Adorno's study of Alban Berg is a unique document. Itself now a part of music history, it is a personal account, by a pre-eminent philosopher and aesthetician, of the life and musical works of his mentor, friend and composition teacher. Shortly after Berg's death in 1935, Adorno contributed several analyses to the first Berg biography. Thirty years later he incorporated these chapters and several subsequent essays into one volume. Beyond analyses of individual pieces, the book explores the historical and cultural significance of Berg's music, its relationship to that of other twentieth-century composers, and to the larger issues of contemporary life. This is a classic study, made available here for the first time in English, and it provides a key to understanding Adorno himself as well as offering an individual perspective on one of the major composers of the twentieth century.
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(228mm x 152mm x 10mm)
Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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US Kirkus Review »
The three leading atonalists, Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg and Anton Webern flourished in Vienna during the decade that aesthetician Adorno was both friend and student of Berg. Adorno's critical biography is one part memoir and the rest musical analysis of Berg's small body of thirteen works. Small? Not with the operas Wozzeck and Lulu to his credit. Wozzeck is a moonlit, expressionistic tragedy - a weird, stunning tearjerker that absolutely fulfills the composer's every intention. He was at work on act three of Lulu when he died in 1935. The story of a sensual archdemoness who infects every man or woman who knows her, Lulu "sometimes. . .seems as though the composition itself actually overpowers the orchestra!" Adorno's Berg is a warm, tall, fragile, pessimistic giant full of self-mockery and "a gift for making rather depressing punch lines and puns." He is also a connoisseur of good food and fine wines (he looked a lot like Oscar Wilde) and had an immense longing for happiness. "This was expressed in his respect for every sort of fortune: even a fatal disease was 'all right' - it had to be." Adorno on Berg's music is often discerning but sometimes confusing in his use of the dreadful jargon of esthetics. Special; in no sense a popular biography. (Kirkus Reviews)
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