Chapter 69 Vienna in theAftermath of War:12-Tone Methods
Austria after World War I• Though Austria was greatly reduced in size following World War I, it continues to be the source of new musical ideas .• Several of its progressive composers (including Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern) devised new ways of bringing order into the presentation of tones from the chromatic scale.
Schoenberg’s 12-tone Method of Composition – “Serialism”• Schoenberg creates a series of rows: – these rows are connected groups of the 12-tones with none omitted or repeated .• The initial melodic phrase in a 12-tone work is subject to a the variational process called serialism: – a way of composing music using a series of notes in a particular order and using this to construct a whole piece of music. These series and patterns can also be applied to other parts of music.• Schoenberg used his 12-tone method in most of his major new works written after 1923.
Aspects of Schoenberg’s Twelve-Tone Method (1923 - )1. The basic pitch resource in a piece consists of a succession (“row”) of the 12-tones.2. These are used in 48 forms derived from the basic row by transposition , inversion (upside down), retrogression (backwards) , or a combination of these .3. Row forms are then deployed as lines - or divided into the texture, or both.4. The notes of a row form are also freely placed in differing registers .
Arnold Schoenberg, String Quartet No. 4, Op. 37, 1936, movement 1Free sonata form (this analysis is based on the composer’s own)
The Life of Anton Webern (1883–1945)• 1883 - born in Vienna• 1902 - enters the University of Vienna to study• 1904 - private instruction with Arnold Schoenberg begins• 1908 - works as conductor in various cities• 1927 - conducts and consults for the Austrian Radio in Vienna• 1945 - flees bombardment in Vienna and settles in Mittersill; accidentally shot to death by an American occupation soldier
Anton Webern’s 12-tone Style• Webern’s works are unusually brief and fragmented in texture: – comparable to the technique of modern French painters in pointillism • dots of pure and contrasting color merge into recognizable images .• Webern’s application of the 12-tone method is very different from Schoenberg as : – it has less emphasis on forming rows – relies less on serial variations – multiple tone rows are often presented at the same time throughout the texture.
Pointillism Camille Pissarro’s Woman in the Meadow at Eragny is an example of a development among impressionist painters in the 1880s called pointillism (dots of pure and contrasting color merge into recognizable images ). The artist places dots of color on the canvas, and it is left to the eye of the viewer to merge these into recognizeable images and coloristic tones . A similar phenomenon is found in the music of Anton Webern in which isolated notes can be merged by the listener into familiar lines, chords, and textures.
Principal Compositions by Anton Webern• Orchestra: mainly small character pieces, including a two-movement Symphony (1928)• Chorus: music includes two Cantatas to words by Hildegard Jone• Songs: about 85• Chamber music : pieces for string quartet, string trio, miscellaneous
Anton Webern, Symphony, Op. 21, 1928, movement 2Variations form