The Info List - Alban Berg

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Alban Maria Johannes Berg (/ˈɑːlbɑːn bɛərɡ/;[1] German: [ˈbɛɐ̯k]; 9 February 1885 – 24 December 1935) was an Austrian composer of the Second Viennese School. His compositional style combined Romantic lyricism with twelve-tone technique.[2]


1 Biography

1.1 Early life 1.2 Innovation 1.3 Success of Wozzeck
and inception of Lulu (1924–29) 1.4 Final years (1930–35) 1.5 Death

2 Legacy 3 Major compositions 4 References 5 Bibliography

5.1 Analytical writings

5.1.1 Douglas Jarman 5.1.2 Other

5.2 Biographical writings

6 External links

Biography[edit] Early life[edit] Berg was born in Vienna, the third of four children of Johanna and Konrad Berg. His family lived comfortably until the death of his father in 1900.[citation needed] Berg was more interested in literature than music as a child and did not begin to compose until he was fifteen, when he started to teach himself music. With Marie Scheuchl, a maid fifteen years his senior in the Berg family household, he fathered a daughter, Albine, born 4 December 1902.[3]

Portrait of Alban Berg, 1909

Berg had little formal music education before he became a student of Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg
in October 1904. With Schoenberg, he studied counterpoint, music theory, and harmony.[4] By 1906, he was studying music full-time; by 1907, he began composition lessons. His student compositions included five drafts for piano sonatas. He also wrote songs, including his Seven Early Songs (Sieben Frühe Lieder), three of which were Berg's first publicly performed work in a concert that featured the music of Schoenberg's pupils in Vienna
that year.[citation needed] The early sonata sketches eventually culminated in Berg's Piano Sonata, Op. 1 (1907–1908); it is one of the most formidable "first" works ever written.[5] Berg studied with Schoenberg for six years until 1911. Among Schoenberg's teaching was the idea that the unity of a musical composition depends upon all its aspects being derived from a single basic idea; this idea was later known as developing variation. Berg passed this on to his students, one of whom, Theodor W. Adorno, stated: "The main principle he conveyed was that of variation: everything was supposed to develop out of something else and yet be intrinsically different".[6] The Piano Sonata is an example—the whole composition is derived from the work's opening quartal gesture and its opening phrase.[citation needed] Innovation[edit] Berg was a part of Vienna's cultural elite during the heady fin de siècle period. His circle included the musicians Alexander von Zemlinsky and Franz Schreker, the painter Gustav Klimt, the writer and satirist Karl Kraus, the architect Adolf Loos, and the poet Peter Altenberg. In 1906, Berg met the singer Helene Nahowski, daughter of a wealthy family (said by some to be in fact the illegitimate daughter of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria
from his liaison with Anna Nahowski);[7] despite the outward hostility of her family, the two were married on 3 May 1911.

