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Alban Berg

Music as Autobiography- Translated by Ernest Bernhardt-Kabisch

Constantin Floros

The central point of this book is the realization that the creative work of Alban Berg, which in recent years has moved to the forefront of scholarly interest, is largely rooted in autobiography, so that therefore one can gain access to the music by studying the inner biography of its creator. Accordingly, the first of the three parts of this volume outlines a character portrait of this great composer. Part two considers the conditions relevant to a deeper understanding of Berg and of the Second Viennese School generally. In part three, then, Berg’s key works will be analyzed and semantically deciphered in terms of his inner biography. The study is based not only on the sources in print but also on the rich unpublished material. Alban Berg was incapable of composing without a program. He needed an extra-musical stimulus. With him, personal experience was the indispensable condition of the creative process: the autobiographic reference was all-important for composing.
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Foreword

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The central point of this book is the realization that the creative work of Alban Berg, which in recent years has moved to the forefront of scholarly interest, is largely rooted in autobiography, so that therefore one can gain access to the music by studying the “inner biography” of its creator. Accordingly, the first of the three parts of this volume outlines a character portrait of this great composer. His music proves increasingly an image of his emotional and intellectual constitution. Part two considers the conditions relevant to a deeper understanding of Berg and of the Second Viennese School generally: questions of the psychology of creation, of art theory, of aesthetics, philosophy and weltanschauung, the concept of a magical music, the diverse artistic means by which Berg semanticizes his music, and the relations between tonality, atonality and dodecaphony. In part three, then, Berg’s key works will be analyzed and semantically deciphered in terms of his “inner biography.”

My study is based not only on the sources in print but also on the rich unpublished material: on the as yet unpublished correspondence between Berg, Schönberg and Webern (comprising some 3000 pages of typescript), and on Berg’s many notes (such as his collection of quotes), drafts of letters, personal copies of books and music autographs (sketches, particellos and clean copies), largely preserved in the Music Collection of the Austrian National Library. I have also repeatedly been able to view and study Berg’s library in his Viennese apartment...

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