Alban Berg (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: Berg was one of the pioneers in the creation of atonal and twelve-tone music. Though basing his work on the revolutionary system of his teacher Arnold Schoenberg, Berg established a link between the new style and the Romantic past and demonstrated that atonal and twelve-tone music could still be lyrical and emotionally expressive. As a result, his works gained widespread acceptance and thus encouraged a whole generation of innovative and experimental composers.
Alban Berg was born in Vienna on February 9, 1885. His father was a prosperous businessman whose distinguished Bavarian Catholic ancestry included high-ranking military men and public servants. Even so, the Bergs were an artistic family, and Berg’s brother and sister both studied music. Berg himself, however, at first seemed more interested in poetry and drama, reading Henrik Ibsen, Oscar Wilde, and the Romantic German literature common at the end of the nineteenth century. Later, as a composer of operas, Berg was to realize his literary ambitions by writing his own librettos.
Despite circumstances that were apparently comfortable, Berg’s early life was not without difficulties. As a child, his health was generally frail, and, in 1900, the year his father died, he developed a severe form of asthma that plagued him throughout his life. Perhaps coincidentally, it was also in this year that he first tried his hand at...
(The entire section is 2564 words.)
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