Anton Webern

Anton Webern, with Alban Berg, was a pupil of Arnold Schoenberg in Vienna. These three composers, who make up the "Second Viennese School", helped progress the style of atonality and then 12-note music or serialism music. Webern's music is often very brief and features thin textures.

Webern's family moved to Graz in 1890, then four years later to Klagenfurt, where he would attend the gymnasium for his general education. He showed talent early on and studied both piano and cello with Edwin Komauer during his early years in Klagenfurt. He graduated from the gymnasium in 1902 and enrolled at the University of Vienna. There he studied under Graedener, Adler, and Navratil. In 1904, however, he began his most serious period of study, when he became a pupil of Schoenberg.

In 1908, Webern launched a career as a conductor, taking a position at Bad Ischl. He was not particularly successful in this new endeavor, but acquired subsequent posts at Teplitz, Danzig, Stettin, and Prague, this last assignment ending in 1918, when he returned to Vienna. During these years Webern had continued to write song collections (for example, Four Songs, Op. 13; 1917), as well as chamber music (Sonata for Cello and Piano; 1914).

After the war, Webern, along with Berg, took part in Schoenberg's Society for Private Musical Performances, an organization dedicated to the performance of modern works. After this, he returned to conducting, but for the most part garnered only secondary posts, such as director of the Vienna Workers' Chorus (1922-1934), which he fulfilled concurrently with other positions. He did manage, however, to obtain regular conducting appearances on Austrian Radio.

Webern was killed about six months after the war in Europe had ended. While in Mittersill (near Salzburg), an American soldier mistakenly shot him while he was on an extended excursion to visit his daughter.