Alban Berg (1885-1935)
I waited a long time before approaching Berg’s music. It’s intense, mature and gets deeper the more you listen to it – like staring into molasses which gradually become transparent. Like all good art, his music is more than the sum of its parts. One of my teachers Wilfred Josephs advised against repetition in composition, saying that if I wanted to vary material, I should refer to Berg’s opera Wozzeck (1922) as a “seed catalogue for the use of ostinato”.
Berg’s music works on a number of different levels simultaneously: there is quotation, there are codes, tone rows, rhythmic games, games with time and reference to old forms in music. Fascinating, beautiful and deeply engaging!