Alban Berg’s Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 5 (1913) are the composer’s only true miniatures. Many musicologists and others date these pieces from the spring of 1913, but according to Berg’s wife, they were completed in June –an important distinction, since the latter was the month of Berg’s fateful meeting with his former teacher, Arnold Schoenberg. Berg’s trip to Berlin in 1913, included a traumatic encounter with Schoenberg. It is presumed that Schoenberg roundly criticized his former student and true desciple, attempting to discourage him from composing songs and small-scale works, and encouraging him toward extended instrumental composition.One musicologist has remarked that Schoenberg likely delivered some “strong criticism of Berg’s recent work, and even criticized his personality.”
Schoenberg’s harsh rebuke of Berg may indeed have been triggered by Berg’s Op. 5 ,clarinet miniatures. The reader notes the irony in Schoenberg’s attack on Berg in light of the fact that Berg’s Four Pieces were strongly influenced by Schoenberg’s own set of miniatures, the Six Little Piano Pieces, Op. 19 (1911). Berg’s fellowSchoenberg pupil, Anton Webern, also wrote a number of miniatures, and indeed his music became best-known for its concise expressivity, its cool character, angular melodies, and pointillistic texture.For the clarinet, Anton Webern,(1883-1945) another student of Schoenberg composed three works of important chamber music ,Five Canons for Soprano, Clarinet and Bass Clarinet , The Quartet for Clarinet Tenor Saxophone Violin, and piano, and Three Songs for Eb Clarinet , Soprano, and Guitar.
On 15 September 1945, during the Allied occupation of Austria, hAnton Webern was shot and killed by an American Army soldier following the arrest of his son-in-law for black market activities. This incident occurred when, three-quarters of an hour before a curfew was to have gone into effect, he stepped outside the house so as not to disturb his sleeping grandchildren, in order to enjoy a few draws on a cigar given him that evening by his son-in-law. The soldier responsible for his death was a US Army cook Pfc. Raymond Norwood Bell of North Carolina, who was overcome by remorse and died of alcoholism in 1955.. In contrast to Anton Webern, Berg’s miniatures — and indeed, his music in general — are decidedly more Romantic in gesture, texture, and timbre. The Four Pieces are very brief and complex; Berg abandons motivic connections in favor of deep structural relationships beneath a perpetually moving surface. As with most of Berg’s early works, there is a preponderance of quartal and whole-tone harmonies; like the String Quartet, Op. 3 (1910), the Four Pieces undergo constant changes in tempi, dynamics, and articulation according to Berg’s intricate instructions (which sometimes change from beat to beat). The first and last of the Four Pieces are the longest, flanking a slow second piece and a scherzo.The Four Pieces also specify that enough time be taken between each little piece.In my mind, these directions point toward music theater.
The Four Pieces were not performed until 1919, when they received their premier, despite Schoenberg’s earlier admonishments, at a meeting of Schoenberg’s Society for Private Musical Performances in Vienna, the Verein. Was there perhaps , a tiny bit of rivalry between the two , teacher and student? During a lengthy career of performing in all types of ensembles and venues, one of the strongest and perhaps strangest is the almost insane jealousy that exists within the profession and perhaps much more with composers than (even) performers. . Just consider the competition within this area. There was a terrible relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, not performers, not composers, but even worse, the psychiatric profession. Read on:
In April of 1906, Freud began a correspondence with a young psychiatrist named Carl Gustav Jung They first met in person when Jung traveled to Vienna on February 27, 1907, and the two were fast friends. Jung later described his initial impressions of Freud as “…extremely intelligent, shrewd, and altogether remarkable.” They corresponded extensively over the next seven years, with Freud viewing Jung as protégé and heir to psychoanalysis.
This relationship and collaboration began to deteriorate as the years went on. While Freud had viewed Jung as the most innovative and original of his followers, he was unhappy with Jung’s disagreement with some of the basic tenets of Freudian theory. For example, Jung believed that Freud was too focused on sexuality as a motivating force. He also felt that Freud’s concept of the unconscious was limited and overly negative. Instead of simply being a reservoir of repressed thoughts and motivations, as Freud believed, Jung argued that the unconscious could also be a source of creativity.
While the official break from Freud came when Jung resigned from the International Psychoanalytic Congress, the hostility growing between the two was readily apparent in the letters they exchanged. At one point, Jung scathingly wrote, “…your technique of treating your pupils like patients is a blunder. In that way you produce either slavish sons or impudent puppies… I am objective enough to see through your little trick”
While the theoretical differences between the two men marked the end of their friendship, their collaboration had a lasting influence on the further development of their respective theories. Jung went on to form his own influential school of thought known as analytical psychology. Freud’s reaction to the defection of Jung, and later that of Alfred Adler, was to close ranks and further guard his theories. Eventually, an inner-circle of only the most devoted followers was formed. Often referred to as “the Committee,” the group included Freud, and Otto Rank. These differences between various schools of though in psychoanalyses are still in existence today. Instead of Freud and Jung we have talk therapy versus medication. I have seen this vehemence. It is much better to practice, and never stop playing.