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Born: 1885, Vienna, AustriaDied: 1935, Vienna

"The attitude of the public toward modern music is affected to an immense degree by the impression of obscurity it receives from this music."

Alban Berg, Anton von Webern, and their mentor Arnold Schoenberg moved away from tonality during the period between the two World Wars, eventually creating a new musical language that relied on a system of composing based on a single, 12-note "row." Berg was the most successful of the three, composing an important body of orchestral, chamber, and vocal music. His most stunning achievements remain his two operas, Wozzeck and Lulu, which effectively employ the formal strictures of baroque and classical music to underline the great expressive and dramatic power of Berg's compositional voice.

Further listening:

Wozzeck (opera, 1917-22)Berry, Paris Opera Orchestra, Boulez (CBS)

Symphonic Suite from Lulu (soprano and orchestra, 1934-35)Blegen, New York Philharmonic, Boulez (Sony)

Variations for Piano (1935)Mitsuko Uchida (Philips)