Along with Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern, Austrian composer Alban Berg was a principal member of the so-called Second Viennese School, combining Mahlerian late-Romanticism with the system of twelve-tone composition developed by his lifelong mentor Schoenberg.
Born in Vienna, he receiving little formal musical training until he was almost twenty; once he began composing in earnest under the supervision of Schoenberg, he was quickly absorbed into the upper echelons of cultural Vienna where his social circles included such luminaries as Alexander Zemlinsky, Gustav Klimt and Peter Altenberg (whose poems he set early in his career). During the First World War he served in the Austro-Hungarian army, and began work on his first opera Wozzeck (which depicts the descent into madness of a decommissioned soldier); the acclaim which greeted its premiere in 1925 firmly established his reputation as one of the most innovative composers of his generation.
Aside from Wozzeck Berg is perhaps best-known for the unfinished opera Lulu, the Lyric Suite (1926), and his Violin Concerto (1935), which he wrote in memory of Alma Mahler's daughter Manon Gropius.
You can view Presto's hand-picked selection of favourite Berg recordings here.
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