Barenboim Foundation Boulez Saal

Webern from the Inside and Outside

A Sound Installation by Paul Brody

Videos and Explanation:

Video 1: Artist’s Talk at Boulez Saal.

Video 2: Sound installation.

Video 3: Selection of Videos from the 12 tone contributors.

Webern from the Inside and Outside

A Sound Installation by Paul Brody

(English translation of Webern letter fragments below)


Webern From the Inside

Fragments: Eine Andere Art von Liebe

The Webern sound installation grew out of Brody’s term as an Artist in Residence at the University of Virginia, when he coached students on combining audio and written archival material. Brody developed a presentation in which he mixed recorded passages of the letters of Anton Webern with fragments of the composer’s music processed in a sampler.   

To Brody, Webern’s compositions contain a direct emotionality in their brevity and in their use of sound colors and textures as his primary compositional elements. He selected fragments from Webern’s letters that convey the breadth of the composer’s work: an artistic hunger for the depths of sound and a personal yearning for acceptance by those around him. 

Brody recorded the letters and transcribed the speaker’s voice-melody–a method he has developed for using the musicality of a person’s voice as a base for compositions. The tone rows Brody derives with the technique are strongly influenced by the twelve-tone music of Webern and his teacher Schoenberg. 

In this project Brody’s voice-melody composition is a kind of musical sketch–akin to a pencil drawing that can be filled in by musical colors and textures extracted from Webern’s works. While the spoken fragments of the letters create a narrative, the looped and sampled music conveys the essence of the composer’s sonic imagination. 

A special thanks to Dr. Simone Hohmaier from the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung Preußischer Kulturbesitz for helping research Webern’s letters.

Musicians: Asher Biemann- voice, Cesar Lerner- accordion, Rachel Susser- flute, Joel Rubin- clarinet, Gabriella Strümpel- cello, Paul Brody- trumpet, trombone, sampler. 


Webern From the Outside

A twelve-tone row travels the world

In the second part of the Webern sound installation, Brody focuses on the concept of borders and space in relation to his music. Webern experienced the radical shift in musical boundaries that marked the first decades of the 20th century and later the shattering of socio-political borders after the two world wars. Webern dedicated the last 20 years of his life to the narrow confines of the twelve-tone row, which Brody explores as a kind of sonic home.

Brody sent Webern’s quintessential twelve-tone row from the Concerto for Nine Instruments, Op. 24 to musicians in places as far-flung as Buenos Aires, San Francisco, Warsaw, and Berlin, where Brody has lived for 25 years. He asked musicians ranging from a Toronto grammar school choir to established soloists such as Elliott Sharp and  Roy Nathanson, to interpret the row. 

The assignment: use any instrument at any tempo, but finish in less than a minute.  The submissions included everything from guitars and cellos to a tractor, a telephone, and a truck horn. While Brody’s initial intention was to play the compositions sequentially, he found that some worked together harmonically and others formed a dialogue by overlapping. 

Sound Installation Artist/Composer: Paul Brody

Brody’s recordings have been produced by John Zorn for Tzadik Records. His sound installations have been featured at the Jewish Museum Berlin and the Opera Department of the Munich Kammerspiele, where he was 2017 Artist in Residence. In 2018 he was a guest artist at the University of Rhode Island and Artist in Residence at the University of Virginia. His documentary radio pieces can be heard on Germany’s WDR. For more of Brody’s work, please visit

Part II  Contributors in order of appearance

Contributors In order of appearance (Many musical contributions. have been combined together)

Concerto for 9 Instruments 12 tone row excerpt (Pierre Boulez Ensemble)

Toronto school choir workshop, Toronto, Canada

Petteri Pitko, harpsichord, Helsinki, Finnland

Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra Mitglieder, Berlin, Germany

