Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
August 2
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Blind Boy Grunt
Bob Land
Robert Mi
lkwood Thomas
Lucky Wilbury
Boo Wilbury
ack Frost
Sergei Petrov
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1445 - Oswald von Wolkenstein, composer and poet died in Meran (Dukedom of Tyrol (now Italy))

1905 - Karl Amadeus Hartmann, German composer, was born.

- Enrico Caruso, Italian tenor, died in Naples at age 48.  See Caruso's music.

- The first festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music in Salzburg featured chamber music by Berg, Bartok and Schonberg.

1962 - Robert Zimmerman legally changed his name to Bob Dylan.

1978 - Carlos Chavez, Mexican composer, died in Mexico City at age 79.

1990 - Premiere of Patrick Gowers's Suite for solo violin and chamber orchestra. José-Luis Garcia soloist. English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Raymond Leppard. Composed for the 90th birthday of HM Queen Mother, Elisabeth.
Even though Alban Berg's String Quartet, Op. 3 had premiered in Vienna on April 24, 1911, the performance by the Havemann Quartet at the first International Society for Contemporary Music, which began in Salzburg on this date in 1923, that established Berg's worldwide reputation.

Alban Maria Johannes Berg was born February 9, 1885, in Vienna. He was the 3rd of 4 children of Johanna and Conrad Berg. They lived comfortably until the father died in 1900.
Alban Berg
Berg was more interested in books than music as a child. He began to compose until age 15, when he started to teach himself music. He had little formal music instruction until he began a 6-year period of study with Arnold Schoenberg in October, 1904 to 1911.  He studied counterpoint, music theory, and harmony.  By 1906 he concentrated on music studies full-time, and by 1907 he began composition lessons.

Among his compositions under Schoenberg were drafts of five piano sonatas and various songs, including his Seven Early Songs, three of which were Berg's first publicly performed work in a concert.

The sonata sketches eventually culminated in Berg's Piano Sonata Op.1 (1907-8).  This "graduating composition," is one of the most formidible Op. 1's ever written by a composer.  Schoenberg remained a major influence on Berg throughout his life.  Berg and Schoenberg remained close friends. Some believe that Berg saw Schoenberg as a surrogate father, considering Berg's young age during his father's death.

Schoenberg believed that the basis of a piece should be a a single, basic idea, from which the entire composition would develop.  This theory became known as developing variation. Berg passed this idea down to one of his students, Theodor Adorno, who stated: "The main principle he conveyed was that of variation: everything was supposed to develop out of something else and yet be intrinsically different."
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Alban Berg
Violin Concerto, Berg, Szeryng
Berg: Violin Concerto
Schoenberg: Piano Concerto
Schoenberg Violin Concerto
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Bob Dylan has gone by all of those names.

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In 1913, Berg's Five songs on picture postcard texts by Peter Altenberg were premiered in Vienna. The piece caused a riot, and the performance had to be halted: a complete performance of the work was not given until 1952.

From 1915 to 1918, he served in the Austrian Army.  While on leave in 1917, he began work on his first opera, Wozzeck. Following World War I, he settled again in Vienna where he gave private music lessons. He also helped Schoenberg run the Society for Private Musical Performances—which sponsored new work by promising composers.

The 1924 performance of 3 excerpts from Wozzeck brought his first public success. Wozzeck.  He completed Wozzeck in 1922, but it was not performed in its entireity until 1925.

Berg is probably best known for his Violin Concerto, which, like much of his work, combines atonality with tonal passages, and uses Schoenberg's twelve tone technique in a way as to admit Wagnerian harmonies. He also wrote a Chamber Concerto for violin, piano and 13 wind instruments.

Berg died on Christmas Eve, 1935, in Vienna, from blood poisoning caused by an insect bite.