Alban Berg

General Information

He was born in Vienna, Austria in February 1885.
He died in December 1935.
He was the third of four children of Johanna and Conrad Berg.


When he was young, his primary interest was literature, not music as many people believed. Around the age of 15, he began to compose music, and this shift could have coincided with the tragic death of his father in 1900.
He taught himself music until 1904, where, with little formal music education, he became a student of the musical genius Arnold Schoenberg, a composer that was at the forefront of Weimar music. By 1906, he was studying music full time and in 1907 he began composition lessons. Berg studied with him until 1911, and the two became lifelong friends. Berg may have viewed him as a father figure due to him losing his father at the age of 15.

Berg was a part of Vienna's cultural elite along with the musicians Alexander von Zemlinsky and Franz Schreker, the painter Gustav Klimt, the writer and satirist Karl Kraus, the architect Adolf Loos, and the poet Peter Altenberg. In 1906, He met the singer Helene Nahowski, daughter of a wealthy family and the supposed illegitimate daughter of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. To begin with, there wase the outward hostility of her family, however they were married on May 3, 1911.

From 1915 to 1918, he served in the Austrian army. During a period of leave in 1917 he began to work on his first opera, Wozzeck.
Three excerpts from Wozzeck were performed in 1924, and this brought him his first public success. The opera, which was completed in 1922, was not performed in its entirety until December 14, 1925, when Erich Kleiber directed a performance in Berlin. Today Wozzeck is seen as one of his most important works. Sadly, he completed only the first two acts of his later opera, the critically acclaimed Lulu, before he died.


Music is at once the product of feeling and knowledge, for it requires from its disciples, composers and performers alike, not only talent and enthusiasm, but also that knowledge and perception which are the result of protracted study and reflection.

I can tell you, dearest friend, that if it became known how much friendship, love and a world of human and spiritual references I have smuggled into these three movements, the adherents of programme music - should there be any left - would go mad with joy.



Piano Sonata, Op.1
Kammerkonzert (1925) for piano, violin and 13 wind instruments


String Quartet, Op. 3
Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 5
Lyric Suite


Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
Violin Concerto


Wozzeck, Op. 7


Seven Early Songs
Four Songs, Op. 2
Five Orchestral Songs on Postcard Texts of Peter Altenberg, Op. 4
Der Wein
Schliesse mir die Augen beide

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Berg's first opera - Wozzeck