Alban Berg: Violin Concerto

  • for violin and orchestra
  • 2 2 3 3 - 4 2 2 1 - timp, perc(2), hp, alto sax, str
  • Duration: 22–25'
  • Soloists:
    violin
  • Instrumentation details:
    1. flute (+picc.)
    2. flute (+picc.)
    1. oboe
    2. oboe (+c.a.)
    alto saxophone in Eb (+3. cl.(Bb))
    1. clarinet in B
    2. clarinet in A
    bass clarinet in B
    1. bassoon
    2. bassoon
    contrabassoon
    1. horn in F
    2. horn in F
    3. horn in F
    4. horn in F
    1. trumpet in C
    2. trumpet in C
    1. (tenor-)trombone
    2. (bass-)trombone
    contrabass tuba
    timpani
    perc (2)
    harp
    violin I
    violin II
    viola
    violoncello
    contrabass
  • Composer: Alban Berg
  • Editor: Douglas Jarman
  • Table of contents:
    1. Satz - Andante
    2. Satz - Allegro
  • Dedication: Für Louis Krasner Dem Andenken eines Engels Geschrieben in Memoriam Manon Gropius, Tochter von Alma Mahler und Walter Gropius, die am 22. April 1935 an Kinderlähmung starb.
  • Commission: Auf Bitte des amerikanischen Violinisten Louis Krasner
  • Remarks: In Memory of an Angel - for Manon Gropius, daughter of Alma Mahler and Walter Gropius, dying of polio in 1935

Work introduction

In February 1935 Alban Berg was approached by the American violinist Louis Krasner with a request to write a violin concerto. Although reluctant to stop working on Lulu, Berg’s financial position made the refusal of such a commission almost impossible. Having jotted down some preliminary ideas for the piece in mid-March, Berg proposed to devote the summer, which he spent at this house near Velden in Carinthia, composing the Concerto.

On 22 April, a few days before Berg left Vienna for Velden, a tragedy occurred that would determine the final shape of the Concerto. Manon Gropius, the daughter of Alma Mahler and Walter Gropius, died of poliomyelitis. Berg wrote to Alma Mahler that he intended to dedicate his work dem Andenken eines Engels [to the memory of an angel], in memory of Manon. The Concerto was written at the Waldhaus in Carinthia between May and August 1935.

In July, shortly after Berg had finished the composition of the piece and was about to start work on the full orchestral score, he was stung by an insect at the base of his spine, and the sting gradually developed into an abscess. Returning to Vienna in early November in ill health, he was able to attend the Viennese première of the Symphonic Pieces from “Lulu” on 11 December, but, less than a week later, had to be taken to hospital. He died of blood poisoning at the Rudolfspital in Vienna on the night of 23 to 24 December.

Audiosamples

The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

Next performances

World première

Location:
Barcelona (ES)
Date:
19.04.1936
Orchestra:
Casals-Orchester
Conductor:
Hermann Scherchen
Main soloists:
Louis Krasner, vln

Video

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