Alban Berg

Alban Berg is considered to be one of the central figures of twentieth century classical music. He was a pupil of Arnold Schoenberg and a member of the Second Viennese School.

Berg's father was an export salesman, his mother the daughter of the Austrian Imperial jeweler. The young Alban's musical training consisted mainly of piano lessons from his aunt. By his teenage years, however, he had composed dozens of songs without the benefit of formal compositional studies.In 1904 Berg's brother, Charley, took Alban's compositions to Arnold Schoenberg, who accepted Berg as a student.

Berg was drafted into the Austrian army in 1915, served for eleven months, and was discharged for poor health. Shaken by his army experience, Berg felt that he a strong connection to  Woyzeck Georg Bí¼chner's tragic play about a horribly brutalized private. In 1917, Berg began an operatic adaptation of the play. And while this work would occupied him for the next five years, Wozzeck would become his more prominent work.

When the Austro-Hungarian empire collapsed in the wake of World War I, Berg found work as business manager of Schoenberg's Society for Private Musical Performances, an organization which allowed Vienna's musical avant-garde to enjoy professionally prepared performances before friendly, critic-free audiences.  At the time of his death from blood poisoning in 1935, Berg was in the middle of work on his opera Lulu, which he had begun in 1929. The opera's unfinished third act was completed by Friedrich Cerha in 1976, after 12 years of work.