Talk:Anton Webern

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Who Shot Anton Webern?[edit]

There's a play, Who Shot Anton Webern?, which states that it was Private First Class Raymond Norwood Bell of Mount Olive, North Carolina who shot Webern; this is corroborated elsewhere[1]. However, both of those accounts say that the shooting was accidental, not related to black-market activities. Anybody have insight? --moof 20:52, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

As I remember reading, there was a bust in progress at the house at which he was staying; it was surrounded by soldiers who were instructed not to let anyone escape, and they hadn't yet made their move in. Webern stepped onto a veranda for his after-dinner cigar, and one of the soldiers shot him, thinking it was someone trying to escape. I'd have to look around to see where I read this, but as far as I know it was an "accidental" shooting by a soldier who was literally following orders. Antandrus (talk) 20:58, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
The nyu link above doesn't work for me, so I can't check it. I'd be interested in seeing it because I'm uncomfortable with a play as a source for "fact." But that said, the play script I saw does not say the shooter was drunk, only that he later WAS a drunk. I'm going to remove the word from the article. John (Jwy) 23:20, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
I agree; thanks. I'd never read that he was drunk either. Antandrus (talk) 23:55, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
I'd always heard that the man who shot him was so filled with remorse over the killing that he later became an alcoholic. This first article Google pulled up seem to confirm that:
-- Rizzleboffin 00:04, 17 May 2006 (UTC)
For the first 15 years, the only source of information on Webern's death was the Webern family, who related that while visiting at the home of his son-in-law Benno Mattel, Webern was shot by an American soldier while Mattel was being arrested by the Americans for black-market activity. The family did not know the name of the soldier or precise details of the shooting, and no statement was released on the incident by the U.S. Army. In 1959 Hans Moldenhauer launched an attempt to obtain papers from Army files relating to the incident. He succeeded in contacting several persons involved, and he published his findings in the book The Death of Anton Webern (Philosophical Library, 1961). To summarize Moldenhauer's conclusions, Mattel had been approaching American soldiers wanting to buy such items as sugar and coffee to sell on the black market. The Army decided to entrap Mattel and sent PFC Raymond Bell (a cook) and 1st Sergeant Andrew Murray to Mattel's house on September 15 for this purpose. While Murray and Bell were negotiating with Mattel in the kitchen on a price for the items, Webern had gone out onto the front porch to smoke a cigar. When Mattel came to an agreement with the soldiers and took out his money to make the payment, the soldiers drew their pistols and told Mattel he was under arrest. Murray then sent Bell back to the Army post to get reinforcements to accompany Mattel to jail. Bell, with pistol in hand, dashed out the front door and collided with Webern on the front porch. Bell thought he was being attacked by an accomplice of Mattel and shot Webern. Bell was already dead when Moldenhauer wrote his book, but Bell's widow related to Moldenhauer that her husband had great remorse over the shooting and died of alcoholism. ThomasM 22:26, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
Could you put a References section with a citation of the book in the article? I think the article is consistent with that explanation now, yes? John (Jwy) 22:45, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks! John (Jwy) 04:31, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

Twelve-tone technique[edit]

"he became one of the best-known exponents of the twelve-tone technique"

This does not make any sense. Selfinformation 17:34, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

Why? HenryFlower 17:57, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
I understand that my comment is not entirely clear... I meant to suggest a rephrasing of that fact. It seems to me strange to call a person an exponent of a technique... Do you understand? Selfinformation 23:10, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
No, you've still lost me. What's the difficulty? HenryFlower 19:14, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
It seems to me semantically incorrect to state a person to be an exponent of an abstractum such as a technique... Somebody has already changed it to "he became one of the best-known proponents of the twelve-tone technique", which makes more sense, in terms of word choice... Best, Selfinformation 19:30, 16 May 2006 (UTC)


My Late and Post-Tonal Analysis lecturer, Dr. Alan Street, the editor of the journal Musical Analysis, reliably informs me that Webern often used sound to convey the power of a smell (synaesthesia), should this be included in the article? I don't have any books that quote this at the moment, but I could look it up in the Grove dictionary next week, when I've got this essay on Op. 6 / iii finished... KLF Fitton 19:01, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

