Alban Berg

Biography

As a student of Schoenberg, Austrian composer Alban Berg was one of the most important atonal composers to emerge in the first half of the 20th century. He was born in Vienna in February 1885, and began composition lessons with Schoenberg in 1904. His earliest work, 1908's Piano Sonata and 1910's Four Songs, still have a basis in tonality, but by the time he produced his Five Songs for soprano in 1912, the orchestral setting displayed great interest in 12-note serialism. In May, 1914, Berg saw the Vienna premiere of Buchner's Woyzeck and decided to compose his own setting of the opera, which was finished in1922. With its omnivorous patchwork of simple cafe music and elaborate counterpoint, tonality and atonality, it premiered in Berlin in 1925, establishing Berg as a leading composer. Other significant works include his 1926 Lyric Suite for string quartet (whose long-secret programme relates Berg's romantic desires for Hanna Fuchs-Robettin) and his final opera, Lulu. Based on a huge dramatic and musically thematic palindrome, Lulu is a testament to the composer's alert formal expressionism, and was left unfinished at his death in 1935.
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