Music Alban Berg
by
David Headlam
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 October 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0120

Introduction

Alban Berg (b. 1885–d. 1935) was the youngest of three composers, along with his teacher Arnold Schoenberg and colleague Anton von Webern, known as the “Second Viennese School.” The three are most closely associated with the musical stylistic-compositional succession from late chromatic tonality to “atonal” (from 1908) through “serial” and “twelve-tone” music (from 1923). Living most of his life in Vienna, Berg was little known until the success of his first opera, Wozzeck (premiered in 1925). His fourteen major compositions fall into three periods: the first including the Piano Sonata, op. 1, and the first three of Four Songs, op. 2 (1904–1910); the second encompassing the atonal final song of Opus 2 through Wozzeck, op. 7 (1910–1925); and a final period of works without opus numbers (1925–1935) incorporating serial and twelve-tone techniques, from the Chamber Concerto through his second opera Lulu and his last work, the Violin Concerto. He adapted Schoenberg’s innovations to a language based on interval cycles and symmetry as described by George Perle in “Berg’s Master Array of the Interval Cycles” (1977), and his music combines autobiographical tendencies recalling those of Mahler and Schumann, including public and private references, a strong lyric and dramatic sensibility from the German Lieder and opera traditions, and a deep concern with symbols, numerology, cryptograms, and fatalistic elements. His student, the philosopher Theodor W. Adorno in his monograph, Alban Berg: Master of the Smallest Link, defined the paradox of Berg’s obsessive attention to the details of the “smallest” linking passages that continually dissolve yet function within expansive gestures and forms. A brilliant writer, polemicist, and analyst of his own and others’ music—particularly that of Schoenberg—as well as a profound humanist in his worldview, Berg participated fully in the burgeoning Viennese culture of his time. At once progressive and traditional, he is known for the integration of tonal elements into his musical language, which culminates, to cite one example, in the seamless interweaving of a Bach chorale harmonization, Es ist genug (BWV 60) into his twelve-tone Violin Concerto. Berg is a central figure in post-tonal music, as is evident in the reception of the premiere of the completed Lulu in 1979 in Paris, with a reconstruction by Friedrich Cerha of the unfinished third act from Berg’s detailed sketches, which was a major cultural event. Berg died tragically in 1935 from an infection, just after 23 December, in the final scene from the drama of his life and this self-described number of fate. Soon after his death Berg’s music suffered suppression by the Nazis but regained worldwide recognition after World War II.

Bibliographies

Simms 2009 offers a comprehensive overview of Berg scholarship, and Grove’s Berg, Alban online entry by Jarman is a concise starting point for research.

Music Editions

Berg’s publisher, Universal Edition, now lists thirty-three compositions and collections, in addition to multiple arrangements from individual works. A complete critical edition, Alban Berg: Sämliche Werke (cited under Editions and Complete Works), of Berg’s music and writings is in the process of publication by the Berg Foundation (Alban Berg Stiftung) in three series: compositions, analyses, and writings. Because Berg’s copyrighted works are now in the public domain (except in the United States), other editions, such as an edition of the Violin Concerto from Henle (Berg, et al. 2009, cited under Other Editions), are appearing. The chronology of Berg’s early, incomplete, and published works has been established; the compositional chronology of the two operas, 1914–1922 and 1927–1935, is examined in Hall 1996 and Hall 2011, both cited under Sketch Study.

Editions and Complete Works

Berg’ s music was published originally mostly by Universal Edition and is maintained by the Alban Berg Stiftung; the respective online resources listed contain useful information. The Complete Works editions from Universal is a long-term project featuring commentary along with the edited scores (Violinkonzert [Berg and Jarman 1996]; Sieben frühe Lieder, Funf Orchester-Lieder op. 4, and Der Wein [Berg, et al. 1997]; Kammerkonzert [Berg and Jarman 2004]), sketch studies, and compendiums of source materials, including Berg’s writings (Analysen musikalischer Werke von Arnold Schönberg[Berg, et al. 1994]), and incomplete or unpublished compositions and compositional studies (Komposition aus der Studienzeit, Teil 1 [Berg and Krämer 1998], Komposition aus der Studienzeit, Teil 2 [Berg and Krämer 2007]).

Other Editions

In addition to the Collected Edition Volumes (see Editions and Complete Works), fascimile editions (Violinkonzert: “Dem Andenken eines Engels” [Berg and Jarman 2011]), and other editions (Violinkonzert nach dem Text der kritischen Gesamtausgabe hrsg [Berg and Jarman 1996], Lyric Suite: The Secret Vocal Part[Berg and Perle 1999], Lyrische Suite für Streichquartett [Berg and Perle 2005], Violinkonzert [Berg, et al. 2009]) from Universal Edition and other publishers have appeared.