Watschenkonzert, caricature in Die Zeit, 6 April 1913

In 1913, two of Berg's Altenberg Lieder
Altenberg Lieder
(1912) were premièred in Vienna, conducted by Schoenberg in the infamous Skandalkonzert. Settings of aphoristic poetic utterances, the songs are accompanied by a very large orchestra. The performance caused a riot, and had to be halted. He effectively withdrew the work, and it was not performed in full until 1952. The full score remained unpublished until 1966.[8] From 1915–18, Berg served in the Austro-Hungarian Army
Austro-Hungarian Army
and during a period of leave in 1917, he accelerated work on his first opera, Wozzeck. After the end of World War I, he settled again in Vienna, where he taught private pupils. He also helped Schoenberg run his Society for Private Musical Performances, which sought to create the ideal environment for the exploration and appreciation of unfamiliar new music by means of open rehearsals, repeat performances, and the exclusion of professional critics.[citation needed] Berg had a particular interest in the number 23, using it to structure several works. Various suggestions have been made as to the reason for this interest: that he took it from the biorhythms theory of Wilhelm Fliess, in which a 23-day cycle is considered significant,[9] or because he first suffered an asthma attack on the 23rd of the month.[10] Success of Wozzeck
and inception of Lulu (1924–29)[edit] In 1924, three excerpts from Wozzeck
were performed, which brought Berg his first public success. The opera, which Berg completed in 1922, was first performed on December 14, 1925, when Erich Kleiber conducted the first performance in Berlin. Today, Wozzeck
is seen as one of the century's most important works. Berg made a start on his second opera, the three-act Lulu, in 1928 but interrupted the work in 1929 for the concert aria Der Wein
Der Wein
which he completed that summer. Der Wein presaged Lulu in a number of ways, including vocal style, orchestration, design and text.[11] Other well-known Berg compositions include the Lyric Suite (1926), which was later shown to employ elaborate cyphers to document a secret love affair; the post-Mahlerian Three Pieces for Orchestra (completed in 1915 but not performed until after Wozzeck); and the Chamber Concerto (Kammerkonzert, 1923–25) for violin, piano, and 13 wind instruments: this latter is written so conscientiously that Pierre Boulez has called it "Berg's strictest composition" and it, too, is permeated by cyphers and posthumously disclosed hidden programs.[citation needed] Final years (1930–35)[edit] Life for the musical world was becoming increasingly difficult in the 1930s both in Vienna
and Germany due to the rising tide of antisemitism and the Nazi
cultural ideology that denounced modernity. Even to have an association with someone who was Jewish could lead to denunciation, and Berg's "crime" was to have studied with the Jewish composer Arnold Schoenberg. Berg found that opportunities for his work to be performed in Germany were becoming rare, and eventually his music was proscribed and placed on the list of degenerate music.[12] In 1932, Berg and his wife acquired an isolated lodge, the Waldhaus on the southern shore of the Wörthersee, near Schiefling am See
Schiefling am See
in Carinthia, where he was able to work in seclusion, mainly on Lulu and the Violin Concerto.[13] At the end of 1934, Berg became involved in the political intrigues around finding a replacement for Clemens Krauss as director of the Vienna
State Opera. As more of the performances of his work in Germany were cancelled by the Nazis, who had come to power in early 1933, he needed to ensure the new director would be an advocate for modernist music. Originally, the premiere of Lulu had been planned for the Berlin
State Opera, where Erich Kleiber
Erich Kleiber
continued to champion his music and had conducted the premiere of Wozzeck
in 1925, but now this was looking increasingly uncertain, and Lulu was rejected by the Berlin
authorities in the spring of 1934. Kleiber's production of the Lulu symphonic suite on 30 November 1934 in Berlin
was also the occasion of his resignation in protest at the extent of conflation of culture with politics. Even in Vienna, the opportunities for the Vienna
School of musicians was dwindling.[12] Berg had interrupted the orchestration of Lulu because of an unexpected (and financially much-needed) commission from the Russian-American violinist Louis Krasner for a Violin Concerto (1935). This profoundly elegiac work, composed at unaccustomed speed and posthumously premièred, has become Berg's best-known and beloved composition.[citation needed] Like much of his mature work, it employs an idiosyncratic adaptation of Schoenberg's "dodecaphonic" or twelve-tone technique, that enables the composer to produce passages openly evoking tonality, including quotations from historical tonal music, such as a Bach chorale and a Carinthian folk song. The Violin Concerto was dedicated "to the memory of an Angel", Manon Gropius, the deceased daughter of architect Walter Gropius
Walter Gropius
and Alma Mahler.[14] Death[edit] Berg died aged 50 in Vienna, on Christmas Eve 1935, from blood poisoning apparently caused by an insect-sting-induced carbuncle on his back that occurred in November.[15] Before he died, Berg had completed the orchestration of only the first two of the three acts of Lulu. These completed acts were successfully premièred in Zürich in 1937, but for personal reasons Helene Berg subsequently imposed a ban on any attempt to "complete" the final act, which Berg had in fact completed in short score.[16] An orchestration was therefore commissioned in secret from Friedrich Cerha
Friedrich Cerha
and premièred in Paris (under Pierre Boulez) only in 1979, soon after Helene Berg's own death. The complete opera has rapidly entered the repertoire as one of the landmarks of contemporary music and, like Wozzeck, remains a consistent audience draw.[citation needed] Legacy[edit]

Bust of Alban Berg
Alban Berg
at Schiefling on the lake, Klagenfurt-Land District, Carinthia, Austria

Berg is remembered as one of the most important composers of the 20th century and the most widely performed opera composer among the Second Viennese School.[17] He is said to have brought more "human values" to the twelve-tone system, his works seen as more "emotional" than Schoenberg's.[18] Critically, he is seen as having preserved the Viennese tradition in his music.[19][verification needed] Berg scholar Douglas Jarman writes in the New Grove Dictionary of Music
and Musicians that "[a]s the 20th century closed, the 'backward-looking' Berg suddenly came as [George] Perle remarked, to look like its most forward-looking composer."[17] The asteroid 4528 Berg is named after him.[20] Major compositions[edit] See also: List of compositions by Alban Berg Piano

