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Universal Edition - Alban Berg – Biography

 

Alban Berg

Biography

9.2.1885 – born in Vienna as the son of the book-seller Conrad Berg and his wife Johanna, née Braun.

1900 – his father dies on 30th March. Begins to compose songs. His life-long asthma problem starts.

1903 – Berg failed the Matura and falls into depression. In September he even considered commiting suicide.

1904 – Berg passes the Matura and starts a practical training in accounting in the "Statthalterei" in Lower Austria. Simultaneously, he attends lectures in law and musicology. He takes private lessons with Arnold Schönberg which are even free of charge until 1906 because of his precarious financial situation. Acquaintance with Webern.

1905 – attends a performance of Frank Wedekind’s Pandora’s Box directed by Karl Kraus.

1906 – thanks to a heritage he is in a position to give up his hateful office job. Acquaintance with Nahowski.

1907 – on 7th November first public performance of three Songs and Fugue for string quartet and piano.

1910 – finishes his studies with Schönberg. He composes the String quartet op. 3

1911 – World premiere of  Piano sonata and the String quartet on 14th April, on 3rd May he marries Helene Nahowski. Gustav Mahler dies on 18th May.

1912 – composes Five songs on picture postcard texts by Peter Altenberg op. 4.

1913 – on 31st March world premiere of two songs from Five songs on picture postcard texts by Peter Altenberg  which causes a riot. Completes Four Pieces for clarinet an piano op. 5

 1914 – on 14th May Berg attends a performance of Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck and decides to set the play to music.

1915 – as of August until the end of the war he serves in the army, in Hungary at first. Because of his health problems Berg is sent into the war ministry. He starts to work on Wozzeck

1918 – the ‘Society for Private Musical Performance’ is founded under the aegis of Arnold Schönberg and will be dissolved in 1921.

1920 – Successful activity as a writer. For a long time Berg cannot make up his mind whether to continue to compose or to focus on writing.

1921 – completes Wozzeck.

1922 – The piano score of Wozzeck is published by the composer with the financial support of Alma Mahler.

1923 – signs a publishing contract with Universal-Edition in Vienna who also publish his early works.

1924 – world premiere of parts from Wozzeck in Frankfurt am Main by Hermann Scherchen. World premiere of Wozzeck at the Berliner Staatsoper conducted by Erich Kleiber on 14th December. 

1925 – he composes the Lyric Suite  for string quartet which is premiered by the Kolisch-Quartett on 8th January 1927.

1926Wozzeck is performed in Prag.

1927Wozzeck is performed in Leningrad. Berg considers to set to music Gerhart Hauptmann’s fairy tale Und Pippa tanzt.

1928 – decides to set to music the Lulu theme by Frank Wedekind. Arranges the second, third and fourth movement of the Lyric Suite for string orchestra.

1929Wozzeck is performed in Oldenburg . The opera will be performed at another 25 theaters during Berg’s lifetime.

1930 – appointment as member of the "Preußischen Akademie der Künste".

1932 – purchases a holiday residence at the Wörthersee.

1933 – on 3rd December he completes the Lied der Lulu which is dedicated to Webern’s 50th birthday.

1934 – In April Berg puts the finishing touches to Lulu. The world premiere is scheduled for Berlin under Erich Kleiber. Through mediation of Arnold Schönberg the Library of Congress in Washington acquires the manuscript of the Wozzeck score. On 30th November Symphonic Pieces from the opera Lulu is premiered at the Berliner Staatsoper under Erich Kleiber. Because of the hostilities against Kleiber and the press campaign Kleiber emigrates in January 1935. Berg’s works are no longer performed in Germany.

1935 – Interrupts his work on the opera Lulu from April until August and composes the Violin Concerto ("Dem Andenken eines Engels") for Manon Gropius, Alma Mahler’s daughter from her second marriage with the architect Walter Gropius who died from cerebral palsy. 
Lulu was left incomplete at his death. The Austrian composer Friedrich Cerha added a 3rd act. The 3-act version was premiered in Paris on 24th February 1979 in Paris.

1936 – on 19th April world premiere of the Violin Concerto by the violinist Louis Krasner and the conductor Hermann Scherchen in Barcelona.

24.12.1935 – Berg suffers a blood poisoning caused by an insect bite and dies on 24th December in Vienna.