Vienna, 15 September 1945
Oboe, Clarinet, Viola . . . or Clarinet, Piano . . . or Viola, Piano (5 min.) TC-115 (2021)
COMPLETE TRIO SCORE
COMPLETE SCORE for CLARINET & PIANO
COMPLETE SCORE for VIOLA & PIANO
I have long admired and been influenced by the music of early 20th-century Austrian composer Anton Webern. Known historically as a member of the Second Viennese School with Alban Berg and mentor Arnold Schoenberg, the three were pioneers of so-called atonal music and 12-tone-row serial harmonic organization. I find the term “atonal” misleading and negative, as their 12-tone processes achieved new “12-tone tonalities” — not simply a rejection of traditional tonal harmony but also striving to create new and more complex tonalities.
What I admire most about Webern’s mostly-quiet instrumental miniatures (his Symphonie has only two sparsely-scored movements) is the delicate, crystalline quality of his pitch constellations; and their gently lyric, precious setting into transparent textures, pearl-strings of delicate sound colors ( called Klangfarbenmelodie). Here is a transcription for chamber orchestra with sound color much like Webern’s Symphonie Op. 21:
Webern’s mentor, Schoenberg, as a Jew was compelled to emigrate to the U.S. in 1933 before it was too late. Webern, not Jewish, stayed in Vienna and survived World War II, only to be fatally shot by a U.S. Army soldier during the Allied occupation of Austria.