Writings

Berg’s writings on music, including analyses, letters, and essays, appear with some thirty items (about 315 pages) in Berg and Schneider 1981, and a volume of forty-seven items translated into English in Simms 2013. Rauchhaupt 1971 contains writings related to the string quartets in German and English; the translations from DeVoto 1993 are authoritative. Grünzweig 2000 details an unfinished plan for a book on Schoenberg’s music.

  • Berg, Alban, and Frank Schneider. Glaube, Hoffnung, und Liebe: Alban Berg Schriften zur Musik. Leipzig: Reclam, 1981.

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    This collection of some thirty items from Berg’s writings on music was first released in East Germany; these items are translated in Simms 2013.

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  • DeVoto, Mark, ed. “Alban Berg: Arnold Schönberg: Gurrelieder: Führer, Grosse Ausgabe; Alban Berg: Arnold Schönberg: Pelleas und Melisande op. 5: Kurze thematische Analyse; Alban Berg: Arnold Schönberg: Kammersymphonie op. 9: Thematische Analyse; and Alexander von Zemlinsky and Heinrich Jalowetz: Arnold Schönbergs Fis-moll Quartett: Eine technische Analyse.” Journal of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute 16.1–2 (June–November 1993).

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    An authoritative translation and critical examination of Berg’s analyses of Schoenberg’s music.

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  • Grünzweig, Werner. Ahnung und Wissen, Geist und Form. Alban Berg Studien V. UE 26286. Vienna: Universal Edition, 2000.

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    This study, subtitled “Alban Berg als Musikschriftsteller und Analytiker der Musik Arnold Schönbergs,” details Berg’s analyses and plans for a book on his teacher’s music.

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  • Rauchhaupt, Ursula von, ed. Die Streichquartette der Wiener Schule: Eine Dokumentation. Munich: Deutsche Grammophon, 1971.

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    This substantial booklet, containing sketch facsimiles, analytical notes, and letters on Berg’s two string quartets, also contains materials about quartets by Webern and Schoenberg.

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  • Simms, Bryan R., ed. Pro Mundo—Pro Domo: The Writings of Alban Berg. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

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    This volume includes English translations of forty-seven essays written by Berg, with “extensive commentaries tracing the history of each essay and its connection to musical culture of the early twentieth century.”

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Biography and Reception

The discovery of the annotated printed miniature score of the Lyrische Suite given by Berg to Hanna-Fuchs Robettin, and subsequent other personal and programmatic references, has sparked new interest in research into Berg’s life and times as well as his compositional thought. Studies such as Perle 1977, Jarman 1982, Green 1977, and Dalen 1990 (all cited under Programmatic Elements) have revealed the structural significance in numbers of measures, tempo indications, titles, and identifiable musical symbols in Berg’s works. The International Alban Berg Society, established in New York in 1966, published a newsletter until 1985, and the Alban Berg Stiftung in Vienna has been producing volumes of historical, biographical, reception, sketch, and analytical studies (from 1980, six to date), as well as the Sämtliche Werke.

Correspondence

Berg’s voluminous correspondence has taken on new meaning with the revelations of the secret programs and autobiographical details found in his music. The letters of Adorno (Lonitz 2005) and those in Morgenstern 1995 as well as those of Berg to his wife (Grun 1971) are important for their biographical details; the letters to Hanna Fuchs (Floros 2008) are significant in particular for their insight into Berg’s second opera Lulu, and the letters to Schoenberg (Brand, et al. 1987) contain highly significant analytical and compositional insights as well as biographical details.

  • Brand, Juliane, Christopher Hailey, and Donald Harris, eds. The Berg-Schoenberg Correspondence: Selected Letters. New York: Norton, 1987.

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    Encompassing the major portion of the longer Briefwechsel Arnold Schönberg–Alban Berg (Mainz: Schott, 2007), this volume divides the letters into 1906–1915, 1916–1925, and 1926–1935, respectively, in considering Berg’s years of apprenticeship to his Opus 6 orchestral pieces, his first maturity with the premiere of Wozzeck, and finally his fully mature years. The letters detail the relationship with Schoenberg and include important analytical notes as well as a chronology.

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  • Floros, Constantin. Alban Berg and Hanna Fuchs. Translated by Ernest Bernhardt-Kabisch. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008.

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    This translation from the German (Alban Berg und Hanna Fuchs: Die Geschichte einer Liebe in Briefen [Zürich: Arche, 2001]) provides a context for Berg’s writings with Fuchs and includes Berg’s correspondence with Hanna Fuchs-Robettin and Herbert Robettin, her husband.

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  • Grun, Bernard, ed. Alban Berg: Letters to His Wife. London: Faber, 1971.

