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Listening Lab is a new series that offers practical and inspiring approaches for children, young people and adults. The present volume considers the Violin Concerto by Alban Berg and aims to help facilitate these journeys. In the subsequent concert, listeners themselves may realize that this is music "from another world" while coming to understand much more - based on their new insights into Alban Berg's Violin Concerto.
Various contextual issues in this work combine to play a part in its unique success and these are examined in the workbook. "To the Memory of an Angel" focuses on Manon Gropius, the work's dedicatee who died very young, while prompting listeners to consider their own thoughts on life's transience. Berg develops the opening of his concerto from the violin's own characteristic - tuning in fifths. The chapter "Tuning Up" continues with this subject and invites workshop participants to find fifths using their own voices. In the chapter "Musical Portraits", participants use Berg's musical depiction of Manon Gropius as inspiration to create their own twelve-tone row as a self-portrait. They then use these rows to improvise. A feature of the Violin Concerto is its inclusion of two quotes that seem like "foreign objects": the Bach chorale "Es ist genug" (It is Enough) and the Carinthian folksong A Bird Sat in a Plum Tree. The chapter "Foreign Objects" explores this theme and presents a range of possibilities, from group chorale to folksong singing. "Alban Berg in Vienna Around 1900" focuses on Berg's special position in the 2nd Viennese School.
Historical facts and discussions about the arts of the day provide a springboard to the exploration of individual attitudes and the discovery of connections between the present and the past. Finally, the Violin Concerto once again becomes the centre of attention. "A Concerto for Violin and Orchestra" uses the voice and various improvisational approaches to look at the relationship between the soloist and the group.
• All workshops and contexts can be combined to form larger projects or can be used in a shorter format as preconcert workshops.
• Helpful links and further material can be downloaded at a special website (follow the weblink in the workbook).
• Winner of the Music Teacher Award for Excellence 2015 in the category 'Best Print Resource' and Winner "Deutscher Musikeditionspreis BEST EDITION 2015".
Constanze Wimmer and Helmut Schmidinger provide numerous suggestions for group activities relating to the concerto, which teachers can adapt for various ages and levels of musical proficiency. The suggestions presented exemplify the best practices of teaching artistry as described in the definitive book on the topic, David Wallace's 2007 Reaching Out: A Musician's Guide to Interactive Performance. Performers and educators enrich the lives of those with whom they share their love of music. Through interactive teaching, they also increase their own understanding of the music and therefore the effectiveness of their performances. If this book is any indication, Universal's Listening Lab series will provide a valuable resource. I hope this book will be used by performers, programme hosts and music teachers. I know I'll have a copy with me at my next performance of the Berg Violin Concerto.
The Strad May 2015 Volume 126 No.1501 (Rachel Barton Pine)
"Universal Edition's new Listening Lab series offers practical and inspiring approaches for children, young people and adults. Music educators will find concrete suggestions that open up and allow for a deeper understanding of each work. Alban Berg's Violin Concerto is the first in a series that presents orchestral works of the 20th and 21st centuries for practical use in music education. There are numerous project suggestions for workshops containing different modules relating to the concerto. This is an invaluable resource for teachers and educators"
Stringendo Magazine, Volume 36 Number 2 October 2014 (Andrew Lorenz)