First of Two Festival Weekends Presents Six Concerts Addressing “Berg and Vienna”, with Orchestral, Chamber, Instrumental, and Vocal Music by Berg, plus Contemporaries’ Compositions
The 21st annual Bard Music Festival opens here on Friday, August 13 for Weekend One: Berg and His World – Berg and Vienna. Leon Botstein, co-artistic director of the Bard Music Festival, delivers a pre-concert talk entitled “Alban Berg: The Path of Expressive Intensity,” which is followed by a chamber program tracing Berg’s stylistic development from early works like the Seven Early Songs (1905-08) to the maturity of his Lyric Suite (1925-26). While usually hailed as a pioneer of the modernist movement along with Schoenberg and Webern, at the Bard Music Festival Berg is considered in a richer and more nuanced context as a child of Johann Strauss II’s Vienna, and a contemporary of composers including Mahler, Zemlinsky, Pfitzner, Reger, Busoni, Karl Weigl, and Korngold. Each of the six concerts is augmented by a pre-concert talk by a distinguished scholar, namely Byron Adams, Antony Beaumont, Mark DeVoto, Christopher H. Gibbs, Sherry D. Lee, and Botstein himself; Botstein also leads the resident American Symphony Orchestra in the weekend’s two orchestral programs. Among the many notable musicians performing at the festival are singers Christiane Libor, Christine Goerke, Marnie Breckenridge, and Thomas Meglioranza; pianists Jeremy Denk, Alessio Bax, and Danny Driver; the Daedalus Quartet; and violinists Akiko Suwanai and Soovin Kim.
During this first weekend (a second follows on August 20-22), additional events shed further light on “Berg and Vienna”, contextualizing the composer within the cultural melting pot he shared with Schoenberg, Mahler, and Freud. Bard Music Festival audiences can take in a panel discussion on “Berg: His Life and Career” and attend a performance with commentary on “Eros and Thanatos,” the conflicting drives that Freud identified as governing human nature. “The Orchestra Reimagined” – the weekend’s final program, on Sunday at 5:30 pm – features Berg’s Kammerkonzert of 1923-25, his first work to use a tone row, alongside similarly pared-down orchestral works by Schoenberg, Busoni, and Hindemith. Round-trip transportation by coach from Columbus Circle for the Sunday late-afternoon performance is available (call 845-758-7900 for details).
Rarities offered over the weekend include early works by Berg and Webern; the music of Alma Mahler; and compositions by Berg and Schoenberg’s students, among them the eminent philosopher and sociologist Theodor Adorno.