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    Selected letters from Alban Berg: Briefe an seine Frau (Munich: A. Langen, G. Müller, 1965). This edited collection (488 of 569 letters) chronicles the daily life of Berg as recounted to Helene, his wife.

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  • Lonitz, Henry, ed. Correspondence: Alban Berg and Theodor Wiesengrund-Adorno. Translated by Wieland Hoban. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2005.

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    This translation of Briefwechsel 1925–1935 (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1997) documents the musical, philosophical, and personal aspects of the relationship between Berg and Adorno and the larger implications of their relationship with respect to the musical developments of the 20th century.

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  • Morgenstern, Soma. Alban Berg und seine Idole. Lüneburg, Germany: Klampen, 1995.

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    Morgenstern writes rembrances of Berg in two parts, with a separate part on their correspondence and an Appendix on correpondence with Helene Berg. Morgenstern’s insights into Berg’s private and personal life and his literary proclivities, set within the context of the times, offer an intimate portrait of the composer.

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Life and Times

Berg’s participation in the many facets of the cultural life of contemporary Vienna is documented in Hailey 2010, Gratzer 1993, Berg 1976, and Berg 1985. Schroeder 1993 offers a snapshot of Berg and Helene at the time of the Altenberg Lieder. Bamford-Milroy 2002 gives details of Berg’s daughter. The problems with a complete biography for Berg, encompassing as it does the many layers of his personal and private lives, are outlined in Jarman 1991.

  • Bamford-Milroy, Pat. “Alban Berg and Albine Wittula: Fleisch und Blut.” Musical Times 143.1881 (Winter 2002): 57–62.

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    Article on the life of Berg’s daughter, Albine, with details about her mother, Marie Scheuchl, and Berg’s funeral, where reportedly Albine stood beside Hanna Fuchs-Robettin.

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  • Berg, Erich Alban. Der unverbesserliche Romantiker Alban Berg, 1885–1935. Vienna: Österreichischer Bundesverlag, 1985.

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    A collection of photos, letters, documents, remembrances, and reflections on Berg’s life and work compiled by the composer’s nephew.

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  • Berg, Eric Alban, ed. Alban Berg: Leben und Werk in Daten und Bildern. Frankfurt: Insel, 1976.

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    A follow-up collection compiled by the composer’s nephew of myriad details about the composer’s life and times.

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  • Gratzer, Wolfgang. Zur “wunderlichen Mystik” Alban Bergs. Vienna: Böhlau, 1993.

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    Details the influences on Berg from Strindberg, Balzac, Maeterlinck, and Weiniger along with symbols of fate and numerology in the wider context of the Schoenberg circle.

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  • Hailey, Christopher, ed. Alban Berg and His World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010.

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    This volume is most significant for the commentary and translation of the special issue of the journal 23: Eine Wiener Musikzeitschrift (1932–37), nos. 24–25, dated 1 February 1936, which was dedicated to Berg’s memory. The list of contributors includes Adorno writing under the pseudonym of “Hektor Rottweiler.”

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  • Hilmar, Rosemary. Alban Berg: Leben und Wirken in Wien bis zu ersten Erfolgen als Komponist. Vienna: Böhlaus, 1978.

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    Hilmar’s studies of Berg’s sketches and writings, although with errors, were among the first to systematically research Berg’s compositional methods.

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  • Jarman, Douglas. “‘Man hat auch nur Fleisch und Blut’: Toward a Berg Biography.” In Alban Berg: Historical and Analytical Perspectives. Edited by David Gable and Robert P. Morgan, 11–24. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.

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    A critical look at the problems in providing an accurate and complete biography for Berg.

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  • Schroeder, David. “Alban Berg and Peter Altenberg: Intimate Art and the Aesthetics of Life.” JAMS 46.2 (Summer 1993): 261–294.

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    In this expansive study, Schroeder details the influence of Peter Altenberg on Berg at the time of the Opus 4 songs. A well-documented, if slightly histrionic accounting of the influence of Altenberg on Berg, and Berg’s literary proclivities, which served him well in the later libretti to his operas. Revealing of Berg’s early inner life, the article notably gives a more fleshed-out accounting of Helene’s early years and how marriage affected her life.

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Programmatic Elements

The documentation of autobiographical elements in Berg’s music substantially changed the picture of Berg’s life and music and set the tone for future studies. The main sources for the Lyric Suite are Green 1977 and Perle 1977; subsequent related studies come from Jarman 1982 on the Violin Concerto and Dalen 1990 on the Chamber Concerto.

  • Dalen, Brenda. “‘Freundschaft, Liebe, und Welt’: The Secret Programme of the Chamber Concerto.” In The Berg Companion. Edited by Douglas Jarman, 141–180. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1990.