I had a quick google. There were a few hits, but they all just seemed to be talking about Messiaen's synesthesia and then going on to Webern in a different context. But if you find a source, by all means. HenryFlower 19:15, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
Grove online doesn't seem to have anything on synesthesia in the Webern article or any mention of Webern in the synesthesia article. Doesn't mean there's nothing to the subject, but it doesn't appear to be in Grove... -- Rizzleboffin 19:57, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
A follow-up: I just checked the indexes of a few books on Webern, including Kathryn Bailey's The life of Webern, Malcolm Hayes' Anton von Webern, Allen Forte's The atonal music of Anton Webern, and Hans Moldenhauer's Anton von Webern, a chronicle of his life and work, and didn't find a mention of synesthesia. I'd be interested to hear about Webern & synesthesia, but don't find anything on it. Perhaps Prof. Street has written something on this subject? -- Rizzleboffin 22:07, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

WEBERN AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF NATURE details Webern's fascination with scent and his likening of scent to his music and vice versa. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:59, 17 July 2014 (UTC)

Not sure if it's the same[edit]

But sound sample is about the same as sampling (music) I think? Schissel | Sound the Note! 23:14, 11 July 2008 (UTC)

Stravinsky on Webern[edit]

The section on Webern's music begins with a quote from Stravinsky: "Doomed to total failure in a deaf world of ignorance and indifference, he inexorably kept on cutting out his diamonds, his dazzling diamonds, of whose mines he had a perfect knowledge." I love this quote and couldn't agree more, but shouldn't we have a source for it? The best source I can find is A Chicago Symphony Orchestra Program, but I'm not sure if this meets wikipedia standards. JeanneShade (talk) 07:02, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

If memory serves, this quotation is from Stravinsky's "Geleitwort" on p. 7 of the second volume of Die Reihe (1955, titled "Foreword" on p. vii of the 1958 English edition). However, I would want to confirm that source before citing it.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 16:43, 28 July 2008 (UTC)
Using the search inside feature of Amazon, Camrbidge's Webern Studies seems to confirm this: "Die Reihe 2...opened with a section which...was truly Webern's testimonials.... In a famous epigraph Stravinsky refers to 'his diamonds, his dazzling diamonds' (p. vii)" (xvi). Unfortunately it still doesn't give the full quote. Fortunately my library has a copy of the second Die Reihe, which I will try get & find the quote in soon. JeanneShade (talk) 18:29, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
Just got Die Reihe 2 -- your memory is excellent, the quote is right there in the forward, which reads in full: "The 15 of September 1945, the day of Anton Webern's death, should be a day of mourning for any receptive musician. We must hail not only this great composer but also a real hero. Doomed to a total failure in a deaf world of ignorance and indifference he inexorably kept cutting out his diamonds, his dazzling diamonds, the mines of which he had such a perfect knowledge." This is actually very slightly different than the quote currently on the page, so I'm going to fix the quote and source it accordingly. Thanks so much for the help in finding this. JeanneShade (talk) 02:11, 6 August 2008 (UTC)
No problem. I meant to get the full quotation for you, since I own a copy of the English Die Reihe, but you got there first. There are some finicky things about the citation format that need fixing, but they are trivial, and I will attend to them.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 06:26, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

Composer project review[edit]

I've reviewed this article as part of the Composers project review of its B-class articles. This is a Start-class article; it contains notable gaps in the biography and musicology. My detailed review is on the comments page; questions and comments should be left here or on my talk page. Magic♪piano 16:22, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Endorsing Nazi regime?[edit]

I have removed the following sentence from this article:

<<During the war, however, his patriotic fervor led him to endorse the regime in a series of letters to Joseph Hueber, where he described Hitler on 2 May 1940 as "this unique man" who created "the new state" of Germany.>>

The words "endorse" and "fervor" in the first half of that sentence are not supported by the second half quotations. Hitler as a unique man? Nazi Germany as a new state? Many opponents of Hitler & the Nazi party would share those views too. They are not exclusive to people who support fascism. There's no evidence here that Webern endorsed the Nazi regime. To endorse something is to say "I support this". Not to keep silent or to express neutral opinions that even anti-Nazi activists would agree with. The quotations might be sourced but the conclusion from those quotations is original research.-- (talk) 08:19, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

