Alban Berg: Master of the Smallest Link

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Cambridge University Press, 1991 - Biography & Autobiography - 156 pages
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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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Contents

Tone
1
Reminiscence
9
The works
35
Piano Sonata
40
Songs on texts by Hebbel and Mombert
47
Seven Early Songs
49
First String Quartet
53
The Altenberg Songs
62
Toward a characterization of Wozzeck
84
Epilogomena to the Chamber Concerto
88
Lyric Suite
104
Der Wein
113
Experiences with Lulu
120
About the text
136
Afterword
138
Adornos principal writings on Berg
145

Clarinet Pieces
67
Orchestral Pieces
72

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About the author (1991)

Theodor W. Adorno is the progenitor of critical theory, a central figure in aesthetics, and the century's foremost philosopher of music. He was born and educated in Frankfurt, Germany. After completing his Ph.D. in philosophy, he went to Vienna, where he studied composition with Alban Berg. He soon was bitterly disappointed with his own lack of talent and turned to musicology. In 1928 Adorno returned to Frankfurt to join the Institute for Social Research, commonly known as The Frankfurt School. At first a privately endowed center for Marxist studies, the school was merged with Frankfort's university under Adorno's directorship in the 1950s. As a refugee from Nazi Germany during World War II, Adorno lived for several years in Los Angeles before returning to Frankfurt. Much of his most significant work was produced at that time. Critics find Adorno's aesthetics to be rich in insight, even when they disagree with its broad conclusions. Although Adorno was hostile to jazz and popular music, he advanced the cause of contemporary music by writing seminal studies of many key composers. To the distress of some of his admirers, he remained pessimistic about the prospects for art in mass society. Adorno was a neo-Marxist who believed that the only hope for democracy was to be found in an interpretation of Marxism opposed to both positivism and dogmatic materialism. His opposition to positivisim and advocacy of a method of dialectics grounded in critical rationalism propelled him into intellectual conflict with Georg Hegel, Martin Heidegger, and Heideggerian hermeneutics.

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