25 Facts About Alban Berg


Alban Maria Johannes Berg was an Austrian composer of the Second Viennese School.

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Alban Berg studied counterpoint, music theory and harmony with Arnold Schoenberg between 1904 and 1911, and adopted his principles of developing variation and the twelve-tone technique.

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Alban Berg is said to have brought more "human values" to the twelve-tone system, his works seen as more "emotional" than Schoenberg's.

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Alban Berg's music had a surface glamour that won him admirers when Schoenberg himself had few.

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Alban Berg was born in Vienna, the third of four children of Johanna and Konrad Alban Berg.

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Alban Berg's father ran a successful export business, and the family owned several estates in Vienna and the countryside.

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Alban 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.

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Alban Berg had little formal music education before he became a student of Arnold Schoenberg in October 1904.

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Alban Berg wrote songs, including his Seven Early Songs, 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.

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Alban Berg was a part of Vienna's cultural elite during the heady fin de siecle period.

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Alban Berg's 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.

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In 1906 Alban Berg met the singer Helene Nahowski, daughter of a wealthy family (rumoured to be in fact the illegitimate daughter of Emperor Franz Joseph I from his liaison with Anna Nahowski).

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Alban Berg effectively withdrew the work, and it was not performed in full until 1952.

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Alban Berg 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.

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Alban Berg had a particular interest in the number 23, using it to structure several works.

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The opera, which Alban Berg completed in 1922, was first performed on 14 December 1925, when Erich Kleiber conducted the first performance in Berlin.

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Alban 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 which he completed that summer.

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Alban 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.

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Alban Berg had interrupted the orchestration of Lulu because of an unexpected commission from the Russian-American violinist Louis Krasner for a Violin Concerto (1935).

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Alban Berg died aged 50 in Vienna, on Christmas Eve 1935, from blood poisoning apparently caused by a furuncle on his back, induced by an insect sting that occurred in November.

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For personal reasons Helene Alban Berg subsequently imposed a ban on any attempt to "complete" the final act, which Alban Berg had in fact completed in short score.

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Alban 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.

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Alban Berg is said to have brought more "human values" to the twelve-tone system, his works seen as more "emotional" than Schoenberg's.

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Alban Berg Quartett was a string quartet named after him, active from 1971 until 2008.

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Alban Berg Monument, situated next to Vienna State Opera, was unveiled in 2016.

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