Evidently you did not actually consult the Moldenhauer book before removing the sentence. Although it may distort the Moldenhauers' position somewhat (and might require rephrasing the sentence, particularly with regard to the word "endorse", which interprets a longer phrase, "ideologies to which Webern, along with most of the German people, subscribed"), the other letters cited at length in Moldenhauer support the view that Webern's "patriotism grew to a degree so boundless that for a time it distorted even his cultural outlook", though the tone of the sentence now removed does not sit comfortably with the Moldenhauers' characterization, "Proof of this tragic self-delusion is found in a series of letters to Josef Huber". Sources must be represented accurately, of course, and when they are not, corrective action must be taken, but in this case I think you may have thrown out the baby with the bath water.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:38, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Why is this article painting Webern as an opponent of the Nazi ideology? In The Rest is Noise, Alex Ross identifies him as a supporter of it. Toccata quarta (talk) 18:48, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
How does this article paint Webern "as an opponent of the Nazi ideology"? I see a single sentence supporting the idea that Webern protested Nazi policy at one point. Do you think that his later evident support should be reinforced in some way?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 06:08, 1 September 2012 (UTC)
By omission. It is the only information that the article currently provides on this topic, so that is the impression a casual reader is going to walk away with. Toccata quarta (talk) 06:49, 1 September 2012 (UTC)
I see. I guess I had assumed the excised quotation had been restored to the article, possibly in a modified form in order more accurately to reflect the source. I see it has not. Are you now agreeing that this should be done?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 15:48, 28 September 2012 (UTC)


I note that ToccataQuarta has excised the following material from the article:

Although Webern had sharply attacked Nazi cultural policies in private lectures given in 1933, their intended publication did not take place at that time, which proved fortunate since this later "would have exposed Webern to serious consequences."<ref>Webern 1963, 7, 19–20.</ref>

The edit summary indicates that a rationale explaining its "problematic" nature will be found here on the Talk page, but I am not finding it. What is problematic about it?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 15:53, 28 September 2012 (UTC)

As I said previously, the article gave the casual reader the impression that Webern was a critic of the Nazi regime, by not mentioning his statements praising Hitler and "the new Germany" (or whatever expression he actually used). The information may be restored, but with proper contextualisation. Toccata quarta (talk) 16:11, 28 September 2012 (UTC)
Now I am really confused. Which material are you referring to—this documentation of "sharp attack", or the other documentation of "endorsement" of Nazi policies, or both? What sort of contextualisation do you regard as proper, without straying into the realm of Original Research, or inserting an unsourced editorial point of view?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 18:06, 28 September 2012 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you find confusing, but I was simply saying that if the passage I removed is to be restored, it would be ideal to have the article mention other aspects of Webern's relationship to the Nazi regime. Toccata quarta (talk) 18:51, 28 September 2012 (UTC)
A second cited claim was removed from this article, and is discussed in the section just above this one. You posted a comment about it a few weeks ago. Since it was of the opposite persuasion to this one, I could not be sure which of the two you meant to restore, or both, and how the objections surrounding them should be resolved. It is of course not uncommon on Wikipedia to simply present contradictory data of this sort, since just about any interpretation would require a source.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:05, 28 September 2012 (UTC)
I'm sorry about the confusion—my original comment was posted in that section simply because of being related to the issue I wished to raise, not because I was commenting on the first deleted passage. So I repeat what I said previously—both things should be in the article, provided they are sourced. Toccata quarta (talk) 19:12, 28 September 2012 (UTC)
Both items were sourced to begin with. Can you see why I am getting more confused, rather than less?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:31, 28 September 2012 (UTC)
If the claim that Webern endorsed the Nazi ideology was sourced, then why did it get deleted? I was under the impression that it was deleted due to being unsourced. Toccata quarta (talk) 21:51, 28 September 2012 (UTC)
That is a very good question. The anonymous editor who deleted it in March 2011 called attention to the sentence, but omitted to mention it was sourced. Here it is again, with the reference included:
During the war, however, his patriotic fervor led him to endorse the regime in a series of letters to Joseph Hueber, where he described Hitler on 2 May 1940 as "this unique man" who created "the new state" of Germany.<ref>Moldenhauer and Moldenhauer 1978, 527</ref>
This is why I said to the anonymous editor, "Evidently you did not actually consult the Moldenhauer book before removing the sentence". Perhaps that was not clear from the context of the above discussion. The anonymous editor had objected that "The words 'endorse' and 'fervor' in the first half of that sentence are not supported by the second half quotations", and I conceded that, "Although it may distort the Moldenhauers' position somewhat …", etc., which you can read above. Nothing further has come of this discussion in a year and a half, so I am obliged to you for reviving the discussion. Now, what shall we do about it?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 22:43, 28 September 2012 (UTC)

