obtaining leave of absence, he entered a sanatorium at Semmering, where he soon improved, which may have been simply because he was in Austria and because he always found peace in nature. When a consultation with a leading Viennese neurologist failed to discover any organic disease, Webern informed Schoenberg: “There are only two physicians in Vienna who can come into question for me, Freud and a certain Dr. Adler” (letter of August 5, 1913).
Webern became the patient of Alfred Adler, seeing him almost daily for three months, despite initial rebellion against the direction which the analysis first took, with its routine questions about effeminacy. The great specialist in the inferiority complex inevitably discovered this disposition in the composer, reasoning that the inordinate demands which Webern made upon himself were to be understood as overcompensation for deficiencies real or imagined. But whatever the accuracy of Adler’s diagnosis, the eminent psychiatrist was successful in blocking the composer’s impulse to leave Stettin and to live in Schoenberg’s shadow in Berlin.
That Schoenberg was a no less perceptive diagnostician of his friend’s ailments is apparent in the following letter written nearly twenty years later, when Webern, again incapacitated by nervous disorders, was hospitalized—also without ascertaining any physical basis for the condition:
I believe (it sounds old-fashioned, but still I must say it, using the old-fashioned expression they had for it) that it stems from the soul. I think you get too worked up about everything. Whether it is conducting, holding a rehearsal, having to gain a point, learning of a criticism, or whatever else it may be of countless other things: you always put too much heart into it. (If I did not know this about myself, I would not understand it so well in your case.)
Webern’s next nervous crisis occurred in public, in Barcelona, in April 1936, at the time that he was to have conducted the premiere of Berg’s post-humous Violin Concerto. In fact, Webern’s unstable mental state was apparently a consequence of Berg’s death, Webern’s condition first having attracted attention when he seemed not to be aware that he had stopped playing the piano during a preliminary reading of the Concerto in Vienna with the violinist. Webern became increasingly reluctant to make the trip to Spain, and, after arriving there, he procrastinated unreasonably during rehearsals, declaring after the second of them that the work would not be performed, taking the score with him to his hotel, and refusing to surrender it except, finally, to Berg’s widow. (The substitute conductor, Hermann Scherchen, led the Concerto with only one rehearsal.) Whatever the reasons for this peculiar conduct, a pupil of Freud’s who observed Webern during those days reported that his state was “definitely pathological…a case of temporary paranoia.”
Clearly Webern wished to protect his friend’s last creation from a slipshod performance, since a fortnight later Webern conducted the Concerto, free of any incident, with the superior orchestra of the BBC. A recently discovered letter that Webern posted while still in Barcelona helps to explain his mysterious behavior:
It has turned out badly for me here…in terrible contrast to what had been promised, the rehearsal possibilities were so limited that twenty-four hours before the performance I had achieved practically nothing…. What was impossible for me…Scherchen, not being fundamentally responsible, could carry through…. The performance [was] saved, but the circumstances have almost ruined me…. In the end the stated reason (illness) corresponded with the truth. But I really knew it all beforehand…. [No one considered] that the premiere of Berg’s last work—in memoriam—was at stake. It was an immeasurable torment. A hell. I can take the responsibility for what I have done. The contrary would not have been possible.
The statement “I knew it all before-hand” partly justifies the accusation of misplaced perfectionism, even of sabotage, since, as everyone realized, the premiere, once scheduled, could not be canceled. And without doubting Webern’s scruples and his conscience, one wonders whether Berg’s requiem was better served as a result of this conduct. In later years, too, Webern’s ability to appraise reality again showed signs of serious impairment, as when, during World War II, he momentarily began to believe that favorable developments could come from the Third Reich, and to predict that some day his “melodies” would be “whistled by the mailman.”
