Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund


Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Webern - (2011)   

for piano


Just for fun and without reference to the twelve-tone rubric of how to combine the row's tones, I chose to root the whole on D. This notion came from a challenge I once heard in a university seminar as regards the ability to "harmonize" anything. That was within the context of the tonal colors in Berg's work, particularly the Violin Concerto. Webern is often quoted as observing, "I had the feeling that when all twelve notes had been played, the piece was over." Ergo "all twelve notes" comprise the parallel whole tone scales which end the "variations" and end on D. For this and the humor involved, I took his Variation tempo markings as another starting point. This is neither wholly satire of nor admiration of Webern's aesthetics and work, per se, but just a wee foray into the aforementioned notions coming together this lovely spring Saturday. For the fun of it.



The fugue subject delineates the row by rhythmic phrases, so as to make the answers and restatements of the subject clear to a listener without reference to such signs as were spawned by the twelve-tone movement and its "Hauptstimme" markings and the like. As with the closing gambit of the variations, the final cadence also wedges together the tones yet rooted on D.



While some might take artistic offence of a sort at treating Webern's theme and aesthetic stance in this, one may contrast this small work with the large-scale Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Webern, composed for organ.


2 pages, circa 2' 10" - an MP3 demo is here: 


The score is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano score.


Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Webern