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    Dalen offers a provocative reading of Berg’s Chamber Concerto as a reflection of the triangle of Schoenberg, his wife Mathilde, and the painter Richard Gerstl in quotations from Schoenberg’s Pelleas und Melisande.

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  • Green, Douglass M. “Berg’s De Profundis: The Finale of the Lyric Suite.” International Alban Berg Society Newsletter 5 (1977): 13–23.

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    Green was the first to find markings in the sketches that he recognized from Baudelaire’s De profundis clamavi, in the Stefan George translation, which led to the discovery of a “secret” text and song in the final movement of the Lyric Suite.

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  • Jarman, Douglas. “Alban Berg, Wilhelm Fliess and the Secret Programme of the Violin Concerto.” International Alban Berg Society Newsletter 12 (1982): 5–11.

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    Jarman follows the revelations of the secret program of the Lyric Suite with similar references in the Violin Concerto, with the addition of references to Berg’s daughter Albine. For Albine see Bamford-Milroy 2002.

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  • Perle, George. “The Secret Program of the Lyric Suite.” Musical Times 118.1614 (August 1977): 629–632.

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    See also Vol. 118, No. 1615 (September 1977), 709–713 and Vol. 118, No. 1616 (October 1977), 809–813. Perle’s discovery of the annotated score of the Lyric Suite given by Berg to Hanna Fuchs-Robettin, published here in two parts, confirmed earlier presuppositions and set a new course for Berg scholarship and biography.

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Reception

Reception studies of Berg’s music are somewhat underrepresented in the literature; the Alban Berg Society Newsletter featured articles on various topics, including some relevant to this article; Whittall 1997 presents the pluralism found in Berg’s music, namely, the romanticism combined with modernist elements; Burkholder 1991 focuses on Berg’s best-known work, the Violin Concerto, and Vogelsang 1977 contains valuable documents related to Berg’s first opera.

  • Burkholder, Peter. “Berg and the Possibility of Popularity.” In Alben Berg: Historical and Analytical Perceptions. Edited by David Gable and Robert P. Morgan, 25–56. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.

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    Burkholder declares that it is precisely Berg’s maintenance of the rhetoric of tonality as an integral part of his musical language that has guaranteed his success with the listening public.

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  • International Alban Berg Society Newsletter. 1966–1985.

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    See also Alban Berg Studien, 1980–present. The formation of the International Alban Berg Society in 1966, the inaugural issue of the International Alban Berg Society Newsletter in 1968 (until 1985), and the establishment of the Alban Berg Stiftung, with, to date, six volumes of Alban Berg Studien (from 1980), are seminal for Berg scholarship.

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  • Vogelsang, Konrad. Dokumentation zur Oper Wozzeck von Alban Berg. Laaber, West Germany: Laaber-Verlag, 1977.

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    Features contemporary reports of Berg’s first opera, his first major success.

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  • Whittall, Arnold. “Berg and the Twentieth Century.” In The Cambridge Companion to Berg. Edited by Anthony Pople, 247–260. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521563741Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In a wide-ranging discussion of various 20th-century attitudes toward Berg, Whittall concludes: “Berg is a figure of central importance in twentieth-century music to the extent that the pluralism he pioneered has remained a fundamental factor in its later evolution” (p. 257).

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Analytically-Based Studies

Berg scholarship has, arguably, three eras that can be initially divided approximately at the late 1950s, when the first generation of writers, those individuals such as Willi Reich and Theodor W. Adorno who knew Berg personally and drew on Berg’s own writings and teachings, gave way to Hans Redlich and George Perle. Perle is the central figure in Berg research, and his studies of the operas are authoritative. Other writers in this second generation include Mark DeVoto, who thoroughly analyzed the Altenberg Lieder, and Douglas Jarman, whose writings include comprehensive treatments of form and rhythm as well as the pitch language, leading toward an integrated view of Berg’s systematic treatment of all musical elements. The third generation, from the early 1980s, which includes many of the second-generation writers, also includes studies of Berg sketch materials by Patricia Hall and Peter Petersen; a comprehensive book by Dave Headlam, who builds upon Perle’s view of Berg; an extensive analysis of Wozzeck by Janet Schmalfeldt, who places Berg’s music in the context of set theory; and, new critical writings from the United Kingdom by Anthony Pople and others. The two most significant directions in analysis come from Berg’s own writings and notes and those of his students, and the writings of George Perle. Berg’s lecture on Wozzeck and other letters and notes have suggested many topics, ranging from interval cycles to twelve-tone row derivations. Perle’s analyses and development of a theory set forth in his Twelve-Tone Tonality, also developed in Jarman 1987 (cited under Articles), have set a context for Berg’s music that projects Berg, rather than Webern, as the more influential and far-reaching composer in the Second Viennese School.