Webern’s marriage and the disturbing effect on him of the death of a young nephew were other major crises in the composer’s life. Since he and his wife were first cousins, their union was forbidden ecclesiastically, but it was also opposed by the family. Webern had already disappointed his father by failing to show any interest in managing the hereditary estate—which consequently had to be sold, whereupon the Weberns moved to a house in Vienna across the street from the one in which Beethoven had died—and by choosing an impractical career; the only recorded remark by the elder Webern about his son’s music still speaks for a large audience: “It is too nervous and always over before it starts.”
The death of the nephew provoked Webern to write the play Tot, a statement of his philosophy, and with this literary effort—although musical notation is used for the tempo and dynamics at which the words are to be spoken—he began to immerse himself in Sweden-borg and in doctrines of predestination, beliefs that are strikingly exposed in a phrase from a letter to Berg:
I am working undauntedly…until my fate will have decided over me again. [September 9, 1930]
To return to the final weeks of 1913 and Webern’s resumption of his work as a composer, the impact of Pierrot Lunaire is most evident in the Trakl Lieder (Opus 14) and in some unpublished songs using “Sprechstimme.” At the same time, these pieces represent one of the largest leaps into new territory in Webern’s entire development. And while the Trakl group stems from, and is unthinkable without, Schoenberg’s melodrama, in the opus-numbered instrumental Lieder which follow, Webern’s originality becomes increasingly pronounced and his style progressively complex, until, paradoxically, he finds liberation in a succession of instrumental works, the Trio, Symphony, Concerto, and two Quartets, all written according to certain principles of Schoenberg’s new, reputedly strait-jacketing twelve-tone system. (“Here in Vienna…[are] laws for all faults,” Shakespeare’s Duke Vincentio says.)
These compositions, the most radical music of the period between the late 1920s and late 1930s, can be compared to Schoenberg’s contemporaneous twelve-tone pieces only in that while the latter are now widely viewed as a regression from the earlier “free atonality” of Erwartung, Webern’s are seen to lead to many new concepts. As he wrote, “It is possible now to compose in free fantasy and without restraint only with the row.” But while Schoenberg identified melodies and themes with his rows (series), Webern subdivided many of his into units of intervals;4 as he observed to a friend: “The row in itself already constitutes a law but does not also have to be the ‘melody.’ ” Webern also began to devise rows that would reduce the number of serial forms—for example by making the second half the retrograde of the first—to create new kinds of mirror and other structural relationships.
Webern’s technical innovations have been exhaustively studied and need not be enumerated here. In retrospect, perhaps the most important are the interpenetration of the vertical and the horizontal, which revolutionized the idea of musical space;5 the use of silence as an element equal, at times, to sound, as when silent “notes” are given the same rhythmic values as audible ones; and the dissociation of melody, harmony, rhythm, timbre, and dynamics, which anticipated the serialization of other elements besides pitch. Further, his exploration of the possibilities of metric organization added a new dimension to composition, as did his concern with the visual aspect of notation; a letter from the composer to his publisher insists that “the printer follow the design of the manuscript, since the idea must be plastically projected through its image.”6
One of the most astonishing revelations about Webern is that he often worked with a specific classic in mind—Brahms’s Schicksalslied during the genesis of Das Augenlicht, for instance, and the “Badinerie” from Bach’s B-Minor Suite during a section of the piano Variations; remote as the relationships might seem. A no less surprising discovery is that, at some early evolutionary stage, Webern’s creative ideas were connected with extra-musical experiences, and that this most “abstract” of composers was actually one of the most programmatic. To give one example, the sketches for an abandoned third movement Rondo—Webern drafted considerably more music than he completed or published—contain an outline beginning (in part)
First Secondary Theme
Snow and ice, crystal clear air, cozy warm sphere of the highest meadows. Coolness of early spring (Anninger, first flora, primroses, anemones [hepatica, pulsatilla])….
Second Secondary Theme
(Soldanella, flowers of the highest region…)
Moreover, each of the three movements of this opus is associated with a place, the first with the Klagenfurt suburb of Annabichl, the second with Schwabegg—the burial places respectively of Webern’s father and mother—and the third with Dachstein, the glacier mountain on the Styria border.
