Passacaglia Opus 1

Bearing in mind the high regard Arnold Schönberg had for craftsmanlike skill and masterful soundness in the command of traditional forms, and how much he admired the retrospective composing of a Johannes Brahms, we can attest to the wisdom of the young Anton Webern in selecting his "examination composition". A late romantic characteristic reminiscent of Brahms is unmistakable in this "Passacaglia", and the passacaglia finale of Brahms´s E-minor Symphony springs immediately to mind as a kind of model. Speculations that Webern might have anticipated his later serial composition with this early passacaglia have however proven misleading and contrived. The fascination of this composition, which looks more toward Max Reger´s art of voice leading than to the 12-tone technique comes to the fore in the connection of a highly expressive communicative gesture with a rigorous motivic design principle.