Piano Sonata, Op. 1


String Quartet, Op. 3 Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 5 Lyric Suite Chamber Concerto (1925) for piano, violin and 13 wind instruments


Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6 Violin Concerto


Seven Early Songs Vier Lieder (Four Songs), Op. 2 Five Orchestral Songs on Postcard Texts of Peter Altenberg, Op. 4 Der Wein Schliesse mir die Augen beide


Wozzeck, Op. 7 (1925) Lulu (1937)


^ "Berg, Alban". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. ^ John H. Baron (10 June 2010). Chamber Music: A Research and Information Guide. Routledge. pp. 301–. ISBN 978-1-135-84828-6.  ^ Jarman, Douglas (1990). The Berg Companion. Boston: Northeastern University Press. p. 190. ISBN 1555530680. OCLC 19739582.  ^ Schoenberg, Arnold. Trans. Joe Monzo.""Schoenberg's Harmonielehre"". Archived from the original on 27 September 2003. Retrieved 1 July 2016.  ^ Lauder (1986) ^ Adorno, p. 33 ^ Georg Markus, Der Kaiser Franz Joseph I.: Bilder und Dokumente; Anna Nahowski and Friedrich Saathen, Anna Nahowski
Anna Nahowski
und Kaiser Franz Joseph : Aufzeichnungen/erstmalig herausgegeben und kommentiert von Friedrich Saathen, Böhlau, 1986. ^ Taruskin, Richard (2010). Music
in the Early Twentieth Century. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 196. ISBN 0195384849. OCLC 261177783.  ^ Jarman, D. (1983). Alban Berg, Wilhelm Fliess
Wilhelm Fliess
and the Secret Programme of the Violin Concerto. The Musical Times Vol. 124, No. 1682 (Apr. 1983), pp. 218–223 ^ Jarman, D. (1985). The Music
of Alban Berg. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 228–30. ^ Elliott 2014, p. 55. ^ a b Notley 2010. ^ Hailey 2010a. ^ Pople, Anthony (1991). Berg: Violin Concerto. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 28. ISBN 0521399769. OCLC 22314162.  ^ "Alban Berg". musicacademyonline.com. Retrieved 17 September 2015.  ^ Jarman, Douglas (1991). Alban Berg: Lulu. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press. p. 46. ISBN 0521284805. OCLC 21226688.  ^ a b Jarman, Grove ^ The Complete Book of 20th Century Music, p. 20, by David Ewen, Prentice-Hall Inc. 1963. ^ The Grove Encyclopedia of Music
and Musicians, p. 638, St. Martin's Press, Inc. 1961 ^ Schmadel, Lutz D. (2012). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names. Volume 2 (6th ed.). Springer. p. 367. 


Warrack, John and Ewan West. The Oxford Dictionary of Opera, 1992. ISBN 0-19-869164-5.

Analytical writings[edit] Douglas Jarman[edit]

Jarman, Douglas. Dr. Schon's Five-Strophe Aria: Some Notes on Tonality and Pitch Association in Berg's Lulu. Perspectives of New Music
8/2 (Spring/Summer 1970). Jarman, Douglas. Some Rhythmic and Metric Techniques in Alban Berg's Lulu. Musical Quarterly 56/3 (July 1970). Jarman, Douglas. Lulu: The Sketches. International Alban Berg
Alban Berg
Society Newsletter, 6 (June 1978). Jarman, Douglas (1985) [1979]. The Music
of Alban Berg
Alban Berg
(Revised ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520049543.  Jarman, Douglas. Countess Geschwitz's Series: A Controversy Resolved?. Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association 107 (1980/81). Jarman, Douglas. Some Observations on Rhythm, Meter and Tempo in Lulu. In Alban Berg
Alban Berg
Studien. Ed. Rudolf Klein. Vienna: Universal Edition, 1981. Jarman, Douglas. Lulu: The Musical and Dramatic Structure. Royal Opera House Covent Garden program notes, 1981. Jarman, Douglas. The 'Lost' Score of the 'Symphonic Pieces from Lulu'. International Alban Berg
Alban Berg
Society Newsletter 12 (Fall/Winter 1982). Jarman, Douglas (1989). Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521284813.  Jarman, Douglas (1991). Alban Berg: Lulu. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521284806. 


