Webern – Ricercare from a Musical Offering -Bach/arranged Anton Webern

by Max Derrickson

Anton Webern (1883 -1945)

Ricercare from a Musical Offering -Bach/arranged Anton Webern

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) has been considered many times, by many people, to be the greatest composer of all time.  Such a feeling in Western music has been proved by the fact that virtually every composer that ever studied music knew Bach’s music.  Arrangements of his works have been created for more than a century. The genius of his compositions never fail to inspire.

The Musical Offering (1747) was a suite of pieces composed on a single theme that was written by Frederic the Great and given to Bach.  The work explores several styles of imitative forms, such as the ricercare and canons.  The resulting work is one of Bach’s finest and was presented to Frederic the Great.

Anton Webern was born in Vienna, and studied musicology, receiving his doctorate in 1906.  In 1903 he began to study composition with Arnold Schoenberg, the innovator of the twelve tone row in composition.

Webern’s musical oeuvre is both short in length and in number.  His 31 works can be played in one evening in under three hours.
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A remarkable and beautiful piece to begin with, Webern makes it his own, rarefying it, polishing it, and creating an incredibly haunting and beautifully intense adaptation.

Webern may have written many other gems.  His tragic death looms gravely as a testament against war.  After the fall of the Third Reich in WWII, Webern was mistakenly shot to death outside his residence during the Ally occupation, for stepping onto his porch for a cigarette after curfew hours.