Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

March 18, 2004

Hans Moldenhauer Memorial Lecture to Feature
Discussion of the Music of Austrian Composer Anton Webern

Composer and music instructor Donivan Johnson will explore the music, mind and spirit of Austrian composer Anton Webern during the 2004 Hans Moldenhauer Memorial Lecture at Whitworth College. The lecture, "I Like a Webern Tune," will take place Tuesday, April 6, at 7:30 p.m. in the Music Building Recital Hall at Whitworth College. The event is free and open to the public.

A reception will be held after the lecture that will include a display of scores, books and facsimile sketches from the Moldenhauer Archives and the Paul Sacher Institute, in Basel, Switzerland. For more information, please call (509) 777-3280.

During the lecture Johnson will discuss Webern's music, in a "totally non-theoretical/analytical way," and will attempt to remove the mystery and "difficulty" of listening to this composer's work, which is still very much neglected, misunderstood or totally unknown to most audiences, says Johnson, who has presented papers on Webern at regional and national conferences for the Society of Composers and the Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers.

Webern, who lived from 1883 to 1945, greatly influenced the post-war generation of composers such as Boulez, Nono and Stockhausen, of the so-called "Darmstadt School." His music has been the subject of hundreds of articles, books, dissertations and lectures. Late in his life, famed 20th-century composer Igor Stravinsky turned to Webern's work and "Stravinsky-ized" the techniques of the Austrian composer in such major works as Movements for Piano and Orchestra and Requiem Canticles, Johnson says.

"There are wonderful exquisite tunes in the music of Webern if you know what to listen for," Johnson says.

During the lecture, examples from Webern's instrumental and vocal works will be played to enhance the audience's comprehensibility and appreciation of Webern's work. Johnson wants his listeners "to react to the unique sound world created by Webern and not be too concerned about how he mined his 'dazzling diamonds,' as Stravinsky described Webern's compositions."

Tuesday morning Johnson will be a guest on KPBX 91.1 Public Radio during the program "Classical Music with Verne Windham." Johnson will discuss some of the longer works of Webern and his development as a composer, student and lifelong disciple of Arnold Schoenberg

Johnson inaugurated the Hans Moldenhauer Lecture in 1994 to honor the memory of world-renowned musicologist/archivist and Spokane resident Hans Moldenhauer (1906-1987). Moldenhauer was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1938. After serving in the U.S. Army, he settled in Spokane and was the first student to attend Whitworth College under the G.I. Bill. Moldenhauer earned a B.A. in music in 1945 and was awarded an honorary doctor of music degree by Whitworth in 1986.

The annual Hans Moldenhauer Lecture focuses on contemporary music and its place in society and music education. Mary Moldenhauer, Hans' widow, is an avid and generous supporter of the annual lecture and of the arts in Spokane.

Donivan Johnson holds a master of arts in composition degree from California State University, Northridge. He has served as the only K-12 music instructor for the Selkirk School District since 1991. In 2001 Selkirk was honored as "One of the Best 100 Communities for Music Education in America," based on a survey sponsored by the American Music Conference, Music Teachers National Association, International Music Products Association and the National School Boards Association.

This is Johnson's fourth appearance at Whitworth as the Hans Moldenhauer Memorial Lecture guest lecturer. His previous Whitworth lectures include: "Mahler: Prophet of Love and Death" (2000); "Rite and Requiem: The Age of Stravinsky" (2001); "The Ambient Music of Erik Satie" (2003).

In April, Johnson will present a paper on "The History of the International Webern Society, 1962-1987" at the Region VII Conference for the Society of Composers at California State University, Northridge.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The college enrolls 2,200 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.


Donivan Johnson, music instructor, d_j@hotmail.com or djohnson@selkirk.k12.wa.us.

Dan Keberle, professor of music, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4582 or dkeberle@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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