Entartete Musik (V) – Anton von Webern

Anton von Webern is the composer whose music is counted as Degenerate Music. At the time he lived, new innovations came into music. Almost all composers tended to these innovations such as atonality, serialism, twelve tone technique and they started to use in their music. With the leadership of Schoenberg, Second Viennese School was emerged. Webern was one of the members of this school and was pupil of  Schoenberg. The aim was to improve the new music with the modernist approach. This idea contains atonality, serialism and twelve tone technique. Because studying with Schoenberg, Webern digested and learned these techniques like all other musicians at his time. He developed these and gave new directions to them. As Pierre Boulez indicates in his Penser la Musique Aujourd’hui ‘There are innumerable commentaries on Webern. (…)the consideration of the series as a hierarchic distribution, the importance of the interval and of intervallic proportions, the role of chromaticism and of complementary sounds, and the assembling of structures from the different characteristics of the sound phenomenon’ 1963.

In these new techniques, there is no tuning or tone center. Notes equally move in music step by step. When there is no tone center or tuning, music can not be understood easily because music becomes hard to follow. Generally, people do not like and can not adopt things that they can not understand. Especially, after intensive emotional romantic music, this can be hard to accept new innovations. All these came into music with the modernism because the idea of modernization should contain new thoughts and it should be added new things to which is already exist. Nazi regime was opponent to modernism. They preferred to adhere old traditions. Because of modernist approach, 20th century’s composers were always insulted and not accepted by the Nazis neither their compositions and music nor their thoughts and approaches.

All of these are considered, there is no reason for Webern not to count as Degenerate Music. This term was used by Nazis to label the modernist composers. New innovations, which I mentioned above, were not accepted by them. Likewise, jazz music also started to get into music and this was also thought as the step to modernism. Webern was one of these composers who labeled during the Nazi regime. Playing his compositions were banned and not accepted anymore by the government.

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