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. Berg proposed to devote the summer, which he spent at this house near Velden in Carinthia, composing the Violin 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 at age 18. 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.
Arabella Steinbacher will be performing Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto together with Manfred Honeck and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Symphony Center in Chicago on 9 and 11 November, and on 10 November as part of the CSO’s annual series at the Wheaton College.
View the full score: