THE DEATH OF WEBERN - Opera in One Act


Print Edition Price: 

$69.95 score

Year Authored (or revised): 



fl/picc; cl/bscl; perc; vn; vc; pf; 6 singers (s,mz-sop,contralto,t,bar, bass-bar)

Duration (min): 


Text Source/Author: 

libretto by J. D. McClatchy


Troy 1613

First Performance: 

October 10, 2013

Composer's note (excerpt):

On September 15, 1945, a mere five months after Hitler’s suicide and the fall of Berlin, the composer Anton Webern and his wife Wilhelmine went to have dinner with their daughter Christine and their son-in-law Benno in the Austrian village of Mittersill.  The town was still occupied by American troops, and they suspected Benno of selling illegal contraband.  In fact, they planned to arrest Benno that very night, but Webern knew nothing about this.  After dinner, he stepped out onto the porch to smoke a cigar.  As he was about to light it, he bumped into one of the G.I.s surrounding the house.  There was the sound of a scuffle, then gunfire.  Webern, stumbling back into the house, told Wilhelmine, “I am hit.”  He died shortly after.

News of Webern’s death traveled quickly in the musical world, with the usual embellishments and distortions that accompany all shocking reports: Webern had refused an order to halt; Webern had run away; it was Benno, a Nazi sympathizer, and not an American G.I. who had shot Webern.  Over the next ten years, a number of articles would be written about the tragic event by such musical figures as Humphrey Searle, Robert Craft, and Rene Leibowitz.  All noted the irony that Webern – a quiet, introspective and peaceful man -- should die under such curious and violent circumstances, but nobody would know what actually happened in Mittersill that night until the publication of Hans Moldenhauer’s book in 1961, The Death of Anton Webern: A Drama in Documents (Philosophical Library).


Ensemble Type: 

solo voice(s)+2 to 6 instruments


PDF icon Scene ii - excerpt pages121.2 KB

Listening Sample: 

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