Webern’s conducting and teaching are less absorbing subjects, both inherently and because of the lack of recordings and cassettes, verbal descriptions of concerts being much the same and very tedious reading. By all accounts, Webern was boundlessly persistent as well as patient in his pursuit of qualities of tone, nuances of phrasing, exactness of balance, intonation, and articulation. He explained the architecture of the music to his orchestras and choruses, but never pedantically, and his performances were inspired. As his fellow Schoenberg pupil Erwin Stein wrote: “Ecstasy was Webern’s natural state of mind.”
Yet Webern was a reluctant conductor, devoting himself to this profession in the first place out of economic necessity, and regretting the time usurped from creative work. Nor can he be described as a popular success, at least by the Thespian standards of today’s television maestros. Largely, too, his activities were confined to the Vienna Workers’ Chorus and Orchestra—he was never invited to conduct the Philharmonic—though his six appearances in London, a city he regarded as ultima Thule, left an impression there. Webern took Mahler as his model in conducting, being already held in thrall by him as a composer and man. In fact, Webern’s attitude toward conducting is typified by a gesture that he made after performing Mahler’s Eighth Symphony. In response to an ovation, Webern raised the score over his head to show that the work more than the interpreter deserved the applause. But after the Anschluss, and a last, defiant programming of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, July 13, 1935, Webern never again appeared on a podium.
Schoenberg’s good fortune in having Webern and Berg as pupils was not repeated for Webern, whose most distinguished student was Stefan Wolpe, and most famous one Karl Amadeus Hartmann. Hartmann’s letters to his wife, in 1943, describe not only Webern teaching, but also his physical appearance, character, and personality, yet little trace of his influence can be found in Hartmann’s own music.
Webern’s most profound pedagogical experiences may well have occurred during his years of employment at Vienna’s Israelite Institute for the Blind, where his work, especially with children, greatly affected this acutely sensitive man both humanly and artistically. The position terminated with Hitler’s invasion, after which, except for a few private students, Webern’s teaching was confined to his lectures on Beethoven, which were attended like underground meetings in a private Vienna home. Of a technical aspect of his Second Cantata Webern wrote:
This is how it has always been in the music of the masters. Whether I am succeeding as they did, only God knows, though at least I have recognized what it is all about.
But of course neither the teacher nor the conductor made a mark on the world comparable to the one left by the composer, which may have been larger in proportion to the dimensions of his music than that of any other, contemporary or past.
Of the many misfortunes that Webern suffered during World War II, the loss of his only son in the last weeks of hostilities was the cruelest. The composer’s artistic existence must have been an almost unrelieved torture. His own music banned, he was forced to make piano reductions of the operas of now deservedly forgotten composers, earning his living from this and from writing reports on the largely worthless scores submitted to his former publishers. For a few weeks in the spring of 1944, the sixty-year-old composer was conscripted into a civilian work corps, where he hauled sand and was obliged to live in a barracks. After his release, distraught by the acceleration of the bombings, he was unable to compose at all. Just before the end of the war he and his wife fled Vienna for his daughter’s home in Mittersill, in the Tyrol, starting out on foot and carrying rucksacks. The Russian soldiers billeted in his abandoned home not only desecrated it but also used his manuscripts to start the kitchen fire. Miraculously some sketchbooks and a cache of letters from Berg and Schoenberg buried in the cellar escaped notice and were only recently discovered.
Two of Webern’s daughters had married Nazis, one of them a Storm Trooper, and though the composer forbade political discussions by the family in his presence, as the war progressed Webern himself became a “Pan-German patriot.” Moldenhauer, a kindly, dedicated man who rarely questions or criticizes his hero—the weaknesses of his book are its lack of critical evaluation and its sentimental, hagiographic style—nevertheless wonders how Webern could
reconcile this with his personal allegiances and artistic convictions…and with an artistic temperament that had made him a rebel from the start.
