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Opera to Gospel

The Music Scene

The Austrian composer Alban Berg was 40 when his first — and only completed — opera, “Wozzeck,” was performed in 1925. Despite being a work of daunting complexity, using the atonal 12-tone style developed by his teacher, Arnold Schönberg, and its dark subject matter about a mentally disintegrating, homicidal soldier, “Wozzeck” was almost instantly recognized as a standard-bearer of 20th-century music, and it remains so today. Tragically, Berg died only 10 years later, from an infection resulting from an insect bite, it is said, before completing his other masterful opera, “Lulu.”

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