Books

Book-length studies based on analysis by single authors include the combined life-works volumes by those who knew Berg: Reich 1965 (a condensed translation of a 1937 original), Redlich 1957 (also condensed from a translation from German), and Adorno 1991 (originally published in 1968). The first comprehensive study of Berg’s music is Jarman 1985 (originally published in 1979). Headlam 1996 expands on Perle’s approach. Barilier 1978 focuses on performance issues. Schweitzer 1970 emphasizes Berg’s adaptation of sonata form.

  • Adorno, Theodor W. Alban Berg, Master of the Smallest Link. Translated with an introduction and annotations by Juliane Brand and Christopher Hailey. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

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    Originally Alban Berg: Der Meister des kleinsten Übergangs (Vienna: Österreichischer Bundesverlag, 1968), this central source includes important chapters on “Tone” and “Reminiscence,” weaving analysis with personal recollection. The central concept of “the smallest link,” and the contrast between the small-scale dissolution of Berg’s materials with the definition of his forms on the large-scale, recur throughout.

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  • Barilier, Étienne. Alban Berg: Essai d’interprétation. Lausanne, Switzerland: Édition l’Age d’Homme, 1978.

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    This book, another of the few Berg resources in French, focuses on performance aspects.

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  • Headlam, Dave. The Music of Alban Berg. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996.

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    This book takes Perle’s views on the structural significance of interval cycles, symmetry, and inversional complementation and demonstrates how these elements pervade Berg’s entire output. Cycles and periodicities are shown to influence every aspect of Berg’s composition, including rhythm, orchestration, form, and row derivation.

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  • Jameux, Dominique. Berg. Solfèges 38. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1980.

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    This overview is a unique French-language general study of Berg’s music.

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  • Jarman, Douglas. The Music of Alban Berg. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

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    The central study, originally published in 1979, includes chapters on pitch organization, twelve-tone techniques, rhythm, and form, and it includes a chronology and catalogue of works and manuscripts; it also contains Wedekind’s Lautenlied used in Lulu.

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  • Redlich, Hans. Alban Berg: The Man and the Musician. London: John Calder, 1957.

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    English edition is a “transcription and condensation” of the German work, Alban Berg: Versuch einer Würdigung (Vienna: Universal Edition, 1957), with added sections on Büchner and Wedekind. Overviews of models for Bergian rhetoric useful; valuable appendixes include Variations for Piano (facsimile, 1908), Wozzeck lecture, and a catalogue of works, arrangements, and writings.

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  • Reich, Willi. Alban Berg. Translated by Cornelius Cardew. London: Thames and Hudson, 1965.

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    This translation is of the book published in 1963, itself a condensed version of Alban Berg: Mit Berg’s eigenen Schriften und Beiträgen von Theodor Wiesengrund-Adorno und Ernst Krenek (Vienna: H. Reichner, 1937). Reich was a pupil of Berg, and the original 1937 version is notable for its inclusion of Berg materials. Problems with the 1963 abridgement have been noted by Mark DeVoto, among others.

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  • Schweitzer, Klaus. Die Sonatensatzform im Schaffen Alban Bergs. Stuttgart: Musikschaftlicher Verlag, 1970.

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    A study of Berg’s use of sonata forms and principles in his music, particularly in the two operas. Useful to compare with Jarman 1985.

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Collections

The literature is represented by several studies of collected essays, covering a range of issues and compositions, and it includes Pople 1997, Gable and Morgan 1991, and Jarman 1990.

  • Gable, David, and Robert P. Morgan, eds. Alban Berg: Historical and Analytical Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.

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    Includes three sections, “Life and Environment,” “Style and Technique,” and “Lulu Topics,” with papers from the Berg Conference in Chicago, held in 1985. Contributors include J. Peter Burkholder, Mark DeVoto, Allen Forte, Douglass M. Green, Patricia Hall, Douglas Jarman, Robert P. Morgan, Janet Schmalfeldt, Claudio Spies, and Leo Treitler.

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  • Jarman, Douglas, ed. The Berg Companion. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1990.

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    This collection of essays includes discussions of the Opus 2 songs, Altenberg Lieder op. 4, Three Orchestra Pieces op. 6, Chamber Concerto, Violin Concerto, and Lulu. Notable for the biographical and cultural-historical context. Contributors include Bruce Archibald, Brenda Dalen, Friedrich Cerha, Mark DeVoto, Martin Esslin, Christopher Hailey, Patricia Hall, Stephen W. Kett, Douglas Jarman, George Perle, Derrick Puffet, and Joan Allen Smith.

