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date: 05 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines how Alban Berg plotted to survive as a composer during the Third Reich. Berg’s opera Wozzeck premiered in Berlin on December 14, 1925, and achieved undisputed success eight years later. When Adolf Hitler became the leader of Nazi Germany, the works of many atonal composers, whether Aryan or not, were banned from performance in the country. Drawing on Berg’s personal documents held in the Austrian National Library, including musical sketches and drafts of letters, this chapter considers how Berg repackaged Wozzeck and his other opera Lulu in order to survive as a composer amid the harsh political environment during Hitler’s reign. It also comments on Berg’s desperation as a result of the Nazi government’s censorship of performances of Wozzeck. Finally, it considers Berg’s anti-Semitic tone in his opera, as well as his self-promotion to the point of aligning himself with Nazi Germany.

Keywords: Alban Berg, Third Reich, opera, Wozzeck, Adolf Hitler, Nazi Germany, composers, Lulu, censorship

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