Happy birthday Anton Webern!


Anton Webern (December 3, 1883—September 15, 1945) was an Austrian composer. He was a member of the Second Viennese School, working closely and being heavily influenced by Arthur Schoenberg and Alban Berg. He is best remembered as one of the pioneers of the 12-tone technique.

a_webernWebern was born Anton Friedrich Wilhelm von Webern in Vienna, Austria to Carl and Amelie von Webern. His mother played piano and sang. Growing up, he studied piano, cello, and theory with Edwin Komauer in Kiagenfurt. He studied musicology at University of Vienna, studying composition under Arthur Schoenberg. His graduation piece was his famous Passacaglia, Op. 1 (1908). (Image source)

Also studying under Schoenberg was Alban Berg. The three formed the foundation for the Second Viennese School of composition, which was based off of the concept of only using 12 related tones for any given composition.

From 1917-1918, Webern served in the army. He later served as conductor in a variety of theaters including the Deutsches Theater in Prague, as well as at theaters in Ischl, Teplitz, Danzig, and Stettin. He taught composition privately in Mödling, near Vienna.

Vienna became his home base, where he not only taught privately, but conducted several musical groups including the Vienna's Workers' Symphony Orchestra. He also helped run Schoenberg's Society for Private Musical Performances.


As Hitler rose to power, it is unclear what Webern's political leanings were. It is said that he criticized Nazi cultural policies, but that he later welcomed the Nazi regime in 1938. His compositions were condemned as "cultural Bolshevism," and performances and publications of it were banned. Despite being artistically devastated by his official prohibition, Webern eventually became an ardent supporter of the regime.

In 1945, his son was killed in the bombardment of a train. Following this, he and his wife fled to Mittersill, near Salzburg, to stay with family. He was killed by accident by an American soldier just outside his son-in-law's residence.

Webern's work notably took advantage of parallels in tone rows.

Webern's music later influenced many of the avant-garde movement, including Rene Leibowitz, Stefan Wolpe, and Jacques-Louis Monod. 

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  • Birthday Date: Wednesday, 03 December 2014
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