Bruhn, Siglind, ed. Encrypted Messages in Alban Berg’s Music. New York: Garland Publishing, 1998. dos Santos, Silvio J. Narratives of Identity in Alban Berg's 'Lulu'. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2014. Elliott, Antokoletz (2014). A History of Twentieth-Century Music
in a Theoretic-Analytical Context. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. ISBN 9781135037307.  Headlam, Dave. The Music
of Alban Berg. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996. Lauder, Robert Neil. Two Early Piano Works of Alban Berg: A Stylistic and Structural Analysis. Thesis. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1986. Perle, George (1977). Twelve-tone tonality. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520033870.  Perle, George (1995). The right notes: twenty-three selected essays on twentieth-century music. Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon Press. ISBN 9780945193371.  Perle, George. The Operas of Alban Berg. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980. Schmalfeldt, Janet. "Berg’s Path to Atonality: The Piano Sonata, Op. 1". Alban Berg: Historical and Analytical Perspectives. Eds. David Gable and Robert P. Morgan, pp. 79–110. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. Schweizer, Klaus. Die Sonatensatzform im Schaffen Alban Bergs. Stuttgart: Satz und Druck, 1970. Wilkey, Jay Weldon. Certain Aspects of Form in the Vocal Music
of Alban Berg. Ph.D. thesis. Ann Arbor: Indiana University, 1965. Whittall, Arnold (2008). The Cambridge introduction to serialism. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521863414. 

Biographical writings[edit]

Adorno, Theodor W.; Berg, Alban (2005) [1997]. Lonitz, Henri, ed. Briefwechsel 1925–1935 [Correspondence 1925–1935]. Hoban, Wieland - translator, originally published by Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 9780745694962.  Adorno, Theodor W. Alban Berg: Master of the Smallest Link. Trans. Juliane Brand and Christopher Hailey. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Brand, Juliane, Christopher Hailey and Donald Harris, eds. The Berg-Schoenberg Correspondence: Selected Letters. New York: Norton, 1987. Carner, Mosco. Alban Berg: the man and the work. London: Duckworth, 1975. Floros, Contantin. Trans. by Ernest Bernhardt-Kabisch. Alban Berg
Alban Berg
and Hanna Fuchs. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007. Grun, Bernard, ed. Alban Berg: Letters to his Wife. London: Faber and Faber, 1971. Jarman, Douglas. "Alban Berg", Grove Music
Online, ed. L. Macy (Accessed April 9, 2007) (subscription required) Lee, Douglas (2002). Masterworks of 20th-Century Music: The Modern Repertory of the Symphony Orchestra. NY: Routledge. ISBN 9781136066900.  Leibowitz, René. Schoenberg and his school; the contemporary stage of the language of music. Trans. Dika Newlin. New York: Philosophical Library, 1949. MacDonald, Malcolm (2008). Schoenberg. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198038405.  Monson, Karen. Alban Berg: a biography. London: Macdonald and Jane's, 1979. Redlich, Hans Ferdinand. Alban Berg, the man and his music. London: John Calder, 1957. Reich, Willi. The life and work of Alban Berg. Trans. Cornelius Cardew. New York : Da Capo Press, 1982. Simms, Bryan R. (2013) [1996]. Alban Berg
Alban Berg
(2nd ed.). Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. ISBN 9781135846749.  Walton, Chris (2014). Lies and epiphanies: composers and their inspiration from Wagner to Berg. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press. ISBN 9781580464772.  Hailey, Christopher (2010a). Berg's Worlds. pp. 3–32. , in Hailey (2010) Notley, Margaret (2010). 1934, Alban Berg, and the shadow of politics: documents of a troubled year. pp. 223–268. , in Hailey (2010) Hailey, Christopher, ed. (2010). Alban Berg
Alban Berg
and his world. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9781400836475. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Alban Berg.

Wikiquote has quotations related to: Alban Berg

Alban Berg
Alban Berg
at Encyclopædia Britannica Alban Berg
Alban Berg
biography and works on the UE website (publisher) Vocal texts used by Alban Berg
Alban Berg
with translations to various languages at the LiederNet Archive. Free scores by Alban Berg
Alban Berg
at the International Music
Score Library Project (IMSLP) Alban Berg
Alban Berg
discography at MusicBrainz Alban Berg
Alban Berg
at Pytheas Center for Contemporary Music albanberg.resampled.de The most comprehensive acoustic representation of Alban Bergs Works in digital realisations. Excerpts from sound archives of Berg's works. Free scores by Alban Berg
Alban Berg
in the Open Music

v t e

Alban Berg


Wozzeck Lulu

Orchestral works

Three Pieces for Orchestra Violin Concerto

Chamber music

String Quartet Lyric Suite Kammerkonzert

Piano music

Piano Sonata

Vocal music

Seven Early Songs Altenberg Lieder "Der Wein" Schliesse mir die Augen beide

Related articles

List of works Farben chord Literaturoper Neoclassicism Schoenberg hexachord Second Viennese School Twelve-tone technique