But surely the seeming inconsistency overlooks another side of Webern, as well as the significance of his astonishing remark, “Authority must be obeyed regardless of the system in which it is invested.” In so far as Webern had political beliefs, he seems to have been a monarchist, which, in the Austria of the 1930s, is yet another indication that he was not always realistic.
“When Vienna fell [April 10, 1945],” Moldenhauer writes, it “was the end of a glorious epoch.” But what is “glorious” about Vienna after the Kristallnacht? Also, his retelling of the story of Webern’s death will seem to some to misapportion the blame. Webern was shot in American-occupied Mittersill by an army cook, in what was adjudged an accident. But the composer’s Nazi son-in-law, Bruno Mattel, had been engaged in black-market dealings with US soldiers, one of them this same cook. Mattel’s activities were reported, and a rendezvous with him was arranged by the American authorities to catch him in the act—on a night, as it happened, when Webern was dining with the Mattels. Apparently Webern went outdoors to smoke and bumped into the cook, who, imagining himself assaulted, pulled the trigger. But whatever the vicissitudes of the shooting, the death would not have occurred if Mattel had not been involved in illegal business. Mattel was arrested, but eventually migrated to Argentina, where, with his SS credentials and background in criminal financial manipulation, he soon became extremely rich.
As for the cook, Moldenhauer writes that “he fell victim to his guilt and died a decade later of alcoholism.” Yet to attribute such an obsession of guilt to a soldier hardened by months of war seems excessively charitable. What was Webern, after all, but one more dead Austrian? Nor has it been determined whether the cook was already subject to his addiction and to any degree intoxicated at the time of the shooting.
Webern’s wife receives no more than passing references throughout the biography. She did not survive her husband long enough to see the new generation’s acclamation for him or to share in the royalties. As for the children, Moldenhauer writes that “none of them ever showed the slightest interest in, or understanding of, [their father’s] music.”
The tragedy of the deaths of Webern and Berg is not only that they were untimely and bizarre—or the tragedy of Schoenberg that he was neglected—but also that Webern never heard his cantatas, Berg his Lulu and Violin Concerto, Schoenberg his Jacob’s Ladder and Moses and Aaron. Just before Hitler’s accession to power, the Schoenberg school was gaining acceptance, wider understanding by musicians, and a larger place on concert programs. Thus it can be said that all three composers were victims of the Nazis. But unlike Schoenberg’s and Berg’s music, that of Webern, because of its unique dimensions and extreme inwardness—and always excepting the early orchestra and string quartet pieces—is not likely to capture large audiences. Yet no composer ever served higher ideals of his art, and the revolution in mid-twentieth-century music for which he was to a great extent responsible is still reverberating.
May 26, 1977
Anton von Webern, to be published by Knopf, February 1978. ↩
In the introduction to the Choralis, Webern mentions Ockeghem and Obrecht. ↩
He was also coaching the cast of Ariadne auf Naxos, which he considered to be Strauss’s finest score, an opinion later shifted to Salomé. ↩
See the composer’s experiments with three-pitch groups for the Concerto, in the facsimile volume Anton von Webern, Sketches (1926-1945) (Carl Fischer, 1968). ↩
Webern himself says that the “crowning fulfillment” of the synthesis of “horizontal and vertical construction” is in the third movement of his Quartet, Opus 28: “The ‘development’ consists of a fugue, the third ‘exposition’ of which is the reprise of the scherzo subject, the fulfillment of the ‘scherzo form’ . This reprise also constitutes the third exposition of the fugue. Accordingly, therefore, the ‘scherzo’ subject is already so designed that when recapitulated, it is capable of serving as the third exposition of a fugue the second exposition of the fugue begins with measure 38: subject in the second violin (the upper auxiliaries of the trills are part of it, E, F, D, E-flat).” The reader will not be surprised by Webern’s remark, in another context, that “complicated ideas naturally need complicated means of expression.” Still, this “third exposition of a fugue” will hardly be apparent as more than “eye music” to most people. ↩
This seems to relate to a monorhythmic pattern in the Quartet, Opus 28. ↩