One of the most prominent representatives of expressionism in music, Berg expressed in his works characteristic of expressionist artists thoughts, feelings and images: dissatisfaction with the social life, feelings of helplessness and loneliness. The hero of his works can be expressed asa little man, driven to despair by a hostile environment of bourgeois society. Ground for such artistic representations of the world Alan Berg was given by his own life experience.
Berg was born on February 9, 1885, in Vienna in the family of a soldier. His father, a native of Bavaria, was an antiquarian, and his mother was a daughter of the court jeweler. From an early age he had great interest to literature and music. His first composers experiments relate almost exclusively to the genre of vocal music.
Formally Alban Berg had no musical education; he decided to change the situation only in 1904.In the October of this year, he became a student of Arnold Schoenberg. Schoenberg Berg taught him counterpoint, music theory and harmony. By 1906 Berg began to study music with greater activity; already in 1907 Alban engaged comprehension of secrets of composer craft. Among his early works should first be mentioned five sketches piano sonatas. Alban was also writing songs and some of them are included in the collection 'Seven Early Songs' by the way, three of them Berg first performed at a concert of Schoenberg's pupils in Vienna. Of the early sonatas Berg eventually reworked into a single global masterpiece - Piano Sonata Berg.This creation is considered to be one of the most interesting early works of Alban Berg.(Carner 32)
In Schoenberg Berg studied for six years, until 1911. Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg always admired - as a composer and as a teacher; even after graduation, they remained close friends.
The first clashes with life Alban Berg endured in adolescence: his father's death, worsening financial situation of the family, aggravation of diseases ( starting from the early age he suffered from asthma). All this factors had led a young juvenile of only eighteen years old to face the thoughts of suicide. Fortunately, severe spiritual crisis was overcome. Destiny brought him a great gift to meet a well-known by that time and recognized composer, who became his teacher and friend Arnold Schoenberg. Berg was 13 years younger than Schoenberg, but composers lifetime was tied with deep friendship. Both, by the way, had no systematic music education. Schoenberg was reading evening courses which the young composer Alban Berg visited, this is how they met.
Alban Berg was one of the most enlightened propagandists of Schoenberg’s ideas. He analyzed his works in a series of articles, which included the Piano reduction (citations from the music arranged for piano). While Schoenberg was rational musician, Alban Berg has never hidden his spontaneity and a tendency to the sensual understanding of the world, which is the big highlight that is reflected in his works. He was not always consistent as a supporter of avant and tonal music, when he felt that a specific musical expression requires violation of these strict principles of composition. Adhered to the theoretical founder of avant who was his teacher, Alban Berg was not considered to be its absolute follower, he managed to keep his individual talent, coupled with a rare strength of emotional musical expression, did not break with late Romanticism in the language and imagery content of his works. Berg therefore was sometimes called «romantic of avant».(Hailey 14)
The creativity of Alban Berg is quite amenable to periodization, similar to the one that was used in relation to the works of Schoenberg: tonal - atonal - avant works. But it can be divided and into two periods: the first covering all Berg’s works created before the opera "Wozzeck" and the second period, including the opera itself and the subsequent work.
Premiere of «Wozzeck" an opera by Berg took place in Berlin in 1925; later this opera has become a key musical-dramatic work of the XX century. Opera by Berg can be easily called the most typical product of expressionism, that in the spirit is very similar to the dark pages of Kafka. People considered to be nothing! Pitiful cog in some devouring machine of life. Atonalizm combined with strict architectonic musical form creates the effect of hopelessness. Opera, despite its rather difficult language, was immediately accepted by the public and put in many countries all over the world. (Monson 44)
The vertex of instrumental creativity of Alban Berg was the Violin Concerto, that is a masterpiece of the large symphonicplan. Comparison of folk dance tune with the theme of mourning chant taken from the cantata composer Johann Sebastian Bach, are the means of clearly expressive, dramatic embodiment of the program idea that can be described as: the sorrow of parting with life, farewell to the world full of beauty and poetry. Along with "Wozzeck" this concert was the product of the most frequently played and most acceptable to the perception of the general public.
In 1935, Alban Berg created aconcert for violin and orchestra. This work suggests that the composer has ceased to comply with all requirements of the system of dodecaphony. Although the music abounds dramatic contrasts of the concert, it can not do anything but admire the listener by the expressive solo of violin part and the brightness of the orchestra. Violin Concerto was the last work of the composer, who died in the same year. Berg died a little before the age of fifty years, on 24 December 1935.
Alban Berg died in Vienna, on Christmas Eve 1935 year.It is believed that the cause of death was caused by an insect bite, that in result caused an abscess on his back. At the time of the death of the composer lived in complete poverty.There is a reason to believe that an abscess festered because of the fact that Berg, was trying to save money, and decided to cut it with scissors by himself.
There is no doubt that, having lived until the Anschluss, Alban Berg would have shared the fate of the emigrant just as his teacher Schoenberg, Hindemith, Bartok, Mann brothers, Chagall and hundreds of other figures of European culture. But partitures and claviers Berg honored to be represented at the "Exhibition of degenerate art", hosted by the Nazis in 1937 in Dresden, close to hundreds of masterpieces, against the background of paintings by Otto Dix, Max Liebermann, Hans and Lea Grundig, Oskar Kokoschka and close to the pieces of shit music of the best artists.
Carner, Mosco. Alban Berg. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1983. Print.
Hailey, Christopher. Alban Berg And His World. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2010. Print.
Monson, Karen. Alban Berg. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1979. Print.