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  • Pople, Anthony. The Cambridge Companion to Berg. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521563741Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This collection includes sections on “Culture and Environment,” “From Song to Opera,” “After Wozzeck,” and a “Postscript.” Contributors include Kathryn Bailey, Andrew Barker, Neil Boynton, Raymond Geuss, Christopher Hailey, Patricia Hall, Douglas Jarman, Judy Lochhead, Anthony Pople, Derrick Puffet, and Arnold Whittall.

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Articles

Of the general articles on Berg, the most far-reaching is Perle 1977, in which a comprehensive theoretical framework for Berg’s music based on cycles and symmetry is offered. Jarman 1987 follows up on Perle’s framework; see also Headlam 1996 (cited under Books).

  • Jarman, Douglas. “Alban Berg: The Origins of a Method.” Music Analysis 6.3 (October 1987): 273–288.

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    Jarman, adopting Perle’s theory, shows how Berg modulates between symmetrical systems within Lulu, focusing on the Film Music Interlude, and the reflections of the “Basic Cells” of the opera in earlier works, Opp. 2–5 in particular.

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  • Perle, George. “Berg’s Master Array of the Interval Cycles.” Musical Quarterly 63.1 (January 1977): 1–30.

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    This seminal article begins from a letter Berg wrote to Schoenberg in 1920, outlining two-dimensional alignments of the interval cycles. Perle demonstrates these cycles at work throughout Berg’s music, and, along with intervallic sum complementation, he shows how his own theory, later developed in a book, Twelve-Tone Tonality, grows from Berg’s compositional methods.

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Sketch Study

Patricia Hall’s work (Hall 1996 and Hall 2011) is authoritative on sketch study in Berg’s two operas, and her volumes can be compared with Petersen 1985 and Ertelt 1993. Scherliess 1977 presents the complete early sketches for Lulu. Jarman 2006 adapts his work from the Collected Edition (Berg and Jarman 2004 see Editions and Complete Works). In an article on the Chamber Concerto, Headlam 1993–1994 offers an overview of twelve-tone sketch studies with a focus on Berg’s later works.

  • Ertelt, Thomas F. Alban Berg’s Lulu: Quellenstudien und Beiträge zur Analyse. Alban Berg Studien 3. Vienna: Universal Edition, 1993.

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    This volume can be compared with Hall 1996.

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  • Hall, Patricia. A View of Berg’s Lulu through the Autograph Sources. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

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    In this authoritative study, Hall combines published and new research into the complex chronology of Berg’s second opera. The division of the opera into Act I mm. 85–529, and the remainder by the use of derived row material, is a significant assertion, as is Hall’s exegesis on the multiple roles of characters and their musical correspondences.

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  • Hall, Patricia. Berg’s Wozzeck: Studies in Musical Genesis, Structure, and Interpretation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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    In this second study, Hall reveals important aspects of chronology and composition in Wozzeck. As in the later opera, Hall implies a two-part division, here based on the increased use of the type of algorithmic materials characteristic of Berg’s later music.

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  • Headlam, Dave. “Sketch Study and Analysis: Berg’s Twelve-Tone Music.” College Music Symposium 33–34 (1993–1994): 155–171.

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    This article considers the connection between sketches and finished composition, cautioning that the latter sets a context that is distinct, and so even exact parallels between sketches and finished work require consideration before drawing conclusions for analysis or chronology.

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  • Jarman, Douglas. “Some Notes on the Composition of Berg’s Kammerkonzert.” Alban Berg Studien 6 (2006): 12–33.

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    Authoritative study of the sketches indicating the extent to which Berg adopted the serial methods of Schoenberg and applied related algorithmic procedures to rhythm, meter, form, and all aspects of his compositions.

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  • Petersen, Peter. Alban Berg, Wozzeck (Musik-Konzepte Sonderband). Munich: Text + Kritik, 1985.

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    This volume, subtitled “Eine semantische Analyse unter Einbeziehung der Skizzen und Dokumente aus dem Nachlass Bergs,” is a companion piece to Hall 2011.

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  • Scherliess, Volker. “Bergs analytische Tafeln zur Lulu-Reihe.” Musikforschung 30 (1977): 452–464.

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    Presents the initial sketches from Lulu, based on close derivations from the main row. As Hall has shown, these sketches serve as the exclusive basis for material in mm. 85–529 of Act I.

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Operas

The studies by George Perle (see Wozzeck) combine many of his early writings and create an authoritative statement on all aspects of the music and text. The breadth and context supplied here are unique, and they are integrated with Perle’s own compositional system.

Wozzeck

Berg himself provided much of the initial context for studies of his first opera with his own lecture and formal plan of the opera. Jarman 1989 and Kolleritsch 1978 follow in this tradition, while Schmalfeldt 1983 reflects a wholly new approach.

