Webern’s Inaugural Opus: “Passacaglia for Orchestra”

Today marks the 135th anniversary of the birth of the Austrian composer Anton Webern (1883-1945). Along with Arnold Schoenberg and Alban Berg, Webern was part of the Second Viennese School, an early twentieth century movement in which atonal and twelve-tone music grew out of fading late Romanticism. In September, 1945, Webern became a casualty of the Second World War. While smoking a cigar on his porch, he was fatally shot by an American soldier during the Allied occupation of Austria.

Written in 1908, Passacaglia for Orchestra, Op. 1 was Webern’s first mature work. It’s music which rests just on the edge of atonality- something akin to the dark, ghostly soundscapes of late Mahler. There are haunting, dreamlike echoes of the final movement of Brahms’ Fourth Symphony, also built on a repeating passacaglia bass line. In an earlier post, we heard Webern’s Piano Quintet, another piece which gives a backward glance to Brahms.

Recordings

  • Webern: Passacaglia for Orchestra, Op. 1, Pierre Boulez, Berlin Philharmonic Amazon

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend