Violin Concerto (1963)
(b. Traismauer, Lower Austria, 18 May 1905 — d. Vienna, 21 August 1992)
I Adagio (p. 2) – Andante (p. 9)
II Cadenza ad libitum – Allegro molto (p. 14)
III Adagio – Poco meno adagio – Andante (p. 40) – Adagio – Più adagio (p. 47) IV Vivace (p. 48) – Presto (p. 69)
Theodor Berger was a grand nonconformist in Austrian music, a composer who commanded great respect, especially in his later years, but who is, oddly enough, rarely mentioned when conversation turns to the leading twentieth-century composers. This is wholly incomprehensible, for he had a musical language entirely his own and developed it with limitless variety. His language is rooted less in Expressionism than in an elegant blend of late-Romantic and Impressionist elements with opalescent polytonality and a savagery drawn from Stravinsky and the New Objectivity and manifest in high-spirited rhythmic games. The ever-recurring mysterious side of his expressive universe is related to the nightmarish and enigmatic aspect of early Romanticism. His forms thrive on fantastic meanderings held together by subliminal structures in free manipulation.
Berger grew up in poverty and trained to become an elementary school teacher. The basic musical education he received there on the side alerted him to his future calling, and thanks to support from several patrons he was able to enroll at the Vienna Academy of Music. Though he studied with the eminent Austrian symphonist Franz Schmidt (1874-1939) from 1926 to 1932, in later years he sometimes insisted that his career was marked chiefly by self-instruction. During his studies he informed Schmidt that his musical idols were Bartók and Stravinsky; Schmidt took benevolent note of this (“those are not bad figures to turn to”) but was otherwise unable to help him in such explorations.
After completing his studies Berger moved to Berlin. There he was discovered by Wilhelm Furtwängler, who opened up many doors for him. With the annexation of Austria to the Third Reich in 1939 he returned to Vienna, which became his permanent home. Among his friends were fellow-composers Miklós Rózsa, Werner Egk, Samuel Barber, Joseph Marx, and Marcel Rubin. He was bombarded with awards and distinctions, which, however, meant nothing to him.
Like the English composer Peter Racine Fricker (1920-90) or his American counterpart Peter Mennin (1923-83), Berger was perceived everywhere as a leading figure in modern music until the end of the 1950s. But as the concept of the avant- garde and its narrowly circumscribed aesthetic debates gradually took hold, Berger, being entirely out of sympathy with both, found himself sidelined and slowly vanished from the focus of the professional music world in the course of the 1960s. Compounding the problem were his deep-seated shyness toward the public, his aversion to interviews, and his unwillingness to promote his music in the media. He was described as a difficult man – a description perhaps exacerbated by his own statement of 1960:
My entire life is split between euphoria and depression. No sooner does the former decline than the latter begins to grow, and before long no thought, no matter how brilliant, can brighten my heart. Then all thoughts, whether strong or weak, are equally distasteful, and my hand tells lies with every further stroke of the pen. Only when my high spirits return can I again take pleasure in my thoughts and believe in them. Only then can I again begin to write…
Christoph Schlüren, 2015
Read full preface / komplettes Vorwort lesen > HERE
Violin & Orchestra
210 x 297 mm