One of the leading composers of the 20th century, Alban Berg was born in 1885 to an affluent family in Vienna, Austria. Initially trained by his aunt in piano, Berg soon showed a proclivity to composing in his early teens, later becoming a student of Arnold Schoenberg’s in 1904. Together—with another one of Schoenberg’s students, Anton Webern—they were known as the Second Viennese School, characterized by the use of atonality and, later, for their firm embrace of Schoenberg’s twelve-tone system. While best-known for his Violin Concerto (1935) and opera Wozzeck (1922), Berg’s concert aria Der Wein (1929) beautifully sets three of Charles Baudelaire’s poems from “Le Vin” against his original composition featuring elements of jazz and tango rhythms.
Though Berg himself was Catholic, his association with Schoenberg (who was Jewish) led to his work being considered “degenerate art” during Hitler’s regime and the rise of Nazism in the early 1930’s. However, his compositions were still held in positive regard abroad and after his passing, he was widely celebrated for retaining Viennese tradition in his compositions and artfully blending principles of romanticism with the structures of modernism.
Recorded live during the 2010 Bard Music Festival.
Don’t miss a single offering, sign up for our email list.
Christiane Libor, soprano
Conducted by Leon Botstein, music director
Composed by Alban Berg