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The Unspeakable And The Law: Esotericism In Anton Webern And The Second Viennese School

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Chapter Summary

This chapter argues that on the basis of a psychological predisposition already present in his early years, the death of Anton Weberns mother in 1906 was instrumental in leading him towards a persistent and obsessive quest for The Absolute, which found its mature expression in a spiritual ideal of abstract purity that came to govern his work even on a strictly technical level. As part of this project, Schnbergs basic concepts of an unspeakable, supra-rational gnosis and a universal cosmic/divine law were adopted by Webern on his own terms: he understood them not in Jewish and kabbalistic terms, but in terms of an esoteric Naturphilosophie strongly influenced by Swedenborg and Goethe .

Keywords: Anton Webern; esotericism; Schnberg; Viennese School



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