Alex Ross vs scholarly opinion[edit]

Just to flag up what seem to me a couple of contentious sentences just added to the article:

During the Allied invasion of Germany, the Americans tried to weaken the influence of German composers favored by the Nazis like Richard Strauss or Wagner.[19] Instead, in new institutions like the Darmstadt School, they promoted the most radical avant-garde, which soon became synonimous with the Second Viennese School.[19]

I won't claim expertise in this subject, but I do know that this claim has been challenged by such scholars as Amy Beal ("Negotiating Cultural Allies: American Music in Darmstadt, 1946-1956"), Ian Wellens (Music on the frontline: Nicolas Nabokov's struggle against communism and middlebrow culture published 2002), Toby Thacker (Music After Hitler, 1945-1955 published 2007) and Martin Iddon (New Music at Darmstadt: Nono, Stockhausen, Cage, and Boulez published 2013). Ross is a journalist/music critic rather than a scholar, so I would hesitate to present his book as a lone authoritative voice in this matter. Perhaps another editor can make a start to balance Ross's contentious claim (I will when I have the time) - in the meantime I am flagging this up as unbalanced. Alfietucker (talk) 12:03, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

On second thoughts, I decided to remove those sentences altogether. They were poorly written as they were, the first being clearly a nonsensical statement in its own right. The scholarly publications I've previously mentioned should probably still be considered. Alfietucker (talk) 12:41, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
I guess I could have written it better (anyway, I really think that's what Ross is conveying). It's a complex issue, with many differing views (both with scholars and here in WP). We could include various views. However, completely dismissing Ross's book as not scholarly enough is IMO a bit too much, especially since the book was nominated to a Pulitzer. I think I remember Richard Taruskin saying something similar (i.e. avant-garde music being used as a political weapon). I think he's scholarly enough.--Fauban 18:10, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
This is the first I've heard that Pulitzer Prizes are awarded based on scholarliness. I always thought they were intended to reward journalists for superior writing and reporting skills. While it is certainly true that Richard Taruskin, by contrast, has got all the scholarly credentials you could wish for, I think you will find that he makes Alex Ross look very uncontroversial by comparison.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 18:22, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
(edit conflict)Pretty much what I was going to write myself. Just to add a couple of further thoughts. A propos "I really think that's what Ross is conveying", it's very tricky sometimes to paraphrase a source, and I don't know any editor (including myself) who always gets it right. That's the beauty of Wikipedia - that there's several other editors who can refine such paraphrasing or simply challenge a reading, which hopefully leads to a more firmly anchored reading of sources.
As for Taruskin, as fine a scholar as he is, he is notorious for "shooting from the hip" at times instead of making well-substantiated points. So rather than assume everything he writes is infallible, it's as well to check every claim and assertion he makes, perhaps most particularly when it comes to matters of fact about Darmstadt, against the work of other scholars who have actually done the spadework in terms of research regarding what went on during those years. Alfietucker (talk) 18:40, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

Thank you, good edit. Ross is a well-known revisionist trying to perform multiple hatchet jobs on 20th century composers he doesn't like. In fact the whole Webern article is in need of scrutiny: looks like someone somewhere doesn't like Webern very much, hence the overwhelming focus on his apparent love of Hitler (really? why idolise Schoenberg, who reconverted to Judaism at the start of the war?). The Goyvaerts citation is particularly obtuse and needs to be removed but I'm not experienced enough to know the proper protocol for deeming such subjective value judgements strictly irrelevant. — Preceding unsigned comment added by GregFox (talkcontribs) 11:30, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Since the Goeyvaerts quotation occurs in the section on "Reception", why is his subjective value judgment irrelevant? Perhaps there is a lack of context here that should be rectified: Goeyvaerts was one of the leading figures of the so-called "total serialists" (also identified as "post-Webernian serialism") in the early 1950s. As such, his particular views of Webern (however "obtuse" they may seem) were of critical importance to the development of European musical composition in the post–World War II era.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 18:20, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Webern and Nazisim[edit]

While interesting and of some importance, can we pare back the amount of information on the topic. It has the same column inches as the music. Seems out of balance. --John (User:Jwy/talk) 02:25, 18 July 2014 (UTC)

