Alban Berg, half II, 2024
This Week in Classical Music: February 5, 2024. Alban Berg, Half II. In 1911, Arnold Schoenberg moved from Vienna to Berlin however the intense relationship between Berg and his trainer continued by letters. Schoenberg’s notes usually contained calls for that had been about extra than simply the music: some had been home, some monetary. Although Berg adored his trainer, Schoenberg’s calls for had been tough and time-consuming, and the connection was getting harder – a lot in order that in 1915 their correspondence broke off. WWI was in full swing; Berg was conscripted into the Austrian Military and served for 3 years (the 42-year-old Schoenberg, who moved again to Vienna in 1915, additionally served within the military, however just for a yr). Issues modified in 1918 after Berg was discharged: he returned to Vienna and reestablished his relationship together with his trainer.
In Could of 1914 Berg attended a efficiency of Woyzeck, a play by the German playwright Georg Büchner. He instantly determined to put in writing an opera primarily based on the play; it could change into referred to as Wozzeck, a misspelling of the unique play’s title that one way or the other caught. Berg wrote the libretto himself, deciding on 15 episodes from Woyzeck, a macabre story of a poor and determined soldier, who, suspecting that the mom of his illegitimate little one is having an affair with the Captain, murders her, after which drowns. Berg began writing sketches quickly after he noticed the play however needed to cease in June of 1915 when he was drafted. He continued composing whereas on go away in 1917 and 1918, completed the primary act in 1919, the second act two years later, and accomplished the opera in 1922. It premiered on the Berlin State Opera in December of 1925, with Erich Kleiber conducting. Wozzeck created a scandal, which is comprehensible, provided that it was the primary full-size opera written in an atonal idiom, distinctive not solely musically but in addition in its emotional influence. What’s extra essential (and considerably stunning) is that the premier was adopted by a slew of productions throughout Germany and Austria. Wozzeck was staged constantly in several German-speaking cities for the following eight years, but in addition internationally: in Prague, Philadelphia, and even in such an unlikely place as Leningrad. All of it got here to an finish when the Nazis banned it as a part of their marketing campaign in opposition to Entartete Musik (Degenerate music) and the Austrians dutifully adopted. Wozzeck’s success made Berg financially safe, introduced him worldwide recognition and a few instructing jobs. We’ll pay attention for the primary quarter-hour of Act II of Wozzeck. In Scene 1, Marie places her son to mattress, then Vozzeck arrives, will get suspicious of her earrings (they got to her by the Captain), offers her some cash and leaves. In Scene 2, the Physician and the Captain stroll the road; they see Wozzeck, make enjoyable of him and insinuate that Marie isn’t devoted. Wozzeck runs away in despair. Claudio Abbado conducts the Orchestra and Refrain of the Vienna State Opera (we all know the orchestra because the Vienna Philharmonic); Wozzeck is sung by Franz Grundheber, his common-law spouse Marie is Hildegard Behrens. Heinz Zednik is the Captain, Aage Haugland is the Physician.
Wozzeck was an atonal opera, however it wasn’t a 12-note composition, the method which by then was being developed by Schoenberg. Berg was receptive to it and shortly moved in an analogous path. He wrote two items, Kammerkonzert (Chamber Concerto for Piano and Violin with 13 Wind Devices), accomplished in 1925, and Lyric Suite, a yr later, which broadly used the 12-tone method. In 1929 he began work on his second main opera, Lulu, a a lot bigger and extra complicated composition than Wozzeck. We’ll cowl it subsequent week, in our the third and ultimate installment on Berg.