Composers of Today: A Comprehensive Biographical and Critical Guide to Modern Composers of All Nations

By David Ewen | Go to book overview
music reached what is probably its ultimate development. "If Walton never again writes a note, good, bad or indifferent, he has in Belshazaar's Feast definitely staked a claim to a position of importance among twentieth-century composers," exclaims J. H. Elliot. "No words could do justice to this music: its force and power, its unhesitating rightness as musical and dramatic statement and, above all, the blazing artistic conviction which drives the whole conception forward, mark it as one of the most remarkable achievements of any English composer."Principal works by William Walton:
ORCHESTRA: Passionate Shepherd (for tenor and orchestra); Portsmouth Point; Sinfonia Concertante; Concerto for Viola and Orchestra; Belshazaar's Feast (with chorus); First Symphony.
CHORAL: Litany.
CHAMBER MUSIC: First String Quartet; Second String. Quartet; Toccata for Violin and Piano; Piano Quartet; Siesta.

About William Walton:

Chesterian 11:175 April-May 1930; Monthly Musical Record 59:322November 1929; Musical Opinion 54:593April 1931.

Important recordings of music by William Walton:

DECCA: Façades; Portsmouth Point.


Anton Webern 1883-

ANTON WEBERN, one of the major Austrian modernists, was born on December 3, 1883 in Vienna. His early schooling took place in Graz and Klagenfurt, and in the latter city he not only graduated from the Gymnasium but also began his musical study and his first abortive attempts at composition. In 1902, he entered the University of Vienna where, specializing in music, he became a research student under Dr. Guido Adler. Four years later he received his Doctorate of Philosophy at the University.

Embarking upon a career as a composer, Anton Webern became, in 1904, a pupil of Arnold Schönberg. For four years he studied under the celebrated composer and theoretician. Schönberg exerted such a powerful influence upon Webern that the latter was soon to become one of his most devoted disciples, and later in his career to devote his work towards developing Schönberg's style, employing Schönberg's individual "twelve-tone system" in all of his music. His first major work Passacaglia for orchestra ( 1908) already revealed traces of Schönberg's influence upon the young composer. But with Five Pieces for Orchestra ( 1913)--which, thirteen years later, created a sensation at the Zürich Festival of Modern Music because of its unorthodox speech--Webern unmistakably allied himself to Schönberg's cause, and produced atonal music as revolutionary as any conceived by his master.

Between 1908 and 1914, Webern held various positions as conductor in opera houses and theaters in Germany and Vienna. The War substituted a gun for the baton, in his hand. In 1918, Anton Webern settled in Mödling-bei- Wien where he actively engaged in composition, teaching and conducting. From 1918 until 1921 he was, with Alban Berg, enormously active in the Vereine für Musikalische Privataufführungen-- founded by Arnold Schönberg--which fulfilled such a valuable mission of introducing the works of younger composers to the Viennese public. Since 1927, Webern has conducted a symphony orchestra over the radio in Vienna; and since 1929 he has been an

____________________
Webern: vā'běrn

-292-

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