No intro. Just jumping in.
Reading about Berg Lieder recently, studying for an upcoming comprehensive exam. Somehow, I never realized how meager Berg's output really was. Although Berg had written quite a number of songs before working with Schoenberg (which began around 1904), his Opus 1 Piano Sonata was his first published work in 1910. Wozzeck, begun in 1914 and completed in 1922, was given the opus number of 7! As Willi Reich relates, "[Berg] later abandoned opus numbers for this and all succeeding works. His jocular reason for this was that he was ashamed of having produced so few works in such a long period of time." Oh, Berg, I can relate on that point. Actually, I am pre-opus number at this point. Of course, in the days of self-publication, do opus numbers carry the same significance? Berg died in 1935, with a small but significant output of music. Really, check it all out.
Having listened to all of Berg's songs, minus the 50 or so Jugendlieder, one finds his mathematical precision matched with the passion and lyricism found in his vocal lines. Berg's first foray into atonality lies in one of his songs, "Warum die Lüfte," the fourth and final song of his opus 2 collection. And his first use of 12-tone technique is found in his second setting of "Schliesse mire die Augen beide." Another favorite of mine is Altenburglieder (op. 4) for mezzo soprano and orchestra. Please delve into the clips below. Scores are available here:
4 Gesänge, Op.2
5 Orchesterlieder, Op. 4 (Altenberglieder)