This study provides a new view of a composer long considered to be one of the century's most rigorously intellectual creators, Anton Webern. By examining a central pre-twelve-tone work, the Trakl cycle, Op 14, in the context of the Viennese intellectual and artistic climate, Professor Shreffler shows how Webern's responses to Trakl's complex verse enabled him to expand his musical vocabulary. The author's emphasis on Webern's compositional process is of particular importance: whether because of the anxiety of creating a new musical language, or because of an innate hyper-perfectionism (or both), Webern rejected most of what he composed. A close examination of the manuscript sources - fragments, sketches, and fair copies - of Webern's comparatively neglected middle-period lieder enables her to shed light on Webern's musical language and his working methods. A focus on the sources also helps to modify the view that his music progressed steadily in the direction of the twelve-tone technique.The works reveal instead a concern with expressing the essence of the text; this lyricism, rather than articulating a substantially different aesthetic from the later works, provides a better understanding of the consummate lyricism of all his music, however compressed or fragmented its utterance in the 'classic' twelve-tone works.
Webern and the Lyric Impulse