Hietzinger Hauptstraße 6, 1130 Wien, Austria
Berghof, Ossiachersee Süduferstraße 241, 9523 Villach, Austria
Friedhof Hietzing Hietzing, Wien Stadt, Vienna (Wien), Austria
Alban Maria Johannes Berg (February 9, 1885 – December 24, 1935) was an Austrian composer of the Second Viennese School. Alban Berg’s second opera, Lulu, contains overt themes of homosexuality, in particular lesbianism; this is considered by several writers including McClary, Clément and Pegley. Berg presumably drew inspiration for the lesbian Countess Geschwitz from his sister Smaragda, herself a passionate musician, who freely professed to having relationships with women for years, which was rather unusual for the time.
Berg's compositional style combined Romantic lyricism with the twelve-tone technique. Although he left a relatively small oeuvre, he is remembered as one of the most important composers of the 20th century for his expressive style encompassing "entire worlds of emotion and structure".
Berg was born and lived in Vienna. He began to compose only at the age of fifteen. He 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. Berg's major works include the operas Wozzeck (1924) and Lulu (1935, finished posthumously), the chamber pieces Lyric Suite and Chamber Concerto, as well as a Violin Concerto. He also composed a number of songs (lieder). He is said to have brought more "human values" to the twelve-tone system, his works seen as more "emotional" than Schoenberg's.
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. He was buried at the Hietzing Cemetery in Vienna.
Before he died, Berg had completed the orchestration of only the first two of the three acts of Lulu.. The completed acts were successfully premièred in Zürich in 1937. 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. An orchestration was therefore commissioned in secret from 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.
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