  • Jarman, Douglas. Alban Berg: Wozzeck. Cambridge Opera Handbooks. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

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    Notable for the “Documents” sections: Karl Emil Franzos (1879) on the first edition of Büchner’s play Woyzeck”; Hugo Bieber (1914) on the origins of the play; Erwin Stein discussing Berg and Webern (1922); Fritz Heinrich Klein (1923) on Wozzeck 5,6,7; and related articles by Ernst Viebig (1923), Emil Petschnig (1924), and Berg himself (1924), the last a new translation of Berg’s lecture.

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  • Kolleritsch, Otto, ed. 50. Jahre Wozzeck von Alban Berg. Studien zur Wertungsforschung, Band 10. Graz, Austria: Universal Edition für Institut für Wertungsforschung, 1978.

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    This edited collection with contributions from eleven authors explores different aspects of the opera, ranging from its context in the Gesamtkunstwerk tradition from Wagner to the “Invention on a note” in Act III, iv.

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  • Perle, George. The Operas of Alban Berg. Vol. 1, Wozzeck. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.

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    Perle’s volumes on Berg’s operas offer a comprehensive blend of history, meaning, and language. Each contains lead-in chapters, then considerations of text and music and follow-ups on reception, with illustrations. Volume 1 (Wozzeck) adds two appendixes: translation of Berg’s “Praktische Anweisungen zur Einstudierung des Wozzeck (1930),” and the Landau edition of Büchner’s Woyzeck.

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  • Schmalfeldt, Janet. Berg’s Wozzeck: Harmonic Language and Dramatic Design. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1983.

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    In this exhaustive study, Schmalfeldt sets the opera in a set theoretic context, finding nexus set 6Z19/6Z44, including the Schoenberg name hexachord (Eb-C-B-E-Bb-G).

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Lulu

Berg’s second opera has engendered the greatest volume of literature on his works, due to the complexity of the music and libretto as well as the completion and performance history of the finished version of the opera (Cerha 1979). The compositional history is given in Hall 1985, Jarman 1981, Perle 1959, Reiter 1973, and Reich 1936, and the authors in these works develop arguments surrounding Berg’s use of his teacher’s twelve-tone methods. Jarman 1991 offers valuable contemporary items on the opera.

Tonal Music

Berg’s tonal music has been presented in its romantic guise, emphasizing continuity in DeVoto 1991, or an atonal guise, stressing discontinuity (Schmalfeldft 1991). Newer, critical views are presented in Wadsworth 2009 and Byros 2009.

  • Byros, Vasili. “Competing ‘Windows of Order’: The Dialectics of System Construction and Withdrawal in Berg’s Sonata Opus 1.” Theory and Practice 33 (2009): 273–328.

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    Byros has an interpretation based on “whole-tone tonality” with a consideration of Adorno’s writings in the context of an analysis of Berg’s Opus 1.

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  • DeVoto, Mark. “Alban Berg and Creeping Chromaticism.” In Alban Berg: Historical and Analytical Perspectives. Edited by David Gable and Robert P. Morgan, 57–78. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.

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    A comprehensive study of the chromatic voice-leading patterns that link Berg’s tonal music back to his 19th-century predecessors and to his own later atonal works.

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  • Schmalfeldt, Janet. “Berg’s Path to Atonality. The Piano Sonata Opus 1.” In Alban Berg: Historical and Analytical Perspectives. Edited by David Gable and Robert P. Morgan, 79–110. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.

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    The Schoenbergian Grundgestalt and the related ideas of the musical idea and balance/imbalance are used along with a Schenkerian-derived notion of underlying lines in analysis of Berg’s Opus 1.

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  • Wadsworth, Benjamin. “A Model of Dialectical Process in Berg’s Opus 1 Piano Sonata.” Theory and Practice 33 (2009): 329–356.

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    Wadsworth develops Schoenbergian-based ideas of the motivic-based tonality in transitional works, here with an exhaustive analysis of the Piano Sonata, op. 1.

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Atonal Music

Studies of Berg’s atonal music come from set theory or from Perle’s own insights on cells and symmetry and inversional complementation (Archibald 1990 and Porter 1989–1990), but also include the more general motivic approach of DeVoto 1983–1984 and DeVoto’s authoritative study of the Altenberg Lieder (DeVoto 1966).

Serial and Twelve-Tone Music

Berg’s later music is the focus of the main part of studies in the literature; the twelve-tone works have been analyzed the most. Form and details of the row-like motives in the Chamber Concerto are presented in Congdon 1985 and Lambert 1993; Perle 1995 collects the author’s previous writings on the Lyric Suite and Budday 1979, Ashby 1995, and Ashby 2008 offer well-documented studies on the compositional procedures in the Lyric Suite. Headlam 1990 and Jarman 1971–1972 present row derivations in the relatively little-studied Der Wein. Pople 1991 presents a comprehensive study of the compositional issues in the Violin Concerto.

