The essay explores Anton Webern's earliest encounters with the twelve-tone method in the context of his previous decade-long preoccupation with vocal music. Examination of Five Sacred Songs, op. 15, Five Canons, op. 16, Three Traditional Rhymes, op. 17, Three Songs, op. 18, and sketches and drafts from 1922 to 1925 suggests that Webern did not accept Arnold Schoenberg's method uncritically, but alternately rejected and embraced it. The religious and folk texts that Webern set during these years, hardly anonymous ciphers, were essential in helping him to articulate his own twelve-tone technique.
- Copyright 1994 The American Musicological Society, Inc.