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19 August 2002
Alban Berg was an Austrian composer. Berg studied from 1904 to 1910 under Arnold Schoenberg and together with his teacher and fellow student Anton Webern he is part of the Second Viennese School. Berg married with Helene Nahowski (1885-1976), a singer who was a daughter from Anna Nahowski and, allegedly, Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria.
At first, Berg applied a free atonality, but later he started developing strict twelve tone techniques and combined these to a style which, despite its expressionistic character, reminds of the Late Romantic music of Gustav Mahler.
Claude Debussy was a French composer. He and Maurice Ravel were the most prominent figures associated with impressionist music, though Debussy disliked the term when applied to his compositions. He was made Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1903. He was among the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and his use of non-traditional scales and chromaticism influenced many composers who followed.
Debussy's music is noted for its sensory content and frequent usage of non-traditional tonalities. The prominent French literary style of his period was known as Symbolism, and this movement directly inspired Debussy both as a composer and as an active cultural participant Among his most famous works are his Clair de Lune, his Three Nocturnes and his orchestral piece La Mer.
Paul Hindemith studied violin at the Dr Hoch's Konservatorium of Frankfurt and played from 1915 to 1923 in the Frankfurt opera. From 1921 to 1929 he played viola in the Amar Quarter, where he was advocate for contemporary music. Throughout the years, he held multiple positions as teachers, but he remained most popular as a violist. During the Second Worldwar he fleed to the USA and was given the American nationality in 1948, Later, he returned to Europe to teach at the university of Zürich.
His use rhythm, called "Motorik" by himself (a combination of Motor and Musik) is piercing, and at times even tormenting. It echoes the arrival of industralisation and the motor, as Hindemith opposes any form of sentimentality, psychology or personality. This way, Hinemith created shrill, neoclassicistic music (Gebrauchsmusik, music with a social or political aim). His body of works is quite extensive, with more than 100 compositions in all kinds of genres. Even though he was an advocate of contemporary music, he never felt affiliated with dodecaphony. He wrote several theoretic treatises, among which his Unterweisung im Tonsatz from 1937 in which Hindemith offers several systems in which the tension between intervals, harmony and melody is analysed and elevated into a compositional technique.
Arnold Schoenberg was one of the most influential composers of the 20th century, but perhaps also one of the least listened to. Strikingly, Schoenberg was self-educated, even though his music is imbedded in complex music theory. It was Schoenberg who definitely departed from tonality and he developed the twelve tone technique. In this composition style, one has to use every twelve tones of the scale, before one can be repeated. The struggle to adhere to this dogma is clearly audible: his music is tense, hectic and particularly acute - and therefore at times not that accesible to occasional listeners.
Nevertheless, his music and his liberation of tonality had an enormous impact on all composers that came after him. Together with the music of his students Alban Berg and Anton Webern, his style is often referred to as the Second Viennese School, parallel to the First Viennese School of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, who, in a similar vein, changed the history of music for good.
His most performed works are his string sextet Verklärte Nacht, his five Orchestra pieces op. 16, and his opera Moses und Aron. The development of Schoenberg's music can be heard in his Five String Quartets in particular.
Luciano Berio was an Italian compser. From 1950 to 1964 he was married to the American soprano Cathy Berberian, for whom he composed several works, among which his Circles, Sequenza III, Visage and Récital.
Together with Bruno Maderna he founded the Studio di Fonologia, an experimental orchestra. Later, he became a teacher at the renowned Julliard School in New York. His body of works cover a wide range of forms experiments. Hij wrote both chamber music and orchestral works, and electronic music. For his whole life he worked on a set Sequenze for solo instruments. His use of musical and literature citations and his incorporations of all kinds of folk music is characteristic of his work. Some of the authors he used to cite a lot are James Joyce, Edoardo Sanguineti, e.e.cummings, Italo Calvino, Samuel Beckett and Claude Lévi-Strauss.
He became popular with his 1964 Folk Songs and his Sinfonia composed for the Swingle Singers from 1968. Berio also orchestrated music by other composers. Rendering, for instance, is his orchestration and completion of sketches of an unfinished symphony by Franz Schubert.