Portal:Classical music

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Modernist composers


Béla Bartók Alban Berg Luciano Berio Pierre Boulez Benjamin Britten Ferruccio Busoni Jacques Calonne Paul Dukas Henri Dutilleux Hans Werner Henze Arthur Honegger Leoš Janáček György Ligeti Witold Lutosławski Gustav Mahler Igor Markevitch Olivier Messiaen Darius Milhaud Nikolai Myaskovsky Luigi Nono Gavriil Popov Francis Poulenc Sergei Prokofiev Nikolai Roslavets Arnold Schoenberg Alexander Scriabin Dmitri Shostakovich Karlheinz Stockhausen Richard Strauss Igor Stravinsky Michael Tippett Ernst Toch Fartein Valen Edgard Varèse William Walton Anton Webern Kurt Weill Iannis Xenakis

N. America

George Antheil Milton Babbitt John J. Becker John Cage Elliott Carter Carlos Chávez Aaron Copland Henry Cowell Ruth Crawford Seeger Charles Ives Conlon Nancarrow Leo Ornstein Silvestre Revueltas Wallingford Riegger George Rochberg Dane Rudhyar Carl Ruggles Charles Seeger Roger Sessions

S. America

Mozart Camargo Guarnieri Alberto Ginastera Heitor Villa-Lobos Gilberto Mendes Leon Schidlowsky

v t e

Musical modernism

Genres and techniques

Abstractionism Athematicism Atonality Dissonant counterpoint Dada Experimental music Expressionism Futurism Impressionism Microtonal music Modality Modes of limited transposition Neoclassicism Neotonality New Objectivity Noise music Pandiatonicism Polyrhythm Polytonality Process music Quartal and quintal harmony Serialism Surrealism Sound collage Sound mass Tone cluster Tropes Twelve-tone technique

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Postmodern music

See also: Modernist composers

v t e

Second Viennese School

Alban Berg

Altenberg Lieder
Altenberg Lieder
(1912) Wozzeck
(1922) Lyric Suite (1926) Lulu (1937) Violin Concerto (1935)

Arnold Schoenberg

Chamber Symphony No. 1 (1906) Erwartung
(1909) Harmonielehre (1910) Gurre-Lieder
(1911) Variations for Orchestra (1928)

Anton Webern

Concerto for Nine Instruments (1934) Variations for piano (1936) String Quartet (1937–38)

Other topics

(1913) Twelve-tone technique Atonality


Expressionist music Theodor W. Adorno René Leibowitz

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Twelve-tone and serial composers

Hans Abrahamsen Gilbert Amy Louis Andriessen Denis ApIvor Hans Erich Apostel Kees van Baaren Milton Babbitt Osvaldas Balakauskas Don Banks Jean Barraqué Richard Barrett Jürg Baur Arthur Berger Erik Bergman Luciano Berio Konrad Boehmer André Boucourechliev Pierre Boulez Martin Boykan Ole Buck Jacques Calonne Niccolò Castiglioni Aldo Clementi Aaron Copland Luigi Dallapiccola Karel Goeyvaerts Henryk Górecki Josef Matthias Hauer Ben Johnston Gottfried Michael Koenig Ernst Krenek Witold Lutosławski Bruno Maderna Donald Martino Luigi Nono Juan Carlos Paz Krzysztof Penderecki George Perle Henri Pousseur Humphrey Searle Second Viennese School

Alban Berg Arnold Schoenberg Anton Webern

Roger Sessions Nikos Skalkottas Karlheinz Stockhausen Richard Swift Charles Wuorinen ...more...

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 37101072 LCCN: n50007790 ISNI: 0000 0001 2095 9444 GND: 118509322 SELIBR: 177453 SUDOC: 027281337 BNF: cb13891383d (data) BIBSYS: 90171035 ULAN: 500242092 MusicBrainz: f61c909a-db95-4a61-bc23-65a86e0d2907 NLA: 35017609 NDL: 00620354 NKC: jn20000600819 BNE: XX993287 RKD: 219