Alban Berg

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Bust of Alban Berg at Schiefling, Carinthia, Austria

Alban Maria Johannes Berg (February 9, 1885December 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.


  • I think the origin of all this clamour for tonality is not so much the need to sense a relationship to the tonic, as a need for familiar chords: let us be frank and say "for the triad"; and I believe I have good reason to say that just so long as a certain kind of music contains enough such triads, it causes no offence, even if in other ways it most violently clashes with the sacred laws of tonality.
    • Quoted in Reich, Willi (1971). Schoenberg: A Critical Biography, p. 34. Translated by Leo Black.
  • The best music always results from ecstasies of logic.
    • Quoted by Donal Henahan in the New York Times Magazine, May 11, 1975.

Quotes about

  • I regard Alban Berg as a musical swindler and a musician dangerous to the community. One should go even further. Unprecedented events demand new methods. We must seriously pose the question as to what extent musical profession can be criminal. We deal here, in the realm of music, with a capital offence.
    • Anon, quoted in Nicolas Slonimsky (1953). Lexicon of Musical Invective: Critical Assaults on Composers Since Beethoven's Time, p. 54.
  • If...Berg departs so radically from tradition, through his substitution of a symmetrical partitioning of the octave for the asymmetrical partionings of the major/minor system, he departs just as radically from the twelve-tone tradition that is represented in the music of Schoenberg and Webern, for whom the twelve-tone series was always an integral structure that could be transposed only as a unit, and for whom twelve-tone music always implied a constant and equivalent circulation of the totality of pitch classes.
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