"Doomed to total failure in a deaf world of ignorance and indifference, he inexorably kept on cutting out his diamonds, his dazzling diamonds, of whose mines he had a perfect knowledge," said Igor Stravinski of Anton Webern. A member of the Second Viennese School, Webern's diamonds appear mostly in geometric twelve-tone technique and serialism, a compositional technique based on the manipulation of a set of musical elements, stemming from twelve-tone technique.
Born in Vienna in 1883, he was a dedicated pupil of Arnold Schoenberg, and, in one of his early tonal works, produced 1908's Passacaglia. He left tonality altogether with his songs of 1908-'09, though, and his instrumental pieces between1909-'14 were very short due to technical limitations on thematic development. The songs of 1910-'25 show a reintroduction of traditional formal patterns which prelude his late-career serialism. On September 15, 1945, during the occupation of Austria, he was accidentally shot and killed by an American Army soldier while smoking a cigar after curfew.