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Alban Berg

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Alban Maria Johannes Berg (February 9, 1885 - December 24, 1935) was an Austrian composer. He was a member of the Second Viennese School along with Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern, producing works that combined Mahlerian romanticism with a highly personal adaptation of Schoenberg’s twelve-tone technique.

Berg was born in Vienna, the third of four children of Johanna and Conrad Berg. His family lived comfortably until the death of his father in 1900.

He was more interested in literature than music as a child and did not begin to compose until he was fifteen, when he started to teach himself music. In late February or early March 1902 he fathered a child with Marie Scheuchl, a servant girl in the Berg family household. His daughter, Albine, was born on December 4, 1902.[1]

Berg had little formal music education before he became a student of Arnold Schoenberg in October 1904. With Schoenberg he studied counterpoint, music theory, and harmony. By 1906, he was studying music full-time; by 1907, he began composition lessons. His student compositions included five drafts for piano sonatas. He also wrote songs, including his Seven Early Songs (Sieben frühe Lieder), three of which were Berg’s first publicly performed work in a concert that featured the music of Schoenberg’s pupils in Vienna that year. The early sonata sketches eventually culminated in Berg’s Piano Sonata (Op. 1) (1907–1908); it is one of the most formidable “first” works ever written (Lauder, 1986).

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