Jannis Lilge- Baglamas, eine griechische Oktavbouzuki, Berlin

Hassan Akkouch-voice, Munich

Finnish Baroque Orchestra- Helsinki, Finnland 

Michael Rodach-guitar, Berlin, Germany

The Embassy Singers, Berlin

Signumquartett- Cologne, Germany

Elliott Sharp-guitar, New York, USA

Roy Nathanson-Sax, New York, USA

Pamela Stickney-Theremin, Vienna, Austria

Jan Roder-bass, Berlin

Christian Kögel-guitar, Berlin

Mark Rubin-bass, Mandoline, New Orleans, USA

Melina Moguilevsky- singer, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Jan Tengler-bass, Cologne, Germany

Joely & Oliver- Liedermacher, Munich

e la luna ? Italian jazz, Berlin

Maximilian Gallup- electronics, Berlin

Adrian Receanu – caval, fluier, clarinet, Paris, France

Gerald Meier-Trombone, Berlin

Bartosz Mikołaj Nazaruk-drums, Warsaw, Poland

Daniel Dorsch-Ele Meta Phone, Berlin

Aubrey Beal- Sampler, Alabama, USA.

Sebastian Carewe Piano Trio, Berlin

Verena Wehling-viola, Berlin

Milena Kipfmüller & Klaus Janek, voice, electronic, bass, Berlin,

Joel Rubin-clarinet, Virginia, USA

Jay Rizzetto-trumpet, California, USA

Raven Chacon- guitar, Navajo Nation, USA

Vivien Lee-voice, Hong Kong/Berlin

Lukas Ligeti- percussion, Johannesburg, South Africa

Julie Sassoon-piano, Berlin

Elsa Kopf- singer/songwriter, Paris, France

Mae McKenna, singer, Coatbridge, Scotland

Ilya Shneyveys, synthesiser, Riga, Latvia

Holger Marks (tenor) & Philip Mayers (piano) Berlin



Daniel Dorsch-Ele Meta Phone, Berlin,

Raven Chacon -guitar, Navajo Nation, USA

Hazel Leach’s Composer’s Orchestra Berlin, Germany

Oli Bott-percussion, Berlin, Germany

Brasstastix, trombone choir, Berlin

Vivien Lee-voice, Hong Kong/Berlin

Ilya Shneyveys, synthesiser, Riga, Latvia

Milena Kipfmüller & Klaus Janek, voice, electronic, bass, Berlin, GermanyRoman Josef Britschgi-bass, art, Wilen im Kanton Obwalden,Switzerland

Jan Roder-bass, Berlin

Pamela Stickney-Theremin, Vienna, Austria

Elsa Kopf- singer/songwriter, Paris, France

Michael Rodach-guitar, Berlin, Germany

Christian Kögel-guitar, Berlin

e la luna ? Italian jazz, Berlin 

Webern’s Letter Fragments Translated into English

-Of course I always think of Mahler. One can learn a lot from him. I’d like to be able to concentrate on my own things. I do not want to live a biography – but think of Beethoven. And then another 1000 reasons come to mind.  I can’t name all of them (health, my daily routine, family).  But I’m often confused – to influenced by ambition… ambition!  I have to let go of this earthly pursuit.

-It was wonderful in Berlin. I don’t now if I wrote to you about it. The performance beautiful! And the piece, the sound, the composition, the darkness, it was glorious!

-It’s terrible that I can never talk to Schoenberg. Those were the best hours. When I went for a walk with him. Especially this time of year, in September.

-I can’t find anything that’s bright, nothing that comforts me. And that makes me feel fruitless. It makes me sick. And that’s why I have to give up the theater. It’s a mystery to me how Mahler could stand it. Maybe because he started at a young age.

-Are you getting together with Kokoschka? You should meet. I think such a friendship is wonderful. It would be great if all the people who are doing things in this city could get together. Schoenberg, Klimt, Altenberg, Loos, Kraus, us, Kokoschka and many others. I mean, we are nothing. But we still belong to it.

-Schoenberg once said to me that there is a completely different kind of love than this literary orientated passion. There’s a calm …mostly tender… loving relationship. This is how I felt it …  and never the other way.  d.h. felt it differently … with sadness… One can’t say how Berg felt it.  But it’s with Mahler as well. Just think of the tenderness in his music: “in the darkness of her hot gaze the recollection of her heart resonates mournfully. It is for the sake of dying, for dying.