I couldn't agree more about the imbalance, but how about adding more about the music? This is a mighty thin article for a composer of Webern's stature. (Mind you, I haven't been doing as much as I might in this department, either.)—Jerome Kohl (talk) 05:42, 18 July 2014 (UTC)
I took a concentrated stab at adding to and attempting to balance the the "Webern and Nazism" section, but I'll try to add more on his music soon.—MONTENSEM (talk) 06:04, 18 July 2014 (UTC)
I'd prefer we shorten it to something balanced, even if it misses some nuance and detail. Not to belittle the effort you have put in here, but to me a sentence like "His attitude towards Nazism has been a puzzle to some," and leave it at that. The focus should be the music. Unfortunately, I am feel unqualified to expand the music section, myself. --John (User:Jwy/talk) 01:11, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
I think it needs to be addressed, especially as among the epithets against this music are that it is totalitarian, fascist, etc. I recall reading that Krenek et al. had such epithets used against their music, and have read similar in contemporary commentary and scholarship (e.g., Taruskin). This is an important part of Webern scholarship that needs to be addressed. I'll work on the music in the coming week. -MONTENSEM — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:46, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
I've expanded the music section as promised, although there is still much to be done. I have a lot in mind, but I will probably be unable to work more until Dec. I share your commitment to Webern's music as a central focus; but understanding Webern's cultural milieu, including during the time of the Nazis, and not simply asking "Was Webern a Nazi?," is important to understanding Webern's art and vice versa, both generally and particularly (e.g., the overtones of such a phrase as "Zündender Lichtblitz" from op. 29).MONTENSEM (talk) 04:08, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

Webern's music[edit]

In expanding this section, I'm thinking about subdividing into the following sections after a summary. These are probably too many, so if anyone has suggestions on condensing, please share.

1899–1908, Juvenilia // 1908, Opp. 1–2 // 1908–1914, Opp. 3–11 // 1914–1924, Opp. 12–16 // 1924–1926, Opp. 17–19 // 1927–1934, Opp. 20–22, Op. 24 // 1934–1935, Op. 23, Opp. 25–26 // 1936–1938, Opp. 27–28 // 1938–1943, Opp. 29–31

Thanks.—MONTENSEM (talk) 21:00, 1 August 2014 (UTC)

Nine subsections does seem excessive. May I suggest instead just five sections: 1899–1908, Juvenilia // 1908–1914, Opp. 1–11 // 1914–1924, Opp. 12–16 // 1924–1935, Opp. 17–26, Op. 24 // 1936–1943, Opp. 27–31? This has the merit of covering roughly a decade per division, though of course there is the counter-issue of the arguably greater importance of some fairly compact groupings of compositions. I think there is also a danger of this article sinking under its own weight. Too many subsections will invite a more luxuriant treatment of all the compositions. In the case of many other composers (Schoenberg and Stravinsky are good examples), there are separate articles on individual compositions, with only brief mention in the main biographical article. Might that not be a better solution here, as well?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 00:29, 2 August 2014 (UTC)

Webern and Schubert's Romanze "Der Vollmond strahlt auf Bergeshöhn" from Rosamunde[edit]

I revised and wrote that Webern orchestrated "at least four" Schubert lieder because, on a cursory search, the Romanze "Der Vollmond strahlt auf Bergeshöhn" from Schubert's Rosamunde had already been orchestrated (by Schubert?). How then could it be given (by Webern) to a Schubertian orchestra (from the piano, as it were)? The Moldenhauers nonetheless catalogue it, and note it as "Nr. 3a" of Rosamunde, which is (according to IMSLP) an entr'acte. Does anyone know anything more about this? Given the problems associated with this assertion, should it be given baldly as cited, simply omitted as unnecessary to establish the setting of Schubert lieder more generally, or qualified as such? MONTENSEM (talk) 04:11, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

The problem is that the cited source (Moldenhauer and Moldenhauer) states that there are "five extant arrangements", etc. Under the circumstances, it will be necessary to find a source that says Webern did not make this arrangement. For example, was Schubert's original orchestration exactly the same as the version allegedly made by Webern? Did Webern not make his version from Schubert's piano-accompaniment version? Does the entr'acte not have words? Changing the Moldenhauers' version without providing a reliable source amounts to original research.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 04:24, 11 August 2014 (UTC)