December 24, 2007

December 24 | Alban Berg

February 9, 1885 - December 24, 1935: Age 50

Alban Berg was a Viennese composer. He was a student and lifelong friend of Arnold Schoenberg, and his compositions combined Schoenberg's 12-tone technique with a romantic style.

In the summer of 1935, Berg was stung on the back by a wasp. The bite became infected, and Berg developed septicemia, a condition in which bacteria enter the bloodstream and the immune response causes the body to go into shock. The treatment, today, is antibiotics, but penicillin, the first effective modern antibiotic treatment, hadn't come into broad use yet.

Like all of Schoenberg's students, he was obsessed with numbers. Berg calculated his chances based on a personal numerology, and predicted he would die on December 24 — and he did.

Here is a link to Glenn Gould playing Berg's first published piece of music: a stunning piano sonata. It's about 10 minutes long. Enjoy!

Sources: Wikipedia, Brain-Juice, Death myths of the great composers

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