Alban Berg. Photo by d'Ora, 1924
Berg, Alban, b. Vienna, Feb. 9, 1885, d. Vienna, Dec. 24, 1935, composer. B., A. Schönberg and A. Webern were the main representatives of what is known as the 12-tone or Second Viennese school of music (dodecaphony). Brought up in the Viennese upper middle class in artistic turn-of-the-century atmosphere; his initial interest was in literature and poetry. 1904-1910 pupil of Schönberg, with whom he developed a lifelong friendship (likewise with Webern). Although he used the 12-tone approach, B. actually remained within the framework of traditional tonality ("last Romanticist"). Furthermore, he showed a lively interest in all contemporary composers and their work, e.g. A. Zemlinsky, E. Wellesz). Being a perfectionist, he aspired to thorough structural forms in each of his few works. His opera "Wozzeck" (after G. Büchner), where he integrated his own experiences from World War I into the plot, brought him great acclaim (première in Berlin in 1925). Of his second opera "Lulu" (after two plays by F. Wedekind) he finished the preliminary score but the orchestration of its third act remained incomplete at his death (1962-1978 completed by F. Cerha). His violin concerto, composed as a kind of requiem and dedicated to Manon Gropius, the daughter of Alma Mahler, shows his perfect mastery in amalgamating classical music forms with 12-tone music. B. additionally worked as an author of music publications and founded with Willi Reich the magazine "23". Under the Nazi regime his compositions were regarded as "degenerate art". The A. B. Foundation, established in 1955, serves mainly to promote young composers.
Further works: Lieder; orchestral works; chamber concerto, 1923-1925; lyric suite for string quartet, 1925/1926, three pieces from the lyric suite, 1928; violin concerto, 1935. Musicological works: compilation of 18 pieces of writing in the biography of W. Reich, 1937. - Edition: Sämtliche Werke, ed. by the A.-B.-Stiftung, 1994 ff.
Literature: H. F. Redlich, A. B., 1957; T. W. Adorno, A. B. Der Meister des kleinen Übergangs, 1968; V. Scherliess, A. B., 1975.
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