Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Wallace C. McKenzie
From the time of his composition of Op. 23 (1933-34) until his death, Anton Webern composed a series of important twelve-tone vocal works whose texts are drawn exclusively from the poetry of Hildegard Jone. Yet Webern scholars typically ignore the texts of these works when analyzing the scores in which the poems are embedded. My discussion shows, however, that Webern made important musical choices as a result of the poetic content of his texts. While Jone's poems are plentiful in metaphors of natural phenomena and images from German romantic poetry, I argue that they are concerned as much with poetic interpretation and expression as with spring, flower, and sky. In fact, Webern's texts that seem most evocative of seasonal regeneration and fruition of plants can easily be read as meditations on artistic creativity. Thus, Webern's texts refer to the musical compositions of which they are a part: this self-reference deliberately calls attention to Webern's music as "compositions-in-progress.". The pieces I consider are those that most palpably demonstrate the self-referential aspects of Webern's late vocal music and are representative genres as well: the Klavierlied (Op. 23/1 and Op. 23/2), the orchestral Lied (Op. 29/2), the single-movement cantata (Op. 26), and the cantata chorus with soloist and orchestra (Op. 29/3). These works are closely examined in terms of their musico-poetic relations, and they are discussed within the contexts of Jone's literary concerns and of the intellectual friendship between poet and composer.
Kronick, Melanie S., "Musical Invention and Poetry in the Late Vocal Works of Anton Webern." (1992). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 5446.