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Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto
Alban Berg’s Violin Concert depicts great mastery of music. Using twelve different tones, Alban evokes emotion that is not characteristic of the 12-tone style (Cornaglia). Alban dedicated the Violin Concert to his friend’s eighteen-year old daughter, Manon Gropius, who died of polio in 1935. Alban penned the violin concerto while he was mourning her premature death. In his words to the girl’s parents, he stated that words could not express his sorrow for the loss of their daughter, only a violin concerto could (Cornaglia). True to his words, he produced the violin piece of music which has touched many people’s hearts over the years.
The violin concerto starts with what seems like the opening of the strings of the violin. The opening gives a unique feeling of opening the violin followed by a flood of thoughts in the composer’s mind. Immediately he opens the violin’s strings, the thoughts came to his mind which moved out as a musical tone. According to Lewis and Lewis, the specific choice of twelve tones coupled with major and minor chords help to bring out a sentimental mood. In the first movement, Alban portrays the life of Manon Gropius as a sweet life which adds flavor to the concert. Dances performed during this stage are lively (Lewis and Lewis).
The music expresses a powerful story in which the listener yearns for more life. The technique was flawless and excellent in moving the audience into the same mood. The somber mood mingled in the performance expresses deep emotions which words cannot express (Lewis and Lewis).
Just like many of his pieces, Alban’s concerto follows a strict well laid down design. The piece has four movements which can be divided into two movements each. Two or three movements are separated from the next by a short break. The first two movements have the characteristics of the Classical sonata-allegro and dance which represent the dead girl. The second part greatly borrows from the classical symphony which places an Allegro followed by an Adagio. The movements carefully illustrate the sublimity and transfiguration of death. Lastly, he uses a unique tonality in his Violin Concerto. The tone begins on thirds with alternative minor and major triads rendering a distinctive tonal variation. Tonal variation is further enhanced by the incorporation of the Carinthian folk song in the moves (Lewis and Lewis). His piece is a unique juxtaposition of tonal, atonal and lyrical elements.
Cornaglia, G. “To the Memory of an Angel: Violin Concerto by Alban Berg, Inspired By the Death from Poliomyelitis of Alma Mahler’s Daughter.” Clinical Microbiology and Infection 6 (2000): 1. Web.
Lewis, Susan, and Susan Lewis. “Alban Berg' S Violin Concerto Laments A Young Girl' S Life Cut Short.” Wrti.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 21 Dec. 2017.