Was Anton von Webern an icon of progressive elements in music or a Nazi sympathizer? According to author Malcolm Hayes, perhaps both appellations are correct. Von Webern is neither as well known as his mentor Schoenberg
nor did he achieve the (comparative) popular success of his compatriot Berg
. As with other volumes in the Phaidon 20th-Century Composers series, more attention is focused on the life of von Webern than on the details of his music. Hayes recounts the troubled decline of Habsburg Austria in the first half of this century, which gave rise to the brand of modernism championed primarily by Schoenberg. Shot accidentally by an American soldier in 1945, von Webern never saw his postwar successes and was spared the spectacle of some of the claims of his postwar adherents.
'Provides a vital point of access to those seeking a deeper understanding or enjoyment of his music.' (Gramophone) 'As a series, Phaidon's 20th Century Composers has brought remarkable variety and a welter of information, both necessary and delightfully trivial. Intended both for the general reader and for the more enthusiatically musical...' (The Scotsman)