  • Ashby, Arved. “Of ‘Modell-Typen’ and ‘Reihenformen’: Berg, Schoenberg, F. H. Klein, and the Concept of Row Derivation.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 48.1 (Spring 1995): 67–105.

    DOI: 10.2307/3128851Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Ashby discusses the differences between Berg and Schoenberg’s conceptions and uses of twelve-tone compositional techniques and posits the influence of Berg’s pupil Fritz Heinrich Klein, his music, distinctive techniques based on the twelve-tone system, and relative outsider status from the Schoenberg circle as an influence. The introduction to Klein’s Variations op. 14, detailing Klein’s “Typen” of row structures, forms the backdrop to comparisons with Berg’s Lyric Suite, his earlier song “Schliesse Mir die Augen Beide (II),” and Lulu. The concept of “row derivation” is presented as an equally viable resource for twelve-note composition and not just a distortion of Schoenberg’s system.

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  • Ashby, Arved. “The Lyric Suite and Berg’s Twelve-Tone Duality.” Journal of Musicology 25.2 (Spring 2008): 183–210.

    DOI: 10.1525/jm.2008.25.2.183Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Ashby addresses the aesthetic and political implications of Berg’s mix of serial/twelve-tone and “free atonal” procedures in the Lyric Suite. Taking from Adorno the self-dissipating nature of Berg’s composition as an aesthetic position, Ashby contextualizes this procedure to the implications of Schoenbergian composition. Extensive sketch study included as well as the influence of Schoenberg’s op. 26 wind quintet. Ashby intends his study as an antidote to the “lovesick” secret program-obsessed studies of the Lyric Suite, but ultimately he substitutes music-political intrigue for romantic intrigue.

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  • Budday, Wolfgang. Alban Bergs Lyrische Suite. Tübinger Beiträge zur Musikwissenschaft 8. Neuhausen-Stuttgart: Hänssler, 1979.

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    A detailed twelve-tone analysis of this work, with a focus on how order position manipulations are used algorithmically throughout.

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  • Congdon, David. “Composition in Berg’s Kammerkonzert.” Perspectives of New Music 24.1 (Autumn–Winter, 1985): 234–269.

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    A thorough look at this complex work, with its recurring themes in the third movement, as well as the row of Berg’s subsequent Lyric Suite, first movement, which appears in the former.

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  • Headlam, Dave. “Row Derivation and Contour Association in Berg’s Der Wein.” Perspectives of New Music 28 (1990): 256–293.

    DOI: 10.2307/833354Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A comprehensive view of the compositional structure of this work, with attention to how the procedures used influences the composition of the surrounding work on Berg’s second opera Lulu.

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  • Jarman, Douglas. “Some Row Techniques in Berg’ s Der Wein.” Soundings 2 (1971–1972): 46–56.

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    Selected aspects of this piece’s row structures are clarified.

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  • Lambert, Philip. “Berg’s Path to Twelve-Note Composition: Aggregate Construction and Association in the Chamber Concerto.” Music Analysis 12 (1993): 321–342.

    DOI: 10.2307/854148Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Lambert details many of the series relationships in the Chamber Concerto in relation to Berg’s larger twelve-tone practice.

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  • Perle, George. Style and Idea in the Lyric Suite of Alban Berg. Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon, 1995.

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    Chapters include “An Introduction to the Lyric Suite,” “Textual Notes,” “The Annotated Score,” and “Text and Context in the Largo desolto,” together with a chronology of Berg’s life and music. Perle collects his writing on this influential piece, demonstrating the far-reaching aspects of its structure, meaning, and language.

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  • Pople, Anthony. Berg’s Violin Concerto. Cambridge Music Handbooks. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511611674Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This study includes chapters on form and reception. Notable for the juxtaposition of opposing viewpoints in the section titles “Berg: Synthesis or Symbiosis,” “The Audible and the Inaudible,” “Tonal or Atonal?” and “Conflict or Resolution.”

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Tonal Elements in Atonal, Twelve-Tone Music

Of the many seeming paradoxes in Berg’s music, one of the most cited is the inclusion of tonal elements in the seemingly hostile techniques of non-tonal music; Lewis 1981 finds tonal elements in Berg’s Opus 5 and Forte 1985 and Klein 1978 provide tonal interpretations in passages from Wozzeck.

Rhythm

Berg treated rhythm as a structural component in and of itself. Stroh 1968 is an early study; Jarman 1970 and Green 1977 provide comprehensive studies of rhythm throughout Berg’s music and in the Lyric Suite, respectively.

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