Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Green, Douglass M. "Cantus Firmus Techniques in the Concertos and Operas of Alban Berg." In Alban Berg Symposion Wien 1980: Tagungsbericht; Redaktion: Rudolf Klein, ed. Franz Grasberger and Rudolf Stephan, 56-68. Vienna: Universal Edition, 1981.

Schoenberg and his circle were quite opposed to a return to past forms to compensate for the problems of composing in a new harmonic language. Yet, at least some of them desired a return back to some compositional techniques of the past; for example, Webern wished to return to a polyphonic manner of thinking. Berg is no exception, and he demonstrates this in Wozzeck, the Kammerkonzert,Lulu, and the Violin Concerto. In each of these compositions, Berg employs cantus firmus technique, specifically chorale variations. The primary motivator in the treatment of the cantus firmus stems from his desire to produce dramatic action, even in the non-operatic works, and to provide meaning for the texts uttered by the characters in his operatic compositions. Berg's treatment of the chorale variations includes fugato, diminution, canon, and other various types of counterpoint. Furthermore, in the passages examined here, Berg creates the accompanying voices from the cantus firmus, allowing for greater unity in a contrapuntal context.

Works: Berg: Wozzeck (57-58), Kammerkonzert (58-59), Lulu (59-62), Violin Concerto (62-65).

Sources: Bach: Es ist genug (63).

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Christopher Holmes

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